by Jett Black
Southern Gothic, enchanted by sultry vocal
elegance and classical strings instrumentation finds no greater form than that
of Gropius (named after Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus architectual
movemnet). North Texas venues everywhere proudly present Gropius to fans from
absolutely every walk of life.
Gropius performances feature three sexy goth babes. Melissa
Adams, vocals. Julie Carpenter, violin & cello. And Amy Boyd, viola. All
three sirens, as sexy and as groovy as they the music they create together, are
often found movin' and groovin' at the foot of the stage throughout every
performance. Masterfully sawing away on classical strings; violin, cello, and
viola; Julie and Amy join sultry vocalist Melissa through each exquisitely
harmonized masterpiece in modern rock music. Gropius is groovy-gothic. It is
sexy, seductive and contagious.
Listen now as three Gropius musicians gather to discuss
recent developments and plans for the future.
Current Gropius line-up:
Melissa Adams - Vocals
Julie Carpenter - Cello/Violin
Amy Boyd - Viola
Rich Sanchez - Percussion
Matthew Koch - Bass
How does Gropius interact with the broad demographic
range of audiences attending Gropius performances?
Amy: Surprisingly very well. We have opened for many
different Dallas acts such as Hellafied Funk Crew, The Tomorrow People and the
late Course of Empire. I personally like opening for "non-gothic" bands. We get
a very good response from these audiences. It's nice when big burly guys in
overalls and backwards baseball caps or girls in "Spice Girl" attire come up to
me after a show and say, "I normally don't like the whole gothic thing, but you
guys are so different, I like it!" They sign the mailing list and come back to
our shows. It's nice to think that we can actually open people's minds to
something they have never heard before!
Melissa: Our interaction with the audience depends on
their interaction with us. If they get into it, then we feed off of that. When
people stand there and stare at us, it's hard not to do the same back.
Rich: On stage, Melissa is great. She interacts with
the audience in a very cool way. Off stage, I know I'm a bit more quiet and
reserved. I don't walk around like, "Hi. I'm the drummer for Gropius." None of
us are like that. It's not too often someone comes up and goes, "you guys are
God!" I would be taken back and really flattered. At our last show, we saw this
girl who was singing along to all of the lyrics, and none of us knew her. We
all thought that was really fuckin' cool.
Gropius has opened for a variety of well-known darkwave
and gothic recording artists: Switchblade Symphony, Lycia, Black Tape for a
Blue Girl, Gitane Demone, Nocturne, The Seraphim; just to name a few. How has
this helped increase market exposure for Gropius?
Rich: I would hope a lot. It's great meeting these
people. Mainly, I am concerned with the whole scene in Dallas. It is
comparatively small. Like, I recognize a lot of gothic show regs, but it's
great to, I guess, in some way be a part of that scene. It's still relatively
underground and very real, like punk in its earlier years. You still won't hear
gothic music on any syndicated Dallas radio stations. It has a lot of room to
grow. I like that.
Amy: We have been very fortunate to have had the
opportunity to play with these bands!! It is sort of funny, but when we first
started playing gigs, our fourth or fifth show was opening for Switchblade
Symphony at the Impala! Talk about nerve racking! Some people in the DFW area
thought we were a national act on tour with SS. Also, as a result of playing
with Projekt bands, we were asked to submit a song for an upcoming Projekt
Melissa: I'm not sure that the act of playing with
those bands really boosted our exposure directly. Most of the people that
attended those shows had seen us or heard us at some point beforehand. Perhaps
they were more willing to accept us after we opened for a bigger act. The main
thing that playing with those bands gave us was a better resume. It definitely
would have been harder to play The Church if Switchblade Symphony was not a
Off of the new 11-track release, Songs For Walter,
which tracks have made it into your live performances?
Melissa: All the songs on the CD
have been performed live.
Amy: All of them!
