What do you get when you mix one-part Alice Cooper, one-part Marilyn Manson and one-part Granny from the television show Beverly Hillbillies? You get a shock rock band named Granny 4 Barrel. “Granny,” the lead singer, describes the persona as a “Matriarch Of Metal,” a neo-Victorian shock rock nightmare. The music is sort of an industrial rock bluegrass that certainly “represents the rebellious spirit of rock n’ roll, freedom of expression and nonconformity” as Granny intends. Their live shows feature the band dolled up in steampunk attire, a guy shredding on a violin, and of course “Granny” slinking around the stage in a dress and grey wig singing in a gravelly voice.
“Granny,” who speaks in a heavily affected hillbilly granny accent, proceeded to tell us more about the history of this imaginative, strange, and intriguing band that seemingly came out of nowhere. The band is on Mighty Loud Records, founded by Jesse James Dupree, best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Southern Metal band Jackyl, founded in 1991. Jackyl is best known for its song The Lumberjack, which features a chainsaw solo by Dupree. In 2007, Dupree founded Mighty Loud Entertainment, a record label and artist management and marketing company that manages artists such as Nigel Dupree Band, Jackyl, Wayland, and Babi Mac. As far as the members of Granny 4 Barrel, Granny explains that, “the whole band is based out of New York. Two of us is from upstate near Syracuse and the other two is right down in the city. The band’s been around about eight years in different configurations. But the last three years we’ve really honed in on the looked and the sound. We played a couple of Full Throttle Saloons, Sturgis Rallies, oh man, we played shows in Kentucky, Nashville, up in Michigan, we’ve been around. And here we are now just getting the word out.” Picturing a man in granny drag playing Sturgis biker rally definitely brings a smile to one’s face.
Currently, the band “only got the two singles out now” which you can listen to on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon, among others. Granny tells us that “the record is all finished but that’s up to the label, now its done, the artwork, I mean, it could come out, but they wanted to get through the tour [with Texas Hippie Coalition] and build some more hype around Granny and wait for the right time to release it.” The two singles are Freak Flag, an upbeat anthem dedicated to embracing your weirdness with a 90’s industrial rock flavor, and She likes Guns, a heavy tune that is also undeniably catchy. Both songs have well-made videos one can find on YouTube. The Freak Flag video depicts the band playing to a crowd of freaky looking people, some of whom are featured in close- up with tattoos, piercings and weird hair.
The video for She likes Guns is an especially interesting video because it is directed by adult film star Stormy Daniels. Daniels is currently involved in a political scandal with President Donald Trump over a non-disclosure agreement she was allegedly coerced to signed by Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about an affair she had with Trump. Apparently, the collaboration with Daniels and Granny came through Dupree. Granny explains, “So Jessie suggested his friend Stormy Daniels. He said, ‘hey I got this girl and she’s really good, she makes videos, yeah she’s an adult star, but she’s a cinematographer, she makes like legitimate videos on the side, that’s her other line of work’. So, we said ‘well alright’. So, we got connected with Stormy and I talked to her about, what the song was about, what we was trying to get across. And ‘ya know we hit it off and said alright and we was excited to work together. Then we filmed it last June, in one day.” Granny has struck up a kinship with Daniels since she directed She Likes Guns. Daniels has also signed on to direct the next Granny 4 Barrel video this fall. Granny describes Daniels: “She’s totally cool, I mean ‘ya know, she’s great, she’s just cool to hang with, we work together good, she gets it, she’s talented, she’s a visionary, and yeah hard working. ‘Ya know just like the rest of us. And she did a great job on it. Real proud of that video.”
