The Music Must Be Certain

Artist Griffin House is a musical storyteller. The lyrics he crafts reveal loss, wrong turns and hope. Griffin searches for meaning and finds it. Whether he is in France or back in North America, House is a one man who seeks to keep his craft simple by writing every week.  Jupiter Index interviewed Griffin House in late 2018 about his current record and his future plans.

Jupiter Index: Which artists do you feel drew you to play music? Or was it one event that made a difference for you?
Griffin House: My first idol was Michael Jackson. I listened to Thriller on vinyl at 5 years old, over and over. I was in the bathtub one night at around age 5 and I asked my mom when my skin was going to turn brown like Michael Jackson, I wanted to be just like him so I guess in my little mind, I thought I would grow up and not be white anymore. I cried real tears and sobbed when she told me that wasn't going to happen. :)

I loved Michael J Fox in Back to the Future and sang "Johnny B Goode" on air guitar in front of my second grade class one day after I asked the teachers permission to do so. She was shocked and thought it was hilarious, I'd never done anything like that.

Bono became my hero when I was about 16 and I would get all his glasses and dye my hair black to look like him, and I tried to sing like him for a long time. I grew to related a lot to Johnny Cash as my music and songwriting became more Americanized and then Joe Strummer became maybe my last great musical teacher before I learned to settle into just being my own person and my own singer. I think I had a lot of great influences and have probably been drastically influenced by every great artist I've ever heard. They are all in there somewhere. But it feels good to just be myself.
Your music has been driving you for more than ten years now, but what drives you to stay on the road and write your music?
More than 15 years! :)
I don't really have a choice, you know. It's what I do. Not necessarily "who I am" but it's a huge part of who I am. I feel whole when I am playing and singing. I'm glad I get to do this. I wish I didn't have to worry about making a living at it, because that part can be a distraction from how fun it is and what a joy and gift it is to get to play for people. I don't know what drives me. God? Actions seem to speak louder than words and sometimes I complain that it's hard and that I'm tired, but somehow I keep showing up and going for it. I must really love it or need to do it.

Do you have a special song on your recent album, So On and So Fourth (2016)? And what makes it memorable?
The most special songs on that album are "Games" and "Yesterday Lies" and "A Painting by Hieronymus Bosch" It's almost 2019, time is just flying! So that album feel like a long time ago already even thought it's my most current. I have a new album recorded and ready to go, called "Imaginary Friend" and I'm playing a lot of the new songs from the record live, already.

On that CD, tell us how "Paris Calling (Sweet Sensation)" came about for you and what was that song writing process like for it?
Paris Calling came out of me working in Paris at a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company, when I was 20. I fell in love with Paris during that time and had a magical time living there. It was like I fell into another dimension and lived in a Henry Miller or Jack Kerouac novel for a moment in time. I was sitting in hot Nashville in August of 2015 and dreaming of being back in Paris. So, I wrote the song and we recorded it in Asbury Park, NJ. As fate would have it I would return to Paris that summer for the 1st time and the recording was sent to me while I was in the Place des Voges and I got to hear my recording of Paris Calling in Paris.
I returned home and there were some terrible terrorist attacks in Paris in November around the city and at an Eagles of Death Metal concert. I was so saddened by this and wanted to send my condolences somehow, so we released Paris Calling early as a tribute to those who lost their lives and loved ones and endured that tragedy. CNN ended up reaching out and covered the story of what we were doing, so we got to sing the song and play our video live for the world and send some love to Paris on CNN.

Many songwriters carry a pad of paper around with them or set a side time to write their music. What is your songwriting process like?
I do that too. I used to be a lot more full time writer. I have so many other responsibilities these days, being a dad and husband, small business owner, I kind of manage myself, and tour manage myself and lug my own gear and try to stay healthy and balanced, so I don't get to be as manic at my writing as I would like to be (I should be writing a song right now, but someone is asking me to do an interview (haha). See what I mean?

What would you like people to know about your music? And new music?
There are probably some buried treasures you don't know about. I have recorded some great stuff over the years, not all of it is great, some of it I wish I could chuck in the bin and make go away, but sometimes i hear and old recording and think "wow, that one is really amazing, it should be a hit" Perhaps there is still time...

by G.M. Burns