Published May 09, 2016Sometimes memes turn into to something more than bits of internet ephemera. Sometimes there's some genuinely good art behind the initial shock or fit of giggles, like in the case of Grindmother. Last fall, the 67-year-old Canadian grandmother appeared in a YouTube video that quickly went viral (it now has well over 300,000 views) performing vocals on the song "Any Cost" by her son Rain Forest's grindcore band Corrupt Leaders.
"My son said, 'Do you want to do some screaming in the microphone?'" the friendly and soft-spoken Grindmother tells Exclaim! "I did [it] and totally liked it. It was the frustrations in the world — and I often say this, in terms of those first screams — that's what I think of, and it's what I still think of to get my best screams."
While the video attracted the attention of everyone from CBC Radio to Maury Povich, a lot of metalheads agreed that in addition to being a great gimmick and pretty amusing, the Grindmother's vocals were actually good. The warmth of the response she received surprised no one more than the Grindmother herself. "Everyone could have treated it like a joke, like a novelty. And for me it was just kind of exciting."
The response was so positive, in fact, that the budding vocalist and her son continued to collaborate and develop her aesthetic, releasing an official music video and, now, a full-length record called Age of Destruction, out now. In addition to performing lead vocals, Grindmother also pens the lyrics, finding a deep kinship with the aesthetics and emotional intensity of grind as she continues to explore the genre.
"I was an organic farmer," she explains, "so I know a fair bit about GMOs and the condition of our food. You hear those first screams, you know the world is in not a good place right now on a lot of different levels. There's lots to protest, and it kind of goes along with that."
Driven directly by the positive response to her efforts so far, a live performance might be in the offing. "People think it's good music, so there's an inspiration there to carry it further, and I'm also a very passionate person. I will put a lot of effort into something I believe is good. And I know that's what it's going to take in terms of doing a live performance, because it is a lot of work in terms of preparation. But I know that about myself, that I'm very passionate that if it's something that feels right, and I'm drawn in that direction, then I'm going to put the effort into it, and we'll see what comes out of it."
She admits that there are a few barriers to overcome. "I haven't even been to a grindcore concert, OK?" she admits. "It will be a step for sure. And you have to have a stage presence and what are you going to do with that, you know, as a rockin' chair granny?"
While she is understandably cautious, the Grindmother is not is afraid of or discouraged by the possibility of a critical response. "I'm pretty even keel," she says, coolly but sweetly. "Somebody asked me in a telephone interview, 'What if someone throws a pair of underwear on the stage?' I said, 'Pick it up with a stick and heave it back at them!' So you know, I'm pretty feisty. I'm not gonna be wounded by anything. And I know some people will protest that or be unfriendly, but that isn't going to deter me or even wound me, my pride or anything else."
Check out the video that started it all below: