"Blind Horse Campaign" reviews (pdf)

Direct, throbbing, extremely hard rock. This Columbus, Ohio trio doesn't get bogged down with the more trivial aspects of making music...instead opting to simply belt out their intense tunes like there's no tomorrow. While the basic ingredients may be familiar (guitar, bass, drums)...the guys in Grafton make the whole genre sound vital and new again. This is a case where talent and intent change everything. These three guys obviously love what they're doing...and they are damn good at it. Despite the fact that the tunes on Blind Horse Campaign (their second album) are abrasive and loud...these tracks never degenerate into generic noise. Instead, the band incorporates all kinds of smart moves into their hell raising craft. The guitars are loud and over the edge...the bass solid and intense...and the drummer is a crazy wild crasher. And you've just gotta love those ultra-masculine rough vocals. The band consists of Lou Poster (guitar, vocals), Donovan Roth (bass), and Jason McKiernan (drums). Excellent thrashy hard rock played with true conviction. (Rating: 5+)

I had a friend in college who lived in an apartment that shared a wall with Jay's Upstairs. Though most nights, we were all out until late anyway, it was bands like Columbus, Ohio's Grafton that made the rest of us less-than-envious of her living conditions. Grafton is a powerhouse of a band. The lead singer pushes his voice to the limit, and keeps pushing. The drums play full speed ahead, and the guitar and bass, throw their full force into the mix. This is a night to play hard, dance hard and sweat an ocean. At Jay's Upstairs. (Erica Parfit)

Knoxville Daily Beacon
Columbus, Ohio, band Grafton does not toy with many different musical techniques. With only a guitar, a drum set and a bass, the threesome plays only one brand of music: hyper-intense hard rock.

There is something to be said for doing one thing and doing it well. Grafton's guitar riffs are solid, the percussion thumping and the lyrics loud. Knoxville audiences will have the chance to witness Grafton's raw intensity firsthand tonight, when the trio takes the stage at the Pilot Light.

Lou Poster delivers the vocals and guitar, Donovan Ruth supplies the bass guitar and Jason McKiernan pounds on the drums. Although each member performs with such an avid forcefulness that they seem to compete with one another, Poster, Ruth and McKiernan maintain a constant balance.

What separates Grafton from a lot of pretenders in the hard rock scene is that it is comfortable being just a hard rock band. The group has no pretense about playing anything other than straightforward, riff-based rock.

Furthermore, Grafton's musical simplicity removes any shred of self-importance, an appalling and far too frequent component of the band's contemporaries. Columbus critic Eric Davidson says of the rockers, Their vibe is loaded with coal town sludge, hometown boredom, relationship bitching and general dark clouds.

Within that common Midwestern backdrop, Davidson says Grafton is ultimately about having fun. Not fun in the Cyndi Lauper sense of the word, but Grafton certainly has enough enthusiasm to deliver a highly-charged show tonight.

Grafton's music does not draw attention to the lyrics, which rarely depart from vital subjects like chugging beer and living the life of a road band.

Today my friends are loaded ... Today my friends are drinking, Poster wails on Pour Like It Rains.

As George Thorougood proves, the supply of such song material is endless, though a bit tired. Then again, the oldest rule of writing is to write what you know, and Grafton is essentially a road band, presumably with some hard-drinking tendencies. Grafton claims influences from bands of several different eras, with the common thread being that each group worthy of Grafton's admiration plays gritty, stripped-down rock. From 1980s rockers Laughing Hyenas to the White Stripes, a band at the forefront of today's garage rock movement, Grafton draws inspiration from any band with a singular musical focus like its own.

The best of Grafton, songs like Pour Like it Rains and Sumbitch, is the musical descendant of Doors classic, Roadhouse Blues.

The Pilot Light is the perfect venue for such a band, which starts at 10 p.m. (Patrick Corcoran)

Cleveland Scene
With the Party of Helicopters and This Moment in Black History. Friday, January 3, at the Grog Shop.

Grafton bassist Donovan Roth wields the mightiest beer gut in Ohio rock. It's clearly a great source of pride for Roth, who often stalks the stage shirtless, cigarette in hand, an absurdly massive wall of amplifiers at his back. As Grafton pounds through its brutal, brawling, boozy barroom rock, his gut seems to glow and pulsate and mesmerize everyone who lays eyes on it.

