Bands like The Grip Weeds usually aren’t built to last. The clichéd “personal and musical differences”, changing tastes and Father Time have brought down most of the greatest bands in history. And yet, over two decades and counting after their debut album House Of Vibes, The Grip Weeds continue to survive, thrive, surprise and innovate. They do it on their own terms, defiantly refusing to play the usual major label/name producer/big time studio game.
Critics, while praising The Grip Weeds, often try to pigeonhole them with the “Power Pop” label. This is a bit of a misnomer. While there are plenty of driving, poppy melodies, chiming guitars and close harmonies, The Grip Weeds’ releases have sported many different styles of original material, from Psychedelic and Garage Rock to Folk-based ballads and thought-provoking social commentary. This diversity has landed several Grip Weeds songs on the top of the Little Steven’s Underground Garage "Coolest Song In The World” list, as well as placed Grip Weeds music in several television and film projects. Their reputation as a top shelf live band has brought them to venues across the United States, and internationally, including the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, Liverpool, England’s legendary Cavern Club, and several tours of Europe, among others.
Family ties are strong in The Grip Weeds, as singer/drummer Kurt Reil is joined by his wife Kristin Pinell Reil and brother Rick Reil, both singer/ guitarists: Kurt’s drum style at times seems manic and driving, yet with a keen sense of timekeeping; Kristin’s growling, aggressive lead guitar lines are laced with style, emotion and impressive technique; Rick adds his own distinctive guitar and songwriting talents, and the family trio also spearheads the recording and production of The Grip Weeds’ music. Bassist Dave DeSantis has held down bass duties for a number of top New Jersey bands before settling in with The Grip Weeds since 2012. All four Grip Weeds sing, and their group vocals have been acclaimed as one of the most distinctive and natural close harmonic blends working today.
House Of Vibes, The Grip Weeds' successful commercial recording studio, has played host to a number of diverse projects, including albums from New Jersey’s favorite sons The Smithereens, legendary vocalist Mark Lindsay and sessions with South African choral singers Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It is where The Grip Weeds have produced the lion’s share of their recording projects to date, starting with their 1994 debut album, which was remixed and expanded in 2007 as House Of Vibes Revisited. The Sound Is In You followed in 1998, Summer Of A Thousand Years in 2001, and Giant On The Beach in 2004. Following a 2008 compilation release, Infinite Soul: The Best Of The Grip Weeds on Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool record label, the band began work on their soaring 2010 double CD/LP Strange Change Machine. The holiday-themed project Under The Influence of Christmas came at the close of 2011, followed in 2012 by Speed Of Live: In Concert In New Jersey CD and its companion DVD, Live Vibes, videotaped live in the studio at the House Of Vibes. Rounding out two decades of recordings is the 2013 rarities collection Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks). 2015 brought The Grip Weeds' ambitious and acclaimed How I Won The War, named after the 1966 Richard Lester motion picture that incidentally featured John Lennon's character, "Musketeer Gripweed", the original inspiration for the band's name. A stellar performance at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City was filmed, resulting in the 2016 concert DVD Force Of Nature Live In NYC. The band's catalog of stellar studio releases was joined in 2018 by the acclaimed Trip Around The Sun, while the vinyl revival resulted in an ongoing series of remixed and expanded archival editions of their catalog, starting with their debut album, and the recently renewed Giant On The Beach Anniversary Edition.
For a band that's never far from the studio, it's not surprising that The Grip Weeds are deep into the recording of a special album project, as well as celebrating their already rich archive of past works. The Grip Weeds' future promises to blow our minds once again. A band that is truly "built to last"! –Rich Firestone