interview with Outlook Grim

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Have any of you played in other bands?
J-I have played bass in a few other local bands.  We rarely, if ever, gigged, but I jammed with friends in high school and the first few years of college.
D-In the mid 90s I was the vocalist for a Gothic Metal band named iNdULgE.
How is it that you started playing music?
J-My mom bought my first bass for me when I was in 8th or 9th grade.  A friend and I had bonded over bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica.  My friend was a guitar player so I figured I would try playing bass so that we could attempt to form a band.  I briefly tried to play drums and guitar but was so terrible that I quickly gave that up.
D-My friend Trent and I decided because of our love and passion for music that we should start a band. We both asked our parents to get us guitars.  We named our band and started guitar lessons. I successfully learned basic chords and how to play Black Sabbath's Iron Man and the intro to Metallica's One.  The only thing to come from that band was notebooks full of lyrics and sketches of would be band logos.
What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you? J-I'm Joey Scarpino.  I'm 29 years old and play bass in Outlook Grim.  Bob Snodgrass plays guitar and writes the music, Doug Dobbs sings and writes most of the lyrics, and David Lay is our illustrious drummer.
Have you had other previous members? J-We have.  Before David joined the band, we had a drummer named Tim that was absolutely awesome at drums.  He recorded the album with us and played our first live gig in Alabama. Shortly after our first gig, Tim ended up moving to Canada and pursuing other projects.  David joined us around Christmas of 2013 if I remember correctly.
Did you make music even when you were young? J-No.  I always had music playing and learned the lyrics to tons of songs by the Beatles, Elton John, and Rolling Stones but I didn't try to play until I was in middle or high school.  Even now, I noodle around a lot but rarely write any riffs for the band.  Bob brings all the riffs and I add my fills from there.
Where are you from?
J-I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1987.  I lived there until I was 13 and then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2000.
D-I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but was raised in the bowels of the bible belt:  Decatur, Alabama.
What year did the band form? J-I think we began jamming in 2011.  Bob, Doug, and I all met at Bob's house and decided to have dinner, some beer, and listen to music in the hot tub.  It sounds suspicious, and I don't recall why three grown men decided to do this, but while we were in the hot tub, we decided to form a metal band. 
What's your style of genre?
J-I always say that we are just a "heavy metal" band.  We aren't death or black metal, we aren't speed or thrash, nor are we power metal.  Our goal is to take our different influences, which range from all genres of metal to non-metal music, and combine it to make our specific style of metal.  Bob is really inspired by guitar players like Randy Rhodes, so he tends to bring that style of melodic, classic metal guitar riffing to the band.  David has experience playing in bands that were influenced by bands like Dimmu Borgir so he brings a fast, double-bass attack on the drums.  Doug listens to all different kinds of metal and hard rock and mixes his guttural yells with a more doom/goth influenced voice at times.  I try to maintain a heavy yet groovy bass presence. 
D-I would say we are a Heavy Metal band.
What inspires you?
J-Personally, I'm inspired by bass players that use their skills to bolster the song instead of their own talents.  I know lots of bass players that are amazing players and do some wild things with their instrument, but it can get lost in the madness of a metal song sometimes.  I prefer to hear a bass line that grooves with the drums, compliments that guitars, and pulses nicely.  Some of my favorite bass players include Bob Daisley from Uriah Heep and Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath, and Ian Hill from Judas Priest.  That is by no means an exclusive list of my favorites but those are the guys that I feel play more for the song and not necessarily to show off how amazing they are as individuals.  Outside of music, I'm inspired by all different kinds of things like movies and my love of dogs!
D-Being entertained inspires me to entertain others.  Film, music, books, comics ... all forms of entertainment really.
How often and where do you rehearse? J-We try and get together every week or so.  We recently moved practices closer to the city of Knoxville itself so it's easier for us to get together.  We used to play at Bob' house, but he lived in another county, so it took us about an hour to travel to his house.  Now we play at David's house here in Knoxville. 
How have you developed since you started with the music?
J-I'm not sure I have!  I would like to think that I've grown more comfortable playing in front of the guys and a small audience.  I'm generally shy about my bass playing but I think I've gained some confidence (but not too much).  I think my ears have developed to where I can latch onto a riff that Bob has written and add a little fill to it or alter it slightly so that I'm not necessarily doubling the guitars all the time. 
D--Vocally I've changed my style drastically. I grew up wanting to sing like Paul Stanley and Taime Downe. In the mid 90s though, once I realized my voice wasn't built that way I shifted to a more sleazy gothic metal style. Since joining with the Grim boys I've dug deep inside and pulled out the harshness.
Do you have other interests of work outside the band?