It's kind of weird.

Fortunately, Grafton's music will pulverize you into submission before you think too hard about it. The trio exemplifies Columbus's obsession with surly, impossibly loud garage rock, designed to create the sensation that you've been submerged in a giant can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It's always half a heartbeat away from sliding completely out of tune, losing all sense of rhythm, falling flat on its face, and drunkenly hitting on your sister. And if you've drunk as much beer that evening as he's spat out, you'll think the guy is Jesus Christ -- with Buddha's belly.

Grafton—Blind Horse Campaign (Dead Canary) Bassholes—Out In the Treetops (Dead Canary)

The fine folks at Dead Canary are launching their label with a pair of releases guaranteed to restore your faith in the power of loud guitars and cheap beer.

It wasn't a demure debutante ball, but Dead Canary’s recent double-release show at Little Brother’s (that’s in Columbus, for all you non-locals) unleashed the sophomore effort from Columbus’s Grafton as well as a vinyl EP from the Bassholes. A trio and a duo, respectively, Grafton and the Bassholes manage to coax more racket from their modest set-ups than Scandinavia can muster from its legions of guitar-rock throwbacks. That’s right, I said it—Columbus is more rockin’ than Sweden. Go ahead, revoke my Ikea credit card—see if I care.

Featuring members whose pedigrees include time served in outfits like Bob City, it should come as little surprise that Grafton specializes in riff-heavy Midwestern rock. Uh, not Midwestern like the Replacements, Midwestern like the region of the country responsible for producing many of the nation’s serial killers. It’s loud and it’s ugly. But damn, does it rock.

Imagine sludgy Seattle dirges mixed with stompin’ Appalachian rawk and you’re on the right path. Some Motorhead, some Sympathy for the Record Industry, some violently repressed indie-rock melodies and a whole mess of catchy riffs and Lou Poster’s drill Sgt. vocals come together in Grafton’s sound to offer songs that are hooky and melodic almost in spite of themselves.

Previously released as part of Grafton’s Diaphragm Records 7”, “Sumbitch” and “Fine, Good, Go!” turn up on the new Blind Horse Campaign LP, along with numbers like “I’ve Been Lookin” and “Slowpoke” that have been highlights of the band’s absurdly loud live shows of late.

The Bassholes have been a hard-hittin’ swamp rock two-piece since just after the last of the dinosaurs shuffled off into the sunset. This means they’ve had a lot of time to get their act together. With their Dead Canary EP, Out In the Treetops, the Bassholes have recorded the coolest, most rockin’, most delightfully spooky song I’ve heard since, well, since I don’t know when. The title track, “Out In the Treetops,” finds guitarist/yowler Don Howland settling into a laid back Iggy Pop timbre and casually tossing off lines like “In my next live I decided I am living in your house,” before freaking out for a few bars of chorus wailing, then settling back into the eerily nonchalant verse groove. Damn, Iggy Pop wishes he was this cool (and don’t expect to hear the sounds of the Bassholes pimping cruise ships TV ads any time soon…“Lust for Life,” my ass).

And all you young garage-dwellers with your saucy haircuts and matching outfits owe the Bassholes more than you probably even realize. Forget the tired old Blues Explosion, the Bassholes rock the blues, punk. Fans of the Oblivians and ’68 Comeback will love it.

The remainder of the record comes and goes with some highs and lows, but nothing can trump Treetops. The Bassholes tear through a cover of the Stooges “Raw Power” (with a vicious guitar solo courtesy of Grafton’s Poster), though the mix is so ragged that it’s almost impossible to decipher. Maybe this was done on purpose, as a sort of tribute to the classic sonic mess of the Stooges, but it’s hard to be sure. Sometimes bad production is just bad production (to paraphrase our old buddy Freud). Anyway, it doesn’t matter, you can always just put “Out In the Treetops” on repeat (it’s vinyl, so this will involve getting up and moving the needle, kids), and you’ll get your money’s worth.

