Grails (band)

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Grails (William Zakary Riles & Emil Amos).jpg
Grails at La Maroquinerie, Paris 2009
Background information
OriginPortland, Oregon, United States
GenresInstrumental rock, post-rock, psychedelic rock
Years active1999–present
LabelsNeurot, Robotic Empire, Aurora Borealis, Southern, Temporary Residence, Important Records
Associated actsHoly Sons, OM, Zak Riles, Watter
  • Alex John Hall
  • Emil Amos
  • William Zakary Riles
Past members
  • Wiliam Slater
  • Spitz
  • Timothy Horner
  • Ben Nugent

Grails is an American instrumental experimental rock band. Based in Portland, Oregon, the group have released seven studio albums, on labels including Southern and Temporary Residence, and have toured across North America and Europe.


Grails was formed under the name "Laurel Canyon" in 1999 by guitarist Alex Hall, drummer Emil Amos (also of Holy Sons and Om) and second guitarist Paul Spitz.[1] They garnered positive reactions following their first show, played on a whim. Portland musicians Timothy Horner (violin) and Bill Slater (piano/bass) later joined the group to record their first EP.

The band then released two self-financed EPs in 2000 and 2001. Paul Spitz left the US to travel in Turkey and Zak Riles joined as guitarist, often playing more of an acoustic role. In 2002 Hall sent a promotion CD to Neurot Recordings who were convinced of the band's potential.

In 2003, just before the release of their first full-length album, the band changed its name to Grails. They adopted a louder, more aggressive style, often switching instruments with each member writing songs that saw them branching out to increasingly disparate styles.[2]

By the time the Black Tar Prophecies series was released, Horner left and the band carried on with only four players. The group often picks up an extra musician for tours, allowing Amos to switch between guitar and drums and expanding the live instrumentation. Recently, Randall Dunn and Dave Abramson have joined the group live.

In their early years, Grails only toured Europe, but have switched to focusing on the East Coast of the United States in the last few years. Despite living in Portland, the band rarely plays live shows in their hometown.

A comprehensive DVD was released on April 7, 2009, called Acid Rain summing up their most productive period. In 2010, the band has re-issued three releases, including versions of their first two albums remastered by Carl Saff, as well as a vinyl issue of Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 on Important Records. Also released on Important as a vinyl-only EP was Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4.[citation needed]

The band released their album, Deep Politics, on March 8, 2011 under the label Temporary Residence Limited.[3]

In October 2012, the band released a split LP with the Finnish band Pharaoh Overlord on Kemado Records.[4] The Grails side of the LP is called Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 5.

The band has released their album Chalice Hymnal on February 17, 2017, under the label Temporary Residence Limited.[5][6]

Side projects[edit]

The various members stay busy with several different projects. Hall has played guitar with Steve Von Till of Neurosis in Von Till's project Harvestman,[1] Amos has played drums with Jandek, produced for Yellow Swans.[7] Hall & Amos have their own genre-blurring duo, Lilacs & Champagne, who have released music on the Mexican Summer label.[8][9]



  1. ^ a b Gavrilovska, Ana. "Grails fucks with notions of what a rock band should be". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  2. ^ "N E U R O T - R E C O R D I N G S". Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2010-12-16. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2012-11-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Mike Reid. "Grails announce "Chalice Hymnal," their first studio album in six years | Music News". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  6. ^ Paul Simpson (2017-02-17). "Chalice Hymnal - Grails | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  7. ^ "Yellow Swans". Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  8. ^ "Grails - Chalice Hymnal | Albums | musicOMH". musicOMH. 2017-02-22. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  9. ^ "Lilacs & Champagne: Lilacs & Champagne Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  10. ^ "Grails - Musicbrainz". Musicbrainz. Retrieved 15 July 2015.

External links[edit]