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Rooting Out Grunt Garth Adam | The Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunts Bassist
an Emily Blunt interview

TOFOG or Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts is a band getting a lot of attention lately. They are fronted by a bonafide academy award winning moviestar (Russell Crowe-Lead vocals, guitar) and contain, also, a group of not as well known Aussie bandmates-- just as hell-bent on keeping it to the heart and about the music.

Longtime friends, Garth Adam (Bass), Stewart Kirwan (Trumpet, vocals), Dave Kelly (Drums) Dean Cochran (Lead Guitar), Dave Wilkins (Guitar, vocals) , along with their now famous leading man, get together and make their music as often as busy lives allow. Is it a lark? Can you call it a hobby? Maybe. But, they're pretty damn good when they sit down together!

I caught them live in Austin last year in the blazing Texas sun at the tiny Stubb's BBQ aka The Snobby Emporium From Hell. Great brisket though. And a great show, rudely run venue aside.

The show was chock-full of high flying energy, frolicking musicianship and quick witty banter which made the group not only memorable but diminished the "riding the curtails" stories that ran throughout the often less-then-kind press. It was obvious the boys didn't care what the press parasites had to say. For them it was about having fun, rocking, rolling and performing for the people who came from , sometimes, thousands of miles away to hear them. Loyal fans of the band, and yeah, mankebab Crowe.

Their fans weathered 100 plus degree sun and packed standing-room-only conditions to hear them play for a couple of truly entertaining hours. Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts (TOFOG) played tons of songs from their cds (or as they call them, albums<- how precious) and "tested" the water with some tunes being recorded in Austin that same month, and that now appear on the new cd Bastard Life or Clarity (reviewed by Belinda last month).

Garth Adam, the Bass player and sometimes writer of songs for TOFOG, agreed to a cyberview. He's a swell fella, not bad on the retina either. Here's what the lad had to say:

(Also kiddies: The band hosts www.gruntland.com a Mecca for all things TOFOG. There are plenty of links throughout for you to all line up and get yourself some gruntings.)

EB- Wow! TOFOG has become quite a little power house. So much press. Good and not so good. So many new shows. So many exciting places. How was the private concert this spring in Italy? Any famous moviestars there?

GA-It was run by Armani so he and his family were there. Sarah Ferguson was also there plus assorted fashion people, stick thin of whom I didn't know. Lovely country though.

EB- Belinda and I have completely different tastes musically. I was about to dump her roadside on car trip up to the recent Heavy Metal Awards after she said David (on Gaslight) was, well, I'll be nice...But she loved just about every note on Bastard Life Or Clarity and ranted from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando ( Think Sydney to Cairns) about the differences of audio, lyrical, congruency and quality. So, my question is: As BLOC was produced/mixed etc. in legendary recording haven Austin with an extremely tight group of people in and around the cd do you feel the output is the finest from the group yet?

GA-It's the best so far because we finally had a decent amount of time to spend on it. Everything before was always a bit rushed. This time we could concentrate on the album without the distraction of life in Australia, like work and bills etc.

EB- That was a totally unfair question ;) I'm a girl we tend to be...unfair. The songs Cochran/Crowe, and Crowe in particular,come up with are often heavy hearted. The ode to Davey on BLOC is extremely touching if the listeners catch the connection to Daniel Pollock.(a brilliant actor who decided to exit, permanently, stage left from life). Any reason for the flowing sadness. Or is just coincidence. People love to read into these things ya' know...

GA- Writing is a very individual pursuit and I imagine its given Russell a chance to express himself in a way that he wouldn't usually get to do. He believes that music and film are in any case all equally "creative expression".

EB- Not all songs on BLOC are heavy or deep. Like the cut Somebody Elses Princess. Every guy in the world can relate to this one. Sexy baby, has a guy, out-o-luck dude on the outside wishing he was the smitten one. It has a very different sound, catchy, raunchy and late night bar-ish. Every song is so infused with a twinge of difference. Is it possible for you to say then what is/was TOFOG'S musical influences?

GA-I know we can't agree on influences so I believe that we bring our own tastes to the group, safely unstated. We are so used to playing with each other we kind of fall into our own familiar groove.

EB-The BLOC cd reminds me a Friday night down at Maguire's Irish Pub. That whole local band Earthy Celtic lyrical almost folksy flare. Do you think if you all made music a full time gig you'd be making the pub circuit or rock
venues?

GA-We are an intimate pub band. I don't think we would look very convincing as a Bon Jovi kind of band and Russell won't dye his hair blonde for the stadium rock look.

EB- Hmm. I don't know give him a few Tequila shots and...You brought back Wendy and Barry Kable on this cd any personal or professional reasons?

GA-Both Russell and Dean believed that we never really did these songs any justice the first time around. They thought the new treatment of Barry was more in keeping with the sentiment of the lyrics. Also this will be our first commercial overseas release so they wanted these songs to be on the album.

EB- Makes sense. Both were done a justice. Anyone in the group a full time musician?

