Temporary Grace

Getting Their Priorities Straight

Success is a matter of taking opportunities that present themselves and dealing with adversity as just another opportunity. Temporary Grace's Greg Forney and Chuck Epperly first met in Phoenix and played together in a band called Dislocated Styles, building a fan base in the Southwest and being courted by major labels. The rap-rock sound of Dislocated Styles was on the edge of the hot new thing at the time and there was a lot of attention being focused on their band. A major European tour and MTV Europe video airplay was building anticipation for the band's debut album, which was expected to take them to the next level and lead to major tours of Japan and, eventually, the United States.

Then, 9/11 intervened. Due to some of the lyrical content of their lead single, plans for the band and album were put on hold. By the time they did their tour of Japan and were back on the radar, the momentum was waning and the rock-rap sound itself was beginning to phase out as the sound of the moment.

Forney returned to his home state of New Jersey to recoup. As he discusses with Chorus and Verse in this exclusive interview, he eventually convinced Epperly to follow him to the Garden State to try again with a more straight-ahead rock project. With Forney on drums and keyboard, Epperly on lead guitar and the additions of Rob Eelman on lead locals and rhythm guitar and Anthony Crotta on bass guitar, Temporary Grace was born.

The band recently released its debut album, "Priorities" (AMR Records), and has been bringing their high-energy shows to major tri-state area venues, such as The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and Manhattan's CBGBs. Now focused on promoting the album, Temporary Grace is becoming a band to watch on the local scene and could become a presence on the national level in the months and years ahead.

You just released your debut album, "Priorities," at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Did that evening live up to your expectations, and what are your impressions of the show?

The CD release party was great! The crowd was awesome! And we managed to sell a lot of CDs too. Since the CD has been released a little over a month ago we have sold around 800, so far.

Temporary Grace was formed from the ashes of a previous project, Dislocated Singles, which was having a lot of success, touring around Europe and planning a debut CD. That band became a causality of the Sept. 11 attacks. Can you share a bit about that story and how has experience shaped the formation of Temporary Grace?

Chuck and I used to be in a band called Dislocated Styles based out of the West Coast. We signed to Roadrunner Records in 1999 and recorded an album with Howard Benson (P.O.D., Hoobastank, All American Rejects). It was released in 2001 and we did some heavy touring in support of the album that whole summer throughout Europe and our video was even gettin' played on MTV. But, unfortunately due to song lyrics in our first single "Fire in the Hole," we were blacklisted after Sept. 11th and our CD was not released 'til months later. With the disintegration of the rock rap scene, Chuck and I decided to leave the band in 2002 after a tour through Tokyo with the plan of gettin' a singer rather than a rapper and start a rock band.

Your previous band mostly played the Southwest and toured in Europe, but when Temporary Grace was formed, you based in New Jersey and worked at building a local audience. What made you decide to relocate to New Jersey and how has the local music scene made this time around different than when you were starting out in the late 90s?

I grew up in NJ. I moved out west for college originally and when I left Dislo I was sick of being away from my family, so I decided to move back here. Once I got situated back in Jersey, I called Chuck who was still living out west and encouraged him to move to NJ to be a part of this project. He moved here and we began auditioning singers and through a mutual friend we found Rob Eelman and Temporary Grace was formed. We searched for a bass player for a while and then we, through family friends, met Anthony and the rest is, as they say, history.

The local music scene is big here. The only downside to now as opposed to the late 90s is the fact that all-ages shows are much harder to find then they were a few years ago. But places like the Stone Pony and CBGBs allow us to still play to our all-ages fans.

In addition to the Pony, you've become a regular at most of the important New York and New Jersey venues, such as The Mercury Lounge and CBGB. How important is live performance to the band and is a high-energy stage presence something that you work on or does it come naturally to everyone?

Stage presence is very important and truthfully it is something we work very hard at. When I go to see a show, I expect to see a show. Anyone can stand in one place and play their songs like the CD, but to perform is a much different skill. We work very hard at it.

Your most regular gig is at The Whiskey Bar in Hoboken, where you've got regular dates scheduled over next several months. How do you guys feel about the venue, the fans there and having the opportunity to perform there every Tuesday night?

When you are trying to build a following it is important to have a steady gig schedule so your fans can come see you. The staff at The Whiskey Bar is very good to us and the steady Tuesday night thing is good for us because it allows us to not only play another show instead of just having practice, but give all of the great bands we meet a night to come play a show with us and have a good time 'cause that's what music is all about.

The band gives a lot of credit to Matt Rifino, who produced, engineered and mixed "Priorities". Talk about what Matt brought to the project and how working with a producer like him can affect the band's sound and how it comes across on the record.

Matt Rifino is a very talented sound engineer. He does sound for the Today Show and Conan O'Brian, but when I met him he was really eager to get involved from not just an engineering standpoint but from the producer angle as well. He was very interested in our band and gave us a lot of constructive criticism that made us want to take a chance on him and let him produce the CD as well as record it. [That] decision was great because he really pushed us to the next level in and out of the studio and played a huge role in the success of our final product, "Priorities".

Talk about the timeline for the creation of "Priorities". When were the eight tracks written, and how long did it takes to record each track in the studio and get it mixed and mastered? Did the band generally try to do songs in one take, or did you really get into the production process to achieve something very specific in your sound?

We wrote all of the songs through 2003-4. In 2005, we took the year to record them start to finish.

We spent a lot of time crafting the songs out of the studio. The actual recording of the record wasn't that long at all. The drum tracks were recorded in about two days and the bass tracks in two as well. The guitar parts and vocal parts we spent a considerable amount of time on. Rewriting solos and even words to really capture what we wanted to convey was very important to us. Since we had to pay for the record ourselves we spent time out of the actual studio working on things so that when we recorded we were as efficient as possible.

Another piece of big news for the band last month was a sponsorship deal with Hartke/Samson. How did that deal come about and what does something that like mean for the band?

The sponsorship with Hartke/Samson has been awesome! We were introduced to them by our good friends from The Pennyroyals and Hartke really has been taking care of us tremendously! It is great news for the band because it allows us to play on new equipment that works!

Want to earn your free stuff and give your best plug for their products?

Thank you, Hartke!

Your bio mentions that the band distributed 11,000 copies of your demo CD around New Jersey. That seems like a massive, and expensive, promotional effort for the band. Do you think doing that paid off and how does the band balance doing promotion on the street in a more traditional way versus online and digital promotion on the Internet?

We had a good connection that allowed us to print 10,000 CDs at a very inexpensive price and we figured that a new band needs all the help it can get and we took a shot at distributing them free at our shows and to anyone we met while the band was getting started. I think it was a great promotional tool for us and I'm glad we did it. With the success of Myspace in the last year we probably won't do something like that again 'cause it was costly and the Internet is a great free tool for promotion. I think at the time it was a good call for us though.

What's next for Temporary Grace? What do you hope are the next steps in the promotion of the new CD, and how would you like to see the band's story unfold in the months ahead?

Next for Temporary Grace is simple. We are playing as much as we can and we are promoting our new CD, "Priorities," every chance we get. We are concentrating on getting our CD to radio stations and building our fan base here in the tri-state area. We are in the process of signing a management deal right now with Eternal Artists from Detroit and we will continue to work hard in order to bring us to the next level.

[ Website: www.temporarygrace.com ]

Matt Mrowicki

Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing. www.imprtech.com