The Quivers

Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham

It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

For this week's edition of Grinding Gears, we sit down with Todd Grantham, keyboardist and all-around good guy of The Quivers. He gives us the exclusive on stealing vibraphones, pling-plinging and the burns.

Read our interview at the link here!

You can also preview The Quivers' latest EP Gots To Have It! at the Bandcamp streaming link below. They'll have physical copies at their show at The Brick this evening.

-Michelle Bacon

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Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham




Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham


It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

This week we talk with Todd Grantham, also known as the suave ivory tickler of The Quivers.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Todd Grantham: 

I play a Roland XP-80 and a 1968 Vox Continental organ with The Quivers.  I think the XP-80 was introduced in 1996. That's the year I first bought the smaller Roland model - the XP-50.  They both have 3.5" disk drives. So cute. I like the XP series. 

At home, when I'm relaxed and want to play sitting down? I play a 1959 Cable Nelson Spinet piano.  It's been in the family since before I was born and I've been playing - mostly banging on that piano since I was a baby. I love it. You can't make a keyboard thunder and rumble quite like it.

The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Todd: Opportunity, convenience, good fortune and affordability.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Todd: Sometimes it's a little toot or a beep. Sometimes it goes Rrrrrrrarrrrrrrwwwwwrrr. When I'm in a hurry on piano it goes pling pling pling.


The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Todd:  The Quivers have become a full-time job for me. I couldn't be more artistically satisfied playing with this gang. But I played organ and piano on a few songs for Red Kate's upcoming album. Can't wait for that to be released. Holy cow, them boys are serious! Their song "Hypnotized" is gonna be big! You'll see.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Todd: I've toyed with an accordion and a tin whistle, and can make a harmonica groan like a flattened tire. Oh, and I shouldn't say this, but for at least a dozen years I've had a vibraphone that doesn't actually belong to me. If the rightful owner sees this, I'll probably have to kiss that vibraphone goodbye. So this is off the record, right?

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Todd: Locally? Jason Beers plays a wicked organ with Wild Chipmunk & The Cuddly Poos. He sickens me with how effortlessly fantastic he is. You know what? This is a difficult question. He's not a favorite, nor inspirational. He's freakish. He's a mutant. He should be shunned and banished from society. Devil-man! Devil-man! He loosens our morals and our morale, and I hear he's one of those free-thinkers.

The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Todd: If it were the ideal dream, we wouldn't be talking about musical gear.

The Deli:

 Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Todd: To be honest with you? I don't shop for gear. Bernie [Dugan] tells me, "You need to get one of these…" and then he goes out and GETS IT FOR ME! I love my friend! But he makes me play extra pretty for him.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Todd: recordBar always does us well. I recommend the Cowtown Mallroom too. The acoustics in there are a hoot.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Todd: Oh god… Oh GOD the burns! Call 911.

Although Todd probably doesn't have the burns, you can catch him performing tonight at The Brick with The Quivers. They'll be joined by The Wild Ones and Bummer City, both from California. The Quivers' new EP Gots To Have It! will also be available this weekend!

-Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She enjoys the smell of Elmer's School Paste, but never the flavor.

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Todd Grantham

Photo courtesy of Steve Gardels 

The Quivers 




Show review: Drop A Grand/The Quivers/Radkey/Soft Reeds at recordBar, 6.30.12

(Pictured above: Isaiah Radke of Radkey)

recordBar was home to a diverse showcase of local musicians on Saturday night, handpicked by Sonic Spectrum host Robert Moore. Drop A Grand, The Quivers, Radkey, and Soft Reeds played to an interested and expectant crowd.

The night started out with Drop a Grand.  This was my first experience of them, and indeed an experience they are. Electronically playful costumed noise punk like AC/DC, the Sex Pistols, and Elton John getting lost in the keyboard room at Guitar Center. The songs were short, loud, and brash, often sounding like the musical version of a stoned teenager fumbling at the top button of his high school sweetheart’s skinny jeans.  The wolf playing bass (Steven Tulipana) brought the technological side, often howling into the microphone through various processed effects. Overall, fun and interesting.

Kansas City's Motown napalm darlings, The Quivers followed Drop A Grand. A little bit country, a little bit rock 'n’ roll, a little bit Carrie Fisher with a flamethrower, their groovy tunes really got Ricardo dancing. Their set was quick, no nonsense, and a hell of a lot of fun. The well-dressed band jumped from song to song, never letting the sweaty crowd get too much of a break from the groovy vintage tunes. The set really picked up steam in the second half when vocalist Terra Peal let her voice play in the sandbox a little. Her vocals carry a combination of pure power and snarl that contrasts wonderfully with the organ and guitars beneath.

Next up were the young men from St Joseph, Radkey. Sporting clean cheeks, dreadlocks, and one fantastically groomed Billy Dee Williams moustache, they brought a simplistic and raw energy to the night.  Their straightforward rock n roll borders on radio metal at times and is the perfect music to nervously bite your fingernails to. It comes across as a young man’s Van Halen/Misfits mash up, minus the chainsaw guitar solos and the really, really short bodybuilder singer obviously compensating for something. They were tight, strong, and kept the crowd (who mostly seemed to be there for them) cheering for more.

