Welcome To The Freak Show: A Conversation with Granny 4 Barrel

Alice Cooper. Rob Zombie. Marilyn Manson. Granny 4 Barrel.

Wait …… what?

At an age when she should be considering “getting lucky” as walking into a room and remembering why she’s there, Granny 4 Barrel (age unknown) is instead bent on trying to chisel her bee-hive-adorned, wrinkly mug into the Shock Rock Mount Rushmore next to the aforementioned legendary figures.

That’s a tall order, especially for someone who was a waitress at the Last Supper.

But this, folks, is Granny 4 Barrel. Want some good old-fashioned, industrial-tinged metal sprinkled with some fiddle and a “Cooper-esque Lite” stage production? Look no further. Granny’s your woman. Or man. Or…. both.

Hailing from upstate New York, Granny 4 Barrel made her live debut on Halloween several years ago and has continued to turn heads since. Today, Granny has a brand new video under her belt in lead-off single, “Freak Show,” from a soon-to-be-released full-length debut, “Deal With The Devil,” produced by Jeff Tomei (Jerry Cantrell, Smashing Pumpkins, Matchbox Twenty) for Mighty Loud Records.

In other words, as Granny said, “Things is happening.”

Granny — her low register and southern drawl in tow — spoke with ListenIowa for recently, discussing the Glenn Miller Band, geriatric bad assedness, and, of course, the music.

Enjoy. We did.

Granny, how are you doing si….. I mean, ma’am?
(laughs) Well that’s all right. You know I go both ways, and it all works for me. (laughs)

This is an interesting concept, Granny. What’s the story here?
Everybody calls me Granny 4 Barrel, but I’m also known as by other names you may have heard of called “Rebellion,” “Non-conformity,” “Dissent,” “Disobedience,” and my favorite, “Insubordination.” It’s like an attitude. I’ve been around as long as these feelings and emotions have been around.

Sounds exactly like rock and roll.
That’s what I’m saying. And as long as rock’s been around, Granny has been right there with it.

So tell me about your musical background, then. What did you cut your dentures on, so to speak.
(laughs) I like that. That’s pretty clever. I’m old-school. I like it all, but I like the old-school bands. I’m mighty fond of Judas Priest, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, all the greats. Modern music filters in, too, though.

Safe to say, we won’t be hearing any Glenn Miller Band.
Well, I wouldn’t do it intentionally, as I’m just filtering in my inspiration, but if Glenn Miller did something cool, I’m going to get inspired and put it in there!

You have a new video, “Freak Flag.” It looks like you had some interesting characters involved in the making of it.
Oh, man. You know, I’ve got a good friend — might even be a second cousin, as he’s kinda a family member — whose name is John Billings. He’s from down in Nashville. We put together this video, seeing as the town is about the freedom of expression. It doesn’t matter who you are, just be who you want to be. We said, “You know what? We don’t need no special concept. Let’s just put out a casting call, get some folks in, and let’s just roll. We’re not going to tamper with anything and tell anyone, ‘You gotta wear this or that.’ ” And that’s what you see — Granny in her natural state.

So you tease fans with this single and get them in a frenzy wondering when they’ll be getting more from you.
Well, we just did this record in Georgia with Jesse James Dupree, (Jackyl vocalist) and we got ourselves a whole record. I mean, Granny gave birth to 12 blistering tracks. We got this thing coming out in 2018, and it’s going to called “Deal With The Devil,” and it’s a bad-ass album. I can’t wait for it to get out there. It’s ready to go.

What was the degree of Jesse’s involvement?
Jesse was there to be like the drill sergeant/boot camp instructor. And he’s a damn fine individual. He’s just that damn inspired. He comes in and says, “Granny, you know what? Here’s some guidelines. Let it all go and be who you are going to be.”

And better yet, when you’re done recording, Jesse has his own line of “spirits” (alcohol) to wind down with. Did you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor and imbibe in his juices?
Let me tell you, the last time I was down in that there Full Throttle (Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota in which Dupree is a co-owner) distillery that Michael Ballard (co-owner) built, we went behind them tanks, and they had some special stuff they’d brewed up. I don’t even know what proof it was. I almost went blind.

Lets’ talk about the music specifically, then. What are some of the topics you hit on in your songwriting?
A lot of reckless behavior. Granny, she’s a bad-ass. Some of the themes might be the female villainesses, you know. I kind of like it when the female gets revenge. I even got a special surprise. Imagine what it would sound like if Granny re-did a Judas Priest tune. I ain’t gonna tell you which one, but imagine what the hell that might sound like with a fiddle.

So you did “Living After Midnight.”
No, no, no, no. It ain’t a hit, I will say that. It is off “British Steel” if that’s any help.

Sticking to songs and song topics, you know that in the hard rock realm, there are a lot of songs about sexual things and sexual innuendo. But the Granny and sex concept is, honestly, a very hard thing to wrap one’s mind around.
(laughs) You know, one of the tracks coming up is called “She Likes Guns.” So if you want a song that’s laced with innuendo, I need say no more than that. I do my best to liberate your mind with my image and everything that’s coming out. I know it’s whacky.

Speaking of which, you do know that with age comes deterioration in eye sight, bowels, and a propensity for broken hips, right?
You know, that would by typical of grannies my age, but legend has it that Granny made a deal with the devil. It’s like, when you see it, it looks old and feeble until it opens up full throttle. You’re like, “What the hell is going on here?” Granny might appear to have some rough edges, but she ain’t broken down underneath all that.

What’s your approach to the live shows at this age?
When you go to a Granny show, you’re going to hear all the best elements of heavy metal and hard rock. It’s my own special recipe. I might throw in a couple of twisted tales because, you know, I like to bring my rocking chair on stage and fuck with people’s heads, man. It’s a good time. The thing I like about it most is that Granny is like an unpainted canvas. When we get done with shows, kids come up and go, “Granny, that was bad ass. Next time you should do this. Granny, you should say that.” That shit inspires me. I’m not saying I’m up to every dare everybody says I should do, but that’s the fun about Granny 4 Barrel. But it’s serious at the same time. Just when you start to chuckle a little too much, you might get kicked in the nuts. (laughs)

You have a helluva violin player in a live video I saw of you. He was playing “Eruption” on violin. That was a first.
Well, you know, we’ve got an extended family, and I have multiple fiddle players. I got some bluegrass guys. I got some Berklee guys. Granny ain’t no slouch. She gets the best of the best. You’re always gonna see a wicked-ass fiddle solo at every show that is going to blow you away. Guaranteed.

Sounds like this could be crazy live experience. Can we expect you to flash some Depends or low hanging fruit while you’re up there?
(laughs) Well, I have a tight, active bladder, so I don’t need no Depends. But I can guarantee you that if I’m flashin’ ya, you’re going to see something you didn’t expect. (laughs)

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One thought on “Welcome To The Freak Show: A Conversation with Granny 4 Barrel

  • Nice feature! Well written… asked & answered – I laughed out loud! I love you Granny!

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