The Gravel Project comes to rock Askew

Posted 1/17/23

The evolution of Boston psych-blues act The Gravel Project has been a unique one. Since starting out during the mid-2010s with Andrew Gravel leading the charge on guitar & vocals, there’s …

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The Gravel Project comes to rock Askew


The evolution of Boston psych-blues act The Gravel Project has been a unique one. Since starting out during the mid-2010s with Andrew Gravel leading the charge on guitar & vocals, there’s been a few member changes with the band growing from a collective into having a more concrete structure. This has resulted in the current lineup consisting of Gravel’s brother Jordan on the organ & keys, Dave Fox on drums, Eguie Castrillo on percussion and Sarah Seminski contributing on vocals. On January 21, this dynamic group will be headlining a Saturday night at Askew located on 150 Chestnut Street in Providence. Country artist Jake Hunsinger, who grew up in Cranston, will be opening up the show with his Rock Bottom Band at 9 p.m.

Gravel and I had a talk ahead of the show about how the band’s lineup got solidified, a studio album that came out last year, a live album that’ll be out very soon and how that live album will be presented.

Rob Duguay: When you were initially putting together The Gravel Project with your brother Jordan, how did you go about rounding out the lineup? Are Dave, Eguie and Sarah friends of yours that you've known for a while or did you meet each of them in different ways?

Andrew Gravel: I’ve met everybody in the band in different ways and the band has actually had a few lineup changes along the way. Even though the band bears Jordan & I’s last name, Jordan wasn’t originally in the group because he didn’t live around Boston at the time I created it. The band got its start with a self-titled album in 2014 and it was a whole different concept back then in that it was songs that I was writing. I didn’t have a steady lineup of musicians for every gig, it was kind of more of a collective at the time which has some pros and cons to that. The band could take different directions based on who the players were depending on the shows, but it’s hard to really build something when it lacks that consistency.

I never wanted it to be just my name, which is why I came up with the band name rather than my own. It wasn't until Jordan moved back to Boston from South Carolina, he’d spent 10 years down in Charleston and he moved back in 2016, that there was a turning point. Dave Fox, who I had met earlier and he was definitely our first call drummer but he wasn’t really a consistent member, was doing all different types of work back then. He did a lot of wedding band gigs so we used some other great drummers too but when my brother moved back, he joined the band and at the same time Dave really upped his commitment. We then worked on a rebranding and at that time we didn’t have Eguie or Sarah, we had Brandon Mays on percussion.

We then wrote a bunch of songs and recorded an album that we released in 2017 called “Wishful Thinking”. That period was sort of a rebirth of the band because Jordan and Dave have been a consistent core ever since but Brandon is no longer with us and we have since added Eguie Castrillo and Sarah Seminski.

RD: In February of last year, you guys released the full-length album “Many Miles Ahead”. Where was it recorded and what was the experience like during the songwriting and recording process?

AG: We recorded Many Miles Ahead at Q Division in Somerville, Massachusetts and it was actually one of the last albums that was recorded there in that location. Their Somerville studio closed and they’re still in the process of moving the studio to nearby Cambridge. The process of recording “Many Miles Ahead” had us really taking our time with it and the reason for that is because we were basically working on songs during the pandemic. We obviously didn’t have any gigs during the pandemic, at least for the first year, and what we did was we got together when it became safe to do so while still working out new song ideas to collaborate and keep the artistic process going. That’s really what we did, we refocused our energy away from playing out and instead towards writing new songs.

Ultimately, we got to the point where it was still during the pandemic but it was an option during that time to go into a recording studio. We were wearing masks and all that stuff, but we went in and started recording all the songs that we had written. The cool thing about the process was I had never taken my time as much as we did with “Many Miles Ahead” because it felt like there was less of a rush to get something out because the world had stopped around us to some extent. I felt like I could marinate on the songs a little bit more while letting it settle in before I could make my final decision, it was a fun process in that regard. It didn’t feel like we had any major deadlines or anything like that, it allowed for a very creative process.

RD: This coming February, you're going to be releasing the live album titled "Live From Wellspring Studios" which was recorded at that studio in Acton, Massachusetts with a video crew and in front of a small gathering of friends & family. How did you go about putting this type of thing together with an intimate audience?

AG: Basically, the idea for doing the live album came out of the fact that we went through a lineup change after the making of “Many Miles Ahead”. That’s never what you want, you put out an album and then the band sort of changes. Brandon [Mays] is a very close friend of mine and an amazing musician, but he sort of went his own way. We had Eguie Castrillo and Sarah Seminski come on and the band really felt like it got raised to the next level with the addition of them and it had to be captured on some sort of recording. We needed to get something out there just to show us other than on people’s cell phone videos on Facebook and stuff like that.

It was my idea to take the band into an environment where we are really live. I’m proud of “Many Miles Ahead”, I think it’s a really cool album but I think at our core we can make the biggest impression on people through our live performance. I wanted to bring this current edition of the band in with this lineup change to capture that on tape and on video. We were trying to think of the best place to do something like that, we looked at some of the gigs we had coming up and we thought about doing some videography & recording at some of them but we wanted a more controlled environment. One of the things that’s really important was how things looked and I had heard about Wellspring in Acton.

I had never worked there myself but I think Dave Fox had done a session there in the past and they’re known for having a very big performance room, which sounded really appealing. I went down there to look at it and I thought it could work great for us playing a live set while having an invite-only small audience. We invited some friends and family, people brought their own drinks and snacks and we just had a great time playing a 10 song set. What is on the album is what happened that night, there’s no overdubbing or anything like that.

RD: When it comes to the track listing for the live album, were you aiming to have the songs be the best representation of The Gravel Project's current live performance or were you looking to have the songs represent something else?

AG: The song order was sort of put together based on what we thought the best flow was of the 10 songs that we decided to record.

RD: That makes sense. With the video crew involved, how do you plan on presenting the live album? Will there be a few music videos being put out ahead of its release to serve as some sort of preview?

AG: The live album drops on February 11 on all the streaming platforms and we’ll also have CDs. In terms of how we’re going to release the video, we dropped two videos already near the end of last year to announce that we have this new album coming out. When it comes to releasing the whole thing, we want that to be something a little separate and special from the album release because it’s very unusual in my opinion to have a live album that has video. We want that to be appreciated, so we’re still thinking about the best way to release it. We don’t have a plan yet, but it’s going to be something separate and special from the album release.


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