Drew Grow could have planted his roots anywhere, but he could hardly be happier with his decision to do so in Rose City.
“Portland has a loose-cannon quirkiness,” he said. “It’s a pretty great place to play music. There’s a lot of support for all sorts of creative endeavors and a lot of energy from that. Creatively, it’s a good place to call home.”
He’s cultivated quite a career in music out of the Northwestern oasis, and the former Seattelite injects a steady dose of genres into his folk palette with even some grunge sensibilities as far as pure energy goes.
“It’s like a group painting a nude:
It’s a form, but each person painting is going to see their personality come through and alter that in a different way,” Grow said. “Folk, gospel and blues give me a form for accessibility and the more difficult aspects to what I do. It can get unhinged and go off the map a bit, but it’s a fun tension to have. Those freewheeling elements keep us connected.”
His penchant for that unhinged, manic performance style stems from an unexpected, but perfectly plausible source: his evangelical background.
“I was raised in the church; that’s my childhood,” he said. “Parents were missionaries overseas, and I grew up in a very religious home with a Holy Roller sort of church. Gospel singers and preachers are incredible performers — feeling what that music does, how it washes over you.”
It’s like a group painting a nude.
That familiarity has burrowed deep, and although his relationship with God isn’t what it used to be, a bond to music is forged stronger by the day.
“As I’ve gotten older, those ideas no longer hold power, but the thing about being raised that way is that music becomes a means of connecting you to your core, to your soul,” Grow said. “It’s this spiritual craving for music, whether soft and beautiful or ecstatic and wild.”
Songs of all those colors have made their way onto a handful of albums — including last year’s self-titled effort — which have helped his band bloom into a band on the rise. While a car crash sidelined Grow for much of the past year, new material is in the works — for release in early 2012 — that still sees Grow working to find himself.
“I was almost embarrassed by growing up the way I did. It’s not the most credible way to come up into music, but for me, the more I got my own feet under me, the less I could avoid things about who I am,” he said. “You’ve got to accept yourself and your family and all those things. It made it OK to make authentic music that meant something to me.”