Grayceon’s Jackie Perez Gratz: Metal is ‘Reminiscent’ of Classical Music
When most metal bands include strings in their sound, they simply fill up some open space not already cluttered with guitars. But in the ouvre of San Francisco trio Grayceon, classical instruments play a role all their own.
“I was always a metal fan. But because my parents were both classical musicians and gave me the proper training in classical music, I kind of didn’t make a connection that I could do both in one thing,” frontwoman and electric cellist Jackie Perez Gratz recently told Noisecreep.Once in college, Gratz, who also plays with the avant garde outfit Giant Squid, put her cello training on hold until she finished schooling. Soon after, she says she had a sort of revelation. “[I thought,] ‘Oh, I can play the kind of music I like to listen to,’” Gratz recalls. “‘I don’t have to play dead white guy music.’”
Metal and classical composition have always had their similarities, from the deepest realms of black metal to the orchestration of bands like Opeth. “The song structures in metal are very far from your standard rock structures,” says Gratz. “It’s more reminiscent of classical in that it’s more [acceptable] in metal to meander on. Yeah, you can come back to certain themes, but it doesn’t have to be A/B/A/B.”
Still, many metal and hard rock acts use strings as an afterthought rather than letting them guide songs into new directions — paths that a distorted guitar will just stumble through. “[Strings] aren’t really used as one of the main instruments,” says Gratz when asked if she makes a point to listen to metal bands that use classical instrumentation. “I tend to get upset that string instruments aren’t used in a better way; they’re just not being taken advantage of for being the instruments that they are … as a main instrument, they can bring a lot to a song.”
Grayceon’s third album ‘All We Destroy’ is out now via Profound Lore Records.