Interview: DFA1979’s Seb Talks “Freeze Me,” His Gear, and More

“Freeze Me” is a perfect summertime tune. It has a really fun piano loop that drives the whole tune into the heavy pop realm DFA1979 does best. Jesse F. Keeler’s bass riffage is stellar as always especially during the bridge where I picture him getting it on stage just like Slash’s cliffside solo in the “November Rain” video. Sebastien Grainger’s ripping on vocals and hitting the drums like he means it keeps DFA1979 fresh and going forward, which I like.

Fun fact: the only time I saw DFA1979 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia in May 2005 and they ripped. Also Seb politely made fun of some heckler’s band name, we didn’t talk about it, tear but I’ll never forget that show.

Caught up with Seb to talk drums and their new single, “Freeze Me”.

COLLiDE: Where was “Freeze Me” recorded?

SEB: We made it with Eric Valentine in Hollywood, he’s got a studio pretty much right in Hollywood so lots of burritos were consumed and light beer.

COLLiDE: What kind of drums do you use ?

SEB: The first drumkit I used for DFA1979 was the first drumkit I ever had which was a beginners Westbury kit that my folks bought me when I was 12, and I played that well into You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine touring days and then I got another kit. For the first half of the band it was straight up bass, drums, synth and vocals. There was a bunch of transitional stuff on the record that I didn’t want to replicate live but wanted the set to have that one unified thing so I started using a sampler, an SPD-FX. I’d been using one in another project so it was a piece of gear I was already familiar with. At the beginning it was just transitional stuff and then after we made Physical World. I started using it for extra music we’d add to the track like piano things, percussive things or vocal things that i would prefer to trigger instead of try to pull off. We just kinda added it and it became a part of my set up so when we’re writing music we still enter it like if there’s any auxiliary stuff or extra cool stuff we like we’re not afraid to add it, we never have been. The first record has a lot of weird crazy shit all over it. In order to get the show to kinda tighten up a bit we incorporated the samper and it still ends up being somewhat performative for me, it’s not just like straight up playing the tracks.

COLLiDE: Did you always want to be a musician? How did you land on drums as your instrument of choice?

SEB: I never really thought about making albums, that wasn’t even a concept until Jesse and I starting making records together so I was just more of like really into playing. I started learning guitar and writing songs probably around 11 or 12. The drums came a little bit later in that same time. I wanted to play drums since I was very very small and kinda retired that notion because drums are very expensive and they require a bunch of space. I grew up in a not huge house in the suburbs so any kind of racquet I would make would be affecting me and my family so I never thought I could get drums but I did. My parents were very generous in that regard and then I started playing. The thing that you did was kinda how I identified as a kid, never really wanted to be a drummer per say but it was something that I was able to do and I was always better than most people around me and I would end up being the drummer in things a lot of the time. I consider myself a medium drummer. There’s so many drummers I watch and learn from all the time. I watch drummers in awe all the time.

COLLiDE: What’s the 2017 plan for DFA1979?

SEB: We’re gonna be playing some festivals throughout the summer and then announcing a much bigger plan at the end of the summer.

COLLiDE: Have you had a “is this real life?” moment regarding playing shows or being on tour?

SEB: If you’re living in the moment and you’re not expecting to receive anything from the universe and you’re in the moment and able to appreciate everything. The whole point for me of playing music is to transcend time and space, that’s what happens when you play. You’re in this in between vortex and that can happen in front of four people in a tiny town or it can happen if front of thousands of people at a festival. So you can’t really summon it on command but it can happen anywhere so that’s what I look for.

Written by: Eric Lisausky

photo by: Lindsey Byrnes