This is my third year of reviewing music and interviewing bands. One of the consistently prominent bands in my work who I have followed from the start and actually became friends with is Glasgow’s Lets Play God. In the three years I’ve known them, they’ve had 2 line-up reshuffles which means the only 2 original members are vocalist Rob Grinch and drummer John Coll. They’ve released 2 albums, 1 DVD and performed countless shows and festivals. They have gotten better and better and in the past 6 months, they’ve become the band they always seemed to be striving to be.
This year they’ll be touring Europe, releasing two albums and hopefully playing more local shows. Last month, I managed to get them all together to talk about their plans, their dramas and how they feel about the current line-up.
I think this is one of my best interviews yet and definitely my best with Lets Play God. It’s funny, insightful and sometimes deep. Enjoy the ride! If you want to check out the band themselves, click here.
In the past eighteen months, you’ve had two line-up reshuffles. Tell me about some of the problems you’ve faced and what led to two members leaving.
Rob:[Turns to John 2] Why did Gregg (former guitarist) leave?
John 2: [Laughs] I knew you were going to say that!
Rob: Gregg left because he wasn’t making any money
John 2: Wasn’t Chris former bassist) the same, though? He just didn’t feel like it was going anywhere?
Rob: … Aye.
John 2: Just got fed up trying I suppose
John: It’s more of a lifestyle than work, really
Rob: Both of them just didn’t want to do this any more… they wanted to do other things. We still wanted to be in a band and annoy people.
Once members do leave, what are the problems you face as a band? As well as finding a new member, is it hard to readjust?
John 2: Well, no it depends. When Chris left and we got Alex, I didn’t find it hard to readjust because we really got on so well.
Rob: I found it really hard because until you find the next guy, it’s really hard.
John 2: There’s no readjusting necessary when you do find him though, it’s so easy
John: Our music’s always changing. Once the other members left, the ones who replaced them brought their own personalities, their own inputs. So, the music is going to a good place so any readjusting is worth it.
You’ve told me in the past, after an album is recorded, that is when a band are at their most vulnerable. This year you did a short tour in Scotland, would you say that vulnerability is there after a tour as well?
Rob: No, it’s the opposite. I always think when a band releases a CD… That’s when they’re most likely to split. Just because of money and everything that comes with the production. There’s been so many bands I’ve seen that have released a CD and then split up. A tour is different. Touring is like a drug and once you stop touring, you want that drug even more. We all suffer from it, badly. So no, it’s the complete opposite. This band is built to tour. We love gigging and when we don’t get that… it’s really hard.
John 2: Once you do it and then come back… it’s back to reality.
Rob: Well everybody says you’re coming back to reality but to us, reality is touring. This isn’t our reality. It’s a long waiting game to the next time we can play.
John: I think it’s an addiction to the freedom that touring brings.
What would you say you’ve learned in even the last year?
John: Go with the flow. Don’t try to control your own destiny. Nothing goes to plan.
Rob: For me, I think the important thing about being in a band is the same as being in a relationship. Don’t pay attention to the little things. We’re all in it for the same reason so yeah, go with the flow. Have fun, man.
John: Keep going forward and don’t look back. Looking back stops you. Don’t put the brakes on.
John 2: Sometimes I don’t even look forward!
On a lighter note, what have you got planned next?
Rob: Right now, we’re recording the demos as we write what is, I don’t want to say an ‘acoustic album’. It’s a hangover album. We want to record two CD’s, one crowd-funded (click here to find out more and donate!) and one of slightly more chilled songs. If you think like, Metallica-Load, Alice in Chains- Jar of Flies sort of thing. I’ve always wanted to do an album like this and now we’re actually sitting and writing it. It’ll probably be released after we tour Europe in the Summer. Until then, we’re skint.
John 2: Amsterdam on the first day might be a mistake.
Rob: And the last day!
John 2: The last day is alright, it’s okay to die at the end of the tour!
John: Yeah, I’ll be getting fished out of one of those canals, man. The Drunken Scotsman!
Rob: You were doing that in Dundee, nevermind Amsterdam!
Did you have any reservations about doing a fundraiser? These sort of campaigns have been very hit and miss with people… Are you worried about how fans will react?
Rob: It’s going to be hard. Even if we just get £10, it’ll help. We’re not worried about reactions though, we’re not forcing anybody to donate.
At which point do you think you’ll call it a day? Is there an expiry date on Lets Play God? I’ve asked this before.
John: There isn’t an expiry date. Either one of us dies or we all die. Craig driving… We’ll all die. That’s when the fame comes. When we’re all dead.
Rob: When it stops being fun.
John 2: I don’t see that happening, though.
That’s what you said last time!
Rob: We don’t like thinking like that. That’s like saying when are you and Gavin going to split up?
John: You really can’t plan the future.
John 2: If it ends, it’ll end on the day we decide it ends
John: I’ll just start a Lets Play God tribute band!
Alex: Journey’s new singer was found on Youtube. He was part of a Journey tribute band!
John: Aye- see?!
Rob: That’s what’ll happen. We’ll split and then we’ll all get together to form a Lets Play God tribute band.