J-Of course!  Professionally, I'm a social studies teacher at a local high school.  I teach US History, World History, and other social studies classes to 9th-12th graders.  Outside of that, I'm married and my wife and I have two dogs that run our entire lives.  We try to volunteer at a local animal shelter when we can and then spend most of our time spoiling and pampering our hounds.  We also live close to our families and frequently visit for dinner. 
D-I would love to direct a movie some day.
Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? J-I can't speak for everyone in the band but we definitely want to get our name and music out to a wider audience!  We would love some help in getting some gigs under our belts!
Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? J-I would love the opportunity to spread our music out to a wider audience and to get some financial help in recording new music.  We financed the Grim Requiem album ourselves and recorded it here in Knoxville.  It was a great experience but tough on us financially.  Doug has a wife and beautiful baby, I've got a wife and two hungry hound dogs, and all four of us are working hard to pay our mortgages and car payments, so some assistance would be great!
What made you decide to make this music?
J-I've always been a big music fan but it wasn't until I met my friend Cassidy in middle school that I tried to play.  He and I were into some of the same classic rock and metal bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy, and we were also into bands like Slipknot and the Deftones at the time.  Over time, my high school friends and I dug deeper into the catalog of older metal bands and our tastes changed, but bands like Sabbath and Slayer have stayed with me.  I just enjoyed the energy and excitement of the guitar riffs, the doom-inspired lyrics, and spooky imagery.  I also approached metal music with a sense of humor, which sometimes makes it hard for me to relate to other metal heads, because I find a lot of metal to be silly and ridiculous but I still enjoy it.  Bob, Doug, and I decided to make Outlook Grim because it seemed odd that three friends who had such passion for the genre had never tried writing music of our own. 
D-My love of rock and roll and heavy metal!
What are your songs about?
J-We try to cover different topics.  "Burn" was inspired by the fall of the Third Reich during WWII and the victory of the Allied Powers.  We have another song called "Metal's Reign" that is our love letter to the bands that inspired us.  We specifically refer to bands like Alice Cooper and Saxon because we aren't shy about our influences and want to pay tribute to them.  We are also big fans of professional wrestling and that creeps its way into our music often.  "Parts Unknown" was inspired by a wrestler named Ultimate Warrior who used to rant and rave like a lunatic, dress in crazy face paint, and run to the ring like a maniac.  He wasn't a terribly skilled wrestler but he was entertaining to watch, especially when we were little kids. 
D-My life shifted in the late 80's when I discovered that one of my  favorite tracks by Anthrax, "Among the Living" was based on the Stephen  King novel "The Stand". This lead me to a path of reading horror fiction. On "Grim Requiem", I give my nod to the horror genre with the song "Labyrinth", which is based on a novel by  Brian Keene called "A Gathering of Crows".
Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? J-Bob writes all the riffs and some lyrics.  Doug writes most of the lyrics and fits them to the songs. 
Do you start with the music or the lyrics? J-Most of the time, it seems like we start with some music and then put lyrics to the music.  I seem to remember Doug having some lyrics ready to go because he would write down ideas as they came to him and then hang on to them.  When we would get together to practice, Bob might play a new riff and Doug would shuffle through the lyrics until he found something that felt like it fit. 
Do you compose in a certain Environment?
J-Not necessarily.  We used to play in Bob's basement but now we are at David's house.  I generally practice my bass at my house or at my parents' house, but I don't consider what I do to be composing. 
D-Ideas come to me all the time be it driving a car, watching a movie or taking a piss. I grab a pen and paper or type it up on my phone and text it to myself.
Have you done any covers live? J-I don't think we've jammed any covers live but we frequently play Ozzy's "Bark at the Moon" and Sabbath's "Paranoid" when we get together.  When the band first started, we would cover songs like Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction" and Warrant's "Uncle Tom's Cabin". 
What language do you sing in? J-All of our lyrics are in English.  We are all monolingual so I don't anticipate anything outside of English being in our music.  I think it would be fun and interesting to work in lyrics or phrases using other languages but I would be afraid that we would come across as foolish or we would misrepresent the language!
What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? J-Our smallest gigs have probably been for an audience of twenty or so.  Most of that audience was probably my family as well, as they tend to support us ardently and go to every gig.  I think our largest audience was at a battle of the bands that drew closer to fifty people in an upstairs bar. 
What ages are most of your concert attendants? J-Seems like we attract people in their late teens to the twenties for the most part.  When we play at bars, the drinking age is 21 here, but 18 year olds can get in to see the bands play. 
Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? J-It depends on how much time we are given.  We try to play as much of our album as we can, and we vary the order of the songs so we can play different intros and blend songs together. 
