This past year the predominantly indie-rock driven Keene music scene got a blast of vibrant psychedelia in the form of three-piece psych/surf outlet The Groms. Consisting of all Keene State College seniors, lead guitarist Zach Tyropolis, bass guitarist Joey Ogden and drummer Ethan Janis started playing together in the spring.
Prior to the formation of The Groms, Tyropolis and Janis jammed together as a two-piece “recording stuff on garage band and playing music to our friends…but we got a lot more serious once Joey came into the picture,” Janis said.
Ogden said he hadn’t played the bass before joining the group. He said, “ I took guitar lessons for two months but didn’t really like it unfortunately…Ethan’s step-brother had a bass so I picked it up pretty quick and actually liked it a lot more than guitar.”
Tyropolis chimed in with “he’s a natural,” as Ogden has only been playing since last spring.
Tyropolis attributed his mother to influencing him to play. He said, “She bought me this guitar when I was ten or 11…she was always really into the classic rock stuff…so I said alright let’s go for it.”
Janis has been playing drums since fifth grade, but said he played in the school orchestras more than in rock ‘n roll bands until high school.
He said, “When I met Zach, our musical tastes were very much the same, we both had huge roots in classic rock, but we also had this love for surf rock and reggae so our music flowed very organically together, and that’s when I started playing drums a lot more intensely.”
Tyropolis and Janis recalled their early musical endeavors together as being more a casual thing to do as friends, but said they knew they always wanted to play with a bassist.
Janis said, “Once we got Joe to come in and play the bass for us we realized we were actually sounding pretty good and wanted to go play for people…the momentum took off from there.”
Playing surf rock in the landlocked area of Keene, New Hampshire, didn’t seem too far-fetched for the three of them. Janis, Tyropolis and Ogden being surfers and skateboarders themselves, said, “This is where we are, and this is what we wanted to play.”
This past Saturday, The Groms played at a local house venue and their over an hour-long set rang intense reverb drenched riffs throughout the cramped basement. Relentless, the three of them consistently delivered solidly structured songs reminiscent of surfers of the past like Dick Dale, The Ventures and even Takeshi Terauchi’s more Eastern sound, but having space for captivating improvisational jams throughout.
KSC Senior Dezary Agosto, one of the residents of the house that hosted The Groms this past saturday, said the music made him feel and think about music differently, as something that’s genuine and real.
He said, “They’re so passionate and it’s super contagious. It’s hard not to dance to them…they always put on a fun and funky show.”
This combination of progressive experimentation and the rigidity of traditional surf allows them to use any myriad of influences as they write. They said the writing process is mostly collaborative, one of them having a riff or idea and then building it up together.
Tyropolis said, “It’s really spur of the moment…we’ll go into something and it’ll turn out to be this great song.”
Janis agreed. He said, “ For one of my favorite songs…we were jamming and we did something, I don’t know but I [expletive] up and messed up the song and we just went woah, let’s do that again. We made a great song from a mistake.”
The Groms said they plan to record soon, but in the mean time are having a friend track a demo that will hopefully be out this spring.
The Groms will perform at KSC Campus Ecology’s Solarfest on April 23, and said they will be actively playing the basement circuit around town.
Matt Bacon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org