Interview with vocalist/guitarist Parker Griggs | By Thomas Pizzola
San Diego-based heavy psych power-trio Radio Moscow are back with a new album entitled New Beginnings—following up 2014’s Magical Dirt—a new label in Century Media Records, and a renewed sense of purpose.
Sometimes titles are just an afterthought, but in the case of New Beginnings—out Sept. 29—it connotes a new chapter for the band and their major-domo, vocalist and guitarist Parker Griggs. “It signifies leaving the past behind and moving forward to a hopefully brighter, new beginning,” he says. “The lyrics make a lot of sense with the title. Since the last release, a lot has happened in my life and with the band. With this album, I’m trying to shed that skin and move on. These songs were a good way to get it off my chest and be able to move on to the next chapter in life. Writing these songs and making this album was, for me, the only way to get some closure on a lot of different things that I wasn’t able to get closure on in any other way. This is probably the most personal and somewhat frustrated [and] contemplative album in the Radio Moscow catalog yet, because of some major events in the past years.”
While the lyrics might have taken a more contemplative turn, the music is still the same fiery, heavy, blues-influenced psych rock that has garnered the band—Griggs, bassist Anthony Meier, and drummer Paul Marrone—a sizable fan base across the world. This was all intentional. “I also wanted to grow further on the sound we’ve developed,” Griggs says. “It turned out being somewhat of a concept album, and that was kinda cool, because it wasn’t intentional. I wanted to achieve an intense sound that brings to mind our loud live shows, and I think this one captures that pretty well too.”
It’s the next logical step for Radio Moscow. “It’s been a natural evolution, and we’ve always played how we wanted and not been told what to do from outside sources,” he adds. “I think we just keep getting more comfortable, and it’s gotten tighter and a little heavier overall, I’d say.”
Griggs’ guitar playing on New Beginnings is on point: from memorable riffs to mighty solos that don’t skimp on fiery, fuzz-driven passion, he covers all the guitar hero bases. He has also been around long enough to influence a new generation of players—but what influences his style? Fans might be surprised. “I’m a fan of so much stuff, it’s hard to pinpoint just a few, but—some might be surprised that I’m very into a lot of Turkish rock [and] psych,” Griggs reveals. “Overall, a lot of the underground stuff is a bigger influence than the big names some people might expect. Some of my favorite guitar parts might be from a band that only recorded a song or two. One guy you don’t hear much about but [who] is one of my favorites is Keith Cross from T2. [I’m] also a really big fan of Vic Vergeat from Toad and Phil Keaggy from Glass Harp—but the list could go on and on.”
There also must be a reason why the style of rock music Radio Moscow play is still a viable form of expression. Griggs has a theory about psych’s longevity. “Well, to me, it’s the most exciting form of rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s timeless,” he shares. “We are influenced by an era where music was so plentiful and creative. I think psychedelia has been waiting for its comeback for far too long; it was such an important and interesting style to only have been around for a few years in the ‘60s. It seems like a perfect time to relight the torch and keep it going. Plus, the freedom in this style to jam and improv when you want is very refreshing and keeps everyone on their toes. Each night’s a new surprise for some tunes, and nowadays, with so much overproduced music, that is a rare thing.”
This all points to definite new beginnings for Radio Moscow.