Do you have a regular place you play live often? J-We've played at a local bar called the Longbranch Saloon several times.  It's a small place that is constantly changing management but they hosted several battle of the bands competitions. 
What was your first gig like? J-We played at a small record store in Decatur, Alabama!  My mom, my friend Eric, and I drove several hours to Alabama to meet the guys and play.  We had a small crowd of people that seemed to really enjoy the band.  One guy in particular came in wearing an Ultimate Warrior t-shirt and we all flipped out over that.  I also remember our drummer Tim played really fast that night, so it felt like the gig flew by!  I also found a used Udo Dirkschneider cd while I was there and was super excited to buy some Udo!
What was your latest gig? J-We played at Longbranch on a day that was pretty snowy and icy.  It wasn't a great gig and several people that planned on going stayed home due to the weather. 
Have you had to cancel a gig? J-Not yet!
Where have you played live this year? J-We haven't play lived this year but we are hoping to play with some other Knoxville bands beginning in the summer.
Where do you plan to gig the comming year? J-It'll be in and around the Knoxville area. 
When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? J-The album Grim Requiem is available digitally through iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.  Bob also ordered us some patches that have the album artwork on it that we will sell at gigs.  My wife did the album artwork so it's exciting to see my wife's art in patch format!
What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? J-I always pay for my music, whether it's digital or physical.  Downloading is definitely the dominant way that people consume their music and we only have digital music for sale anyway.  I do have a problem with people that don't support artists they like and choose to only stream or to illegally download music.  It's important to me to support artists I enjoy so that they can continue to make music. 
What do you think of my work? J-I love that you do so many of these interviews with different bands!  Of course, I'm limited to your work that is in English but your facebook page is full of interviews and pictures with different metal bands.  I don't know how you find the time to track down these bands and communicate with them but I love it and thank you for it!
How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? J-Any exposure is great!  This interview gives us a chance to talk about our music and personalities and I hope it will encourage people to support you and us so we can continue to do what we enjoy!
Do you have any role models or idols?
J-As far as metal bands go, mine are all the big metal bands.  Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath are the three that immediately come to mind.  I'm a huge Kiss fan and think Paul Stanley is an amazing frontman.  The guy says ridiculous things during concerts and with his lyrics but I think he is a really great singer and entertainer.  Outside of metal music, I'm a huge fan of Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, and the Beatles.  I also really enjoy cheesy action movies so people like Sylvester Stallone have a special place in my heart. 
D-Vocally: Paul Stanley, Taime Down, Glenn Danzig, Joe LeSte, Tom Warrior, Marilyn Manson and Peter Steele. Non-musically: writer Brian Keene, and directors Quentin Tarantino, Joe Hill and Adam Green.
Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?
J-For me, it's from older bands.  I'm really inspired by older bands that are still putting out quality live shows and albums.  Bands like Iron Maiden and King Diamond have been making music for decades but still bring a passion and skill to it that younger bands should be envious of!
D-From Kiss, to Faster Pussycat, to Ghost ... bands new and old, the era doesn't make a difference to me.
What have been your biggest obstacles?
J-Trying to reach a bigger audience, working around the schedules of four guys with families and jobs, and trying to appeal to people that are increasingly discriminatory with their taste in metal.  It seems like a lot of local Knoxville metal heads only go to black metal concerts or only buy death metal records.  Being that we don't exclusive play any subgenres of metal, I think it may turn off those people who don't listen to different types of metal and rock. 
What advice would you give other bands or artists? J-I'm not sure if I'm in any position to offer advice so I'll just say be pleasant to people around you!
How do you get psyched for a gig?
J-I usually have a few beers, talk and goof around with friends and family, and warm up.  The guys and I usually have a drink together, listen to some music and sing along, usually out of key, and warm up so we don't make fools of ourselves!
D-Plenty of Metal and beer
Do you have any new material?
J-We actually just started a brand new tune last week.  It's got some killer riffs and I'm excited about it.  We are tuning down to a tuning we haven't used before, down to a drop-C tuning, so it's going to be one of our heaviest songs yet!
D-We are currently working on new material, including a tribute to the 70s movie Phantasm.
What are your web sites?
J-Outlook Grim is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OutlookGrim/?fref=ts.  We have also been added to a website called the Encyclopedia Metallum and you can view us at http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Outlook_Grim/3540389817.  It would be great if some people could head over to those sites to comment and review our album!
How can people reach you? J-Through the Facebook page!  That is how we were contacted by you and that is how we talk to our fans! 
What are your plans for the future? J-We want to finish writing some new material and play some gigs!
Do you have something to add?
J-I just want to thank you for your hard work.  Thanks for getting in touch with us and giving us the opportunity to talk to you.  Good luck in the future and stay in touch! 
D-Stay Grim \m/
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