Rich: Although, we like to have a different set for
each show. But all the tracks on Songs For Walter were always played
live. It's the best way to get them down for recording. And also, we actually
like the songs. If we wouldn't play it live, why record it?
In terms of broadening the fan base and general support,
how ambitious is Gropius now?
Amy: Very!!! Since the release of our first full
length CD, we are shopping the market for labels and more out-of-town
Melissa: Pretty damn ambitious!!! We all like gothic
music and the gothic look, for the most part, but we have many other influences
that we are trying to incorporate into our sound. We aren't prejudice against
who listens to our music. The gothic label often alienates people who would
normally listen to our music; therefore, we are trying not to put ourselves
over as some major gothic mecca of music. Please don't misunderstand me, we
don't pretend not to be gothic, but that is not all that we are.
Rich: Well, the most we can do is make good music.
Which is the whole point. I just have faith in the people who come to the shows
and buy the albums. I would like to see Gropius take off. I'm in it 'cause it's
something original, and music definitely seems to need that. We are playing as
much as possible and, hopefully, what we do speaks for itself.
Covet the Senseless, the lead-in track on Songs
For Walter, address what concepts? What is this song about?
Melissa: I was a very unhappy little person when I
wrote the lyrics. It really addresses the idea that you don't know what you're
missing if you never had it. There are good and bad points to everything. Blind
people may never see the flowers, but they'll also never see how grotesque
death can be. The horror and beauty in life exists solely in how you look at
things. My passion and emotion can be seen as wonderful, but they can be a real
pain in the ass, too.
Swich Licour has an altogether more seductive mood
and altered pace to its production than other tracks on the full-length CD. How
does Swich Licour differ from other tracks on Songs For Walter in
terms of how it is performed and recorded?
Amy: Swich Licour is a very interesting song.
The string parts were written with a more chamber music style. Really all the
instrumental lines, including the drums, stay the same through the entire piece
while the vocal line intertwines the melody though it.
Melissa: Swich Licour does not allow for much
improvisation. It is a piece in which every instrument is interwoven very
tightly. If one person misses a beat or a note, the whole song is screwed. I
think we got that song down in one take, two at the most, and that is really
all it took for the other tracks. Swich didn't have many overlaid tracks
like the others. We kept the melody simple. I can't speak for anyone else, but
when it is performed live, I feel mesmerized almost. It has a liquidity about
it that just makes me want to move like water.
Rich: Swich is a really simplistic song in
comparison to say, Penitant Roses, or Dawn Of The Sun. Like
almost all of Songs For Walter, it was recorded in one take, then we
added overdubs and such efx here and there, but not a whole lot on that song. I
always felt Swich Liquor, Voodoo Girl, and Herring are the songs
that stick out the most on the album. Of course, we take a different approach
every time we write. We are ever growing.
How did Swich Licour initially become a
song-candidate for Gropius?
Melissa: I learned to speak Middle English very
crudely when I was about thirteen. I loved the way it sounded and I just
thought it needed to be a song. When we wrote a song that I was stumped for
lyrics to, I found that the Prologue to the "Canterbury Tales" would fit very
well. I speak it properly now since I took a course on Chaucer so it doesn't
sound as goofy as it used to.
Since the release of Songs For Walter, what other
songs has Gropius been working on?
Rich: Plenty of unreleased songs like Serpents
Face, Adagio, Lord Randall, Sequestrian (which we made for a Projekt comp),
and some older ones like Swamps, and I Got Mine. We play these
all at shows.
Amy: We finished a song for an upcoming Projekt
compilation, and with the addition of a new bassist we have been working on a
lot of new material. The band as a whole is going in a new direction. I can't
wait to start on another CD!!
Melissa: We have written around three or four songs,
one being Adagio, which has a Middle Eastern feel to it. Unfortunately,
after the CD was completed, we didn't have time to write much because we had to
find and train a new bass player. That was another fun set-back. There were
some older songs that we weren't able to put on the CD that will make the next
How can readers purchase a copy of Songs For
Melissa: I believe readers can do so through our
website. Go to http://www.gropius.net, then go to links, then to Um Die Ecke.