GA- These days yes. Dave Wilkins, Stewart and now Dean only do music.

EB- And yourself? Warum nicht?


GA- Fulltime is always a maybe. But I myself don't trust the entertainment business and like to have a career in another area for insurance.

EB- Fair enough. Anybody have any formal musical training?

GA-Everybody has to some extent but by far the most trained player is Stewart.

EB- Did you watch Survivor 3?

GA-Not a big fan of these shows. I wish the crocodiles would win and take the prize money in chickens.

EB-Bravo. Survivor (seen it twice under duress) really shows people at there worst. I'd lose immediately- couldn't play the stab-in-the-back game. You're all hitting the road this summer... true?

GA-All of August in the USA and maybe Canada at this stage.

EB- I see there's a contest "bring TOFOG to your town." You have a game plan of the venues yet?

GA-Almost, we are trying to find out where we will be welcome.

EB- I know I'll have you, er, Ft Lauderdale will have you. Avoid Miami- it's a scary unfriendly place. Austin brought a siege of TOFOG and Crowe fans to their door. TOFOG got some pretty awful press a' la musical attacks and bad mouthing from the angry Austinites with no clue as to your purposes for being there...You ready for all that again?

GA-It's unavoidable. Russell's profile brings both good and bad things to the band . We get known a little faster but at the same time we always have a fight proving we are credible.

EB- I saw the whole crazy thing that one weekend. Man, it was pretty hectic. How'd you go back to "life" after all that?

GA- Slowly. It takes awhile to go back to the 9 to 5 but now I'm back in the suit it's just a fond memory.

EB- With all your lives torn in different directions it's so cool you're able to keep TOFOG going. How long have you been playing, collectively?

GA- I don't know. I'll need a calculator. About 1,000 dog years at least.

EB- MATH! Argh. 7 into 1000...So, 140.285 Years? That's so nice. You've penned a few of the songs we hear. What drives you to say "yeah,that would be a great tune."

GA-Just instinct in the end. Something's have promising beginnings but then transform into the equivalent of a musical turd and others just come from somewhere in the ether.


EB- What's your Saturday like, 1/2 way across the world, you wake up, brush the teeth then what?

GA-Normally go for a walk and have lunch. I live in a great neighbourhood.

EB- If money wasn't a necessity what would you do in life?


GA-Travel the world buying all the guitars known to man in all their weird and wonderful shapes.Also I love finding out about other cultures.

EB-As I am a movie reviewer by trade I've got to ask your favorite flick. Don't worry Russell wont read this so you can be honest.

GA-That's a hard one. Can I say that the best movie I have seen in the last few years is Chocolat. I like Chocolat because it is about people of all ages being in love. Its about everyday people rediscovering love and friendship, and, it is cute because the metaphor that expresses these things is people buying chocolate.

EB- The only film in the history of Cinema I haven't seen. Don't ask...It's like my voodoo movie. I've tried. I've tried....Who was your childhood crush?

GA- The girl from the Motels;)

EB- You've traveled a bit with TOFOG. What's been your best experience to date?

GA- I think Austin was the best fun followed by some of the trips up the north coast of Australia.

EB- What's been the worst?

GA- Without doubt a show in Whyalla in South Australia. That was depressing or as we say here "the pits"

EB- Whyalla? Why ya alla go there in the first place (<- I crack myself up...) No seriously, what was so pitsville?

GA- Whyalla is a factory town in the middle of nowhere with very high unemployment, poverty, social problems and drug addiction. It was uncomfortable to be in.

EB- A'la Once Were Warriors land eh? Yeah, that would do it...Have you ever thought about getting in front of the camera yourself?

GA- Only about getting away from it.


EB- Lol. You had a film crew with you in Austin. What was that all about?

GA- Filming all the shows for a live concert DVD to be released sometime in the future.

EB- For those who don't understand the name TOFOG, could you explain its
origin?

GA-Russell came up with it after seeing some film rushes earlier in his career. The phrase [thirty odd foot of grunts] was on those rushes. In the meantime we didn't come up with an alternative so it stuck.

EB-There you have it folks a gruop named after sound effects. Tre' cool or what? Be sure to keep an eye out at both Gruntland and Maximum Crowe for the TOFOG's play dates. I'll try and let y'all know...but I have this busy chickbabe life you know can't be responsible for missing the ticket sale announcement... As Cochran and Crowe themselves penned...
Pointless conversation
Changing nothing
Just wasting time
High stress situations baby
Never been a friend of mine.


TOFOG are worth the effort, honest. Besides, where you gonna see a gaggle of Aussie mansteak of this caliber sweating and gyrating for your musical pleasure without taking a 12 hour flight? Precisely. The cd's mentioned Bastard Life or Clarity, Gaslight can both, as well as a bevy of others, be ordered here->

Band member individual works:

Utopian Babies --Dave Wilkin

Crack Squad-- Stewart Kirwan

 

 

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