|Jason Steinhauer, Timothy Jones (TJ)|
One night back in March 2010, Jason Steinhauer (vocals and guitar) dropped into DC’s Zoo Bar for an open Blues jam. Timothy Jones (TJ) was already on stage, doing what he does best – wailing away on the drums. In a moment of purely organic kismet, Jason jumped on stage, cued to band to play “You Shook Me”, and thus, Indie Rock band The Grey Area was born. Jason and TJ happen to be from New York, but are currently based out of DC. I recently caught up with the guys right after their return from SXSW. Enjoy the interview and take a listen — and, as always, turn it up.
Am I right in describing your sound as The Black Keys meets White Stripes meets Zeppelin? Have those bands influenced your music? How would you describe your sound?
We love all three of those bands. Zeppelin especially is a huge influence, and obviously we get comparisons to the other two based on our lineup. There’s a bit of Tom Petty, Elliot Smith, Dave Matthews, Blur, Gershwin, gospel and blues mixed into our sound, too. When you listen to a lot of music growing up, its pieces become part of you. When you unite two musicians who have grown up with such a wide diversity of influences, the combined sound takes on a new dynamic. That’s sort of what’s happened with us. Perhaps it’s simplest just to say is our music is good beats, good riffs and good songwriting–in no particular order.
Tell me about SXSW. Do you think it was beneficial for you professionally? What was your favorite moment?
SXSW was an adventure. This was our second year going, and we built off our two shows last year to play four this year. It was great professionally, we got to meet some great people and musicians. TJ’s favorite moment is a tie between hanging out with Thomas Pridgen (formally of Mars Volta and currently the Memorials) and sleeping on the streets of Austin the first night. Jason’s favorite moment was tasting the fried avocado stuffed with chicken and cheese. Slightly obsessed…
The Grey Area “Sugar, From You”
How and when did you two meet?
We met at an open blues jam in D.C. back in 2010, at a place called Zoo Bar. TJ was jamming on stage with a group of musicians who had no lead singer, just instrumental. I, Jason was waiting, my turn to play. When the guys on stage finished a song, and couldn’t figure out what to play next, I cut the line, hopped on stage, and called out “You Shook Me” by Led Zeppelin. TJ smiled, we nailed the song, and the rest is history.
You manage to pull off a really strong sound with just two people – do you ever play or record with more people?
Not really. We had a horn player sit in for a show or two, and our producer helped a bit in the studio, but it’s pretty much always just us two. That’s what it’s been about from the beginning, and that’s what it’ll continue to be. They say the two of us sound like five. We tend to surprise people by how big a sound we make with just two.
Are you working on any new music? Touring plans? What’s next?
Yes, yes and yes. We’re trying to get our sound to more people and play some festivals this summer.
You’re fairly active on Twitter, and that’s actually how we connected in the first place. How do you like to use it, and do you find that it’s helpful in gaining exposure?
From my (TJ’s) perspective, I look at it as it’s constantly the first day at a new school and you’re seeking out new friends. At some point you get established enough and you’re not the new kid anymore and you can gain some popularity and then people want to meet you. But seriously, it’s very helpful to meet and connect with fans, bloggers, and those in the industry. We’re big fans of Twitter. Hit us up anytime.
The Grey Area “(What You) Do (To) Me”