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It’s no secret that musicians these days have taken advantage of how easy it is to record and distribute music without the machine of a major record label. The mission is not only doing it, but doing it WELL. Additionally, the challenge is having the drive, ambition and intelligence to not only create a great product, but to find ways to set yourself apart from the masses and create opportunities. Luckily for their present and future fans, Grayshot meets all of these requirements and has risen to the challenge.
Two brothers, Aaron and Christian Ankrum are the core of Grayshot. Named after Gratiot, Ohio, the town where their grandfather was born, the musicians decided to pay tribute to their family when deciding on a name for the band. Music has always run deep in the Ankrum household as far back as Aaron and Christian can remember. Growing up with their mother as a music teacher and choir director while their father had previously taught theatre and directed musicals, music was second nature to the boys. They started with piano lessons early on and by the time Aaron was in 8th grade, he was playing guitar and focused on songwriting. He formed a band with some local musicians and shortly after, Christian picked up the bass. His natural musical abilities had him as the band’s new bass player within a few weeks.
As the brothers grew older and became more and more focused on their craft, they formulated Grayshot and began recording. Through their solid music and business savvy, they made enough contacts to execute a plan to independently release their first effort Waiting Days. They garnered some solid regional press to much praise and subsequently toured as a trio throughout parts of the US. Described by the Minneapolis City Pages, “Waiting Days washes over you with a surprisingly intricate, full sound…The opening track, “Streetlight,” sets the pace for the rest of the album. It shimmers innocently with Aaron’s sustained falsetto drifting comfortably over his bright and steady guitar work…Things get a bit more philosophical on the album’s title track, another kernel of ambitious power pop drenched in overdubbed guitars and watery synth parts.”
After Waiting Days, Aaron and Christian took some time to work on their own careers outside of the band. Aaron, began focusing more on producing and mixing other artists, eventually working on live solo albums for A-List Broadway stars, bringing a fresh and modern approach to an industry that fell more on tradition than creativity until that point. Christian took time to play with other artists, and ended up pursuing some opportunities in Country music both in Minneapolis and Nashville.
It wasn’t until the brothers were finishing up building a recording studio at Aaron’s house that they realized how much they missed the band and actually wanted to create music and tour again. They began working on music and decided to move forward as Grayshot. Christian changed his plans to move to Nashville and just as naturally as the decision came to get back together, the brothers wrote, recorded, produced and mixed their first full length album, Stay/Go.
A testament to the bands diligence, on top of booking their own four week tour of Europe, Aaron persevered with a broken hip that occurred prior to their departure and did the entire tour, traveling on trains, buses and planes all on crutches. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Grayshot built a solid fan base, received rave reviews and praise in the media and had the time of their lives. The tour took them to the places they had always dreamed of and some environments they never could have dreamt up. They played in regular rock clubs, performed for a royal family of Poland and were invited to play the largest prison in Scotland. Indie Berlin wrote after seeing the band, “Music explodes from Grayshot and is artfully harnessed by these two brothers… Presented with an exuberance that is alluring, the Grayshot sound is sweet with bubbly lyrics that are introspective and genuine…Their music rises and falls within the gap left between pop and rock.”
The album’s title, Stay/Go is a true reflection of the band, both where they have been and where they are headed. Signifying the deciding moment we go through in our everyday lives for the smallest or the most important of decisions- the moment you decide to Stay and see something through or Go and not look back. For Grayshot fans, they are glad they chose to Stay.