THEATER | “I still have fire in my blood”: Room For Gray strip down and ramp up


In this economic day and age, folk just don’t have as much disposable income as they used to. (Myself, I’ve never understood the concept of money as something to be disposed of.) Naturally, when times get tough, one of the first places you tend to cut back on in your budget is going out the house for entertainment. This, however, hasn’t dented the fender of Room For Gray fans. They keep the band hopping, showing up for gig after gig.

James Gray and cohorts are gigging in Minnesota, for instance, through March and into April, with dates already booked for May. This in support of four CDs: Room For Gray (EP), Room For Gray (LP), Moving On (EP), and their latest, 2009’s The Next Step (LP). I guess you shouldn’t underestimate the market for state-of-the-art hard-edged soft rock, which these guys supply practically on tap.

Over nearly a decade, Room For Gray has seen its share of changes, rolled with the punches, and kept keeping on. The latest development is another shift in personnel. The current lineup is James Gray (lead vocals, bass), David Roo (guitar, vocals), and Stephen J. (drums, vocals). Gray answered questions via e-mail concerning personnel and other matters as RFG moved into 2010.

Why is bassist Jared Hedberg leaving Room For Gray?
Jared is planning on going back to school so he decided that he would not still have the time needed to play with the band.

The new press release states, “David Roo is back for the attack on guitar, not Dokken style, but Roo style.” What’s that mean, exactly?
That was just a little 80s humor. There was a band called Dokken from the 80s that had an album called Back for the Attack, so I just threw that in there for any 80s fans who might catch it.

You planning to stay on bass?
Over the years a lot of people have come in and out of this band. It seems like every time we really get comfortable and on a roll, someone quits. So I started talking to David and Stephen about maybe just keeping it a three-piece, and we all agreed. At least for the time being, it makes the most sense. It is just really hard to rely on people sticking around, and with one less person to worry about it should take some stress out of the situation. We played a show [recently] with Jared playing the first set with us on bass and the second set we did as a three-piece with me on bass; no one seemed to notice, so hopefully the transition will be okay.

The band has started working on new material. Individual contributions? Collaborations?
David and I started working on new songs together a few months ago, and now it’s just a matter of finding the time to finish them. I would like to come out with a brand new album and kind of keep it under wraps until it’s done. In the past we have always bounced the songs off of friends and family to get their opinions to see what improvements we could make and such. We also re-recorded some songs from our EP and one from our first album—with some improvements, obviously. I just think it would be really exciting to try to keep the songs a secret until an album is finished this time and write an album of all brand-new material. I think David and I have gotten pretty good at writing solid songs and that we can really make something special.

Any concrete plans for 2010?
So far our plan is to continue playing as much as possible. Whether it is acoustic shows or electric, I just feel like we are in a good groove right now and hopefully with the 3-piece we can continue that and make it stronger. I am not going to say we will have a new album out this year because you never know what is going to happen. I would like to really start focusing on writing some more in the near future.

The band’s been together exactly how long, now? How satisfied are you with how things have gone, with where the band is today?
David and I started this band in June of 2002, so we are coming up on 8 years here in a few months. I would be lying if I said I am completely satisfied with where we are at. I would love it if we had a record deal and we were playing to thousands of screaming fans every night. I will say, though, I am pretty happy with what we have accomplished over the years. We have had lots of drama, and also tons of amazing experiences that I will be talking about for the rest of my life. I am also proud that we are still around and kickin’. Most local bands that started around or even after us have broken up and moved on. I still have fire in my blood to keep fighting so until that runs out, I am going to keep pushing forward.