As we wrote last month, you’re forgiven if you don’t know what it takes to make it these days. Hell, we can’t even come to a consensus here in the TVD office.
The goalposts have become rather elusive it seems, which is why from time to time we’ll be spending a week with a band or an act attempting to get a fix on the very same. The lows, the highs, and what it takes to survive in the long run.
DC’s The Grey Area are on one of those highs at the moment. Jason and TJ, guitarist and drummer respectively, debuted their new video with us in June and headline Vienna, VA’s Jammin Java next Tuesday night, 7/19.
We’re charting their career trajectory this week and today Jason pulls back the curtain on day one—guitarist meets drummer—and music ensues.
We met over Led Zeppelin. It was an open blues jam at Zoo Bar, in Washington, D.C. TJ was drumming on stage, I was sitting at the bar with a beer and my guitar, waiting a turn. The bassist on stage was struggling to sing and play at the same time, so there were no vocals. Once the jam ended, no one knew what to play next. I hopped on stage, grabbed the mic, looked at TJ, and called out Zeppelin blues in E. We did “You Shook Me” off Led Zeppelin I and we killed it. The rest is history.
The Grey Area | Ourselves
We both credit Zeppelin—with their raw power and sexuality—for changing our conceptions of what music could be. Zeppelin introduced each of us to the blues; a bit ironic for American kids to learn the blues from four Brits.
But Zeppelin pulled off the blues because they could channel the visceral (often sexual) frustration of the genre through Page’s wailing guitar and Plant’s aching vocals. No band has adapted the blues as their own any better.
Blues is a commentary on the pains of existence more than it is a series of scales and chord progressions. Robert Johnson’s “Come On in My Kitchen” and “Travelling Riverside Blues” are laced with sexual tension. “Squeeze my lemon til the juice runs down my leg”—it’s so raunchy and geniusly metaphoric!
That sexuality, energy, and of course the blues chords and scales are a big part of our music. Page and Plant learned it from Robert Johnson and others, and we try to take what we learned from Zeppelin and Johnson and go our own direction, like in our song “You.”