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QRD #36 - Valentine's Special - February 2008
about this issue
xo #3 - first time
Brian Hearts Katherine
complaints about humans - part 3
Valentine's Interviews with:
All in the Golden Afternoon
The Backsliders
Book of Shadows
California Oranges
Grappling Hook
Here Comes Everybody
List of Likes
My Glass Beside Yours
Northern Valentine
Paris Luna
Something About Vampires&Sluts
Shiny Around the Edges
Silk Stocking
The Wades
Windy & Carl
The Winter Sounds
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Valentine's Interview with Grappling Hook
February 2008

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.

Grappling Hook on MySpace

Other QRD interviews with Grappling Hook:
The Torch Marauder interview (November 2005)