The Lonely Biscuits: From Frat House to Festivals
From humble beginnings at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, (a school they are still enrolled in), The Lonely Biscuits have risen out of the college rock scene to become one of the most eclectic alt-rock bands working today in any scene. Initially conceived as dorm room jam sessions between Grady "Gravy" Wenrich (vocals, guitar), Sam Gidley (drums), the duo added John Paterini (vocals, guitar), and Nick Byrd (bass) to form the multifaceted outfit seen today. With four EPs under their belt, 2011’s Soul Food, 2012’s Biscuit Buffet and 2013’s A Girl Named Destiny and Things Sure Have Changed, they’ve successfully built a niche for themselves; aided of course by their unique sound, one that seamlessly fuses funk, hip hop, soul, rap and rock.
They first picked up steam with the release of bemused chill-out anthem "Butter" in 2011, with their effortless laidback appeal quickly gained a larger following. Most recently, they succeeded in making it to the finals of the College Battle of the Bands, a nationwide college band competition, later winning MTVu’s College Artist at the Woodie Awards. Milk Made’s Jake Boyer met founding members Grady ‘Gravy’ and Sam in the dark corner of a bar shortly before a recent gig at New York’s Mercury Lounge to talk to them about upcoming music, juggling homework with a national tour, and what it was like to have someone get married on stage mid-gig.
How did you guys meet and form?
Grady: We met at Belmont University, a school in Nashville. We were random roommates at the time and so we started jamming, the two of us, bass guitar and drums and stuff. Then John joined about a month later, he lived in the same hall. And then Nick, our bass player, three months after that, and he joined from the same hall too.
Sam: We all lived on the same floor, so it just worked out pretty easily.
You all were initially known as Gravy and the Biscuits…what spurred the decision to switch to The Lonely Biscuits?
G: Well, we were just kind of fucking around at first. We weren’t really taking it seriously, so we picked a goofy name.
S: His name is Grady, so his nickname was gravy– people called him gravy in high school.
G: Yeah, and then we got a couple of fans, so we started talking it a little more seriously. We were kind of stuck with the name Grady and the Biscuits, but then a couple of different lawyers and stuff were telling us that if we didn’t change it, we would have copyright issues because there was some other band that was ‘Biscuits and Gravy’ that wasn’t cool with it. [laughs] So we wouldn’t have been able to make our own merch or anything, so we switched it to the Lonely Biscuits. The Lonely Biscuits has no meaning, which is funny.
What can we expect from you guys this year? I know there’s been a string of EPs. Are there any LPs in the works?
S: Yeah, we’ve been spending the last six months writing and recording a bunch of unreleased material. We’re probably just going to put together a collection of songs and figure out how we’re going to release it. We’ve got plenty of big tours coming up in the summer, some festivals and stuff. It’ll be a good year.
Have you guys had anything crazy happen to you on tour?
G: Really just some weird stuff. One time we were flying to Colorado, and we didn’t have a place to stay so we were just going to get a hotel. Our flight attendant, who was this older lady, was like, “Oh are you a band? Let me get a CD. Where are you guys staying?” We were like, “We’re just getting a hotel.” And she was like, “Oh no! Don’t get a hotel. Stay at my house, I’m not going to be there. I’ll put the key in the mailbox.” So we just stayed in her house for a couple of days.
S: Yeah, she just trusted us for some reason.
G: She was very relaxed and very spiritual. She was like, “I could just feel a connection with you guys. You can stay in my house.” And we thought, “Alright!”
S: And then last night.
G: Oh yeah! People got engaged on our stage last night. This girl was our most hardcore fan, since 2011. Not a crazy fan, but would tweet once a month like “I love you, just so you know. You’re still good.” And then I guess her boyfriend was a big fan too. He Facebook messaged us and asked us, “Is it cool if I propose before this certain song on stage?” We said it was cool. So we called him up, he proposed to her and we played the song for them, and that was that. It was pretty cool.
S: Yeah. It was special.
What did you guys listen to growing up? What informed your sonic palette?
G: Well the reason it was so weird at first is because we all came from different parts of the country. I’m from New Jersey. Sam is from Omaha, Nebraska. John’s from Kansas City, Missouri. And Nick’s from Charlotte. So we listened to a ton of different stuff, and it was really just not blended, and that’s why it was so different. Now that we’re living in Nashville, we’re all getting inspired by similar acts.
S: We all live together now. We’re all together in the same house.
G: I’d say now, our new stuff is alt-rock. It still has our style and it’s still ours, but it’s just finding it’s own lane. But I listen to a ton of stuff. I like Parquet Courts a lot and Pavement‘s cool. For hip hop, I guess I’m inspired by the earlier stuff, like Nas and the Beastie Boys.
I hear a little 90’s Beck in some of your early stuff as well.
S: We got to see Beck at ACL a couple of months ago and that was the highlight of my year. He’s super fun.
G: He’s just goofy. He’s this little dude skipping around stage in a tux and rapping.
So would you say that you’re a rapper? Some of your early stuff sounds like you’re rapping.
G: For sure. This past summer we were writing a lot and I was having trouble connecting. When I was writing raps, I wasn’t getting out what I wanted to. I always sang in the band with John and it’s kind of evolved to where, now, in the six new songs we’re playing tonight, I’m singing. It’s just what feels natural. We weren’t trying to do a change. For a while, we were getting stuck– we couldn’t write a good song. I felt like I couldn’t find what I was trying to say. Since then, we’ve written like twelve new songs because we just tweaked something. I’m singing more now and we’re back in a groove. I think I was definitely more rap focused before, but now it’s really just rock.
S: With the rap thing, it started to become this formula where it was first a twelve bar- fifteen bar verse, and then a chorus.
G: It was getting kind of repetitive for us and we didn’t wanna get stuck as a college band. Once we graduate in May, what we were doing could have been mistaken for just college rap. We would have gotten stuck there and we didn’t want to do that. We just figured it out.
So when did you guys graduate?
G: In May.
Of last year?
S: No this year, in a couple of months we’re going to.
G: Yeah, we graduate in May. Nick, the bass player, graduates in August. John will probably graduate next semester, depending on if we get signed for an album. Then he might have to hold off.
How are you guys juggling school and touring?
G: We mainly just do shows every weekend.
S: We’re on spring break right now. So we’re just taking the week to do five or six shows.
G: It’s mainly school on the weekdays and writing and recording on the weekends. Our school cool with it though. They make it easy for us. If we need to go to SXSW or we need to go tour to open up for a bigger act, we can talk to our teachers and they’ll usually give us excused absences. We usually do work on the road. They won’t fail us because of shows, which is great.
So are you guys known around school? Are you the school’s big band or are there a lot of others?
S: There’s like three other bands that are doing good stuff. A lot of them graduated last year.
G: A lot of them dropped out at this point. It’s really only us and one other band that’s still in school, that we know of, that are doing things. And then the rest have all dropped out.
S: There’s a lot of talented and really good bands at Belmont.
Anything else you feel like the readers of MilkMade should know about the Lonely Biscuits?
G: If anyone else feels like getting married at one of our shows, hit us up on Facebook messages and we’ll film it and post it to our social medias!
S: Also be on the lookout for some new music, Summer Chore.
G: We put out two new songs in the past week or so. They really demonstrate what we were talking about earlier with our new sound and how we’re kind of finding ourselves. They’re called “Ma’am” and “Circle Lines” and they’re out on iTunes and Spotify, or I guess you could steal them from somewhere. But yeah. Thank you New York!
The Lonely Biscuits also announced some tour dates coming up
7/16 – Saturn – Birmingham, AL
7/17 – Gasa Gasa – New Orleans, LA
7/18 – Fitzgerald’s Downstairs – Houston, TX
7/19 – Stubb’s Jr. – Austin, TX
7/20 – Club Dada – Dallas, TX
7/23 – The Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ
7/25 – Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
7/28 – Cervantes – Denver, CO
7/31 – Grassroots Festival – Omaha, NE
Photo by Matt Migliorelli