The Grip Weeds' name tells you a lot about the New Jersey band, which got that name from John Lennon's Private Gripweed character in the 1967 comedy How I Won the War. Consistently mindful of 1960s rock, the Grip Weeds are a retro-psychedelic outfit whose influences range from the British Invasion power pop of the Who, the Kinks, and Revolver-era Beatles to the Southern California jangle pop of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. The rockin' yet highly melodic quartet has often been compared to another New Jersey band, the Smithereens, and in fact, Grip Weeds singer/drummer Kurt Reil played alongside Smithereens members Dennis Diken (drums) and Jim Babjak (guitar) in the 1990s side band Jim Babjak's Buzzed Meg. But while the Grip Weeds and the Smithereens have a mutual appreciation of British Invasion rock, no one would have a problem telling them apart -- the Grip Weeds are too psychedelic to be mistaken for the tougher, grittier, more forceful Smithereens.
The Grip Weeds were formed in New Brunswick, NJ, in the late '80s, when Reil and his brother, singer/guitarist Rick Reil, joined forces with guitarist/singer Kristin Pinell and bassist Michael Nattboy. After playing the East Coast club scene for a few years, the Grip Weeds recorded an EP titled See You Through for Ground Up in 1992. Their first full-length album, House of Vibes, came out on Ground Up in 1994 and was followed by 1998's The Sound Is in You on the Buy or Die label. Summer of a Thousand Years was released on the Rainbow Quartz label in 2001, followed by the reissue of The Sound Is in You with bonus tracks in 2003. In 2004, the band released its fourth full-length, Giant on the Beach, again with Rainbow Quartz. The ambitious and diverse double-disc Strange Change Machine appeared in 2010. ~ Alex Henderson