Now, I’m not delusional, I realize that while I reckon these are two of the finest slabs of plastic to grace my speakers this year, most people will continue on through the world of pre-fab pop and faux-angst-ridden alterna-schlock without giving Grafton or the Bassholes a second thought, which is a shame. But, c’mon-- you’re smarter than the average Everclear/Foo Fighters listenin’ fratboys, right? Right. (Karen E. Graves)

Columbus rockers on long road to recognition
Friday, March 7, 2003
Aaron Beck

Outside the campus-area apartment of Grafton drummer Jason McKiernan, Grafton singer-guitarist Lou Poster had just finished cleaning the inside of his beaten black van.

Following a 15,000-mile, three-week fall tour of the American West, the machine was being prepped for the band's two upcoming three-week jaunts intended to persuade people to buy the new album Blind Horse Campaign.

"The floor becomes the trash can on tour,'' Poster said. "I found a package of bologna in there. You want a beer? I found a couple in there, too.''

The Grafton guys work day jobs in order to record, play and tour. Blind Horse Campaign, released on the Columbus label Dead Canary Records, reflects those heavy manual-labor pains. Poster, McKiernan and bassist Donovan Roth's approach to life is heard in grinding chords, a whiplash pace and a live-for-the-moment attitude.

Poster, who shouts and snarls the way someone ought to over such controlled chaos, says friends who've heard advance copies of his band's second record have called it pop rather than rock, which knocked him back for, oh, two minutes or so.

Poster, 26, doesn't have time to ponder the particulars of rock 'n' roll etymology. Married to a full-time Ohio State University nursing student and father of a 2-year-old daughter, Poster barely has time to light his ever-present cigarette.

"I don't know,'' he said, exhaling a cloud. "It's catchy, kind of dirty. We meant it to be a rock record, but if people perceive it as a pop record, well, good. Fine. AC/DC rocked but was pop. I can live with that.''

Roth, who has played in several Columbus bands, most notably the late, great Bob City, simply calls his work "meat-and-potatoes rock.''

McKiernan goes further: "I call it alternative classic rock -- Pixies, Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC smashed together with more darkness. But there's no marketing ploy. As soon as we start thinking too much we start drinking.''

In this formation since '99, when Roth joined to provide a bottom end to Poster and McKiernan's raw, Appalachian folk-punk, Grafton has been pulling more and more people into clubs along N. High Street.

Same story on the road. Band members say Bellingham, Wash., Jackson, Miss., and San Francisco are cities they need to get back to fast.

"Everything fell into place on that last tour,'' Poster said. "We signed autographs! We've never done that in Bernie's.''

McKiernan -- an OSU graduate, social worker and Poster's "paranoid'' co-pilot on the road -- said, "I'm always impressed with the people we meet out there. We run into people who can't carry on a conversation or don't think about things like buying, say, toilet paper, but you go to their house and they have thousands of CDs and a hot tub.''

"A guy in El Paso let us sleep in his vacant apartment building,'' Poster said. "It was unfurnished -- Donovan slept in the bathtub. Not the most comfortable place, but it was our own place for a night. I hope that guy's still out there.''

Grafton Rides Again
The hard-working Columbus trio has a new record on their new label, and now they’re heading back on the road

by Stephen Slaybaugh

Grafton’s Midwestern work ethic comes through in everything the Columbus trio does. The band, going against the grains of local apathy and fashion, has built a solid reputation in town and is set to release its second full-length, Blind Horse Campaign, next week on Dead Canary, the label vocalist/guitarist Lou Poster helps run. Even more so than the band’s self-titled debut, the record accurately captures Grafton’s mix of thick riffs, stomping beats and drunken blues squall, which the band has nailed down to a precise force of pressure.

Grafton—now Poster, bassist Donovan Roth and drummer Jason McKiernan—began in 1996 as a two-piece of just Lou and McKiernan, years before such a line-up became fashionable. The duo lived in the same house together: Poster was playing with I Have Mass and McKiernan with Preston Furman and the two would jam when the rest of their housemates were asleep or at work.

We were playing music together that we didn’t play in our other two bands, but that we wanted to play. We liked what we were doing in our other bands, but it was an outlet for a different kind of music,” McKiernan explains. “We were in a group of kids listening to indie rock. They kept listening to it, but Post and I steered the other direction toward the Hairy Patt Band and the Bassholes.”

After performing under various names when I Have Mass and Preston Furman shared a bill and happened to need an opener, Poster and McKiernan started playing out under the Grafton moniker in 1997 (the name comes from a town where Poster would go when he skipped school while growing up in West Virginia).

