By Rick Perez
The Swiss born and universally recognized band, Groombridge, have been making waves in the international alternative rock scene since 2001. After 3 albums and touring across Europe and China, members Dyle (vocals, guitar, synth), Hessty (synths, guitar), Sky (drums), Fibe (guitar, synths), and Sili (bass, distortion) have recently dropped their most personal and emotional album to date, Boy from the Golden City.
Check out BoC’s interview with Groombridge, where we spoke about break up songs, touring internationally, and the reason why Boy from the Golden City is their most intimate release.
Who is Groombridge and what is your music all about?
GROOMBRIDGE: We’re an alternative, progressive rock band from Switzerland. We’re five guys who really love to play and create our own music, irrespective of whether big labels or radio stations like it or not. It’s not about making money or becoming famous. Our music is rather gloomy, and if you’re a regular pop-radio listener, chances are big that we won’t be your next favourite band. But on the other hand that’s good news for all who are on the lookout for something special.
How did you all get together?
GROOMBRIDGE: Except Silvan, we knew each other from the area we live in. Switzerland is pretty small, you know. The idea of a band actually evolved in 2001, but we finally started out in 2003. Silvan found his way to us via friends in 2007. In 2008–09 we set off on a seventh-month lasting tour through Europe in a tiny self-tinkered caravan—we’ve been friends ever since.
What is each member’s favorite breakup song?
Dyle: I have been together with my wife since I was 13 years old. We went to school together. I haven’t had much time to look out for a favourite breakup song. So, I guess this is a pass for me.
Fibe: Radiohead – Creep
Hessty: Bon Iver – Skinny love
Sili: Porcupine Tree – Feel so low
Sky: Backstreet Boys – Quit playing games with my heart (laughs out loud)
You just released your 4th studio album, Boy from the Golden City, How is this album different from your previous ones?
GROOMBRIDGE: ‘Boy from the Golden City’ is our most personal album till date. It was written at a time when both sons of Dyle fell ill with life-threatening implications and no doctor was able to offer a conclusive diagnosis or solution. So obviously this album adopts a different approach than the previous ones.
What is each member’s favorite track on the new album?
Dyle: Hmm, if I really have to choose one, I’d go with ‘Willkommen auf der Infobrücke’. This song shows the whole range of our music. But I really like the entire album even after listening to the tracks for umpteenth time. I guess that has a lot to do with the story above.
Sili: ‘The Resigned Maestro’…. because of the bass line of course!
Sky: ‘Skyscrapers’. It’s 3,000 songs put into one and still straightforward. I love this track.
Hessty: I’d also go with ‘Skyscrapers’.
Fibe: ‘Willkommen auf der Infobrücke’. But you really should listen to the album as a whole. I know it’s not very hip in the year 2015. But you should give it a chance, buy a good stereo and a good wine, sit down and listen to the tracks. And yeah, please put away your iphone for the next 45 minutes.
What is the music scene like in Switzerland and how is it unique from the rest of Europe?
GROOMBRIDGE: What’s a music scene? (laughs) Hey, just kidding! Switzerland is a country with eight million inhabitants. We have four official languages. Actually, the country is divided into three parts, and it’s not easy for a Swiss-German band to play in the Western (French-speaking) part and vice versa. If you play alternative prog-rock like us, then it’s almost impossible to make a living out of music (actually it is impossible!). But there are many good (but not famous) bands in Switzerland; many of them focus on the market in Germany or other European countries. If you make it to the top there, you’ll be ‘famous’ in Switzerland anyway.
Groombridge toured in China a few years back. What was that experience like?
GROOMBRIDGE: That was crazy! We pretty soon learned how it feels to play in front of one person in a venue that can hold 300 people! But it took us a while to play in front of 2,000 people in a venue that can accommodate 500 people. It’s crazy… just crazy – they’re totally going nuts. It’s no comparison to gigs here in Europe. Sometimes we couldn’t even play an encore because the crowd stormed the stage. You’ve to sign autographs for hours and you’re being treated like the rockstars from the past. But you know, we’re no rockstars. We’re just some regular guys from small villages in Switzerland. And we’re okay with that!
Where would you like to tour next?
GROOMBRIDGE: There is actually no favourite place. It doesn’t matter where you play, but it’s always a privilege to play in front of a crowd really interested in your music. It doesn’t matter if there are five people or a thousand. Of course, the energy might be different, but we’ve had crazy shows in small venues with only a handful of people as well as bad shows in big venues with many people. Let’s see what comes next.
In over a decade of making music together, what was your greatest obstacle as a band?
GROOMBRIDGE: That’s a really good question. We’ve never had obstacles too big to overcome. Maybe it was the discrepancy between the requirement of money for an outstanding album (technical aspects) and our financial capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Switzerland is rich. But we don’t want to complain about it. We always look on the sunny side of life. We’d rather like to focus on what we’ve achieved as a band and not on the problems that has been cropping up throughout our band history.
What’s next for Groombridge?
GROOMBRIDGE: We really don’t know—there’s no business plan! It’s most likely that we’ll do what we always do: play gigs, record new songs, go on tours, and, most importantly, have a great time together!