Granite Chief

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Granite Chief discusses his latest EP “Welcome Back”

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Granite Chief (Grant Benziger) has recently released his latest EP, “Welcome Back”, a follow up to 2017’s “Haunt You”.

EP cover for Granite Chief's "Welcome Back"

The EP is a 7-track collection of songs which fuses both electronic, rock and folk music with guitar and banjo playing – with Granite having previously toured with rapper Yelawolf as his guitar player.

After conquering a drug and alcohol addiction, he sought to discuss his struggles in his music, as the EP lyrically deals with addiction, healing and overcoming heartbreak.

Here at CelebMix, we spoke to Granite Chief to find out more about the creation process behind “Welcome Back”.

What inspired the title of the EP, “Welcome Back”?

Welcome Back came to me in a conversation with a close friend when I was getting the symbol for “earth” tattooed on my throat. I was talking about coming out of some dark times into a grounded state and my friend said “Welcome back to earth.” It resonated a lot with me in that time. Almost like the feeling of coming home safe after being away for a long time.

How did writing and recording music help you overcome your hard times?

Music has always been there for me in my best and worst times. There were many times that it became frustrating and overwhelming when my judgement was clouded. It really made me lose sight of why I do what I do. When I took some time to heal myself I truly fell in love again with the pursuit of art and that alone. I just wanted to make things that I liked and made me happy vs what I thought might get a lot of attention. So now its total self expression and if it resonates with others that’s a plus.

You talk about your addiction in “Puzzle Piece”. Was there a particular point during your struggles with drugs and alcohol that led to the creation of this song?

I was nervous to put this song out because the lyrical content is pretty raw but I thought maybe someone who is currently struggling could hear how bad it could get and try to find a way out. It’s about that last few days I had before I reached out for a helping hand and the false feelings of hopelessness that come with it. It’s purely about the dark side of a lifestyle that get glamorized way too much. There’s way more to life and happiness when you confront these issues, however scary it seems at first.

What else inspired the lyrical content in the EP?

The EP deals with the ups and downs in life, especially when it was high, highs and low, lows. But mainly its about love and the courage to push through these times and find what truly makes you happy. Some of my favorite lines from the record include…

“Ask yourself, is it worth your mental health” from “The List” because it really made me confront why I was going down the path I was going and ask what my motivations were i.e is it a healthy happy move or is it for the wrong reasons and only self serving for an image?

“If I take a piece from you I think that I could make it fit, I’ll just cut it up so no one knows its counterfeit” from “Puzzle Piece” can be taken a few ways. Trying to blend in where you don’t fit causes a lot of inter-turmoil which leads to a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Also it can be taken as how selfish one can be when you’re not aware of those around you and your heart isn’t open. 

What was the inspiration behind the EP’s closing track, “Irreplaceable”? We think this is one of the best and saddest songs on the EP.

This song is very personal to me. I lost my childhood best friend years ago and it was really hard on my circle of friends and myself. It was a conversation I replayed over and over in my head. To lose someone who had a huge impact on your life as well as many others is devastating. I was sad and angry before I came to peace with it and found a way to keep his memory with me always. “If I could have just one more summer day with you, I wonder what steps that we could re-do. What would I say if I even had the chance? Its a good thing I wrote this down in advance.”

The EP is mainly a fusion of acoustic guitar and banjo playing, with electronic sounds. What inspired the EP’s composition, and the different styles throughout? 

I’m just a fan of every style of music honestly. I pull from a lot of influences and try to blend them cohesively. Electronic, folk music, hip-hop, jazz, metal etc. I just try to make unique sounds that I want to hear.

What is your favourite song on the EP?

I think maybe “Hear Me Out.” I love how the vibe came out and the chorus is really big and simple. I love the melodies and structure of it.

What was like it working with Athrill for the EP?

We have known each other for about 10 years and have always made music for fun! The timing was right and we decided to collab on some music and really vibed out. We have more planned soon.

What about Yelawolf? How did it feel to tour with him?

That was a cool opportunity to travel and play some great shows around the US and internationally. I learned a lot about myself in that time. I am appreciative of the opportunity, he’s a talented performer/MC.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Honestly as cliche as it is I pull from everything! I grew up on punk and metal which always stuck with me as I grew to love and appreciate every art form. Lately its been everything from Elliott Smith to A$AP Rocky. 

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?

To answer that a bit differently I’m super stoked to be collaborating with Caskey right now on his new album. I’ve been helping write some new music with him and his love of music and experimentation makes a cool match I personally think – check him out. 

What are some of your favourite songs at the moment?

Lately anything by Lil Peep or Eliott Smith.

We love the EP, and we’d love to hear more from you! Do you have plans to release more music in the future?

Yes! I’m about 95% done with a new batch of music with a long time collaborator Jason Mater. Its a bit of a different sound than “Welcome Back”. A bit more stripped down but heavy sounding focusing on the minimal essentials. It’s got like a 90’s sound with a current spin. 

We want to thank Granite Chief for taking the time out to talk to us!

You can listen to “Welcome Back” below:

To keep up with Granite Chief, make sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

Let us know your thoughts on Granite Chief, “Welcome Back” and your favourite song on the EP over on Twitter @CelebMix!

Written by Isla Williams

Journalism graduate who loves to write - you can also catch my words in Metro.co.uk and Fuzzable (and sometimes my own blog).