This "5 and Dime" interview was conducted via a telephone call with Six Volt guitarist Granger Whitelaw Jr. on June 22, 2010. Granger was at home in Sea Bright, New Jersey, and I was at home a few miles away in Old Bridge, New Jersey. It was a lot of fun chatting with my almost-neighbor about his band Six Volt.
The Six Volt band hails from a generation strongly influenced by the Internet. Introduce your band mates, the other skills they add to your band's chemistry, their musical influences, and talk about Six Volt's efforts social networking on the Internet.
Granger: I'm guitarist Granger Whitelaw Jr. Six Volt originally got started in my bedroom with my friend Joe Cilento. The other members were eventually replaced by singer Nichole Deppe, bass guitarist Jake Wood, and drummer Robby Webb. My influences would be Carlos Santana. Nichole has mentioned vocalists like Celine Dion and Christine Aguilera. Joe would name guys like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. Jake would pick Geddy Lee from Rush. I'm not sure about Robby; that's hard. I'm not good with drummers. We've utilized a couple of different writers, and we're starting to write on our own. I don't have any influences songwriting-wise that I'm aware of. I just feel it out and write it. Nichole plays a bit of piano and that might add something down the road to our chemistry. Jake is pretty much a whiz and could do anything you put him up to. He's good with recording and he's a whiz on the computer. Robby has his own home studio in the basement. I'm learning graphic design and recording on Pro-Tools. Joe and Nichole are pretty much straight forward. They're all about the music. As far as the Internet goes, I have my own Facebook page for fans to add. It gives me a strong personal connection to our fans. We talk a lot. We're all on Twitter. All of our Twitter tweets and Facebook statuses go onto our Facebook pages and MySpace page. I play guitar most of the time. I try to go on the computer only when I'm not playing music so that it doesn't interfere. It's the same thing when we practice. We ignore the phones and the computer during practice. It's all about the songs and making them better.
Because of the Internet, music fans can hear Six Volt's music at their MySpace page and their website. How would you verbally describe Six Volt and what sets Six Volt apart from the thousands of new bands a music listener can spend a lifetime listening to on MySpace?
Granger: Six Volt is a pop-rock band with an edge. We're high-energy and we love performing. We love meeting people and hanging out with our fans. We practice and play all of the time. Six Volt is a hard working band. We all love to do what we do. There is no other reason for doing what we do. I like to think that we're original sounding. Somebody said we sound like the Jonas Brothers with a female singer, but I like to think that Six Volt's sound is unique and original. There's a certain uniqueness about our band, our music, and the way that we play. We put so much effort into doing it. We're well-trained. I don't want to say that we're better than all of the others, but we're probably better training-wise than most of them.
Six Volt has a five-song debut EP out now, and the band is working on a full-length record. Talk about the songs you've recorded so far and how the band has evolved?
Granger: Our debut EP was released on June 1st. Our first single, "Mind on Me," was released a little earlier in May as was our song "Girl Next Door." Fans can purchase downloads of our songs. We do have physical copies of our EP. They're not yet available in retail stores, but people can buy them at our concerts. Six Volt is planning to release a full-length record in either September or October, yet we don't have a working title for it that I can give you. Our favorite song from the upcoming record is called "Every Day Hurts." That might be the first single. There's another song we really like called "If Everybody Knew." I'm featured on that song handling lead vocals. I think Six Volt has really evolved over the last year that we've been playing together. We're recording now and playing concerts. We're trying to perfect our sound through the valuable experience we're gaining by playing concerts.
Where will Six Volt be playing throughout the summer, and how much new material will be Six Volt be playing? Also, I understand you have quite an interesting promotion ongoing with Paul Reed Smith guitars.
Granger: Six Volt recently finished the Milk Rocks tour. This summer we'll be headlining the Youth Rock Live tour that will be playing in Simon Malls around the East Coast. We're also doing a campus tour this summer. Six Volt fans can expect to hear three to five songs from our upcoming full-length record at our summer concerts. Fans have commented about the different approach to vocals on the upcoming record. Some of the new songs are more relaxed than the songs from our EP. I'm an endorsee of Paul Reed Smith guitars. We give away a free guitar to a raffle winner at each Simon Mall show. To me, the Paul Reed Smith guitar just feels right. When I picked up that guitar for the first time and played it, I felt that I was one with the guitar. The sound is amazing. Carlos Santana, who I mentioned as an influence, plays a Paul Reed Smith. The sounds he can get out of a Paul Reed Smith guitar are unbelievable.
Six Volt's press release states that 5 percent of the band's income goes to charity. That's really admirable. Elaborate on some of the specific charities and charitable events that Six Volt has played?
Granger: Five percent of Six Volt's income goes directly to charities like the New York Food Bank, which helps feed homeless children. Later in the year, we're playing for a new charity called After School All-Stars that helps fund after-school activities for the underprivileged. Six Volt is also playing a fundraiser concert in September for the Children's Miracle Network.
At my website, the interview section that I'll place our chat about your band is called "5 and Dime." It's a play on words. The first five questions that you've answered already are about your band. The sixth question is about the late, great guitarist Dimebag Darrell. He was the lead guitarist for the 1980s heavy metal band Pantera. While onstage performing with his latest band Damageplan, Dimebag was murdered by a deranged fan in Columbus, Ohio, on December 8, 2004. I'm trying to keep his memory alive by asking musicians to share a story or their sentiment about Dimebag Darrell.
Granger: I don't have any memory right now of Dimebag Darrell or the band Pantera. Most of the members of my band are not familiar with heavy metal music. If anybody, it would be our drummer Robby Webb. He's very universal in the music genres that he listens to.
No worries Granger. Maybe when I see Six Volt perform, I'll meet up with your drummer Robby and I'll ask him about Dimebag. Thanks for the interview and best of luck to Six Volt!