The band’s approach to those first shows was less than serious, to say the least.

We were just trying to be a Led Zeppelin two-piece and piss off indie rockers,” Poster recalls. “That was when Modest Mouse was real big and people were really uptight about what they’d like and what they wouldn’t like. We were just getting drunk and playing these really heavy songs.”

It was about free beer and having fun,” McKiernan concurs. “I didn’t want to have to worry about taking a shower before playing a show.”

McKiernan and Poster continued to play out whenever they got the chance, but with their other bands taking up much of their time, it would usually be months between shows. Nevertheless, it was one such show in 1999 at Bernie’s that attracted the attention of Roth, who tended bar at the club where Poster also worked as a doorman.

Roth was also playing with Bob City at the time and Poster was concerned Roth wouldn’t have enough time to devote to the band. By this time I Have Mass had splintered, as had Preston Furman, and though McKiernan was now playing in the Bygones, Grafton was beginning to take shape as a real endeavor. Still, Roth convinced Poster to let him bring his four-string skills to the group.

With Roth now on board, Grafton began playing out with increased regularity. The band continued to work out its songs live onstage, until they finally felt ready to take the leap and record, choosing to work on their debut with Jon Chinn at Workbook Studios. Only Roth wasn’t ready.

Donovan actually quit the day before we were going to record the first record because Bob City was going to go on tour,” Poster recalls. “He didn’t think he was going to have time to do it, so we initially recorded it as a two-piece. But two days later—after it was done—Donovan called up and said he wanted back in the band so we went back and put bass on the record.”

Soon after the record’s release in 2001, Bob City split up and McKiernan left the Bygones so everyone seemed poised to commit to Grafton—everyone except Derailleur, the Columbus label releasing the album. Derailleur owner Brad Liebling was thinking about abandoning the imprint, so Poster took it upon himself to take over the label’s operations along with Scott Stroemer.

Grafton’s first, self-titled record is characterized by rootsy overtones translated roughly through a crackle of guitar fuzz. It earned the band comparisons to Mule, a longtime favorite of Poster’s, and seemed very much the product of its Columbus environs.

The band hit the road to support the album, going as far as California and Bellingham, Washington. It was a tasking trip that the band looks back on with mixed feelings.

I got shingles from that tour from the stress,” McKiernan remembers. “We had to get the brakes fixed and so we were broke and eating one hamburger a day. We were drinking every night and eating just one hamburger a day.”

However, the show in Bellingham turned out to be fruitful. The band met Mono Men drummer Aaron Roeder, who put them in contact with renowned designer Art Chantry. Chantry ended up contributing cover art to the new CD.

Returning home, the band continued to play out with the same determination, even though the response from Columbus crowds often paled in comparison to that in other cities.

It’s really annoying because on the road everyone talks to you and shakes your hand,” McKiernan says. “We come back to Columbus and everyone’s unresponsive. You don’t want to ask them if they liked the set, but when they don’t say anything, you assume they didn’t like it.”

Regardless, the band returned to Workbook Studios to record the new album at the end of last year. The band spent two full days on the album, spending the night between on the Workbook couches. That focus is reflected in the music.

Blind Horse Campaign is air-tight, making the debut seem hole-ridden by comparison. Leadoff “I’ve Been Lookin’,” in particular, bristles with an unrelenting intensity the band hasn’t exhibited before.

The album is the product of lots of hard work, but the labor doesn’t end with its release. The band will be going back on the road next week, heading west again before returning home only to head out again in the opposite direction. Still, if only a few people hear Grafton’s music, it will make the band’s endeavors worthwhile.

It helps to know that there’s someone out there who appreciates what you’re doing,” McKiernan says. “I’ve never made any money doing this, but I know that the person out there listening is really listening.”


Sponic #13
Holy crap! Derailleur Records gets the MVP award this month for the three albums from them I reviewed, because all three were damn good.

