Back to the Unknown for Gramps

SOME distinctly '90s sounds have been emanating from a Port Fairy beachhouse in recent years.

The house has been home to the second coming of the band Gramps, a four-piece who hold a significant place in south-west musical history they were one of three bands from the region Unearthed by Triple J back in 1998.

Back then, the four members Gus Franklin (guitar), Jordan Lockett (drums), Joel Coxall (bass) and David Gibb (guitar) were high school students or young apprentices, bashing out their own brand of punk and alt-pop at parties and pubs around the region.

Their song Glitter Eyed Girl, re-recorded by Triple J in a Sydney studio, received national airplay and sales. But by early '99, the band had gone their separate ways following Franklin's move to Melbourne.

"I didn't think about the future of the band," Franklin said of the Unearthed win.

"I had it in my head that I was going to go to Melbourne as soon as I finished high school.

"I remember being at school and hearing our song on the radio ... and that was really weird (but) I don't think my ambition gland ever turned on."

Ironically, Franklin has gone on to major success as a member of Architecture In Helsinki, which has seen him tour the world.

Lockett also moved away and continued to play in bands. His latest group Zuzu Angel is on the rise, having recently been announced to play at a festival in Thailand next year with Nine Inch Nails and The Hives.

"We did three or four demos and I thought the chemistry was definitely still there."

But Gramps was largely put on a shelf a relic of the '90s that each member looked back on with fond nostalgia.

Two reunion shows in the late '00s showed the band could still rock, and Coxall, Gibb, Lockett and Franklin kept in touch.

It was at Lockett's 30th in December 2010 that plans for a second coming started to take shape.

"We had a really good time hanging out and jamming and we started throwing the idea around of recording all the songs we didn't record back in the day," Franklin explained.

Lockett dug a box of cassettes out of his parents' shed and he, Coxall and Gibb reunited in Port Fairy to record demos of some of the old material that didn't make it on their sole album The Unknown.

"We did three or four demos and I thought the chemistry was definitely still there," Lockett said.

Meanwhile, Franklin recorded more demos at Architecture In Helsinki soundchecks while he toured Europe and the US with the band.

While some words had to be rewritten due to forgotten or lost lyrics, Lockett said all the songs were written around 1998.

Then in December 2011, all four members, along with south-west musician and sound engineer Chris Hedges, gathered in a house overlooking Port Fairy's East Beach and set about recording The Unknown Part 2.

"It was like riding a bike," Coxall said of the sessions.

"It's been great, it was just great fun catching up.

"It sounded pretty much the same (as we always did) the only difference is the technology (for recording)."

Two years on from those sessions, and The Unknown Part 2 will finally see the light of day with a special launch gig tomorrow night at The Loft in Warrnambool, with Gramps supported by The Black Belts and Slvrkn/Silverkane.

Lockett said the rehearsals were clicking so well it was likely to be "the tightest show we've played", and the members weren't dismissing the idea of a third album.

"This might spark up a third one," Coxall said.

"We're definitely close mates and it's always good fun when we catch up.

"But I'm just hoping we have a good night and get to catch up with everyone, not just the Gramps boys, but all the people who used to come and see us play.

"This is more of a reunion for everyone than just us."

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