Dancing, Sewing, and Singing | The Grates

The Grates are a wonderfully loud band, full of banging drums and simple but effective lyrics. Hodgson’s brutal voice—backed by a single guitar and drum—is reminiscent of the Ramones.

For a woman with a voice that has siren qualities, Patience Hodgson of the Grates sounds so sweet on the telephone. “Oh, dear, I’m so glad you called back!” she exclaimed as soon as she picked up the phone. “I unplugged the hotel room clock, and I have no mobile in the States, so I lost track of the time.”

The Grates is a three-piece band from Brisbane, Australia, still going strong at four years old. After releasing eight EPs, the group (featuring Hodgson on vocals, John Patterson on guitar, and Alana Skyring on drums) showcased its first real album, Gravity Won’t Get You High. With its amazing artwork and fun song titles, the CD seems to define the word “fun.” “Yeah, all the artwork is a blast, and it feels great to do it,” said Hodgson. “It feels good to sew T-shirts, because merchandise is fuel for bands; it keeps us on the road.” Each of the band members has a background in art, creating all of the artwork themselves.

On the subject of childhood, Hodgson truly seemed to have had an adventurous set of schooldays. “I went to the beach heaps, and I never lived in a city or busy place, so I mainly hung out with friends.” She paused for a second and giggled. “We used to go down to this jetty on the beach and jump off of it. One time, part of the jetty collapsed, so we ran over to the boys at the other end and told them. One of them, John, jumped on top of the remaining jetty and the whole thing collapsed. Fuck, we all thought he was dead! Then he just popped out of the water.” The location of her childhood had an obvious influence, as well. “Brisbane is small,” she explained. “It’s really tiny, although the expanse of the city is really quite big. Suburbia is five minutes away from the city on this island. Everything is new; nothing is historical. And it’s all terribly clean.”

The Grates are a wonderfully loud band, full of banging drums and simple but effective lyrics. Hodgson’s brutal voice—backed by a single guitar and drum—is reminiscent of the Ramones. “Comparisons to the Ramones are too good for us; they’re legends in rock ’n’ roll,” she refutes. Although the average Grates fan might disagree, Hodgson stands strong on this issue. “We are a much pussier band than anyone gives us credit for.”

Whatever the case, the Grates know how to have a good, rowdy time. “We haven’t really had a bad tour,” Hodgson admitted. “It’s always been exciting and fun, hanging out a lot together. When we went overseas for the first time, we had awesome opportunities and we were working hard; we weren’t going to waste it all away. Any tour in America is great, besides having to eat at truck stops. We had a lot of fun in Wichita; the show really rocked! Denver was great, too. And all the bands we’ve toured with through America have been fabulous. We love the Go! Team. I must have danced to them so many times.”

The Grates are known to have one hell of a time on stage. Hodgson jumps around for her whole set, and Skyring and Patterson are as hyper as they can be behind their respective instruments. “The best time for everyone is when we go on stage, though. You can be really tired and all that crap, and even when the rest of everything else goes to shit, being on stage is the best of times.” And not only do they have fun on stage together, they have a blast traveling throughout the world, and dealing with various Spice Girls. Wait…what?

“This one time we were traveling, we lost all of our bags at an airport in Toronto. Customs gave us so much grief, and all of a sudden this loud, obnoxious lady made all of us move over to the left, because she was escorting Posh Spice, who was wearing heaps of makeup.”

One can tell that these three have been through a lot together, and their friendship is definitely the bond that holds them together. Hodgson recalled the first time that she met Patterson. “John disgusted me. He was wearing a black sock, and there were particles of stuff between his toes, and it was disgusting. But it got better.” Just like any other group of friends, these three “kids at heart” have plenty of time to discuss a plethora of subjects, from various travel issues to mutual friends to politics. “Everyone hates their political government these days,” Hodgson said. “Almost every generation has seemed to feel that way.”

On a final note, one last thing that the band is bonding over currently is their nomination for a Triple J Award—Triple J being a national radio station, available everywhere in Australia. “They actually support music,” explained Hodgson. “We’re fucking stoked to be nominated. If we won…holy crap.” | 

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