Little Falls, NJ

by Hal B. Selzer

local noise


Grip Weeds
House of Vibes Revisited
Ground Up Records (57664)
Grade: 5 STARS

The Grip Weeds



but we have modern musical influences too,” adds Kurt. “You can’t help but be affected by the world around you.We’ve been influenced by The Foo Fighters, Soundtrack Of Our Lives, White Stripes/Raconteurs, Paul Weller, and many, many more. Sometimes you hear a great song and it moves you to write something of your own. Also, I run our recording studio (The House Of Vibes) and am constantly inspired by the music that comes through, because I’m working so closely with the artists to create it. Besides all that, the things that we experience in our daily lives and what’s happening in the culture inform our music. A bad day or a weird experience not related to music can manifest itself in a great new song. And we all hate the President!” One thing that has enabled the band members to have unique experiences with which to influence their music is the extensive touring the band does.“Touring always puts you into a strange alternate universe where odd things happen every day,” laughs Kurt. “A few years ago, we did a tour of Spain, and it was the last night of the tour.We pulled into this tiny ghost town called Pradajon and expected it to be a disaster. The band we were touring with was from Israel and deathly afraid of trouble with the local

Some bands are just cool. No way around it, and no matter what your musical taste, you know it when you see it. One such band is The Grip Weeds. And don’t just take my word for it, none other than the king of garage bands, Little Steven, has anointed songs by the band as “the coolest songs in the world” four separate times on his Underground Garage radio show. “It’s melodic, it’s psychedelic, it’s rocking, with vocal harmonies, inventive guitar work and powerful drumming, if I do say so myself,” says Kurt Reil, who mans the skins for the group.“At our best, we write songs that have a depth to them that goes beyond the first listen. It’s been our quest to make records that people will keep returning to, finding more things in the words and music to keep them interested.” Joining Kurt in the band are Rick Reil on guitar, Kristin Pinell on guitar, and Michael “MK” Kelly on bass. “ When Rick and I started the group, we were at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and just wanted to play cool obscure ’60s covers from The Who and The Hollies,” Kurt recalls.“Eventually, we started writing our own songs and slipped them one by


one into our live shows, hoping they would work alongside these great old songs. Our songwriting improved to the point where we wound up with a totally original live set, which we then recorded. That eventually started a whole other career of music production! We had two other guys when we started out, but Kristin joined in time for the recording of our first disc, House Of Vibes, and MK came in for the last album, Giant On The Beach. Before MK joined, we had the common problem of the exploding bass player! He is number seven.” As you might expect, the band comes from a background heavily leaning toward classic rock. “Most of my influences are from ’60s and early ’70s rock,”Kurt relates. “There was something happening then, a renaissance in pop music that produced such quality music. It’s like the holy grail for us to write songs of that caliber. I’m partial to The Beatles of course, but The Byrds, Who, Moody Blues, and lots of “nuggets” bands all figure in somehow, among many others, but never directly, usually in our playing.” Not that they don’t listen to some more up-to-date music as well. “The Grip Weeds are rooted in ’60s based music,


Arabs there, and that put us all on edge.When we got to the club, no one spoke a word of English, but as we walked in, all the music they were playing was either recorded at The House Of Vibes or from bands we knew in Jersey! On the other side of the world in a strange country, we had found our home. It turned out to be the best gig of the tour, a packed house with people who loved us and even knew the words to our songs, and yet didn’t speak a word of English!” Another endeavor that keeps the band busy is their sideline of musician seminars, which they call the “Basement To Billboard” seminar. “I did a producer’s panel at a guitar seminar, and many people asked very basic questions about how to record, how to know if what they’re doing is any good, when to go to a pro, etc.,” explains Kurt. “As I answered those questions, I realized that it was exactly the position that The Grip Weeds were in when we started.We had no clue, so we just had to make our mistakes and keep our ears open and learn. We realized that there is a need among musicians just starting out to have a road map to help them get to where they want to go, or even just to show them how to get some music into a digital recorder.” For more information about The Grip Weeds, check them out at, or