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5 minutes with Lee McCormick

"We still have two or three Nirvana style Grunge tunes"

We've managed to get our hands on Bassist 'Lee McCormick' from Sheffield based melodic rock band 'GretaNova' and persuaded him to spare us 5 minutes for a chat.

Hi Lee and welcome to Fit4Talent, let's start by familiarizing ourselves with the members of GretaNova if you could give us a quick introduction please?

Well, at the moment there's four of us, but that's a longer story explained in the next question. I play bass and perform occasional backing vocals. Ben does lead vocals, keys and rhythm guitars. Mark plays lead guitars and James bangs the drums. A simple setup but like 99% of rock bands we find that's all you need.

I hear that GretaNova have been going for five years, forming in 2006 with a very different line-up and music style to what it has now and also started out fronted by a female lead singer, how did that happen?

I used to work at a design company in Leeds along with our original Lead Singer, Charlie. She had been in a few bands over the years and wanted to start something up so asked me if I'd be interested. I wasn't doing anything at the time so snapped it up.

After a little while we asked another colleague of ours called Ross if he'd be interested in playing rhythm guitar and we asked a Leeds based student, Andy, if he'd be up for playing Bass. This gave as a 4 piece without a drummer but it was enough to begin writing.

We all had varying influences. Ross was big into Floyd and the corporate side of Grunge, Charlie liked a few female vocalists like PJ Harvey, Andy liked the obscure side of indie and Alt. rock and I was big into punk, alt. rock and metal. It initially made the writing process in the beginning a little odd but interesting none the less. After a few months we got in Charlie's friend James to play the much needed drums.

After a year or so Ross emigrated to New Zealand and was replaced by Lead Guitarist Dunstan. By the point Charlie had moved to Sheffield and we were now regialrly practising there leaving Andy to commute from Leeds. We had the occasional gig and recorded our first proper demo 'You're Children Are Not Special' in 2008. We made a few friends and contacts but never really did huge amounts.

Towards the middle of 2009 Dunstan moved to London leaving a vacant position which was snapped up by Matt. At the same time Andy called it a day along with Charlie leaving us as a 3-piece without a singer. Charlie was replaced by Ben who brought along the much needed keys and a different style of vocal. I switched to Bass and we found Mark to play guitars. We were back as a 5-piece.

We continued to play four of the older songs and started writing new stuff which resulted in a new EP in early 2010 called '100th Idiot'. The style was much heavier than anything we used to play, almost verging on nu-metal at times. We made a fair few fans, friends and general contacts and started to gig much more frequently. Earlier this year we decided to continue as 4-piece with the lineup of me, Ben, Mark and James.

Phew, complicated story. But hopefully it explains while the style kept changing over time.

Your style now is Melodic rock, do you ever think about returning to the groups 'Post-Grunge/alt. Country' origins? or perhaps even a combination of both, could make for an interesting listen?

We still have two or three Nirvana style Grunge tunes, two of which we still play live. The alt. Country influence is definitely gone though. It doesn't really fit with our current style.

GretaNova have a few recordings under their belt now and we understand that you will be releasing a new EP this December, what's it called and what can your fans expect from it? (When in December?)

It's called 'Intranegative' and it's being pushed back until the new year since the Record Label involved has dropped out due to financial troubles. That at the cost involved from out point of view is making it difficult to finish.

It will be the best thing we've ever done, fact. It shows how we've matured over the last couple of years moving from a heavier to melodic sound. And best of all it captures our live sound. Something we've always found difficult in previous recordings.

This isn't intended to sound big-headed but I'm personally really proud of this, even before the mixing stage.

Why did you give it this title?

We're huge fans of movies to the point of being film nerds. I decided a while back that a good idea for a photo shoot would be in a cinema screen - which we did a couple of weeks ago. Intrapositive is a term used on old film during the printing process. We changed positive to negative due to the tone of the EP.

And what's next for the band? Any up-coming gigs lined up or recording time booked?

We had 6 gigs booked all over the north, starting last weekend and finishing before Christmas, but for various reasons the first 3 gigs were cancelled. We're playing a charity gig in Scunthorpe this weekend (Dec 3rd), Sheffield West Street Live on Dec 7th and Doncaster Vintage Rock Bar on Dec 16th.

No more recording time until next year although we do have a couple of songs ready.

You have a left handed guitarist who plays right handed? Is there an artistic reason for this or is he just being difficult, is he the trouble maker in the group?

Haha. I think he'll find this question amusing when he reads this. We don't have trouble makers in the band. We're nice people ;)

I'm not entirely sure the whole story behind it, and as I'm writing this I can't ask him, but I know he had guitar lessons when he was younger. He thinks it makes sense to use your stronger hard to form chords which is logical to a point. My wife is left handed too and had a right handed bass when she was younger. She pretty much believes the same thing. If you think about it it does kind of make sense.

Personally I think your stronger hand should be used for the precision required to strum and pick.

Looking back over the past five years what advice would you give to GretaNova wanabes starting out today?

Get a solid lineup and write songs for at least 6 months before gigging. If you start too soon you'll lose confidence at your ability to play as a band. Play as many places as you can, get contacts and record a demo as soon as you can.

Thankyou for your 5 minutes Lee and we look forward to hearing GretaNovas new EP when it comes out in December.

Thanks for asking. Although as mentioned it'll be out early next year.

Interview by Robyn Lees

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