She Likes Guns has also caused controversy not only because of the music video’s director, but the subject matter as well. Given the recent outbreak of mass shootings, many radio stations do not want to promote a song that seems like it is pro-gun. Granny clarifies the band’s political stance on guns: “Here’s the thing, first of all, this song has nothing to do with killing innocent people. I mean really from my perspective, you know take it for what it’s worth. First of all, this song has got this thread of revenge. That’s one thing Granny likes best of all is when a woman gets revenge. And I wanted to write a song about women getting justice and taking down bad guys. But we got these sexy women in the video, that’s right. And they’re ‘ya know handling guns, I mean there is innuendo mixed in there. But it’s all in good fun. It wasn’t meant to be political. However, you could apply it to what’s going on. Because it’s about you know, unabashed women not taking shit from bullies, men in power. I mean and all the sudden guess who directed it and guess what’s going on with her. So, I mean, I guess that applies, right? We’re not trying to be political. But it’s like when an artist is inspired to write a song… I mean don’t shy away from it just because it might upset some people. It’s just one of many songs Granny has and that’s just what it happens to be about.” The controversy about the subject matter of the song caused the video to be shelved until the news about Daniels and Trump came out. Granny explains, “When it was all done, well the radio was a little bit touchy about it, cause of the subject matter, I mean just because of the title, I mean anything that says ‘guns’, people get all uptight, I mean rightfully so, but I mean we are a shock rock band. Anyway, it got shelved, but we went ahead and released Freak Flag, and so a few months ago, we was talking about the 2nd single release and I’m like ‘well you boys checked out the news lately right? You know who’s in the news? We got her video sitting here. I mean don’t know about you but if I was gonna release a video from a certain director, I’d probably want to do it when they was in the news, instead of not in the news.’ So, we happen to do that now here we are. You couldn’t even write this and make this shit up.”
Granny 4 Barrel just finished up a tour with Texas Hippie Coalition and Kobra and the Lotus that kicked off on April 19th in Salt Lake City, Utah, and crisscrossed the states until June 3rd, where the tour wrapped up in Austin, Texas. Before the May 20th show in St. Louis Granny had this to say about the tour, “Tours been great, together it’s a full band package. I mean all these bands ‘been working together, it’s a full band package, so you got Cobra and The Lotus, Texas Hippy, and Granny 4 Barrel. And then sometimes, like tonight, they add a couple locals on. But it’s always a good time, there’s a good crowd and people love it!” As far as what people can expect from their live shows Granny had this to say: “It’s Shock Rock. We got some crazy theatrics, I mean we look a certain way, we got a hybrid style of music, and yeah, its Entertainment. It’s a spectacle, you are going to get your money’s worth I will tell you that.”
Audiences are responding well to the band’s strange image: “‘’Ya know the last time I checked this was the entertainment industry and I like it when a band gives me something more. And that’s what we was trying to do with Granny. Granny the concept, really is simple, I am the surrogate Metal Granny you always wished you had. You know that’s what it is, people relate to it, it’s good fun. But it’s also serious at the same time. I mean, there is nothing cooler than seeing you know a replica of an old woman on a stage but yet she’s singing high, Rob Halford high notes, screaming Heavy Metal and its just bad ass and it’s fun and it fucks with people’s heads and they love it. It’s just like a wacky idea. I’m big into horror movies, and I always thought, I been in bands for years and I always thought man that would be pretty fucked up to dress up like an old woman and front a metal band. Well that’s what I’m doing now. It’s like a juxtaposition right old and feeble, up against powerful and youthful, its just mixed together it just messes with your mind. But what it also says is you’re never too old to Rock n’ Roll and the Rock n’ Roll is what keeps you young.”
As for the industrial rock flavor of the band: “Well it just kind of evolved on its own. I mean I was influenced by old school metal and rock bands. I mean all the way up through the present. I just take all these inspirations and mix them up. I sure do like Bluegrass, I like industrial, electronics. ‘ya know, we just mix ‘em up and come up with our own style and sound.”
The band’s future plans include more shows. Granny elaborates, “We got a show in Illinois with Motograter. Then we’re doing something in upstate New York with Bret Michaels [July 13th at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena in New York]. Then we are gonna talk about a fall tour. And then releasing, legitimately releasing She likes Guns to radio and media. And we’re gonna put it out to the stations that before were like ‘well you know we can’t get behind it because it’s guns’ but other stations were cool with it. So we are just gonna go for it. It’s one of the best songs we play live. I say a little bit…explain it, like I just did to you before we play it. And you know people get it. And I think the women dig us because it’s not a typical song you would expect from dudes singing about guns to other dudes. This is about, this is from a woman’s perspective so to speak. And they relate to it and it goes over just awesome, I love it. But, like I said, it’s one song in the timeline of Granny. We’re gonna put it out, we’re gonna work it and were just gonna keep moving ahead.”
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