Finishing out the evening were the hipster prophets themselves, Soft Reeds. Easily the most seasoned and talkative group of the night, Soft Reeds brought the show home with their energetic blend of dance rock. Despite their best effort to emulate The Killers or Franz Ferdinand, the Soft Reeds pop more when they allow themselves wade into the Talking Heads side of the pool. That said, they showed a true mastery over the cliffhanger art of dynamically building songs up to almost the brink of bursting only to stop them suddenly. It is certainly good music to not think too hard about and just sway side to side.

--Zach Hodson

Zach is a lifetime Kansas City resident who plays multiple instruments and sings in Dolls on Fire, as well as contributing to many other Kansas City music, art, and comedy projects.  He is very fond of edamame, treats his cat Wiley better than he treats himself, and doesn't want to see pictures of your newborn child (seriously, it looks like a potato).

Photos © Todd Zimmer, 2012. Please do not use without permission.


On The Beat with Bernie Dugan

This week's edition of On The Beat features multi-faceted drummer Bernie Dugan of The Brannock Device, Cher U.K., and The Quivers. He's a busy guy and a gear head. How does he do it? Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is a weekly interview brought to you by drummer Sergio Moreno (of Hillary Watts Riot and Alacartoona), and features some of the many talented drummers in the Kansas City area.


On The Beat with Bernie Dugan



On The Beat with Bernie Dugan


Bernie Dugan’s style is a lot like the many drumsets he’s collected through the years; rooted in tradition, warm in sound, steady in performance and most importantly, sparkly and fun. As the drummer for The Brannock Device, Cher UK and The Quivers, Dugan has swiftly become a staple of our local music scene.

The Deli: How did the drums find you?

Bernie DuganMy brother and brother-in-law both play drums. I started out playing on my brother's set. He is a lefty, so I would always have to rearrange his drums. I bought my own set in 1985, after saving up my money.

The Deli: Tell us about your collection.

BD: It is a slippery slope...You buy one, then another...and if you are not careful, you end up with more drums than room to keep them in. I got out of control in the late 1990s. I owned 12 drum sets and 40 or 50 snare drums. I just kept on finding good deals. I eventually grew tired of the size of my collection and scaled it down. Currently each band I am in has its own drum kit complete with bass drum art and I keep a kit in my practice space.

The Deli: What's up with vintage drums?

BD: I have a love-hate relationship with vintage drums. They can have a great warm tone that can't be duplicated with modern materials, but old drums have problems. Vintage drums were not made with the same precision that drums are made with today. Older drums have characteristics that you have to work around. Inevitably, parts fail and that can be a hassle especially when you are on stage.

I played vintage drums exclusively for years. Then one day, I had enough. Forty-year-old drums are not built to withstand the abuse I was dishing out at the time. I sold all of my vintage drums except for a snare drum and bought some second-hand, custom-built drums.

Some of the custom drum builders are making outstanding instruments. They tune easily, stay in tune and the modern hardware is so much more reliable. I played a number of custom kits for nearly 10 years and avoided vintage drums until I used the studio kit for the latest Brannock Device recording. It was a beautiful 1960s Ludwig Blue Sparkle kit. I was hooked. I never realized how much I missed that warm, woody tone. Shortly after I picked up the Gold Sparkle Ludwig kit that I use with The Quivers.

The Deli: Obligatory question: your favorite drummers. And why?

BD: I have too many favorites to list. My first favorite was Stewart Copeland. At the tender age of 14, he floored me. I couldn't comprehend why he sounded so different but I knew what he was doing was important. Ringo is on the list because he has style. Some of Ringo's beats will stick in your head like an ear worm. Max Roach is my favorite jazz drummer because he possessed all of the technical ability, yet had a very organic feel. Stephen Hodges is pretty remarkable, he has played on my favorite Tom Waits songs and my favorite Mike Watt songs.

The Deli: What's your process?

BD: The songs dictate much of what I do and I play what feels right to me. It is pretty simple, I don't try to analyze a song, I just try to feel it. I approach each band differently. With The Quivers, I have to keep it solid. I lock in with the bass and leave plenty of room for the rest of the instruments. I play what needs to be played while keeping it satisfyingly interesting. The Brannock Device is something completely different. It is about pushing and being shoved, but in a good way.

The Deli: Playing in three different bands, is it ever tricky?

BD: I just enjoy playing music and truly enjoy the people I play with. I consider my band members some of my best friends and would hang out with them even if we weren't in bands together.

Scheduling is the only real complication because, like me, most of my bands' members also play in multiple bands and/or have extensive solo performances.

Bernie is a busy drummer; if you haven’t seen him play yet, you will. Catch him live at recordBar this Sunday, June 24 with The Brannock Device (Sonic Spectrum’s tribute to The Minutemen) and June 30 with The Quivers (Sonic Spectrum’s Local Music Showcase).

 -Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.


Bernie Dugan
Bernie Dugan 


The Brannock Device
Into The Witness Chamber

The Quivers
The Quivers EP

Cher U.K.
She's A Weird Little Snack