Grafton is like a beat-to-shit muscle car that can still blow the doors off any cop car, and look cool doing it. Their’s is a rough and raw sound with enough classic rock chasing punk in a pool of whiskey to make any dance floor unsafe. This is the real sound of garage rock -- this where country should’ve gone. Grafton is the only true heir to the thrones of Social Distortion and the Supersuckers. Make these guys famous, buy their album. Twice! (Tim Murr)

The Onion
Most Exciting Genres Of 2001

Pop music was at its best in 2001 when its purveyors were having a low-rent good time. The two genres that provided the greatest number of meaningless kicks were the giddy, danceable "pastiche electronica" by the likes of The Avalanches, Solex, and Mint Royale, and the gritty garage-rock of The White Stripes, The Strokes, and Grafton (among others). (Noel Murray)

Columbus Alive

Can the swaggering rock sound of Grafton be contained by a mere seven inches of vinyl? Of course not, but Grafton’s new single, Sumbitch, offers a good sample of what the band does best.

If the A side sounds familiar, it’s for good reason: A different version of Sumbitch was included on last year’s Cringe.com/pilation. In this newer, crisper version, vocalist/guitarist Lou Poster’s voice is clearer and seems to break the waves of guitar and bass more easily, and there are some “Yeah!”s thrown into the background for good measure.

Both Sumbitches share the sort of arrogant, my-life’s-shitty-but-I’m-gonna-sing-a-cool-song-about-it-anyway lyrics and a neer-na-neer guitar line that moseys into the saloon of your ears like a smug or possibly drunk (or possibly both) cowboy, breaking into a gallop when it needs to then slowing back down when it realizes it doesn’t need to do anything it doesn’t want to.

On the flip side, Fine, Good, Go! features a much higher gallop-to-mosey ratio, stopping only for dramatically silent pauses before the band crashes back into the song. It opens with a nice show-offy bass line from Donovan Roth before Grafton’s off like a stampede, and there’s a nice wanky, if brief, guitar solo for Poster and equally brief drum solo for Jason McKiernan. Poster’s voice is once more submerged below the roiling surface of Grafton’s sound here, making him struggle scratchy-voiced to be heard over it, with more rock-sounding results.

The two tracks were recorded with Jon Chinn at Workbook Studio, among the last songs to be recorded at the studio’s old North Campus location. The single is the first co-release from Derailleur Records and Diaphragm Records, and it’s being pressed in red or gold vinyl for your aesthetic amusement.

Grafton will share the stage at Little Brother’s on Friday night with the New Bomb Turks and Bob City before taking off for a two-week tour. (J. Caleb Mozzocco)

Punk Planet #51
A couple of big rock songs here that sent me searching for my old St. Vitus records that so graciously appeared on SST in the mid-80's. I can picture these guys playing extremely loud. (Andy Slob)

Grafton - s/t (Derailleur Records)

When I saw Grafton play their debut show, they were a sparse, rockin', DC-ish two-piece (drums and guitar), propelled by Lou Poster's shouted vocals and off-kilter guitar work. I thought they were excellent then and was afraid they would make the mistake of bringing on a second guitar player. Something over a year later, Grafton has added ex-Bob City bass-pounder Donovan Roth, and abandoned its quieter math rock-isms in favor of LOUD, dirty rock'n'roll, and they're better for it.

Poster's guitar work is still interesting, angular and rhythmic rather than flatly melodic and his vocals have the tone of an angrier, harder-drinking J.Robbins. It's brilliant. Jason McKiernan is one of the best drummers the scene has seen in quite some time, and like one of Columbus' other prime skinsmen, Them Wranch's Joe Patt, what makes McKiernan a great drummer is both technical ability and the fact that he is not afraid to attack the drums. Too many drummers these days play as though they think the drums will hit back.

Grafton's self-titled Derailleur debut finds the boys dishing out 13 songs in something like 25 minutes. However, whereas this formula is often only (ab)used by Ramonesian punks or speed-freak hardcore acts, Grafton uses the 2-minute format to great effect, managing to avoid sounding rushed or stilted. The production is clear enough that you can pick out the individual instruments and vocals, yet it doesn't attempt to clean up the rough edges that make Grafton great.

Ohio bands love to write songs about Ohio (Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments "Down to High St.," Them Wranch "God Bless Ohio,") , and Grafton are no different, their ode to the Buckeye State is found in the song "A Toast to Gravity" in which Poster proclaims "Thank you for sticking me in Ohio." Clocking in at 38-seconds, it's worthy of Robert Pollard. My personal favorite, and the song I remembered from the first time I saw them play, "Tom Sellek," is included on the disc, and the opening riff is one of catchiest I've come across-hell, it stuck with me for over a year.

