In the grand tradition of theatrical heavy metal comes the most outlandishly wonderful and disturbingly kick ass character to ever grace a stage. Ladies and gentlemen, Granny 4 Barrel is set to turn your expectations of senior citizens on their ear.
No demure, cookie-baking, church going, conservative white-haired bespectacled grandmother, the character of Granny is a walking contradiction in a wig and dress. Full of a youthful sense of rebellion and independence, she was designed to shatter expectations and prejudices, all the while delivering a message about personal expression, individualism and the potent power of loud, aggressive music.
While not being interviewed in character, the creator of the Granny, who is a veteran male hard rock musician from upstate New York, prefers to be addressed and referred to as Granny. So for the purposes of continuity and to avoid confusion, the personal pronoun ‘she’ will be used throughout this article.
As advertised in her own promotional material, Granny is equal parts Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, with a little bit of Mama from the Carol Burnett Show and Mama’s Family thrown in.
“She represents freedoms of expression, no limits on a person. And I channel her rage and insanity. In society, there are these stereotypes based on age, sex, race etc. Granny just shatters the mold. Her mantra is unleash your true self, make your own rules, anything is possible,” said Granny’s creator.
The character has been evolving for the past few years, initially having more of a bluegrass/hillbilly element to it. But now Granny is full on metal, with a definitive Steam Punk look to her and her band, which is comprised of ‘family’ members.
“They are an extension of the original family, although these new characters are a lot darker. We have The Maestro, and he is the violin player, The Butcher is the guitar player and then the drummer is The Alchemist. These are sort of the neo-Victorian figures that back up Granny,” she said, adding that the unique make-up of the instrumentation for the band is also part of the allure of the act.
“There is just something about the violin. It’s a classical instrument that is so versatile and such a melodic instrument. But’s also kind of scary looking and has been used in horror movies for years to evoke suspense and fear. I think it absolutely fits in with metal.”
The first single and video to be released under this latest, more focused and evocative incarnation of Granny 4 Barrel is for the anthemic Freak Flag, the video for which features a diverse array of extras from various subcultures proudly being themselves.
“All you have to do is take this song at face value. It’s about expressing yourself, being who you’re supposed to be and not feeling bad or sad about it. And that’s reflected in the video, which turned out so much better than we ever expected. We didn’t control any aspect of the casting. The call went out and we never said we wanted someone to look like this and someone else to look like that. We didn’t do that, we just put it out there that we were looking for unique individuals and waited to see who would show up, and the people in the video are the ones that showed up,” said Granny.
Freak Flag is the first of a number of singles that will be released over the coming weeks and months, in anticipation of an album coming out sometime in 2018.
“That sense of personal empowerment is a common theme on the album but also I have this fascination with female villainesses and femme fatales. I like to see females getting revenge. I like to have songs that channel the rage created by their oppression. Piledriver is a song like that and it’s one that I am pretty sure will be a single and that’s very much about a femme fatale. There are some powerful songs like that which have a message, but there’s also some stories being told by Granny. And you would expect nothing more than for an old woman to want to tell you a story at a rock show – a heavy metal story. And that’s what she will do,” she said.
The music for Granny 4 Barrel is being produced by industry veteran Jeff Tomei, who has worked with the likes of Skid Row, Matchbox 20 and The Smashing Pumpkins.
“When the bar is raised while working with a guy like that you’re just going to be better because of the experience. And he made that happen. He is fantastic to work with. He is very accommodating and very direct. He knows what he wants and is a total pro. I mean, how can you not be impressed by his discography? He is fantastic,” Granny said.
Granny 4 Barrel will be performing dates throughout the winter and spring and Granny herself said she is adamant that the band will be making an appearance north of the border to visit her ‘Canadian cousins.’
For more information, visit www.granny4barrel.github.io.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for a quarter of a century. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at email@example.com.