By Kim Mercil
KM: Why would you title
your project The Groaning, which means to make a harsh sound under sudden
or prolonged strain?
Padraic: Our music is about how we respond to life,
which can be a strain. The word groaning has connotations ranging from the
physical to the spiritual. You can choose which appeals to you just like you
can choose how you respond to life.
Charon: This title was a bit of a hard sell for
Padraic. I had been reading Hildegard von Bingen's writings, in which she
discussed the groaning of the soul mine has been in a state of groaning
since time immemorial and I thought it quite fitting. He began to see my
point. As soon as one gets passed the general textbook definition, it begins to
make more sense. And if not, I've given listeners a built-in insult!
KM: The Groaning began in 03 with Padraic and
Charon. Where did you meet each other?
Padraic: Charon and I met hanging out in the DC
"scene," a few years ago and found we had a similar outlook on life and similar
taste in music. I failed to drive her away with my rants against the corruption
of the "scene" with disco-beat synthpoop karaoke bands and top-40 80's, and my
bemoaning the general death of guitar and real drums in so much of today's club
Charon: I'm glad I agree with his
rants 93% of the time: I might have gone mad by now if not. The other 7% of
time, I am amused by the rants: There are a few synthpop bands out there that I
KM: Eventually The Groaning expanded to include four
new members: Claire, Arthur, Prosector and Paul. In what order did these new
members join the band? How did you know they would bring just the right
sound/style to the project?
Padraic: I don't know what the "right" sound of this
band is. We wanted guitar, bass and real drums to give it a rock sound. Each of
us brings our own musical approach, so our sound is how we happen to come
Paul: Arthur & I appeared in January 2004 after
the demise of our band, Bastille. Prosector was there, Claire was (supposedly)
in the band, but had too much sense to rehearse in the cramped, frigid garage
they were in at the time. Until now, Charon is the only one I told this story
to, but we initially had no intention of sticking around; we were just looking
for something to do before our new project came together. Then we got seduced
(no, not THAT kind of seduction).
Charon: They loved us from the beginning. Admit
KM: One of the members goes by the name Prosector. Is
this a real name? If not, why did you choose this name?
Padraic: He's from
Ukraine (not The Ukraine, mind you.) What can I say?
Prosector: I'll try to answer that. Prosector is
someone who assists in autopsy, helping in establishing the cause of death.
Philosophically speaking, the cause of numerous humans' problems as well as the
cause of destruction of nature is certain attitudes and behaviors of humans. I
assist in establishing that.
you mean civilization & society
are morally/spiritually dead and you're assisting with thepost mortem?
Prosector: That's the idea.
KM: Two other Groaning members have nicknames also.
Arthur is The Gravemaster and Paul is The Gothfather. How did these names come
Paul: The name initially came up in jest, but the
notion of rock patriarch appeals to me.
Charon: It was just too amusing to pass up: In all of
our photo shoots, Paul has this gangster quality about him that begged the
Arthur: The Gravemaster came from the last band I was
in and it kind of carried over. With my last name Graves (this is my real last
name). That is how it came about.
Charon: Arthur has the best real name ever. In a
review of our Web site (don't ask), they accused Arthur Graves of having a fake
name, while my name, Charon Powers, was completely real. *shrug* My last name
is real, the first name a moniker I received from my newspaper's copy desk
chief after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I was responsible for the memorial
pages of the victims of the tragedy, so for about 10 days afterward, I
collected pictures of the dead. I realized that NO ONE could possibly be that
KM: Padraic and Claire happen to be
classically trained brother and sister, Padraic on violin and Claire on flute.
When did you both start? Why did each of you choose the instruments you did?
Does any other Geddes family members have any talents as well?
Padraic: I started back when long-haired humanoids
roamed the earth wearing headbands and flowers. My grandfather played violin,
and I didn't know any better, so I decided I wanted to also. I have to give a
plug for music in our public schools, because that's where I started taking
lessons. Claire also started flute in school, after a few years of private
piano study. Our brother Finn McCool plays trumpet with Alzo Boszormeinyi and
the Acid Achievers, who have what I will generously call a unique sound. (This
makes it advisable for him not to use his real name.) We also have 3 other
siblings who studied music, but no longer actively play.
KM: Padraic, outside of The Groaning you have written
and performed violin tracks for such bands as Todesbonden and DC Suspects. Is
there any degree of difficulty when composing these guest spot tracks as
opposed to tracks for The Groaning?
Padraic: Todesbonden is sort of classical/metal and
DC Suspects is punk. While there are elements of punk and metal in The
Groaning, they are definitely different sounds. It's fun for me to play in
different styles. I don't find it especially difficult. I just try to make my
part complement the feeling of the particular songs.