Overall, the album is fairly straightforward, garagey, noisy guitar rock, with a rather dark feel, attributable to the dirty guitar tones, Poster's vocals and lyrics like "All I really like about livin' is I know that I'm gonna die." Still, the album has upbeat moments, "The Best Part of LaGrange" is inescapably catchy with the chorus of "The best part of LaGrange is that I'm never going back."

Thank you for sticking me in Ohio. (Karen E. Graves)

Grafton - "Sumbitch" b/w "Fine, Good, Go!" (Derailleur / Diaphragm)

Sometimes I think my mailman is either psychic, or secretly an indie rock connoisseur. Almost without fail, he drops only the most delectable slabs of indie rock on my doorstep, leaving the less desirable ones downstairs by the mailbox where I can be spared their mediocrity, for a while anyway.

Perhaps my postal worker was merely tipped off by the return address reading Derailleur Records, but his streak remains unbroken as the loud thud outside my door this morning turned out to be the new Grafton 7". Etched onto a striking yellow record (billed by Diaphragm as "beer colored," though frankly a little more like second hand brew, if you get my drift), the album is bursting with the sort of rowdy rocknroll we've come to expect, and appreciate, from the Grafton boys.

A power trio if ever there was one, Grafton's attack is led by the leg-in-a-beartrap howl of Lou Poster through side A's "Sumbitch" and B's "Fine, Good, Go!." The former is already familiar territory to those who picked up the first installment of the Cringe.com/pilation. With it restrained riffing, "Sumbitch" is a bit like Grafton's version of the blues, and, if you close one eye and squint, you can almost catch a glimpse of '68 Comeback somewhere in the fuzz.

"Fine, Good, Go!" is classic Grafton, if such a distinction is possible having only one album under their belts. The boys find a big, catchy riff and ride it all the way through. Listen to it absurdly loud and start a small tire or brush fire in the middle of the room to get the true feel of hearing it firsthand at the always smoky Bernie's. Well, don't listen too loud or Donovan's bass is likely to blow your speakers. On second thought, listen to it loud, speakers can be replaced (though eardrums cannot).

Bonus points awarded for the album's snazzy, western-themed artwork, most notably the inside spread consisting of one giant picture of none other than Clint Eastwood with a gun in each hand (Eastwood also earned the only "thank you" in the credits. Very cool.).
(Karen Graves)

Corn Zine
Diaphragm Records has never sent us something to review that didn't knock my socks off - not once. From A Planet For Texas to Bob City, and now Grafton.

This 7" is just pure rock. I feel like I should have cowboy boots on and be starting bar fights. I always get urges to do things like this when Diaphragm sends me their releases. I gotta make a mix CD of this stuff and hit the road runnin'. I'll leave a trail of destruction and mayhem in my wake, and I'll blame it on Grafton.

These guys don't rock like Elvis, but they rock a little darker and a little sludgier. Once again, I'm reminded of Boston's Quintaine Americana and Otis. I can't wait to hear a full length from Grafton because this 7" record is seriously great. Lock up your daughters, cause when you hear me comin' through your town with the Grafton blaring, trouble's a-comin'. (Dana White)

Cleveland Free Times
May 9-15, 2001

Out of nowhere, Grafton’s self-titled debut on tiny Derailleur Records leaps to the fore as the best Ohio rawk record of 2001. For 26 brutal minutes, ugly guitars and relentless drums slash and pound over basic blues-to-country tunes that slap back with fuck-y’all lyrics worth shouting ("The best part of La Grange is that I’M NEVER GOING BACK!"). Local scene-watchers might know bassist Donovan Roth from Bob City; if there’s any justice, the rest of the nasty-rock world will soon know this new Columbus trio. With the Hurricanes and Flippin’ Hades at 9:30 pm at the Beachland Tavern (15711Waterloo Road, 216-383-1124) $5. - Franklin Soults

Cleveland Free Times
March 6, 2002

Columbus Discovers America
On the road with raw indie-rockers Grafton
By Eric Davidson

It's 9 am on a Saturday morning in New York City. Lou Poster, singer/guitarist for Columbus, Ohio, chug-rock trio Grafton has just been rousted and is hacking his way through my Q&A. The plan was, as it always is on a rock tour, to get on the road early so you're not late for soundcheck, don't have to speed with a hangover, etc. But this is New York City, and given that the band probably got to bed about 15 minutes ago, that "on the road early" jive will receive its usual ditching. On the and's first jaunt 'round the East Coast, there really isn't much concern for soundchecks, anyway. The turnouts have been thinner than the cheap-ass clubs' allotted bar tabs, culminating in a fiasco in a Philly club, the Pontiac.

