It happens: the week has only just begun and you’re already stressed out. Maybe the threat of a BART strike got you antsy and you still haven’t recovered from the seven day hold announcement or the injustice of the Giants in last place and the Dodgers in first has finally started to wear on your psyche. No matter the stressors, you’re probably thinking that the adult world (or the baseball world or hell, any world) is just too much. Enter The Grownup Noise, who are set to hit the Hotel Utah tonight.
The mellow Boston band got their start and their name the way that many great ideas come about: a bit of drinking and collaboration. After hours of entertaining themselves with a mashup of words and phrases, the name presented itself.
“It was somewhat an accident. We were struggling for a name and started drinking and free-writing,” frontman Paul Hansen tells the Appeal. “Everyone assigned their own meaning to it, though.”
For Hansen, it was fighting against the aforementioned stressors, aka grownup noise: something to rebel against. Bassist Adam Sankowski took a more lighthearted approach.
“Those words reminded me of one of my baby pictures. I pulled all these pots and pans from the cabinets and was banging on them with a wooden spoon. I feel like I have the same enthusiasm from back then as I do now with my music,” Sankowski says.
That same spirit is felt most clearly in their smooth lyrics and determination, following in the traditions of Americana and folk, two genres the band holds in very high regard. Key track “Carnival” comes on mild, a mix of muted strings and tender vocals in-line with songwriters who’ve come before. Not all roots music is a story, yet even at their most solipsistic, The Grownup Noise are as much engaging tale as they are intoxicating tune.
“We’re definitely pro-lyrics and I do care about the phrase and motion of lyrics,” Hansen explains. “I don’t want to feel like we’re clouding the cannon [of the genre].”
When it comes to composition, their two studio albums function as building blocks to further their songs past the studio and into a live audience. Each show is its own entity that may turn one track into an accordion-heavy endeavor and another a showcase of improvisational prowess. The band did get their start at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, after all.
“We’ve all spent a lot of time honing our craft. It’s easy to ascend into the technical but I’d rather have us function as a group, do something crazy, throw in some accordion. We like to make peaks and valleys in our sets,” adds Sankowski.
SF sets a perfect backdrop for such movement. Its hilly landscape and musical precedent is something the band quickly cites as awe-inspiring.
“I love the steep angles and the layout. It’s so different from other places,” Hansen says.
“I usually end up finding myself thinking about life being there, just staring at cars parked so closely together.”