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Gravves and How to Maintain a Long-Distance Band

We don’t know how to pronounce their name, and they prefer it that way.

Sure, Gravves already sounds like a typical Portland garage band composed of three cynical teenagers who still can’t define what style of music they’re making. But unlike the tired “aspiring musician” stereotype, these college students passionately release and create music every day, even with a hundred miles separating them.

University of Oregon freshman Nick Levenson joined Portland Community College students Ryan Grunest and Liam Thornton just before graduating high school in Portland. The trio spent the summer producing its first album, Love Lamp, which will be available on November 17.


Cover of 'Love Lamp' from Gravves

“The first record really worked out well,” Grunest said. “Each of us can be really good at some things and truly terrible at others. So when we all get together, we have a tendency to balance each other out and can make some really cool stuff.”

Like many college freshmen, Gravves – who abide by the motto “stay sexy, stay Gravves” – is learning that the whole long-distance thing can be difficult.

“You can imagine it like a relationship,” Levenson said, who records instrumental demos in his dorm room and emails them to the others. “It’s definitely a hindrance. It’s way more difficult than it was, but I don’t think it’s discouraging. We make it work.”

Levenson, a music technology minor with no declared major, has continued making music with Gravves, even as his bandmates are a few hours away recording live sessions. He says the band plans to reunite over winter break to spend an intense three weeks recording its second album.

Over the past few weeks, Gravves released free singles “Writing Bye” and “A Better Place to Hide” via Apple Music, Bandcamp and Spotify to build up to the official album release.

Neither song sounds like it was recorded from the same band. While “Writing Bye” includes more of a rock edge, “A Better Place To Hide” takes influences from Tame Impala and other psychedelic indie-pop groups.

“One thing that sets us apart from other groups is that we all write, record and have the ability to play all the instruments ourselves,” Thornton said. “Independently we produce a lot of work, but it’s when we come together that our individual strengths really bring each others’ songs to life.”

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Casey Miller

Casey Miller