Grabass Charlestons played their first show on December 30, 2000 in a little box of a house nestled in the heart of Gainesville’s student ghetto. At the time of this writing, the band has never once taken a hiatus and has played 551 more times (yes, they’ve kept count, http://www.careeners.com/ ) all over America and nine other countries. From its inception, the band existed as a trio until Will Thomas, who served as both drummer and lead singer, passed the sticks to Ryan Quinney in late 2010. Since, Quinney’s fluid yet spot-on drumming and bassist Dave Drobach’s crawl-across-the-floor, flowing tones have melded to form a solid, lock-step rhythm section. Guitarist PJ Fancher’s distinctive, soaring style has only been bolstered now that Will has moved to the front and picked up a second guitar. The measured effect of this role shift is one of breadth – not just in the overall sound of the band – but in its ability to paint in broader strokes, to really dig deep and bring more intricate structures and disparate deliveries that help the songs breathe and move in new ways.
Ten, even five years ago, it would have been relatively easy to simply dub Grabass a really great punk rock band. Today, this would be somewhat of a misnomer. This is not because the band itself doesn’t have its roots firmly planted in that soil, because without question, it does. But in rock and roll as in life, there’s far more than one ingredient in the stew of Grabass’ sound. The men in this band are fans of music, and Will’s songwriting respectfully pulls from more than several stacks, and the songs bear this fact proudly. Will’s exodus from behind the drum kit has allowed him and the band more freedom to focus on writing absorbing, well-crafted songs.
Dale and the Careeners is not a concept record, per se, but there is a somewhat cohesive narrative throughout that spins tales that aren’t so much of American experience as they are of American condition. Any truly great record consists of different kinds of songs that merge to form a unified whole – Dale and the Careeners is that kind of record. Some songs swing, some bite, some weep – they all rock. Grabass has released two full-lengths and six EPs. This third full helping of songs is, without question, the band’s greatest accomplishment to date.