By: Jen Brown
Recently I was given the opportunity to interview the upbeat band Home Grown at one of their shows. They were set to open for Hagfish, a rock-punk band, who were opening for ska-swing-pop band Save Ferris. I had been instructed by their manager to ask for the band's road manager, Pat, the day of the show. The woman working at the box office of The Theater of the Living Arts, a small venue on South Street in Philadelphia, was anything but helpful in my quest for Pat. I spoke with her several times before coming to the conclusion I would have to find him myself. I was at the show with two friends who wanted to be there early, before doors opened, in order to get up front. We were waiting outside and I decided to try to find Pat, so I grabbed the first guy I saw with a backstage pass swinging from his belt loop. I explained who I was, and that I was looking for Pat. He immediately became excited and explained he was a member of Home Grown. After that, everything more or less fell into place. I was also reviewing the show for this magazine, therefore I could not simply interview the band after their set, so between Hagfish and Save Ferris's sets I was escorted backstage to meet with the boys of Home Grown. When I first walked into the tiny room, I saw bass player Adam Lohrbach playing The World is New, a Save Ferris song, on Jose Castellanos of Save Ferris's trumpet.
After brief introductions with members of Home Grown, John E. Trash, Bob Herco, and Adam Lohrbach, we chatted about life on the road. The band is originally from southern California, and all its members are avid surfers, a sport which they miss incredibly while on the road. I decided to keep the interview very informal, considering that the atmosphere backstage was very informal and laid back. All of the members of the band agreed that being on tour was a great experience. It allowed them to meet new people, act silly, have a lot of fun, and of course, travel. It was very obvious to me that in the brief time the guys had been with Save Ferris, they had bonded well with everyone from the southern California ska band. John, vocalist and guitar player, shared an interesting story with me. One night the boys from Save Ferris hand cuffed him to a tree and decided to de-pants him. Shortly into the interview the fourth member of the rockin'' quad, Ian Cone, joined us. One thing that can sometimes be a problem while on tour, is staying in shape. Bass player and vocalist, Adam Lohrbach makes sure to do repetitions of pelvic thrusts into the air while lying on his back while in his hotel room, in order to keep his buns of steel in shape, and what night would be complete without a demonstration of the exercise?
Being the typical interviewer, I felt it was my duty to ask some mundane questions, for example, the age old, "how did it all start?" question. The guys were more than happy to inform me of the beginnings of their musical life. Drummer, Bob, was originally in a a cover band, Home Grown. He eventually joined up with John, Ian and Adam, who were friends prior to the formation of the band. Slowly they began writing their own songs, which led to the recording of their first full length album, That's Business in 1995. Preforming in the club scene of Orange and Riverside Counties shortly followed. Soon, their songs began popping up on compilations such as Genetic Skaca and Hey Brother...Can You Spare Some Ska?.
Some of Home Grown's lyrics may be considered offensive, however they are truly not intended to offend. For example, One Night Stand, off of their That's Business album, could offend. Considering how the the author, John, writes about taking advantage of intoxicated girls at parties. However, when one takes a closer look, you realize the song is not about a horny guy, but about how pathetic high school and college parties are, and also about how girls, and sometimes guys can get really hurt. In essence, the band is making fun of people who are so desperate, they need to use alcohol as a way of getting a girl, or guy. During my interview, I discovered that the band's lyrics are typically written by whomever writes the music, a job which usually falls to Adam and John.
Prior to the show, someone asked me what kind of music Home Grown played. Honestly, I could not answer. Part of me wants to say ska, even though there are no horns, part of me wants to say punk. Yet, the more I listen the more a tiny part of me wants to say surf. However, there is not a set label that accurately describes Home Grown. This bothered me a little bit, because when you talk about a band, the first thing a people want to know is "what kind of music do they play?" I was apparently the only one bothered by this, though. John, Adam, Ian, and Bob all more or less agreed that they want to be themselves, playing for fun, doing what they like to do, not doing it because some record company executive needed to sign a punk sounding band, in order to stay in competition with what appears to be a new trend in music. It was very obvious while Home Grown was preforming that they were truly having fun, doing what they love.
The band did comment on "selling out," though. It is something that must happen, if music is your career choice, eventually you will make it big, and become famous. The only thing that will keep a band from "selling out," is if the band is playing for themselves, and continues to do so. Making it big simply allows for a wider range of fans. Personally, if Home Grown hadn't grown, this north eastern Pennsylvanian would never have heard of the band from southern California. It is important, in the opinion of all of Home Grown's members to be open-minded when getting involved in the music industry. As guitarist Ian Cone stated, "Music is for the masses. There shouldn't be any discrimination." Basically meaning, if it sounds good, why not like it. Music can bring together people from different races, cultures, backgrounds.
When it comes to labeling, being surfer, beach going guys, the boys of Home Grown would much rather be labeled as surf, instead of punk, if given the choice. In my opinion though, I feel they are less deserving of the surf label, and more so of the punk. Just because you know how to ride the waves and play a guitar, doesn't automatically mean you are a surf band. Surf music is an entirely different style of music, complete with different types of instruments than plain rock or punk. Calling Home Grown "surf," would be like putting a cowboy hat and boots on Dicky Barrett and saying "The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a Country Western band." However, with influences ranging from Green Day to Operation Ivy, to NOFX, the Deftones, and blink-182 it is no surprise that the band has managed to mix their own form of upbeat, punky, loud music.
On a more personal note, a friend of mine attends concerts occasionally, and she enjoys being in the front row and making eye contact with band members. She later attempts to meet them after their show, her first, I believe, was teen-idol Gavin Rossdale of Bush. She encouraged me to ask the following question, "While preforming, do you remember the faces of people in the crowd if you meet them after the show?" The answer may or may not shock you. Ian, John and Adam all agreed that honestly, no, they don't remember. When on stage bright lights are being shone into the faces of everyone in the band, making it hard to see past the second or third row. Also, the guys are concentrating hard on playing and singing. There really isn't time to check out cute girls in the crowd. For those lucky enough to be in the front rows, there is a slim chance Ian, Adam, or John might see you. Unfortunately, Bob is stuck behind the drums, so he doesn't see too much, only Adam's plumber's crack. So all you girls who stand in the rain for 3 hours before a show to get up front so that you can drool over a cute lead singer, with the hopes that he sees you and falls in love with you, I am sorry.
Starting in July and continuing through August, the boys of Home Grown will be on the road again, this time touring with punk band blink-182. This time around they plan on promoting their new album, Act Your Age, due out on Outpost Recordings June 2. Having heard two songs off of that album, and I definitely recommend adding it to your CD collection. I promised the guys that I would support them and buy the album, even though I had planned on getting it before I met them.
After the interview I chatted with Ian for a few minutes, learning that he not only surfed, but also snowboarded, a sport which I enjoy also. Ian also shared with me that even though he may be in a band that is growing in popularity, he still remembers his friends from home. He was able to get one of his friends a job as Save Ferris's new drummer for their tour. Overall, interviewing Bob, John, Ian and Adam was a very good experience for me, I feel. Despite the fact that they all liked to talk at once, so that I couldn't understand anyone, it all worked out. However, I may have learned a few things about the Home Grown gangs bowel movements while on the road that I really could've lived without knowing, but other than that it was a great experience. I highly recommend seeing Adam, Ian, Bob, and John in concert if given the chance, their album is worthwhile also, but nothing beats an old fashioned live show to lift one's spirits.