Host: That’s Granger, a three-piece pop-punk band from Joplin, who recently offered a ukulele-driven acoustic performance from in the University Relations & Marketing office here at Missouri Southern. Think NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk’ series … minus the desk.
The trio features a few connections to Missouri Southern — Luke DeWitt, is a support technician with IT’s HelpDesk, and Torey Smart, is a clerk in the Bookstore who is also a graduate of the Music Department.
Not to be left out, drummer Hunter Vaughn is quick to mention his connection to MOSO … his high-school prom was held here on campus.
I’m Scott Meeker, and in this episode of MOSOunds, we’ll learn more about the band, the debut album they’re currently prepping and why their passion for Mexican food is a recurring theme.
If the members of Granger seems to have a natural chemistry, it’s because this isn’t their first time making music together.
Luke: Hunter, Tory and I used to be in a different band a long time ago. That band was called Of Course Not. We used to tour – did that about two years straight out on the road and over time it got really strenuous, it started getting stressful and there was this one breaking point show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
We got put on a show … it was a hip-hop show, and Of Course Not was not a hip-hop band. And so we were, you know, “It’s going to be fine” … there was this guy, he was super stoked, he was the show promoter and he’s telling us “This is going to be the best show and we’re going to have all these people here.” He was right. There were a lot of people there, and they had people at the door to take money, but all the people snuck in the back. Every single person there just went in the back and didn’t pay entrance fees. So we ended up not getting any money from the show
And then, like, they didn’t understand we were in a pop-punk band. They didn’t have a PA system. All the rappers were just playing tracks from a CD player.
Torey: They just had a microphone and a tiny CD player, basically. OK, we can’t play full band so we’re just going to play acoustic.
Hunter: We played “Over the Rainbow.”
Luke: And the whole show, there’s a hype man guy with a laptop hooked up to the CD player. And the spacebar was rigged to the air horn … “BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW.” He was doing that the whole show. It was fine, but he did it over our acoustic set also.
Torey: So we’re ending “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” it’s beautiful and he’s like “BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW BEEEOOWWWW.” That was the night we decided we no longer wanted to be Of Course Not. We were going to come home, write an album, we were going to record an album, and change our band name….
Luke: Las Vegas was so bad we quit the band because we hated music after that night. So Granger is what rose from the ashes of Of Course Not. We haven’t done any touring yet. I’m sure at some point we will, but we’ll most likely skip Las Vegas.
Host: As Granger, they’ve been hard at work on their debut album, which will be released later this summer.
Torey: It’s called “Dear Sam.” It’s a concept album, so every song on there … there are two meanings. There’s the face value meaning, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll realize there’s actually a concept.
Luke: We’ve already released a couple songs and they’ve been received really positively. Really stoked about all the nice things people have said about them. It’s been a blast. We’re so excited to finally get it out the door.
Hunter: Luke is for sure the main voice, especially for this album, because it’s a personal experience of his and Torey’s. A lot of the story comes from Luke’s background and he’s a really good writer … I’ll bring the drums.
Luke: Torey helps come up with the concept for a song … she works on the big picture. I’ll put it into lyrics, melody and chords. And then Hunter structures that into something that’s listenable.
Luke: He’s in the beat laboratory.
Hunter: Torey’s also the filter.
Luke: That’s also true. Hunter and I will spend a week on something and be like “This is the most sick thing ever,” and then Torey will be like, ‘This is garbage.’ So Torey shuts us down, we take it back to the drawing board and workshop it again until it passes the Torey filter. Once it passes the Torey filter we take it to our producer, Kevin, and he’s the final filter … “All My Friends Have WiFi,” Hunter and I wrote and rewrote that song on tour actually when we were still in Of Course Not. We wrote that song five times over. At one particular time the van broke down and we spent two hours on the side of the road just tapping it on our knees and holding the guitar and trying to workshop that song until it wasn’t terrible.
Host: Look up Granger on Facebook and you’ll find an active presence, with photos and videos as they build toward their debut release. And under the “About” section, you’ll find their recipe for success … an actual recipe, in fact.
Torey: My famous enchiladas.
Luke: We make these all the time. If anybody goes to our Facebook bio, there’s an enchilada recipe. That’s Torey’s secret recipe that we’ve shared with you.
Torey: It’s so good.
Luke: You should try it out. It has a 100 percent success rate.
Host: With a couple of lines in the “WiFi” song, I’m sensing a theme here … a Mexican food theme.
Torey: There’s this place in Kansas where we grew up called El Pueblito, and it is the promised land of Mexican food. It has the best chips and salsa, and the best food all around. We miss it so much we put it in a song.
Host: Worth mentioning … even if the band generally doesn’t … some of that musical chemistry between Luke and Torey is the real deal.
Luke: Torey and I are married. We’re not hiding it, but we don’t put it into our branding because we don’t want to be a “couple band.”
Torey: That would just make things weird.
Luke: We have friends that brand themselves as a husband and wife band and it works for them just fine. But for us, that would distract from what we think the band’s actually about, so we don’t really bring it up unless someone asks us about it.
Host: Hunter, what’s it like being in a husband and wife band?
Hunter: I’m always the third wheel! Just kidding. There’s no issue, there’s never been an issue and I don’t see it ever being an issue. We’re just all friends.
Host: We’ll leave you with Granger playing the title track from their debut, “Dear Sam.” If you’d like to see a video of their full performance, it’s linked at the bottom of this page. Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back soon with more stories from Lion Country.