"The owner showed up and cancelled the gig," explains Poster. "He saw there were about 11 people there, figured he'd lose his shirt, so ke kicked everyone out and closed up. Whatever, it was weird."

Such is the oft-trod path of the indie band. But you'll get no bitching from Poster. "Yeah, we're not getting paid, but it's fun. This is the first time I've ever been to N.Y.C. We did some pretty weird stuff last night. They do things different up here."

Poster exudes a refreshingly proletari- an outlook born not only from his Fairmont, W.Va., roots, but also from the usual knockdowns experienced in the lit of an Ohio indie band. "When you go out on tour, nobody takes you seriously unti after you play. Like, 'Oh, they're fron Ohio, what are they gonna do?' It kind of helps us, though. It lowers the bar. when you play, if you're good at all, they pay more attention."

Grafton emerged in 1996, a time most aging embittered hipsters around Columbus now cite as that scene's peak. Luckily, Poster ain't one of them. "We wen all into local stuff at the time - Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, Bob City a lot. Especially the Bassholes. We liked that two-piece stripped-down sound. When we started out, Jason [McKiernan, drummer] and I wanted to do a big rock thing, but we thought with a full band, it might be too over the top. We were young indie-rockers, y'know: we thought too much. That was all right, but when we added Donovan [Roth, bassist] in '99, it got a lot better."

At that point, Grafton instantly jumped from the cracked folk-punk of their infancy into the noisier beast they are today. While definitely akin to hometown brethren Bob City, and similar swamp-boogie precursors like Mule, there are enough lyrical smarts and loose rhythmic twists to bring to mind, scruffy cult faves Firehose. But Grafton's live action - equal parts screaming hicks and laughing Pabst pals - proves worrying about trend relevance is about the last thing on their minds.

"Even though some of those old Columbus bands don't exit anymore, I still like a lot ol bands in the region - Geraldine, the Chargers. Behemoth. And we're friends with those bands. It's almost family-like. I think there is a Columbus scene, sound, what-ever. And I've taken it for granted. The friend we stayed with here in N.Y.C., he says there's no scene and no particular sound in New York. Everyone mainly worries about paying for practice spaces. It's been really easy getting a band going in Columbus."

Apparently. The men of Grafton all in the rock ring early, so they've already settled into the more seasoned notions of doing a band for fun and free beers. Which doesn't stop them from making plans for world - or at least regional - domination. They've recently released their first full-length, and a brand-new 7-inch single. They're hatching a plan to rent a cabin somewhere in southern Ohio and bunker down for five days to write the next record, to be recorded in June. If jobs allow, they'll keep on truckin' out on two-week booze binges - uh, tours 1 - over the next year, where they most probably will butt up against more lame-o live music and public apathy again.

But, as Poster explains, "That doesn't kill my buzz. I like to drive. With touring, your job is actually to drive for eight hours. The pay is you get to play.'

GRAFTON Self-titled CD {Derailleur}

Since the dawn of rock n' roll a certain breed of melody makers have been attempting to create the auditory equivalence of being kicked in the balls. West Virginia's Grafton can most likely be pigeonholed into this category. Their particular Molotov cocktail recipe is a smooth blend of straight out garage diluted in a mixture of bluesy spasms. But like the Loch Ness monster, something a bit dark and mysterious lays just beneath the surface creating a shadow all but invisible. You don't find it; it finds you. Cuts like "Phineas Gage" and "The Bet" lead you on a trekinto that gray area of music that isn't as easy to assign a direct classification to. I can only hope that this disc doesn't do justice to the live shows. The potential for balls-out rockin' seems to be present on every number but is rarely taken advantage of. Sooner or later these guys are going to figure out how to put enough energy into the music to make it sound like it should. And when that time comes they will kick your ears square in the nuts. www.cringe.com/derailleur (Joshua Spainhoward)