Spring is in the air, music venues are starting to open up and slowly but surely, it seems our collective angst is lightening and we can all see the light at the end of a long, anxiety ridden tunnel. Working tirelessly toward dropping their new full length album So Far So Good mid-year, the five hard-gigging rockers of Daytona Beach powerhouse Greye are feeling that vibe of freedom and optimism full on.
From January through mid-April, they were back, to the tone of 35 live gigs, and as they drop “Over My Head” - yet another fiery, in your face unstoppable lead single from the upcoming collection - they’re riding high with three consecutive #1s (“So Far So Good,” “Growing Pains,” “I Don’t Mind”) on the Euro Indie Music Chart and World Indie Music Chart. Previously, their first 2020 track “Lucky” hit #1 on the World Indie chart and #2 on the Euro chart while racking up over 1.2 million views for its video. “I Don’t Mind” also landed quickly at #2 on Spotify’s Global Radio Chart Toppers playlist.
Things were a little less sunny around a year ago when guitarist Jett Wolfe first handed lead vocalist and band poet laureate Hannah Summer his original track “Over My Head,” which featured his trademark hard driving riffs and a few pockets of slower, soulful groove interludes. It was in one of the first groups of songs she received from the guys – Wolfe, bassist Josh Reid, drummer Ray Grimard and keyboardist Kenn-e Williams. Considering that many of Greye’s recent music had some decidedly darker edges, she immediately connected with the upbeat energy.
The track called for a hopeful lyrical narrative, but Hannah – like her bandmates, like probably every other working musician in the world – was just coming out of that scary and depressed “OMG, what’s going to happen to all of us?” mode and didn’t feel like writing something overly rosy. Fortunately, Greye had quickly vowed to turn their down time into full steam ahead on the album – and her always compelling, gloriously offbeat lyrics reflect this dual sense of fear, doubt and self-questioning along with the determination to forge ahead and not let anything, even a global pandemic, stop their creative momentum.
Once she lasered into her theme, she found “Over My Head” very easy to write. “It may not be the first thing people think about when they hear the lyrics, but the song is about the experience of performing live with the band,” Hannah says. “We’ve been playing together so long and when you’re almost ten years into doing anything, you maybe start to wonder, what am I actually doing with this. The song illustrates the important of taking a 10,000 foot view of where you’re at and not letting the big picture intimidate you or destroy your ability to see the light and the end of the tunnel, or reach your goals. So many people I’ve known have that that crush them. Like those in their mid-20s who want to go back to school and get an advanced degree but the prospect of a few more years of studying freaks them out. Those years are going to go by anyway.
“Sometimes after achieving big goals in life,” she adds, “you get the sense that your best work is behind you, that you might not be able to top yourself. ‘Over My Head’ is our attempt to convince the listener that this is not the case, that even though they may feel out of their depths now, nothing good ever happens in the comfort zone. If you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to do something, here it is. Time is short, don’t let your fear or lack of self-confidence take those productive years away from you. After some earlier questioning – ‘Have I lost my touch? Have I said too much? Am I out of my depth?’ – the answer is in the hook: ‘Can I ask, would you know, just how far I’ll go over my head.’”
Hannah’s bandmates love the song for other reasons besides the theme that reflects the can-do spirit which got them through the months of no live gigging. Jett loves the way Hannah worked with his unusual rhythm change mid-song: “The chorus has this cool sloppy Stone Temple Pilots kind of vibe, where it goes into cut time and slows down. Everything feels weightier in that section, and that’s when Hannah drops the big questions that drive the meaning of the song. Yes, we’re a rock band and we love playing heavy stuff but a lot of the music we play is just plain groovy.”
Ray, who grew up a whole generation before Hannah, Jett and Josh, especially dug the raw opening riff, which he quickly equated to both The Kinks’ original and Van Halen versions of “You Really Got Me.” “It’s got some complicated parts that are in 4/5 or 4/3, so as the drummer, that means I’ve got to be on my game,” he says. “For me, the shift in tempo is also a physical change, because I can be reckless, but when the song calls for it, I have to be surgical. It’s got to be controlled madness or it doesn’t work. In these recent years, I’ve felt that rock’s been a bit emasculated from the way it was when I was coming up. I miss the days when rockers were badasses, and love the fact that Greye brings back that feel good insanity.
“Oh, and let’s not forget what Hannah’s doing here which perfectly reflects the spirit of her amazing lyrics,” Ray adds. “Love when she first sings that falsetto part. Just when you think she can’t go to a certain place, she does!”
Kenn-e, the other “older dude” in Greye, is likewise effusive when discussing both the granular details and overall impact of “Over My Head.” “The genius of this song is there are a certain amount of complications, a five bar and four bar phrase, then everything tying together in the interlude with one driving beat where Hannah literally goes over the top,” he says. “That’s from a technical perspective, but for us to do everything like that with the song and yet make it come across relatively simply, so that a layman can get it – that’s incredible. You can listen and not thin about those complications when you’re grooving along. Those melody lines Hannah came up with over Jett’s riffs totally made the song.”
Maybe it’s a Florida thing, but Ray is happy to note that Greye’s been up and running with live performances in Daytona Beach and their region since last July – giving the band a lot of time to test the waters with audiences on the hit single and other material that will be on the So Far So Good collection. Hannah is happy to report that “Over My Head” is one of the new tunes that gets the best reactions. She says, “It’s got the most tangible verse and first chorus, which are hooky enough to get people to hold onto for the rest of the ride – and of course it gets so explosive by the end. We’re really excited about these reactions and glad that it’s about to reach a global audience. We just want everyone to know, you can’t be afraid to live your life to the fullest.”