Thursday, July 12, 2012
Black Flag utilized an abandoned Baptist house of worship dubbed “The Church” as a rehearsal space. Phish practices in a rustic Vermont spot they call “The Barn.” The Monterey trio Granted Earth – made up of Jon Ugale on drums and vocals, Becky Ugale on guitar and Mallory Mickel on bass – have “The Cave.”
The walls of the space – a Seaside storage shed that’s about 15-by-10-feet in size and provides barely enough room for all their equipment – are covered with carpet pieces, multi-colored sound-dampening tiles, red and blue rope lights, and a cloth poster of Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. A drum set sits elevated on a makeshift, foot-high stage at the back end of the cubicle facing Mickel and Becky’s expansive assortment of effects pedals. The confined area emits ideal rock energy – and a cave-like musk.
The night before Granted Earth hits the road for a four-city run – which includes shows in Santa Barbara and Long Beach before Saturday’s show at Jose’s in New Monterey – they’re practicing new tunes and drinking Coronas in a humid, 100-degree cave climate.
The outfit busts out one of its new tunes, a still-unnamed soft-to-loud anthem. Mickel and Becky face Jon as they settle into a heavily distorted arpeggio, and the wall of collective crunch rises to a colossal sound that recalls Mastodon. When it’s finished, the silence in the air still seems to vibrate.
Before delving into “Nomad,” the title track off their recent EP, they get a surprise visit from Jon’s mom, Susan.
“You going to scream on this one?” she asks her son before the song begins.
The short answer: yes. In the tradition of the vocal nodule-inducing grunts of Fucked Up’s Pink Eye, Jon lets out relentless yelps. But, also like Fucked Up, Granted Earth adds some sweetness to the thunder with a tender Middle Eastern-flavored interlude.
The band has only recently transitioned from being an all-instrumental operation. Jon says he was inspired to add vocals after his wife, Becky, came to him with some new guitar riffs.
“It’s all about what we feel,” Jon says. “And we’re best off now as a trio that has vocal parts.”
But they are still partial to the all-instrumental stoner metal they began with: On “Rebirth,” they descend deeper into its caverns with rapid polyrhythms and Black Sabbath-inspired riffage. The tune bleeds into another new one, “A Day in Eternity,” which calls for Jon on vocals that might rip paint off the walls if there was any. When the song ends he wipes the sweat from his forehead, grabs his beer and says it’s time for a break.
Becky and Mickel, also wearing a fine film of perspiration, concur, and follow him out of the clammy cavern and into the late-afternoon Seaside sun.
But it’s only a few breaths of fresh air later that they spelunk back into their Cave. It’s where they most want to be.
GRANTED EARTH, BARROWS and MAGOOZLER perform at 8pm Saturday, July 14, at Jose’s Underground Lounge, 638 Wave St., Monterey. Free. 655-4419.