Vancouver, British Columbia folk-rock outfit Good For Grapes is comprised of Daniel McBurnie, Graham Gomez, Alexa Unwin, Robert Hardie, Blair Hansen, and Sean MacKeigan. To learn more about their record Man on the Page (released in October, 2013), we spoke with Good For Grapes’ Daniel McBurnie (vocals, acoustic guitar) about their dynamic sound, ultimate goals, their name, and who they’ve been spinning.
AMBY: Hello Good For Grapes, welcome to AMBY! What’s the band recently been up to?
Good For Grapes: We’ve been spending a great deal of time working on the release of our album. And after all the build-up to our release show at The Vogue, we’re taking a deep breath before diving into 2014!
AMBY: How would you classify your sound to all your listeners?
Good For Grapes: I would describe us as Folk/Rock; energetic folk music with a big sound and a ton of instrumentation behind it. Very dynamic I suppose.
AMBY: Your debut album Man on the Page was officially released earlier this week. What’s the reaction been like to the record so far?
Good For Grapes: Very good so far! It’s always extremely humbling to release something and in a way, throw it at the mercy of your fans and the public and critics. But people have been very generous so far, and CKUA named it number 1 in the top 5 Canadian 2013 releases! I think people will have a lot more to say now that it’s been released physically.
AMBY: What’s the significance behind the LP’s title, Man on the Page?
Good For Grapes: The title came pretty naturally. We were thinking of a name, then in the middle of rehearsing the song “Eskimos” I stopped us and basically said “That’s it, we’ve got to call it Man On The Page” (a lyric from that song). Funny enough, after the whole record was basically done, I wrote a song, called it “Man on the Page”, recorded it in a day, and that’s the final track. The whole concept, and it’s a re-occuring theme in many of the songs, is aspiring to be this man who’s drawn out in front of me. I think everyone can relate to that: Trying to be an idealized version of yourself, and you’ll never know if you’ve succeeded because by the time you have, the drawing on the page has evolved and changed into new aspiration.
AMBY: When creating the album, what was your ultimate goal?
Good For Grapes: Really, there wasn’t really concept when we went into the studio. We had these songs, some of the new and some we’d been playing forever, and our one goal was to make the record sound like we do live. It’s very difficult to capture our energy in a studio setting, and we knew that going in. I think we succeeded. The other aspiration for this album was to obviously create a great debut. We want people to know what we’re about, where we came from, and where we’re going.
AMBY: What’s the story behind the album’s track Era’s End?
Good For Grapes: I wrote that one last year. It was an interesting time, because my roommate was moving away and my best friend was moving for school, and I knew I wanted to pursue music. It was definitely the first of many moments I’ve had since then, when you’re sure that something will never be the same. When you realize that you’re slowly growing into you’re twenties and you’re going to be saying goodbye and hello a lot.
AMBY: Where did the name Good For Grapes come from, and what other names had you considered for the band?
Good For Grapes: We were off to busk in Victoria, and Alexa asked Graham if he wanted some grapes, and he said “Nah, I’m good for grapes.” And we joked that it’d be a funny band name. We realized on the ferry that we ought to learn some songs (we weren’t yet the collective ensemble we are today) and so we played a bit on the side of the boat. An unexpected crowd of people came and watched us (they thought we were hired from the ferry) and after we had pulled out every song we could possibly fake our way through, they asked us our band name. We said Good For Grapes. I often wonder where we’d be if Alexa had been eating something else that day.
AMBY: Who’s currently on your playlist?
Good For Grapes: Right now? Tallest Man On Earth, Bob Dylan, Dr. Dog, Father John Misty, The Band, The Association, Johnny Flynn, and Kendrick Lamar.
AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?
Good For Grapes: That’s a good question. To be honest, I haven’t been listening to a lot of modern music this year except local music. Haven’t yet heard Mumford’s new record. If I was a betting man I’d say Reflektor is, but for me and my little bubble of 2013 listening (and because you said *release) I’ll say Another Self Portrait, the Dylan re-issue.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Good For Grapes that nobody knows yet?
Good For Grapes: Something that nobody knows, huh? We’re looking for a Cello player. We haven’t even asked for one, but we’re looking. No ad or anything, but I really want Cello and that’s what’s next. There’s a lot on our new record actually, and I want there to be more on the next.
Thank you Good For Grapes, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout