Critically-acclaimed punk outfit Steve Grantley & The Zed Hedz pays tribute to Kristy Wallace (aka, “Poison Ivy”, legendary guitarist of The Cramps) in their debut EP, Poison Ivy Where Did You Go?. Best known for her “surf guitar” style, Ivy has been a major influence in the music industry since the 70s, while Grantley — a legend in himself — currently drums for renowned punk group, Stiff Little Fingers. In recent years, however, Grantley has pivoted to front his own side project alongside his “Zed Hedz” — John Magner on guitar and Jamie Alleyne on bass.
The group’s new four-track EP is dedicated to Poison Ivy in celebration of her 70th birthday.
Steve says, “Ivy co-founded [The Cramps], co-wrote their original material, played all the guitars and, on numerous occasions, the bass, as well. Ivy produced many of the band’s records and it was all achieved whilst looking like a rock-and-roll Goddess — both on and off the stage.”
Steve continues, “This EP is a shoutout to Poison Ivy, just to let her know we miss her and wish her well.” The band further states that, in no way do they want to disrupt or disrespect her wishes to be left alone, explaining, “this is just a note to say ‘thank you’ for the inspiration and Poison Ivy, we miss you [onstage].”
The tribute EP is saturated with rich guitar riffs and pure punk rock vibes.
Grantley’s vocals are haunting and reminiscent of Bowie and a little Lennon, while the EP is raw and viciously beautiful. Top Shelf had the pleasure of chatting up Grantley to tell us more about the tribute album.
Please tell us about your new venture! You being both drummer and vocalist has a ‘Dave Grohl’ vibe.
- SG: Yes, I play drums standing up at the front and singing lead vocals with John playing guitar and Jamie playing bass on each side of me. It’s great being a three-piece. It gives everyone space to move in the music and you can keep everything tight and focused.
Let’s talk about the EP…
- We recorded a four-track EP called Poison Ivy Where Did You Go?. It’s dedicated to Ivy in her 70th year. I wrote these songs for her, because I think she’s a true feminist, rock-and-roll icon who has been criminally overlooked, as have The Cramps. She’s a great guitar player, writer, and producer… so, where’s her accolades? Why isn’t she in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? She fuckin’ deserves it; she’s more rock-and-roll than half of the fuckers that are in there!
I have to ask, as you’ve worked with members of The Cult, Sex Pistols, Theatre of Hate, Sisters Of Mercy… how have your collaborations influenced your personal sound over the years, over your various projects?
- Yes, [I have] a very diverse musical background and I learned from every experience. These differing musical styles have since informed my playing. Billy Duffy [of The Cult] once said to me, ‘I don’t have to be amazing at everything; I just do a few things very well. I don’t take my eye off the ball and I don’t second guess myself.’ Wise words and, with this breadth of artists, I’ve played in stadiums, TV studios, and 100-capacity venues, which all build a musical character.
What’s inspires your writing and drive in the music industry?
- My main drive is keeping my 15-year-old self happy. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was make music and that’s what I’m doing and will continue to do. I have a lot of ideas all the time, so I write and play all the time — it’s just part of my life.
For real. So, what would you like to tell new fans and future listeners?
- Well, if you like rock-and-roll, there’s a big difference between ‘rock’ music and ‘rock-and-roll’. A recent review said the EP had “irrepressible rock-and-roll energy” that felt “vitally modern, despite being an homage to retro swinging psychobilly grooves”. This was amazing to us and pretty much summed up what we were trying to achieve! This EP is a return to rock-and roll-for us as a band. And back to the essence of where it all started.
- The approach to the [EP’s] playing and production wasn’t about perfection or studio trickery, with auto-tune and intense editing in an endeavor to make it ‘perfect’… whatever that means! This was a blast of energy, caught in the moment, to honor Poison Ivy and be as real as possible in this increasingly fake, AI world that’s creeping up on us all.
True words from a true legend. Poison Ivy Where Did You Go? was released on December 1st and is available now at stevegrantleyandthezedhedz.com. Make sure to check it out!
Steve Grantley & The Zed Hedz – “Where Did You Go?”
Cover photo by Simon Turner Photos
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.