Chances are you haven’t heard of Greylag, but the Portland trio recently released what may be one of the finer albums to hit this year. Consisting of vocalist and acoustic guitar player Andrew Stonestreet, lead guitarist Daniel Dixon, and drummer Brady Swan, the members of Greylag were drawn together seemingly by fate and the shared desire to craft simple, heartfelt Americana. Given the migratory nature of the band members – who all met in Portland after traveling from West Virginia, California, and Texas – it makes sense that the band takes its name from a wild goose.
Originally a duo, Andrew Stonestreet and Daniel Dixon decided to bring in a drummer after meeting Brady Elk “on the street in Portland.” After continuous run-ins, they decided a drummer might be just what Greylag needed, and the sound you hear on the band’s self-titled debut was born. That sound is a folk sensibility entrenched in Americana. Think about the more stripped down Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant material glimmering with soaring harmonies, passionate strumming, and rich emotional texture.
Given the band’s dynamic, it’s no surprise that listening to Greylag conjures a sense of the band members being unified in their creativity.
“There’s a good amount of overlap in what we listen to and like but we’re also individually inclined to certain things. We bring all of it to the table when we’re writing and arranging and allow everyone to share in the whole process. That has been something that’s challenged and nurtured us as we’ve continued exploring what ‘being a band’ looks like. I think the music is strongest when we voice it together. We all hold a high level of respect for each other as writers and musicians, so it’s never been too difficult to make music together,” says Andrew Stonestreet.
Whatever the band has done to craft their sound, it was enough to catch the attention of Dead Oceans, the sister label to revered indie stalwarts Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar, at this year’s South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.
“We met up with the gang from Dead Oceans after our show for some drinks and really hit it off. It was just a few weeks after that we signed with them. They’re a great bunch of humans and we feel lucky to be working with them,” says Stonestreet.
When it came time to record the album Greylag was lucky enough to land Phil Elk, the venerable producer who’s worked with cult breakouts like Fleet Foxes and Modest Mouse. Of Elk’s style as producer, Stonestreet says, “Phil challenged us to dig deeper and helped us capture the sounds so well. If something was lacking he would say so and leave it up for us to remedy. He’s not the kind of producer that hijacks things and drastically changes you into something different.”
The final product is one that the members of Greylag made sure was meticulously crafted. Starting off with sixty-five demos, the group managed to ultimately narrow down the album to a modest nine tracks.
“We all chose songs at the end of the demoing process that we felt had to be on the record, but it was really when we entered the studio with Phil that the album started to take shape. We had to be able to start getting a sense of what the songs would actually sound like and which ones worked together before the songs started to sound cohesive together,” says Stonestreet.
Greylag recently made a trip to Europe, where the reception towards their music has been extremely positive, and plan on returning in November. They will undoubtedly be hitting the stateside touring circuit soon, but in the meantime you may want to get acquainted with this up-and-coming, talented new band.