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Guitar tutorial + Q&A: Grenade Jumper amp up the adrenaline with new punk gem "The Power You Flaunted"

(Image credit: Billy Zammit)

If you're into big, boomy pop-punk with ultra sticky hooks and riffs that trigger an insurgence of adrenaline – say in the vein of old-school Fall Out Boy or Man Overboard classics – there's a good chance you'll fall head over heels for the Sydney-based lords in Grenade Jumper (who, fun fact, are actually named after a classic FOB tune). 

The four-piece are gearing up to launch their two-track taster What’s Left When It All Falls Down, and before its proper October 2nd release, they've treated us to a full stream of its banging A-side, "The Power You Flaunted". It's a powerful step in a new direction for Grenade Jumper, weilding some wickedly crunchy lead riffs and a dry, punkish edge that frontwoman Bianca Davino absolutely belts over with her signature vocal poignancy.

With the track making massive waves around the Sydney pop-punk circuit, shredder Max Jacobson has stepped in front of the camera to show off how he brought the driving riff behind "The Power You Flaunted" to life. In addition to a playthrough of it with his bold blue Stratocaster, Jacobson explains how bands like Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age and Rage Against The Machine aided in its inception.

He also took the time out of his busy schedule to swing us a quick chat, which you can catch below!

So this riff is unbelievably juicy. Just some absolutely buckwild shit. Your playthrough video explains how the riff works, but where did the idea for it initially come from? And did it change much between your initial concept and the finished product?
Thanks! The demo for this song was done, like, two years before we started recording. When you’re a band starting out – in my experience at least – you’re trying to find your sound and so you’re just writing in all these different styles like, “Maybe we’re this, maybe we could be more this...” And then you have all these demos that reflect each phase of that.

So this one was from when we were thinking about going heavier. By the time we went to go track all our songs, we weren’t really in that mindset, so we didn’t even expect it to be used (at least I didn’t). But we just kept building on it, and then became excited by how this song could build and build, and be a real tension-driven track, using the heavy influence for a cool slow-burning intensity rather than just a song of thrashy riffs. Then we found our current voice in this demo, and once vocals were roughed out it definitely felt like it reflected who we are now.

In the video, you mention how the lead riff was inspired by bands like Rage Against The Machine, Tool and Queens Of The Stone Age. What is it about these bands that you want to channel into your own style of playing?
Oh man, where do I begin with those bands’ influence on me!? 

I love guitarists who create their own world with their playing – their sound is so distinct and really lures you into their records. Other guitarists who are so good at that are Robert Smith, Billy Corgan, Stephen Carpenter and Mike Einziger. When you hear them play, you’re just taken somewhere. If I could achieve something close to that, that’d be amazing. And when they play 'heavy', you really feel it because they have so much feel and are masters of tension-release.

Adam Jones is such an underrated player – he’s not flashy but he has incredible feel and his writing is so sharp, so he’s a huge influence on me for sure. But I also love players like Johnny Greenwood and Russel Lissack, who basically turn guitar playing on its head and reinvent it for the future.

Despite having just a few tracks in your catalogue so far, this cut sees you explore a little beyond the ultra-bright pop-punk that Grenade Jumper kicked off with. What made you want to shake things up for the single? And is this indicative of where the band is heading stylistically?
Any band knows that who you were when you started changes so much over time. When we started, we were just trying to be a band in the scene, but then once you start playing shows with these other bands you have to figure out what you can offer that’s uniquely yours – which was a big focus in going into recording.

So we recorded five songs. Two are on this two-track and the other three will be coming out later. Between these five songs we explored a lot of different styles and moods, but kept it very much within a classic alt-rock sound. This is definitely the 'heavy' one of the lot.

We‘re inspired by so many different acts, from Phoebe Bridgers to MF Doom to Disclosure to Black Sabbath. It’s everywhere with us! But rather than try and sound like all the artists we like, we pick out what it is we like about them and channel it through our alt-rock band – whether it’s the atmosphere, grooves, structure, etecetra. So as a result, there’s a lot of different sounds and vibes that we found our feet in, and are excited to show them for sure!

What’s the story behind that (goddamn beautiful) blue Strat you’re playing?
Bar Mitzvahs come with some great presents.

What are the essentials to your signal chain in the studio and effects/amp rig onstage?
I’m super easy when it comes to gear. The only thing essential is trying to play the part as well as you can. Onstage (RIP) I use an Orange Rockaverb head, and in the studio we used STL Tones (pretty sure it was Kris Crummet’s pack) and re-amped a few things with an EVH and an OCD pedal.

But the most important part of tone is your hands, your pick and the arrangement of the guitar parts. That’s what I believe at least.

Grenade Jumper is, of course, launching this crash-hot two-tracker in October. What else is on the horizon for you guys? Can we start crossing our fingers for an album in 2021?
Once the two-track is out we’ll be focusing on releasing our next three songs, and then we’re back in the studio.

It’s tough with albums. I think you have to really wait for the right time, especially when you’re unsigned. We’re still growing our band and getting our name out there, so we don’t want to demand too much with ten tracks at once. With that being said, we try to package things as a body of work rather than just singles here and there. That just comes down to artistic fulfilment, and we’d rather put out something with more depth that you can really sit with, rather than just release stuff to keep our streams looking good or whatever. So everything we do will either be packaged as a mini or full EP – at least until we have enough behind us to justify an album.