While praising The Grip Weeds, critics often try to pigeonhole them with the “power pop” label. They do excel at driving, poppy melodies, chiming guitars and close harmonies. But the Grip Weeds play many different musical styles, from psychedelic and garage rock to folk-based ballads and thought-provoking social commentary. This diversity has earned several Grip Weeds tunes “Coolest Song in the World” honors on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and has placed Grip Weeds music in several television and film projects. Meanwhile, their reputation as a top-shelf live band has brought them to prestigious festivals and venues around the world, from the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, to Liverpool, England’s legendary Cavern Club.
Family ties are strong in the Grip Weeds. Singer/drummer Kurt Reil is joined by his brother, Rick Reil, and wife, Kristin Pinell, both singer/ guitarists. Kurt’s drum styles at times seem manic and driving, yet with a keen sense of timekeeping; Kristin’s growling, aggressive lead guitar lines are laced with style, emotion and impressive technique; Rick adds his own distinctive guitar and songwriting talents, and the family trio also spearheads the recording and production of the Grip Weeds’ music. The newest member is bassist Dave DeSantis, who played in for a number of top New Jersey bands before settling in with the Grip Weeds. All four Grip Weeds sing and their group vocals have been acclaimed as one of the most distinctive and natural close harmonic blends working today.
The Grip Weeds’ successful commercial recording studio, House Of Vibes, in their home base of Highland Park, NJ, has played host to a number of diverse projects, including albums from New Jersey’s favorite sons the Smithereens, legendary Paul Revere & the Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsay, and sessions with South African choral singers Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It is also where the Grip Weeds have produced the lion’s share of their recording projects to date, starting with their 1994 debut album, which was remixed and expanded in 2007 as House of Vibes Revisited. The Sound Is in You followed in 1998, Summer of a Thousand Years in 2001, and Giant on the Beach in 2004. Following a 2008 compilation release, Infinite Soul: The Best of the Grip Weeds, on Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool record label, the band began work on their soaring 2010 double CD/LP, Strange Change Machine. The holiday-themed project Under the Influence of Christmas came at the close of 2011, followed in 2012 by Speed of Live: In Concert in New Jersey CD and its companion DVD, Live Vibes, videotaped live in the studio at House Of Vibes. Rounding out two decades of recordings is the 2013 rarities collection Inner Grooves (Rare and Under-Released Tracks).
2015 brings what may be The Grip Weeds most ambitious project to date: their sixth studio album, How I Won the War, named after the 1966 Richard Lester motion picture. John Lennon’s character in Lester’s film, “Musketeer Gripweed” inspired the band’s name, and the cover design pays homage to the cult classic movie. Building on the classic Grip Weeds sound while growing and advancing beyond all expectations, How I Won the War promises to blow our minds once again, from a band that is truly “built to last”.