Under Um Die Ecke there should be an option to purchase. Boy, I hope I'm
Rich: Vibes in Denton carries the album. Also, they
can contact us over the net at either Skinny.net or Gropius.net, and e-mail us
if you want one. Or come to a show and we'll sell you one ourselves.
Amy: They can either come to a show or they can go
to: http://www.abbadon.com/umdieecke and order online!
Matt Groening. In the 'thanks' section of the CD insert
for this release, you thank Groening, the creator of "The Simpsons," "Life is
Hell," "Childhood is Hell," et al... Why?
Amy: That was James', our lovely ex-bassist,
Rich: Why not? We all watch the "Simpsons," and now
"Futurama." We also thank Brack from "Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast," and Monty
Python. Why? Just because.
Melissa: Groening really has a beautiful sense of
irony and sarcasm. He doesn't sugar-coat things, he just points out their
absurdities. Of course, I didn't thank Groening so you'll have to get the real
answer from the ex-bass player.
Penitent Roses, is it still available? How many
copies were originally pressed?
Amy: Penitent Roses actually only had 6
tracks, one was a studio track while the other 5 were live tracks recorded at
various clubs around Dallas. There were only 200 copies of this CD they were
all numbered and signed by the band! We are hoping that if we ever get big,
these CD will become sort of collector's items. As far as I know, there are no
more, we sold out back in October (1998)!
Rich: All the songs, except for Penitant Roses, were
Will Gropius release any remixes from these two
Amy: I don't think we have even considered it!
Rich: Don't tempt me.
Melissa: I don't know. Anything is possible. I'd much
prefer to concentrate on writing a whole sleugh of material than messing with
one song's original composition. I imagine remixes will come when we hit a
massive writer's block. There is a silly techno version of Dawn of the
Sun but don't bother looking for it anywhere.
Where and how did Gropius form?
Rich: Gropius originally formed in El Paso and was
basically a complete different line up. The senior member is Melissa; she's
been here the longest. Back then there were no strings. Just bass, drums and a
Melissa: The drummer asked me to audition for vocals
since he had heard me audition for another band that fell through. I auditioned
for the bass player, a guitarist and the drummer and was accepted. We soon
ousted the guitarist; he just didn't work for us.
Amy: I didn't join the band until Feb of '97. Julie
(violinist) and I met in Kharma Cafe in Denton one after noon. She was talking
to someone I happened to be sitting next to and we all just fell into a
conversation. She noticed my viola case and asked if I would be interested in
playing in a band. The rest, as they say, is history!
How did Gropius end up re-locating to the Denton/Dallas
Melissa: The bass player and I got engaged for one
thing and wanted to get the hell out of El Paso; but the main reason was that
my parents decided to move back and I lived with them at the time. The bass
player followed and we eventually convinced the drummer to follow suit.
What changes in band member line-up have
occurred within Gropius over the past 6 months? (As of May 1999)
Amy: Over the course of Gropius there have been quite
a few, but in the last 6 months we have replaced bassist James Spangler (he
played on the CD) to bassist John Remmes.
Melissa: In the past 6 months we have changed
drummers and bass players. Actually we changed drummers about 9 months ago.
Rich: I joined about six months ago in October '98.
We just acquired John Remis on bass. It's a lot of work to kinda re-teach the
songs to a new member. I think things are a bit tighter from it. John has a
great stage presence. I like that. I can't move all too much behind the
Do any Gropius members 'moonlight' on musical
Amy: Julie and Lee do...
Melissa: Julie, the violin player, is doing a side
project with Lee, our manager, and some other people. The line-up has changed,
so I don't know exactly who all is in the band.
Rich: Julie is in a side project with our ex-bassist
James called Die Atom Kinder. Amy is in the UNT (University of North Texas)
orchestra. And me, I do a lot of Techno at home.
