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Golden State


Singer James Grundler may have first become well-known through his work with the Los Angeles rock band Paloalto, whose chiming song “Breathe In” might ring familiar to some of you, as might their Rick Rubin-produced album, Heroes and Villains.  But Grundler’s moved on to a new band, Golden State, that is making even better use of his rich, striking vocals, which are most easily compared to Bono’s of U2 – who were, in fact, one of Grundler’s earliest influences.

“I grew up in a really musical family,” Grundler explains. “My parents had an amazing record collection and I loved the singers on those albums, from the Beach Boys for their lush harmonies to Smokey Robinson with his unique singing style. When I got older, I started getting into other musical sounds like the Catherine Wheel, Simple Minds, and U2. It was those bands that made me want to be a singer.”

It took a while for Grundler to find his musical feet, though. With a distinctly inimitable vocal tone and an impressive falsetto, it was obvious that he needed a strong band and equally strong songs to propel him even farther.  Several experimental bands led to the band that would become Paloalto – but even with Paloalto’s success, it wasn’t quite the place Grundler wanted to be. Perhaps Golden State’s name – other than being a reference to Grundler’s home state of California, of course – is an indicator that he’s finally found a band to call home?

“I like that interpretation,” he says. “Yeah – this is definitely the golden state. I think I’ve been searching for the same thing in all the bands I’ve been in. Sometimes you will find limitations, though, and when that happens, that’s when you move on.”

Grundler’s moved on with the trio of musicians that make up the rest of Golden State – Marc Boggio on guitar, Alex Parnell on bass, and Fern Sanchez on drums – and says that the difference this time around is in the focus.

“I think what Golden State has to offer, as opposed to (my) previous projects, is the love for song with a great message,” he explains. “We are in a better place, and I feel there are no limitations.” He further kept those limitations at arm’s length by starting the process for Golden State’s latest album, Division, in familiar territory. “I have a studio called ‘The Box,’ and that is where I do all my writing and recording,” he says.

The songs for Division were demoed at The Box, and eventually brought to Henson Recording Studio, where the drums were tracked. Everything was then brought back to The Box, with Grundler at the helm as producer for the overdubs and vocals. ”I just love having the ability to work without having to watch the clock,” he smiles. He also has more confidence in his songs these days.

“(My songwriting) didn’t start to take shape until I was in my twenties,” he reflects. “I think to be a great songwriter one has to live and what I mean by that is, you have to have life experiences. I think I’m writing my best stuff now. We are setting up a small U.S. tour for February and March, and I can’t wait for the reaction of the audience.”– Kristi Kates

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Find out more about Golden State’s music via their official Facebook page.