CJ Grimm – Inspiration, Passion, and Patience for Pagan Michigan’s rising rocker

Just in time for the holidays, I am finally releasing my interview with CJ Grimm. Musician, composer, performer, businessman, and all around wickedly cool gentleman, this man cuts a classically intriguing figure. Dashing in his own right, he glides through the crowds of Pagan Michigan with his equally stunningly dark beauty, Morganna Grim, as they seem to move in their own space of Flashpoint Noir. Let’s get started.

Who is CJ Grimm, and what is the Terror Network?

CJ Grimm, is a stage name that I came up with when I was getting started in industrial bands in 2012. It just kinda stuck, and I felt like it gave a bit more depth to my stage persona. Off-stage I can be kinda shy, but once I get that guitar in my hands, I become something else.

C.J. Grimm - ReverbNation
C.J. Grimm – ReverbNation

How would you describe your style of music?

Eclectic? Schizophrenic? It’s kind of mash-up of every genre I’ve ever played. That’s the problem, though, when you don’t just subscribe to one genre, you almost feel its your duty to represent each of them equally.

It kind of crosses genres a bit, so what influences do you feel have come into play with the development of your style?

Ha! all of them. My top three guitarists of all time are Jimi Hendrix, Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and Carlos Santana. I also really dig Richard Z.’s (Rammstein) style. A lot of my songs tends to lean towards heavier bluesy type stuff and into metal a bit as well. I always try to temper one with the other.

https://www.reverbnation.com/cjgrimm/song/26467549-behind-the-walls

Listen to “Behind the Walls”

Vocally, what front men do you feel you share a vibe with in performance and presence?

Definitely James Hetfield (Metallica). Once you put on a guitar and start growling into a microphone, you better pay homage to Papa Het. Before it was always me without a mic, and you could kinda see shades of Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy), Richard Z., and even some Munky (Korn) but now, trying to play some of my riffs while singing at the same time, you have to invoke a little bit of Hetfield.

And your bandmates, how would you describe your collective soul? How did you all meet? How often do you play venues?

Back when I was in bands, it felt like maybe twice a month. I used to be in some pretty hard gigging bands. No tours though, we just played the hell out of Southeast Michigan. right now, I’ve only played the one show by myself. kinda gotta start back at the bottom, ya know?

What’s is going on right now as far as a label?

Haha, that’s in the works, so i don’t want to jinx anything just yet. I’m currently in talks with someone who I know to be a fantastic business man, and would love to see this partnership come to fruition.

You are on Reverbnation, what do you like about it?

I’m not all that tech savvy, so I love that its REALLY user friendly, haha. I can upload music, pictures, videos, show dates – the whole nine yards. Back when I first started playing, we barely had Myspace or any other social network platform to really get out there. Now-a-days, its so easy if you know what your doing.

Tell us about your fan base.

Mostly just friends right now, and a few people that remember me from previous bands, but I’m also getting new people after the last show. Thats one of the biggest problems when you start a new project – I’ve been a gigging musician for 13 years now, and every time you start something new, you’ve got to start all over again. so far though, the new fans that have been digging my music are just awesome.

Describe for us a typical show.

Nerve-wracking – the whole day is almost a ritual for me. I wake up, put myself together, and practice my set. gotta make sure everything is ready for people to not just hear, but see as well.

Image: CJ Grimm - Reverbnation
Image: CJ Grimm – Reverbnation

You gotta remember, you’re not just playing music, you’re putting on a show. You’re not just a musician, you’re a performer – an entertainer.

After all that, its packing up, getting to the gig, and then its hurry up and wait. Gotta wait for the other bands to back-line, gotta do the sound check. It’s when people start filing into the venue, that’s the hard part for me. I’m going through a million different things in my head -did I bring the right guitars, did they need new strings, what the hell was the set list, did I do this or forget to do that – I’m juggling all these things in my head, but when fans come up to you and want to talk before the show, you gotta push all of that to the back of your head, and be the cool guy that they’re expecting to see, not the worrying emotional wreck that you are on the inside.

