by Dawn Duncan
In the world of bands, there are countless stereotypes, one of which being that bands can’t get along or stay together. Colorado-based rock band Musketeer Gripweed defies this statement wholly, as they are not only turning the corner and celebrating ten years together as a band, they are friends who truly enjoy the company of each other. Following our June cover shoot at the home of lead singer, Jason Downing, the group engaged in an intimate, authentic conversation about what life is like in Musketeer Gripweed and how they continue to break the rules normally associated with “making it” as a band; the true definition or rock and roll.
Ben Hockett, bass player for MG, commented that the band is now experiencing, “more band ‘ESP’ than ever before,” as they are all writing together in addition to bringing their signature form of chemistry on stage. “Playing this long and this frequently allows us to mentally link while performing,” Hockett added. “We’ve come into our own now,” added Matt Goldberg, keys player. Gripweed is currently reworking older material with the ferocious energy they put into new material: continuously changing, and re-recording songs they have had in their catalogue for years, keeping the vibe and performances new and exciting. Jason Downing commented, “The longer you play together, the better it is. We’re feeling really present in our work now and writing great songs, redoing old ones, shifting focus. This is no nostalgia trip, it’s about making new and exciting original music, with even more connectedness between us.”
The ebb and flow of Musketeer Gripweed is one that you can sense immediately when sitting with the band. They are calm, collected, and reflective, as well as sarcastic and brutally honest with each other at times, which is in stark contrast to the full throttle, wild energy that this band delivers in its live performances. Known for electrifying and audience-engaging songs, Musketeer Gripweed is an anomaly in their offstage versus onstage personality, but in other ways as well.
Goldberg commented, “We respect each other and each person’s individual life. We want to do this forever, and one way we can make that happen is through respect.” Musketeer Gripweed rose hard and fast in the music scene in Colorado, quickly garnering the attention of big promoters, booking agencies, and management. Although the band has only positive comments about this experience, they made a conscious choice a few years back to pull away from what they deem the common outside pressures and channels that most bands go through; but Musketeer Gripweed is not most bands, far, far from it. Touring extensively, playing hundreds of shows a year, forcing new material, being enslaved to constant self promotion online (clearly uncomfortable for this low key group of guys), and the day to day business operations piece are all areas that Musketeer Gripweed chose to push the reset button on and re-evaluate as a band. “It wasn’t like us, this family of musicians, to be pushed towards what someone else wanted,” Downing commented. He added, “Playing and writing music with others is all about checking your desire and your ego. All of us decide together what we really want. What is best for the band is not what others tell us is important, but what we decide is key.” This is the band that chose family and friendship over rushed fame or fortune. Hockett added, “We have a family values type atmosphere where we can fight like brothers and be okay at the end of it. It works well this way.”
Hockett and Downing, who started the band together ten years ago, are also both fathers of young children and focused on the immense challenge of juggling work, band life, and family while trying to keep some sanity and peace. “Our families respect the love and work we have for this project, so we respect our families,” Hockett added. “It has to go both ways.” Along with the other members and their significant others, the band works to achieve what guitarist Ehren Crumpler calls a “fine balance.” Ten years, five kids, and countless shows, miles, and adventures later, Musketeer Gripweed is relaxed and riding the wave of self-defined success: on their own terms, with their families. “What could be more rock and roll?” Downing slyly said. “Our most impressive accomplishment is simply that we have stayed together, and continue to approach music with the same intensity as a decade ago.” He added, “We’ve done big shows, played massive stages in front of thousands, and we’ve had fun. The comfort and chemistry factor is what matters most.” Together ten years and still rehearsing diligently every week together to create new music and lasting friendship is testament that the gasoline-induced recipe for rock and roll Musketeer Gripweed has concocted works.
Scene Magazine wishes the band sincere congratulations on their ten years together and all the best for the years to come!
Don’t miss Musketeer Gripweed’s ten year anniversary party at Hodi’s, June 10, with a special guest lineup featuring Dirt Revival from Portland, OR, and special FoCo musical guests. The band is planning several events this year to celebrate with their FoCo family.
8pm, $12 adv, $15 dos (+ $5 under 21)