Earlier this year you said you were no longer playing shows in Glasgow and recently, you changed your mind. What was your motivation for both leaving and coming back?
Rob: We feel like going outside Glasgow and playing everywhere left us out of touch. Bands we know were playing here and we didn’t go. We realised we were losing where we came from. Losing Chris meant we had to build it back up, all of our connections. We played Ivory Blacks two weeks ago and it was brilliant! The thing is… when you play somewhere else you need to find out when everyone’s free, you need a driver… It costs a lot of money. When you play Glasgow you don’t have to deal with that. In Glasgow it’s just like, Are we all free? Fuck it! Let’s play!
John: I really think you’ve got to go away to appreciate your roots.
Do you feel like this line up is the best yet?
John: Absolutely. We’ve been partying more! We’ve actually all been here for what, 24 hours? I like it. We’re childish, drunk, have a laugh.
Rob: You were saying about roots… Right now, this is how it’s meant to be. The fact that we’re in a band almost has nothing to do with how great we are together. We go out, we meet people, we have drinks, have fun and then we go to rehearsal. It’s not a job.
John: We never seem to fight!
John 2: That’s something I’ve noticed. When I first joined, there were always arguments. I felt so awkward. They were arguing about things I didn’t know about. Once we made the changes that we have, everything improved.
John: It’s easy now. It’s given us a lot of space to open up and create music without any hurdles.
Rob: That’s another reason for the soft CD, there were things holding us back but the drive never went away. When you last interviewed us 6 months ago, we were a different band. We’re such a different band. I couldn’t even compare.
Alex joining was incredible. When Chris left we thought we were fucked. We had a whole tour booked and any bassist that came along had to learn 14 songs, at least, in a month. How did we meet Alex?
John 2: We were in the pub and he came over and said are you the guys from Lets Play God? and we said Yeah! Can you play bass? We asked him if he wanted to try out, he did a week later and straight away, we loved him!
Rob: I remember saying to you [John 2] that we should use the tour as a trial to see if he fits in, see how he feels and then you told me that when you first joined, you had no idea what was happening…
John 2: I was constantly like am I in, am I not? We decided to just tell him he was in so we went over to him in the pub and said he was in. He was so happy.
Rob: He went on tour, puked everywhere!
John 2: Chatted up some lesbians!
Rob: Alex joining really built that fire back up so much so that we added dates onto the tour. We played Galashields and Leicester. He didn’t just learn the songs, he nailed them. Obviously once the tour was done, we went back to rehearsal and we were all saying this is how it’s supposed to be.
John: I actually worried a lot about how it’d turn out with Alex because when we got John 2 it was a blessing. He was just perfect for the band, it was all very easy and I just thought… how likely is it that we’ll have that again? There was a guy we tried out for a while and I liked him but it all felt kind of forced. We needed a blessing and I think Alex coming in is proof to me that there’s a higher force out there looking after us. Something up there.
Rob: There’s so many coincidences in that story that hearing it you must just be thinking aye okay…
John: Alex was totally the piece that was missing.
Rob: Was that a good enough answer?
John 2: What was the question?!
What’s your favourite song of your own?
John: Mine always changes.
John 2: For me, Flies. I love it.
John: Suck It Up. It’s fun to play, I’m always in the zone when playing it. Alex’s is Pride. [All laugh]
There’s an in-joke here…
Alex: I hate Pride.
John 2: It’s a good song but I hated it when I first joined as well. It’s a good song to listen to but a fucking knob to play!
I grabbed vocalist Rob Grinch for a few quick questions about their ‘soft’ album.
There’s a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve wanted to do it for such a long time that I just thought fuck it, let’s do it. Another is, nobody else is doing this. We’re known as a heavy metal band, we want to make people surprised! I want them to appreciate us more and maybe piss some people off as well.
What should I expect?
It’s dark. Really dark. There’s so many things you can do with a certain type of music. Think of Alice in Chains, Johnny Cash. I think people listen more when it’s just one guy and an acoustic.
Was it challenging- to step away from what you usually do?
Literally until the minute we pressed record it was challenging for me. I was worried about my singing. I’ve been singing a lot more [than screaming], I realised I really had to change and then when we started, John 2 and I both had songs we wanted to play. The minute we started, it came naturally.
John 2 is an amazing guitar player and this band is quite limiting for him, I don’t want him to just be our guitar player, I want him to shine.
I wanted to do this for a long time but I didn’t want it to be a side project. I can sing as well, and I want to show that.
I wanted it to be part of our merch desk; there’s our first album, our second and our soft CD. I just want to see it there.
There is such a range of people at shows and I never realised it. There’s teenagers, mothers, grandmothers and I thought for people who say that we’re good but not their kind of thing… they can try this album. It’s going to be arranged in a way that the songs eventually build. Hangover music!
Maybe once people hear this, it’ll get them into our heavier stuff.
John 2: I can’t listen to heavy stuff in the morning. I think you need to build up to it or you just die. Black Label Society are my hangover music. I always put on Damage is Done.
Rob: And that, is what I want this to be.