Independence is paramount for The Grogans. It’s as central to the Melbourne band’s outlook as reverberating garage rock guitars and a community-oriented approach to career building.
The trio of lead vocalist and guitarist Quin Grunden, guitarist Angus Vasic and drummer Jordan Lewis founded the band in 2016. The three Grogans are now 23 years old and living in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs.
The band’s breakthrough EP, Grogan Grove, came out in 2018. Triple j supported the EP’s standout single, “Lemon To My Lime”, which remains a favourite at Grogans live shows. The band’s good friend, Will Stoeckel, soon signed on as their manager, helping The Grogans rise to headliner status around Victoria and New South Wales.
However, relinquishing independence was never on the cards. “Will’s really likeminded with us and he’s like, ‘Go at your own pace and you guys do you,’ and he fully backs us,” says Vasic, who’s speaking to Rolling Stone Australia on the eve of the band’s mammoth Australian tour supporting Hockey Dad.
“We don’t try to worry about what the whole outside is wanting us to do and we don’t try to feel pressured to release something if we’re not quite ready.”
The benefits of The Grogans’ determined independence are manifold. For one thing, not being tied to a release schedule reduces the likelihood of the band members growing resentful of their past releases.
Take Grogan Grove, for instance: not only were the majority of its tracks were written when the band members were just 19 years old, but The Grogans have subsequently released two full length albums and a handful of singles. And yet, their affection for the eight-song release hasn’t dwindled.
“We’ve still definitely got those same sounds from that EP, but they’ve just matured a little bit but also gone more experimental at the same time,” Vasic says.
The Grogans’ independence frees them up to experiment without expectation. The band’s expanding repertoire spans groove-centric blues rock as well as vintage psychedelic pop influenced by The Beatles and The Kinks. On their latest single, “Just A Kid”, and its B-side, “Be Your Man”, the band shows off a harder, garage punk edge.
In concrete terms, the freedom to experiment has given rise to a prolific release history. The Grogans’ debut album, Just What You Want, surfaced in October 2019. Its follow-up, Day / To / Day, arrived just 13 months later. Not only do The Grogans approach songwriting with alacrity, but they’ve developed a sort of collaborative ease—everyone’s input is welcome and all new ideas warrant investigation.
“It’s all got a bit of each of us in it, every song,” says Vasic. “A lot of the time either all of us are just in a room together coming up with the tracks or I’ll bring one to the table or Quin will or Jordie will, and we all just learn each other’s tracks and add our own little takes to it.”
It’s a resilient method—the 12 tracks on Day / To / Day were predominantly written in the age of Covid, but the band’s collaborative synergy prevailed. That said, enduring Melbourne’s 263 days of coronavirus lockdowns made it difficult to determine the extent to which people were connecting with Day / To / Day.
“It was definitely a struggle not being able to play shows for a while,” Vasic says. “But we still got a good response from it online and [streaming] listens.”
Another feature of The Grogans’ independence is that Grunden records and mixes all of the band’s releases. The band’s output is then pressed to vinyl and distributed by fledgling Melbourne label, Cousin Will Records, which is run by Stoeckel, The Grogans’ manager.
The Grogans operation is not stubbornly in-house, mind. “We really like to outsource local artists and just local community to work with,” says Vasic. “It’s good to keep it local rather than outsourcing people that we don’t even really know. We like to have a close-knit community working with us.”
Best of all, The Grogans’ independent streak and community orientation hasn’t deprived them of major opportunities. Following the extended coastal run with Hockey Dad, the band will return to Melbourne for a free concert at Stay Gold, Brunswick, as part of the Sailor Jerry Road to Rolling Stone live music series. We can expect to hear plenty more from The Grogans as 2022 moves forward.
“We’ve got a lot of tunes on the way as well,” says Vasic. “We’re that keen to just record them and release them for other people to hear.”