Parker Griggs on the radical sound expansion and retro psych guitar influences behind new project El Perro

Parker Griggs

For the past 15-plus years, psychedelic rock has been the bread and butter of Parker Griggs and power trio Radio Moscow. His growling, emotive vocals and prowess on guitar have won over many fans, including the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produced the band’s self-titled 2007 debut album. 

The band’s music draws inspiration from Blue Cheer and other deep-cut psychedelic rock influences. (“I’m always digging deep into underground music,” Griggs says.)

Recently, Griggs decided to break from his routine, utilize more of his influences (including Black Merda and Funkadelic) and form a new band, El Perro (which also features former Radio Moscow drummer Lonnie Blanton, bassist Shawn Davis and guitarist Holland Redd). He says the songs on the band’s debut, Hair of El Perro, have a fuller sound that’s “a little more groovy than Moscow.” 

“I’d done the Moscow thing for so long, and I almost felt forced to [do] a certain style with them, so I wanted to break free… to do whatever we wanted,” Griggs says. “Something a little bigger, more people, percussion players, a second guitar player – and more of a melting pot of influences. Stuff from all over – psychedelic rock, funk and soul, and even Middle Eastern music and Turkish rock. We’d grab influences from wherever, mix them up and do our own thing.”

The decidedly expanded sound allows Griggs a lot more room to breathe as a guitarist. On Black Days, the rhythm section’s “tribal Latin beat” gave him “room to do all sorts of fun stuff and really build up to solo until it comes to a big finale at the end. 

“It’s not all just a free jam,” he says of the solo. “It’s structured and thought-out. [I] just doubled the solos and got a big sound.”

Griggs mainly used a Strat for most of the lead parts, often employing the guitar’s volume knob to achieve fierce swells. The album also features a vintage Danelectro Coral Firefly hollowbody, an early Sixties Rickenbacker Electro lap steel, a 1965 Gibson Non-Reverse Firebird, an electric sitar, a Harmony H75 archtop and a late-Fifties Supro Dual-Tone.

“I just bring a bunch in and see what sounds best for each song,” Griggs says.

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Josh is a freelance journalist who has spent the past dozen or so years interviewing musicians for a variety of publications, including Guitar World, GRAMMY.com, SPIN, Chicago Sun-Times, MTV News, Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. He credits his father for getting him into music. He's been interested in discovering new bands ever since his father gave him a list of artists to look into. A favorite story his father told him is when he skipped a high school track meet to see Jimi Hendrix in concert. For his part, seeing one of his favorite guitarists – Mike Campbell – feet away from him during a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert is a special moment he’ll always cherish.