Grip of the Gods returns to NEPA as ‘future of rock’

Ben Davids

Bill Thomas, Arts & Entertainment Editor

For many bands, finding a sound they can uniquely call their own is the ultimate artistic goal. But for the members of Grip of the Gods, it has been both a blessing and a curse.

“We all grew up with very, very diverse musical backgrounds, which is great for our writing,” singer-guitarist Rich Barni said. “I think it gives us a unique sound. I always used to look at that as a positive thing, but now, when we’re trying to reach our target audience, we’re trying to carve out our niche here and it’s hard to say ‘Hey, if you like these guys, listen to us.’”

Marketing problems aside, Barni remains proud of the idiosyncratic style he’s crafted alongside bassist Alex Deck and drummer Corey Deck. Listing influences ranging from Radiohead and Muse to Marilyn Manson and David Bowie, Barni said he’s excited to bring Grip of the Gods’ eclectic flavor of indie rock to the River Street Jazz Café on Friday, Feb. 3, for a concert with local acts Astorian Stigmata and A Social State.

Though the band members were originally based out of the Scranton/Dunmore area, in 2010 they opted to move to Philadelphia, where they recorded the 3-song EP “Walking in Monologues.” The band followed that up with a 5-song EP called “Destination of Man” in 2011.

The difference between the two albums, Barni feels, is significant.

“’Walking in Monologues’ was just an attempt to find out what in the hell we were trying to do,” he said with a laugh. “Like I said, we all came from pretty unique backgrounds, musically, and I’ve always had the view of not trying to think of a certain style when I’m coming up with riffs. …  I think ‘Destination of Man’ is a little bit more affirmatively saying ‘This is the kind of sound we’re going for.”

In addition to helping cement Grip of the Gods’ auditory identity, “Destination of Man” further developed the thematic crux of the band’s lyrical content.

“Every single one of our songs is very philosophically driven,” Barni said. “Philosophy is the essence of human nature. Where are we? What are we doing? Where are we going? And I think there is a bit of concern over the direction of mankind.”

What awaits humanity on the other side of tomorrow isn’t all that Grip of the Gods is concerned with.  The direction their own music is taking them in is as much a subject of contemplation as anything.

Currently working on new material, with plans to have a new record out sometime this year, the band members aren’t yet certain whether their next release will be a full-length album or another EP. What they are certain of, and upfront in sharing, is the heights of their ambition.

“We really strive to be a driving force in rock ‘n’ roll,” Barni said. “Trying to be that next thing, that future sound, I really believe in my heart that that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we’ve always tried to do, seeing how far we can go with it and pushing the limits. We hope to be the future of rock ‘n’ roll. In my opinion, there’s nothing more important than that.”

Tickets for the River Street Jazz Café show in Friday, Feb. 3 are $5 pre-sale, $8 at the door. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, call 570-822-2992, or visit riverstreetjazzcafe.com or gripofthegods.com.

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Listen to three free tracks off Grip of the Gods’ 2011 EP “Destination of Man.”