It wasn’t long ago that I chatted to Ash Grunwald about his plans to take his unique style of gritty blues to the US to see how well it would be received, but he has already begun to make quite a name for himself on foreign soil. Playing alongside good friend Xavier Rudd, Grunwald has wowed American audiences and even collected an award for ‘Best International Act’ from the LA Music Critic Awards.
“It was really great how Xavier hooked me up, and the similarities between our music were great,” says Grunwald. “The big difference between us is that my stuff is a lot bluesier, and I guess if there is any country it is good to be bluesy in it’s America.
One of the keys to Grunwald’s recent success in America is his uniqueness, with reviews from the US appreciating just how different he is from any other blues act in America at the moment.
“I’ve always wanted to do something different and that’s always been my focus,” says Grunwald. “There is a lot of good stuff that comes out of Australia that’s unique. I think we shoot for that and try and find a point of difference, we don’t just copy each other. I think the whole one-man band thing, the way I do it, the fact that I am Australian and speak in this accent … it’s a little bit different to what they are used to and I was surprised by the reaction and how into it they were.”
Perhaps the biggest of Grunwald’s achievements while in the US was signing with The Agency Group, one of the biggest booking agencies in America and a big step forwards in his American career.
“That’s the be-all and end-all of touring – having a good agent,” explains Grunwald. “I was self-managed for so many years and the reason I could do that is because I had good agents. Gigging is the main thing now in music and it’s always been the thing for me, so having a good agent in the US that can get you on those tours is just absolute gold. So I’m over the moon about that.”
Fresh from his successful tour of the US, Grunwald is back in his home country and it’s straight back to work with a national tour during August and September – and he’s got a few new tricks for his Aussie fans.
‘I’ll be playing harmonica. I’ve taken that up and that’s been really fun,” says Grunwald. “But, just basically the show that I’m doing now in terms of how it’s set up and the gear I use is a little bit like what I used to do five or six years ago … At the moment I’m just loving the organic kind of vibe and being able to do whatever you feel like whenever you feel like. That’s how my music evolved, and it’s good to get back to that.”
Catch him now though because it won’t be long ’til Grunwald is back in the States, with some big plans later in the year.
“I think the plan at this stage is to record an album in the US late in the year and then possibly get a nice motorhome that we can live in permanently and just live on the road basically,” says Grunwald.
When&Where: The Vine, Bendigo – August 21 & Torquay Hotel, Torquay – August 30
By Zach Broadhurst