Interview with the Howl


The Howl coming howling (pardon the pun) from the grimy, tough city of Chicago.  The four members, John Garrison (drums), Ryan Grillaert (bass and vocals), Sam Porter (guitar and vocals) and John Shotwell (guitar and vocals) met in 2012, and with their combined influences, have been playing their mix of energetic, disjunct rock and roll ever since. The foursome added punk rock roots and angular, math rock melodies, which grew into the sound they’re known for.  This band makes you want to grab your boards and skate.  No other band name is more appropriate than The Howl for this band.  Ginsberg would love the noise.  The Howl use their dual guitars perfectly.  Thank you, Chicago, for spawning this dynamite.  Music needs this kick in the ass.  By the way, how is it possible for four guys to make this much noise.  WOW!!!!


 1.  How long have you guys been playing together?  What are the circumstances of your meeting?  Anything interesting?
 Three years this January. Our first show was in a garage in the suburbs of Chicago in January with some friends. Me, Ryan and John met in Highschool because we were all involved in the local music scene and skateboarding together. John (Shotwell) was very close with my brother Evan, who previously played guitar in The Howl. When he left the band John started playing with us and we started touring. Now we’re a weird little family that parties together.
2.  How did you come up with the name The Howl?  I think of Ginsberg or the Scream by Edvard Munch.  Any relation to the band name?
 Unfortunately no. No relation to wolves or poetry (though it is great!) When we were brainstorming names, we wanted something that would be unifying and dangerous sounding but also represented the sound. I felt that howling would be like, singing passionately, or screaming out. That’s what was going on with me then. A cry of sorts. A lot of people really like the name, but after you’ve been on a hundred flyers that have wolves on them it’s a little tiring. haha, I wish we would have gone with something a little more creative, but hey!

3.  Are you guys skaters?  If you weren’t making music (and don’t stop) what would you be doing?

 Me, Ryan and John (garrison) are. John (Shotwell) is an avid supporter though. We always bring skateboards on tour and he is always down to let us check out parks along the way. I’d maybe live somewhere else? I’ve always wanted to be a Dive Master and Scuba Dive somewhere. I don’t know, I love making music though. We’d probably be focusing on the things we went to respectively went to school for. John with drawing and Illustration, Me with graphic Design, John Shotwell with Culinary arts. I know John garrison wants to open a bowling alley someday…
 4.  What bands would you say you listen to now?  Any influences that stand out?
 Oh man, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t stopped shuffling through Hop Along’s catalog and the new La Dispute record all year. I’ve been loving that, both are hugely influential on me as a writer. The Exquisites. Moose Blood. The new Typesetter record is great, The new Downtown Struts record has also been on repeat for me. So many great local bands from Chicago. Brother George is an unappreciated Chicago pop gem. That’s a lot, sorry. I could go on and on.
 5. If you could change anything in the music business, what would it be?
 Stop making it seem like it’s impossible to be in a band and make money and survive. It’s scaring off all of the young talented kids. We’re a pretty small band and we’ve toured the entirety of the United States and made a little bit of money on top of it. It’s NOT even close to impossible. Just takes a little persistence.
 6.  Do you like to tour, play live at one place (as the bar band), or work in the studio?
 I think we collectively like touring the most. It’s so romantic and adventurous. We like to play for new people because though we’ve toured the US a lot, we’re still pretty new! People haven’t really heard us so it’s fun meeting new folks and getting their reaction. Hometown shows are always sick. They are few and far between but our local fans are hugely supportive. Recording is probably the biggest rush for me because you’re building something and hearing it the way you’ve wanted to for the first time. Something about hearing something that you made without having to play it is really exciting. I love recording.
 7.  When are you going on a full country tour?  PLAY PITTSBURGH.
 Haha, sorry! We’ve been breaking up the US into little month-sized chunks. We’ve actually tried to play in Pittsburgh about three times now with no luck. Throw us a bone! I’m thinking spring time? See you there?​
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