KM: Has any other Groaning members recently done
guest spot appearances? Are there any in the works for them?
Arthur: As far as any projects not really. Although
from time to time people have asked to "jam" but it is always not enough time.
A friend that I grew up with would like for me to play with him in a new band
but that would involve me relocating to California, which is not going to
happen any time soon. I find that one band takes up a lot of time, so much in
fact that I don't see any other projects any time soon.
Paul: A local composer
friend has approached me about playing in a jazz combo that would create live
acoustic realizations of his algorhythmic electronic compositions, but the
project has not begun in earnest yet.
Padraic: That must explain some of the crazy beats at
our last practice!
Paul: Ha! You'll never know whether I'm artsy or just
KM: Claire is currently studying abroad. Does she
plan on returning to The Groaning? If not, are you going to look for a
replacement for her?
Padraic: Claire plans to rejoin the Groaning fold
when she returns this summer. In her absence we changed the song arrangements
and have been performing without flute and keyboards. It would be nice to find
a flute player to sit in on performances, but Claire is the groaning
Paul: I'm constantly amazed at Claire's ability to
pull these harmonically perfect countermelodies out of thin air. She's one of
those rare musicians that eschews technical razzle-dazzle & says more with
less notes. Yes, Claire
return to us!
KM: In your opinion, do you feel The Groaning has a
streak of luck being you got to open for such acts as Faith and the Muse and
The Awakening without competition from other bands looking to get on the
Padraic: Its true there arent that many
real goth rock bands around anymore. Its not that big a scene, and we
know the people putting those shows together. Were also fortunate that
Arthur is a good friend of Monica Richards from her time in DC with Strange
KM: Why do you consider The Groaning to be a "jam
Padraic: Thats Charons description. As
the singer, she has the opportunity to "enjoy" our extended instrumental
improvisations in practice when she runs out of lyrics.
Paul: "Enjoy?" Very diplomatic.
Everyone will be able to tell you're from DC.
Charon: The band's repertoire has an improv quality
that I tend to liken to jam bands, hence the term. Just ask Padraic
how many of his solos are, at least in part, improvised upon each performance!
When warming up, Arthur will start playing a riff, Padraic, Paul and Prosector
will follow suit and I will start pondering melody lines and lyrics to add.
This will go on for about 15 minutes: If a song doesn't basically gel within
that time or by the next try, they seem to drift away. I never cease to be
amazed each time this 'birthing' process happens: It feels almost supernatural
Arthur: Coming up with song, I have a million riffs
that we jam on: Some become songs and others are just for that time and space.
It is interesting how everyone puts their own ingredient into the music to make
Padraic: Actually, I think "a million riffs" may be
too conservative an estimate of what Arthur comes up with! We carry a little of
that improvisation into some of our songs. The EP version of Satan Doesnt
Like U has short into and outro sections with the whole band improvising
together. Its my favorite section of the CD. Song of Job is a good
example of the band indulging me with an extended violin solo and adding some
great supporting tracks.
KM: Currently, you are in the studio working on a
five song EP. How is this coming along?
Padraic: It seemed to take forever, but its all
done now. Well be officially releasing it with a show on February 27 at
DC9 (in DC).
Charon: When we finally
got the master copy of our CD, for the first few moments, I held it like it was
precious metal: I couldn't believe that almost 7 months of our lives, my life,
was contained in two little discs.
Padraic: I vociferously deny that its metal! We
left off our Dio cover song. (The 2 discs, by the way, were a CD art disc and a
music disc. Were not enough of a jam band to expand 5 songs onto 2
CDs, but it sounds like a challenge for our next practice!)
KM: Does The Groaning have any plans in the works for
Padraic: Our song Arteries is on an upcoming
compilation called Random Affliction, distributed through Tower, and weve
been approached about appearing on two other compilations. Were still
adding new songs to our live set, and wed like to get a full length CD
out eventually. Weve only played in the DC area so far, so were
working on getting shows in other cities not too far away, like Baltimore (The
Vault on 3/4/05), Richmond, Norfolk, Philadelphia and New York. We all have
jobs, so extended touring would be a challenge. Now that we have a good quality
recording it should be a little easier to let promoters who dont know us
hear what we sound like. Were available for weddings, funerals, and bar
Prosector: Funerals yes. Weddings well,
possibly. But can you imagine how many Goth points we'd lose if we were to play
at a bar mitzvah? ;-)
Padraic: After performing a Prince cover, I
dont think we have many goth points left!