Interview with Grappling Hook
I first met Dave & Jennifer while they were playing together in Analog II. Now they are members of the band Grappling Hook (fronted by Dave Bjorkback & briefly known as The Torch Marauder’s Grappling Hook).
QRD – How do you turn music mode on & off in your relationship with each other? Or do you find yourself pretty constantly collaborating on music even if it’s songs about cooking?
Jennifer & Dave – Music mode is pretty much always on with us. We’re always talking about or listening to music even if we’re not creating it—it’s just part of our daily lives.
QRD – How has your music changed by having someone you’re romantically involved with working with you?
Jennifer – Dave has really inspired me with his music & has challenged & encouraged me to grow musically. I feel that I play much better & more innovatively because of him. There’s a freedom & understanding between us that is difficult to find with anyone else. We’re fortunate to share in our love for a lot of the same music, & we can usually anticipate what the other is looking for in a song & complement it well.
Dave – When I first realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Jennifer, I happened to write the biggest, baddest, most evil riff I’ve ever been able to come up with. I think that was a good sign. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with ideas that I think both Jennifer & I will like. Having worked together for so many years, we can come up with parts where we have some idea of what the other will add to it. & a lot of times when I work on something that is arguably a bit sub-par, Jennifer comes in & adds some crazy discordant organ thing to it & it just makes it legitimate again. I have actually shed some tears when Jennifer comes in & completes an idea that I just couldn’t make work by myself.
QRD – How do you keep things professional rather than getting personal in the band? Like not letting being upset that someone’s not doing their house chores spill into band practice?
Jennifer & Dave – We’re not perfect at it, but we try to put things in freeze mode for Evan & Dave’s sake. After band practice though, watch out! But seriously, sometimes the break to practice really helps us get some space & realize we’re not as upset as we thought we were.
QRD – Do you think working musically together increases the strength of your relationship?
Jennifer & Dave – Yes, definitely. The process of creating music brings us closer together—we share in the battles & the small victories of writing, recording, & playing out. The joy we derive is directly experienced & shared by both of us, which transfers to our relationship.
QRD – Do you think the music ever suffers because of your relationship?
Jennifer & Dave – Not overall. Some practices may be lost due to frustrations external to the band, but that’s rare & also not unusual for any band.
QRD – Being in a romantic couple, do you try to curb lyrical content to or away from things in your relationship?
Jennifer & Dave – In Grappling Hook, Dave Bjorkback handles the lyrical responsibilities. & he’s got much bigger things to deal with, such as lizard men, flesh machines, & frozen rays of sunlight rather than waxing poetic about our relationship.
QRD – Which came first the musical collaboration or the relationship & do you feel that at this point that you could have one without the other?
Jennifer & Dave – The musical collaboration came first, & we couldn’t imagine our relationship forming without it—being in a tight-knit band gave us the opportunity to become extremely close & to get to know each other very well.
QRD – How do things work with band members besides the two of you to get the same level of connectivity while playing your music?
Jennifer & Dave – Grappling Hook, our current band, is really an ideal situation. Bjorkback is an amazing songwriter, & Evan, in addition to being a serious heavy-hitter, has a melodic sense that really helps us all get together & construct a song. Sure, there are lots of time when the two of us lock into a part, but there are equally as many parts where Jennifer & Bjorkback go soaring off somewhere, or Heller & Evan trample the earth… but the end result is the whole band shaking the pillars of heaven.
QRD – Do you find music related gifts to be romantic or more like giving someone an appliance?
Jennifer & Dave – We give each other music-related gifts all the time—they’re very romantic because we’re recognizing the importance of music to each other, & giving something that the other person will really enjoy & find inspiration from.
QRD – The musician life style has an inherent lack of financial security & healthcare. Do you find yourself thinking, “How can we start a family & continue our musical careers?”
Jennifer & Dave – We both have traditional careers in addition to our musical ones, so we’re pretty lucky in that sense.
QRD – Do you ever switch off instruments to give each other ideas?
Jennifer & Dave – Not really, but we still share ideas about what other instruments might do on a song.
QRD – A lot of people say they feel most spiritually connected to another person is when they’re on stage & the set is working. Is this what you find & how does this energy flow into your romantic relationship?
Jennifer & Dave – Absolutely. An excellent show is exhilarating, & that certainly carries over to afterward.
QRD – Some couples start to get seen as a unit with one member as dominant. Do you ever want to get one of you more recognition?
Jennifer – Sometimes—there’s a lot of misunderstanding of the importance of the organ. But we are both extremely happy when the other is recognized for mastery of his/her instrument.
Dave – If I may rant a bit off the topic of relationships. Jennifer brings up a good point that we’ve had to deal with ever increasingly in our musical escapades. For us, the organ is used as the big, monstrous chord-bringer of doom which should be treated on par with any guitar or bass. In fact, without a bassist, we depend on it heavily to give the songs a certain fullness. But almost every time we play a show, the soundguy sees “pretty girl with keyboard” & gives the organ the “accompanying instrument” mix. Like he thinks Jennifer is just going to stand with one hand on her hip & occasionally hit a little root note. It doesn’t happen that way… far from it. No matter what we do to try & prevent this occurrence, someone will always say, “Sounded great, but I couldn’t hear the organ.” If they couldn’t hear the organ, then it didn’t sound great. Recently, we’ve just been playing without a PA at different venues & setting our own “mix.” This has really helped & people have started to hear what is actually going on.
QRD – Do you feel a need to have separate projects where you just work on your own?
Jennifer & Dave – No. With Grappling Hook, we finally have the freedom & partners in crime to do what we’ve always wanted to do. We’ve been playing music together for almost 12 years, & I think now we have a good handle on throwing in everything we could ever want to in the music we play.
QRD – Musicians often run into fans with crushes, is their a secret to recognizing when something is getting inappropriate instead of being band promoting?
Jennifer & Dave – We’ve never used flirting as band promotion—in fact, we rarely promote our band. That’s something we’re working on, but flirting will never be part of it.
QRD – Any advice for other musician couples?
Jennifer & Dave – Create beautiful music babies together. Mac & cheese & peas is an excellent meal before practice.
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