- Niki Wylie
Michael Gross & The Statuettes conned Matt Glass into playing with the band. The local pop-rockers recruited him to “fill in” but the short-term gig turned into full-fledged membership.
“Our plan worked,” James Kelly jokes. “Unintentionally.”
Of course, diabolical trickery had nothing to do with Glass staying put—his bandmates simply, conveniently, never brought up his departure. “We’re glad he decided to stick around,” Kelly says.
Glass, an accomplished photographer/ drummer, is certainly a keeper, but he’s in good company. He originally hooked up with Michael Gross in 2007, recording demos in his basement with his longtime friend under the name Let’s Become Actors. Gross had just left The Brobecks after a four-year tenure to refocus on personal motivations that no longer jibed with the group’s professional vision. “Our styles just drifted apart,” he says.
Gross and Glass forged ahead, churning out rough demos on a digital 16-track recorder Gross purchased for $1,000 in 2003. “It’s probably worth $100 now,” he says. “Nothing fancy.”
“Nothing fancy” is sort of Gross’ calling card. Raised in Davis County, he now resides on a farm in Hooper with his wife, whose family once ran a commercial dairy. He’s never sampled the town’s colorful cowboy bars—places likely to include the name “rowdy” on their marquees. Gross is shy, but approachable and genuine—just like his music.
Impulse & Exports, his latest release with The Statuettes, is six tracks of surging, straightforward pop with a glistening electronic edge pulsing beneath crystalclear vocals. They took a risk recording the EP at home, but after working with a professional to produce their previous EP, Dust and Daylight, the DIY approach just couldn’t be ignored.
Time is money, and when you’re paying an engineer by the hour, the creative process is understandably compromised.
“Dust and Daylight isn’t bad—it’s just not what it could have been,” Gross says. “We didn’t have the money to keep going.”
And that’s where “nothing fancy” comes in handy. Armed with Gross’ trusty 16-track recorder and Adobe Audition—the wallflower to Pro Tools’ prom queen—they achieved a high-end sound with low-end means and zero concrete deadlines.
“If we’d wanted to record every day we could, knocking out something like this in a couple of weeks, but we took our time and spent three to four months just writing it,” Gross says, adding that much of their material takes shape during jam sessions, with each member contributing to a song’s formation. It helps that the band actually gets along. Kelly and Gross describe their working relationship as dedicated, but drama-free. They take the music, but not themselves, seriously. No individual member fights for the limelight or puts his high-maintenance agenda above the band’s needs.
For Gross and Kelly, the music has always been the easiest part of making art. Now they can focus on that aspect without personal conflicts tainting the end goal, which is in this case achieving “Wilco-level” success. Like Jeff Tweedy and Co., Michael Gross & The Statuettes would love to sell enough albums to quit their day jobs.
But in an industry only partially driven by online buzz, success is easier to come by on the road—and touring isn’t as risk-free as it once seemed.
“The last thing we want to do is play for two people,” Gross says, adding that he doesn’t expect them to sell out every gig. They just want to make it worth their while. “The dynamic has changed. Now that’s we’re older, it doesn’t make sense to throw money down the drain. We need to approach this the right way.”
MICHAEL GROSS & THE STATUETTES CD RELEASE
w/ Paul Jacobsen & Madison Arm
741 S. 300 West
Friday, Jan. 8