Mr. G

Finding Mr. G In South Carolina

We finally found Mr. G. Ok, so actually G found us.

G, a/k/a Chris Grenda, has been missing in action since we last wrote about him last November. Recently, we received an e-mail explaining where he's been.

G has always been a true supporter of the scene, someone who tells it like it is. He has a fire inside of him that gives him an edge in the highly-competitive music biz.

He expresses this straightforwardness in his music, punching up biting power chords along with his down-to-earth storytelling lyrics. He always manages to find great New Jersey musicians and music creators to work with.

G challenged local promoters by organizing his own event, G Fest, which featured bands like Red Engine Nine, Venus Butterfly, Slowdrown and Majestic 12. Although rain ended the August 4, 2001 event before the last three bands, Madjul, Brown and Mr. G, took the stage, the show still doubled the previous year's attendance at 200 people. Later, Mr. G, the band, played in front of 4,000 people at Ernie Ball String's Extreme Moto Music Madness Tour.

When we last spoke, G was trying to fill the shoes of bassist Ryan Martin, who was leaving on good terms. He was also working on a CD, still pending release, at Long Branch's Shorefire studio's. This interview explains more about the CD, and continues the sage of Mr. G, the singer and the band. Chorus and Verse promises to keep up with G and keep you posted on his journey through the music business.

So where has Mr. G been these last couple of months?

I have been down in South Carolina getting ready to study music in school again and finish up the new CD. Small town called Gaffney where everyone knows your name. It's definitely the complete opposite of NJ.

What prompted your relocation?

My initial idea was to come down here strictly to change my environment and finish the new record. I think once I actually moved away from the financial stress of NJ, I felt that I could get so much more accomplished, if I leave my mind open and follow my dreams more. I am one of those guys that has always dreamed of traveling from city to city to work on music. Hell, I am starting to do that now.

What are your goals you want to accomplish in the near future? What about sometime further down the road?

The near future, obviously, at this point is to finish the new album. I mean, it's just coming out so good with Joey [DaMaio, of Shore Fire Studios in Long Branch, NJ]. He has worked with so many famous bands, Skid Row, Slash, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and really knows his stuff. The record is three-quarters of the way done and seems to be the best work I have done so far.

Further down the road? Along with moving down here on a soul-searching mission for music, not just for the current music, also to see if being away can surface any new songs. I have already written two new songs down here that are very nice songs.

So, I would say my long-term goals are these; one, always shoot for that good record deal, get to play my songs for the people and enjoy my work; two, if the odds plan against me of being a successful rock musician, that is why I am going to attend college for music. My dream has always been to be a musician. It would be nice to get a degree in the field. No different than a businessman wanting to get his business degree just to know he was good enough.

How do you plan on accomplishing those goals?

Right now, by keeping an open mind. Not letting society and the rigors of it hold me down any longer. Doing simultaneously what I need to do to survive, work a regular job that does not take away from my music, as my other jobs in the past did, and accomplish my dreams.

I should have learned to think this way years ago. After putting eight years in the local Jersey scene is when I truly learned about the mental side of the business. How to just be myself again and not try to write or feel for the business.

I recently wrote a new song that I may try to get on this album if time, money and tape space allow. The song is titled "Yesterday". It's simply about how I found myself. I will accomplish these goals by being the same Mr. G in the public eye and a different Mr. G in my own mind.

What advice would you give to somebody trying to break into the music business?

Well, it's somewhat hard to say how to break into the big scene 'cause I am still trying myself. If I do break in and accomplish those large goals, I will promise to answer this question again with new insight.

However, right now, the only help I think I can offer to guys on the smaller level is this; major record labels, MTV, VH-1, "Spin" magazine, are not the music business. They are a part of the music business. Believe it or not, the first time you climb them small or large stairs to play a show for anyone, that is the music business. You have just played for someone other than yourself and they paid for it. No matter the numbers. My advice is keep in your head that you are in the music business already.

Do your best all the time. You will fail sometimes. Josh, you can vouch for me on that. [Editor's note: Grenda is referring to G Fest, an event he put together in the summer of 2001 to promote local bands. Unfortunately, due to rain, it was cancelled during Slowdrown's set, forcing the bands who were to follow off of the bill.] Even when you have the perfect plan with the best local bands, biggest stage, best sound setup, radio stations involved, large sponsors, there is nothing you can do when the weather wants to open up on your ass and shut you down.

I truly believe that had that show had a beautiful sunny day, I would already be on my way to a large-scale record deal. That could have been the turning-point show for me. That was part of my goal for that concert, to make the best thing in Brick history in rock n' roll. Hey, shit happens. Things didn't go as planned. That's the music business. For any new bands in the scene that are on their first years in the NJ scene, hold your head up high no matter the numbers. Don't let [local club owners] make you feel like shit cause the night didn't turn out the way you thought. Trust me when the people do come out, all of those guys are your best buddy and will book you again that same night. If the night is dead, you're lucky to get a call within the next month. And that call is strictly 'cause they need someone.

When that happens that is your night to prove yourself. Not so much in the numbers, but play your ass off. Just as a point of reference, I used to pack the clubs when I was younger. So, I was loved by the owners of The Saint, the Pony, the Birch Hill, to name a few. As the years went by, the numbers weren't as high as they use to be. The club owners initially started treating me like shit. My way to get back at them was to play my ass off anytime I played for them. I was starting to get remarks that not a whole lot of people are here, G, but you sounded great and really worked the people that are here. They were not mad at me anymore 'cause I worked the crowd at hand and even stopped the bar attendants from working at times to listen to the music, the whole purpose of this big game.

So, I leave you with this statement: For a long time I felt that you had to be famous to be happy in this business. Not true, you have to be happy before you're famous in this business. Otherwise, you'll self-destruct when you find out that the money and people didn't do what you expected it to do for your soul. Yeah, you'll have the cars and houses you dreamed of. But your soul will still be dead-ass broke.

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Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.