We say band but, well, Grumble Bee is not a band. It’s a man, called Jack, who writes as a solo artist that looks and sounds like a big rock band, and it’s pretty damn awesome.
Having been in bands before Jack Bennett, who hails from Walsden in West Yorkshire, went down the path of creating the Grumble Bee solo project a couple of years ago.
As he tells us: “I’ve always been pretty focused on having ‘music’ become my career in whatever shape that might be. So I guess following on from our previous band, into the world of self-obsession is just another outlet to put my songs out there. It just takes a bit longer, but now I haven’t got anyone else to blame other than myself for every progression or failing!”
Not only does he play a lot of instruments to form the Grumble Bee sound, everything you hear on a Grumble Bee record is played by him. As he explains: “I’ve always had the fortune of opportunities, and my parents have massively supported the whole musical side of things from an early age. I try to play every instrument, whether applicable to the song or not, as I absolutely love the learning curve and reward of expressing myself on whatever instrument that is.
“At the minute, I’d say I’m a ‘songwriter’ who sings, but secondary I play the guitar, drums, piano, bass as my main daily things – and have practised for years on and off with the saxophone and violin. I do play everything on every track yeah, but it’s not because I think I’m the best person for the job – just the cheapest.”
The latest offering is the full-band version of Heron, following a piano version last year, which was released on Friday. It opens with a bit of electric noise then a big intro of guitars and strings then a powerful opening verse of vocals supported by pounding drums and guitars. A calmer section of “It’s all about us now” leads into a singalong verse of “Take me out of sight, Take me out of mind” that ends on a brief scream.
The energy picks up again in the second verse, ending on a big scream then dropping into another calmer pre-chorus section and another singalong chorus that brings the track to an end. Check it out in the video below:
Grumble Bee exudes diversity, reining in a range of musical influences that shaped his tastes growing up. His own personal inspirations range from Brand New, City & Colour and Thrice through to Craig David and Justin Timberlake, but on top of that there’s his brother’s 90’s R’n’B, soul and motown all the way through to his dad’s love of The Cure, The Smiths, Pearl Jam and Deftones, which means there’s truly something for everyone.
As Jack tells us: “All of that mixed together then every sub-genre of melody and rhythm I’ve picked up from my own experiences between. It’s everything I love and hate lyrically, with occasional positive and (hopefully) uplifting melodies.”
The powerful and engaging Grumble Bee sound comes across on the excellent Red, with it’s big singalong chorus and big rockiness countered by delicate vocals over acoustic guitars. Check it out in the video below:
While even earlier track Sky Writer, from Grumble Bee’s debut EP, is simply superb. It opens with a really cool screechy intro, which is so good it makes the hairs on your arms stand on end, then an engaging vocal-led verse that gradually builds to the return of the funky screechy riff. Check that out in the video below, which has amassed an impressive 25,000 views:
In terms of what inspires his music, Jack explains: “Most of the time my favourite songs are in vein of something incredibly sad – like a break-up or an animal dying. That seems to push my favourite emotions out, without any other emotions sort of ‘moderating’ the songwriting. This usually means I write the songs really quickly, but equally I’ve written some of my least favourite songs as combinations of B-sides which I didn’t care much about at all lyrically.”
At the time of interviewing – yes, it was a while ago, bad GR – Grumble Bee was buzzing about Europe on an acoustic tour supporting Yellowcard’s Ryan Key and Normandie. He’s also been helping out Dream State with some production work and re-mixed a song for Mercury Prize winner Sampha for Game Of Thrones – so it’s safe to say he keeps himself busy.
There’s plenty more to come too, with a UK and European tour supporting the mighty Arcane Roots and Brutus kicking off at the end of next month. More info on that is here.
Grumble Bee is a very talented musician not only making some great music of his own but also doing some great things with other musicians, so check him out. He’ll have a new EP out in April, which will be a combination of full band and piano version tracks, so keep an eye out for it.