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Meet Grove, the Bristol noise-punk who is giving two fingers to society’s ills

After rallying against the coronation with a certified banger, Grove is proving to be one of our leading anti-authority voices.

By Nick Reilly

Grove (Picture: Press)

When King Charles’ overstuffed and public-purse denting coronation took place in May, there was little chance of seeing Bristol based-artist Grove rolling out the bunting.

On Big Boots, which arrived mere days before the big event, they spoke of ‘stamping on the heads of the monarchy’, with the impassioned riposte delivered over industrial EDM and punk driven beats.

It’s a neat reflection of what they’re all about. With a healthy distrust in authority, Grove delivers powerful bangers that encourage us all to keep one eye open to the injustices within society on a daily basis.

And as they release their latest EP P*W*R, they told Rolling Stone UK about the journey so far. Check out our whole Q&A with Grove below.

There’s a sense of malaise right now and a feeling we’re in an endless stream of shit. Why does your music capture the worst of it?

A lot of my peers and people I know are very confused at the priorities of the government and it’s disappointing for everything to be so blatant about what is prioritised. That’s been constantly happening over the last decades, we’re just feeding the pockets of billionaires and prioritising their well being.

Does it feel like one rule for them, one for us?

Yeah and like they’re constantly testing the limits of the population to see how much we’ll accept. You see in other countries around the world that that tolerance is a lot lower. That’s why Boots took aim at the monarchy, but it’s been happening before then too – in lockdown we saw one of them biggest wealth transfers in human history. Workers lost billions and billionaires gained billions. I think there’s such a collective palpable frustration and rage within people. We needed to be shook into action.

That thread of defiance and wanting people to prick up their ears. Has it always run through your music?

I guess I don’t think about what other people think in the first instance, it’s more like I am feeling this thing and I know lots of people are likely to be in a similar situation. My song ‘Fuck Ur Landlord’ for instance, it’s me getting it out and wanting people to have a cathartic dance, but hoping that will lead to a conversation about these bigger issues.

It’s not only with tenants, but wanting landlords to come to shows and include them in the dialogue. Not in a hostile way at all, but almost a collective need for them to know that they can use their power for good.

What’s your musical story so far and how did you get to this point?

I used to be really into sports and like with everything I find, I was taking it to the limit that is possible within me. But when I was 15 I joined this rock band that my friend’s boyfriend was in, because they’d had a call out for a vocalist and it felt natural to give it a go. I don’t want to call it a terrible band, but it was definitely a formative experience.

It gave me a nice taste for live performance and I was lucky enough to spend time in a community studio in Cheltenham that offered workshops and development programmes for people who didn’t have to the money to do music in any other traditional sense. It allowed me to learn about music production and allowed me to meet a lot of people I’m still really close me with now. I just got to really cut my teeth after getting it wrong for so long!

What allowed you to discover the punk and rebellious sound that your music is rooted in now?

I think what allowed me to let the reins go was moving to Bristol. They’ve got such an enriching musical atmosphere that I was always around different, unique and experimental music.

Before I went to Bristol I was making pop adjacent stuff, but being around musicians there allowed me to add more spice and more of a dance music element, like going further into like punkier sounds and more abrasive stuff.

It feels like a really interesting time for queer-pop and representation in that regard too.

Yeah, I’ve worked with Lynks who is really leading that scene and people are listening, so it feels like it’s finally got to a point where people are embracing those sounds and things have really changed.

I think the hyper-pop era of a few years ago really broadened a lot of electronic music and it showed that a fun, campy silliness can be infused with really hard and gnarly sounds too.

I think that really did a lot to broaden queerness within that realm and it’s a beautiful wicked thing. My own songs like ‘Feed My Desire’ for example, it’s not like you’d immediately know it’s queer, but if you know the context behind then you’re like ah, ok! It’s definitely queer coded.

9:20I think that really did a lot to kind of broaden kind of queerness within that, within that realm.

9:30And yeah, yeah, I think, I think it’s, I think it’s a beautiful, wicked thing and, and, and, and often as well, I guess with the songs, it’s kind of looking like feed like design, for example, it’s not if you listen to it, I guess you wouldn’t know it was like queer but then if you know the context behind the artist, then you’re like, oh OK.

You’ve also toured with Bob Vylan, who feel like real champions of the UK punk scene at the moment.

It was wicked touring with them and they allowed me to learn a sense of really valuing your independence as an artist. That’s something I really wanna take forward with me, really not jumping headfirst into any kind of deals that are really long term legally binding and people make a lot of money from you in like the early stages.

I look at their MOBOs acceptance speech where Bob said ‘man, we did it all by ourselves’. That was a very moving and empowering thing to see. So I think I definitely take that from them and also in terms of their music, I absolutely love it. Incredible, songwriting, incredible production, all of the above.

So you’re keeping one eye open when it comes to the dark side of the industry?

Yeah, there’s a healthy amount of scepticism but sometimes that can be an unhealthy scepticism. I need to really constantly check myself that I’m not just being stubborn and that I’m gonna make decisions that are gonna be good for me, because obviously there’s lots of good people working in the music industry as well.

You know, it’s a business relationship but they wanna uplift artists while making money for themselves. It’s just making sure that I know people and know their intentions before signing away a lot to them.

It’s not a case of definitely staying completely independent my whole life. If a good fit comes along then absolutely I’d go for it.

What’s the rest of 2023 looking like?

I’ve got lots of different releases of all shapes and sizes which I’m excited about and a selection of European festivals, which is just gonna be so exciting.