Richard Johnson—vocalist of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, frontman of Drugs of Faith and ex-Enemy Soil guitarist—is affectionately known around the Capital Beltway as “The Grindfather.” And with good reason: dude’s been championing the movement through his zine-turned-blog Disposable Underground and his unabashed love of the early Earache catalog since the early ’90s. That alone would qualify him to interview The Grindmother, the 67-year-old frontwoman of the grindcore band of the same name. But, I’ll be honest—it’s Richard’s nicknamed that compelled me to hand him this assignment.
The Grindfather: I saw from watching a Grindmother YouTube segment from Channel 5 in the U.K. that we learn lyric arrangements the same way: we listen to a recording of the song and run through the lyrics in our head. Where did you pick up that method from?
The Grindmother: It just seems like the natural way to imprint the songs to memory. My son guided me how to sing on the record, and then I became more familiar with the songs by practicing them on my own that way. It took me awhile but I have finished learning the album, and we hope to start playing a few shows this winter.
The Grindfather: I got a lot of support from my parents when I wanted to pursue music at a younger age. My father bought me my first electric guitar and little amp.
The Grindmother: I bought [Grindmother guitarist] Rain his first guitar too, which turned out to be a good move!
The Grindfather: Now that you’re in a band, what sort of support are you getting from those close to you?
The Grindmother: Our family and friends have been happy to help out by tolerating our noise. They’re curious to see what will happen next and want to do whatever they can to help make sure that happens.
The Grindfather: I often think about musicians in underground music that started out in the 1980s and are still playing. None of them are getting any younger, and neither am I, so I wonder how much longer they can keep with this physically demanding music. Do you wonder the same about yourself?
The Grindmother: I doubt I’ll be doing this for too many years, but I don’t really think about how long it will last. There is a bit of a sense of urgency, which is good because it keeps us in the present, and focused on the art itself.
The Grindfather: Is playing music a new thing for you, or have you done it before?
The Grindmother: I used to play some guitar but I’ve really only dabbled in music a little, until now.
The Grindfather: If you start playing gigs in your town, do you think your friends and contemporaries would come, or would it be too loud and too obnoxious for them?
The Grindmother: I’m sure if we did that, some would want to come and others wouldn’t. Maybe we should do a matinee tour for all the curious seniors out there!
The Grindfather: The music videos the band has released are well done. It’s interesting that they’re produced with a straight face—that is, they’d be similar to another grindcore band’s video, except yours have a senior citizen in them, taking the place that a much younger man or woman would take otherwise. How do you like your videos?
The Grindmother: I like them, and we have fun doing them. We film a lot and are hoping to get a better camera to make a documentary. But the fact that the videos are fairly crude and have still been received very well is interesting. We hope to make more.