Then there’s that moment – that moment when you just hit the stage, stop worrying and let it all go. You pour out your frustration, anger, whatever you’ve been holding onto all day, it’s cleansing really. And then after that, I feel ten times better.

And what is the after-party time like?

ha! it used to be “stay up, party, get rowdy”, now its, “holy shit i hurt everywhere, wheres my comfy clothes, is it bed time?”

Do any of your gig experiences feed into your inspiration for your songs?

Not particularly.

Speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to pursue this dream?

I know it sounds cliche, but being able to really express myself, I guess. It’s such a release to just pick up a guitar and let go. It’s therapy.

You performed at Michigan Pagan Fest this year. And you made some new fans. Tell us about that experience.

Man, it was unreal. I really wasn’t expecting a big response, mostly because i wasn’t sure how they were gonna respond to my style, but the crowd loved it. I don’t wanna say that I “became a rockstar” but they definitely made me feel like one.

Where can we catch your next performance?

Not really sure yet. Life’s been so busy lately that while i would love to have a gig every weekend, it doesn’t pay the bills. Right now, I essentially have two jobs, one in a factory, and the other is making jewelry with Poking Dead Things. It’s hard to fit what most might consider a hobby in between those things. Yay adulting!

Time to put you on the spot. What is your favorite track right now? And why?

You’re asking me which of my children is my favorite… honestly, I’d have to say this cover I just did. It’s a mash up of “Freak on a Leash” by korn, and “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. I maintained the drums and programming from NIN, most of the guitars from Korn, and then I threw in vocals from both. I didn’t sample anything either, so it was a real stretch on my abilities.

And is this the one you would most like to promote for radio play?

Haha, I’d love to, but I would probably get sued.

Do you have an agent that handles your bookings right now? If someone wants to book you, who do they contact?

Not just yet, the only real way to get a hold of me is either through my band page on Facebook, or on my e-mail, cjbarebones@gmail.com

What are the three things most important to you when it comes to your music right now?

Inspiration, Passion, and Patience.

Why?

Writing music isn’t just something that happens, you have to be inspired to write a song.

That’s the easy part. With my process, most of the time when I’m first writing the song, I’m also recording it. Every note that I hit has to have the passion behind it, or it has no life to it at all. George Carlin once said, and I’m paraphrasing, “its not as important to know which notes to play, if you don’t know WHY they have to be played”.

And the tough part is the patience. When I’m recording, it can take me anywhere, from a first take to the seventy-fifth take, to nail a part. It would be so easy to just say, “oh that’s good enough, lets move on”. But good enough isn’t good enough. If its not just right, then you gotta keep going. That persistence, and endurance is what makes a song great.

What is your dream concert location?

Somewhere huge where I can have lots of pyro, hahaha!

Honestly, I love the smaller more intimate shows. I like it crowded, more standing room only. It’s those shows where you can tell that everyone is suffering just a tiny bit that you can tell they REALLY want to be there and get into the music.

For the singers who are just starting out, what advice do you have?

Never give up. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain – those guys didn’t have the voice of an angel, yet they were able to shape generations. If any of them had given up because their voice wouldn’t win them American Idol or some bullshit like that where they measure perfect pitch instead of passion, the world would be a very quiet dull place.

You’re out there to connect with people, not impress them. You’re trying to give a part of yourself, and see if someone feels the same. So never, ever give up.

Since this initial interview, CJ Grimm has thrilled local Pagans with even hotter performances. This includes a shredding set at Pagan Pride Day Detroit 2016 for the closing. He has also, in the tradition of the Blues Brothers, “gotten the band back together”, and we look forward to Terror Network coming to a venue near you.

If you don’t know this man, you need to know his music at least. He is one to watch. His music is perfect to set your Pagan gift-giving apart from the crystal clique cornucopia crowd for the Solstice.

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