Outside of Texas, where has Gropius performed?
Amy: Nowhere yet. We really want to, though!
Melissa: Nowhere; and thanks for bringing up such a
painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper-cut and
poor lemon juice in it.
Rich: I would love to, but it's a matter of money,
and time. We are still independent. So, we have to pay our own way. We want to
play out as much as possible.
Will Gropius tour this year in support of Songs For
Melissa: God, I hope so. We are playing in Houston on
the 5th of June. Hopefully, we'll have more chances to play outside the
Metroplex and Texas altogether.
What would you like to accomplish through Gropius before
the end of the millennium?
Rich: A paid, out-of-state gig.
Amy: To get signed, and tour!!
Melissa: I want to be playing outside of Texas. A
record contract would be even better. Maybe it will happen in 6 months. Who
What challenges might Gropius be facing next?
Amy: Again, the whole label thing seems like a huge
wall right now!!
Melissa: Gropius will definitely be challenged with
getting our name outside of Texas. It will be like starting all over again.
What contributes to the lyrical development of tracks on
Songs For Walter?
Melissa: Some of the lyrics were written when the
first bass player and I were having troubles. Without him to piss me off, I've
had to deal with writing about my faults and insecurities. That's kind of
embarrassing. There are lyrics that are pure nonsense or tell a story that has
no relevance to me, though. My lyrics usually come from very low periods in my
life. When I feel the worst, I write the best.
On what compilations will readers find additional Gropius
Melissa: Tactics of Infiltration - I don't
think that one has much distribution. Cowboys in Tokyo - international
distribution, horrible compilation.
How will Gropius advance from it's local supportive fan
base into the great beyond?
Amy: Getting the word out there, WAY out there,
hopefully within the next year!!
Rich: I guess word-of-mouth is the best, and most
honest, advertising. I just hope for more, and more exposure. We will keep
concentrating on making good music.
Melissa: Luckily, we have friends all over the U.S.
They better help us out, damn it!! I'm thinking of claiming that I had sex with
Ken Starr and possibly get some press from it. TeeHee.
What personal activities do you, or would you like to
include into your leisure time?
Amy: Um...leisure time. Isn't that that thing where
you get to do stuff you like?? I can't seem to remember when I had that, or the
funds to do the things that I like! If I had the time, I would like to work on
some different projects, expand my viola-playing horizons a bit. It would be
good to get some different influences. I would also love to have horses again.
I rode/trained horses for over half of my life, I really miss it!
Melissa: I don't really have much time for leisure
activities with work and the band; though the band is the leisure activity I've
always wanted. I've been interested in martial arts lately, though I don't have
the money to do anything about it. The main thing I've wanted to embellish is
learning more about Eastern culture. It's terribly fascinating.
Rich: I write music constantly. I play several
instruments. I guess, if I were in a relationship, I'd do that. But I'm single,
and good that way. I also do Kung Fu, meditation, and I'm a nature boy.
What would you like to share with readers today?
Melissa: Gropius is hard work, and
well worth it. We have not been stagnant since we began. We're always exploring
different techniques and realms of expression. If there is anything that
someone wants to hear us do differently; just wait, we're getting to it.
Rich: Hippo Dick Lice (don't ask).
How can readers best contact Gropius?
Melissa: Gropius@necronom.com is the email
address and messages are forwarded to all the members.
Rich: At a show, or via e-mail; on either of the
sites, and hell, my e-mail is FuTHark25@aol.com.
Where can readers look for additional information about
Amy: Our management:
http://www.abbadon.com/umdieecke. The first Gropius fan site:
Melissa: http://www.skinny.net is the fan site that was started by,
well, a fan. You can find reviews, news, rumors and the basic info you'd find
on our official website < http://www.Gropius.net >, like shows, etc. It's a fun site
to visit. If you want to find out about Walter Gropius, the architect, it's no