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Jason Griff Chats About His New Punk/Hardcore-sampling Album Fireside Chats (The Witzard Interview)

Fireside Chats Cassette Tape Art/Prints By: Ethan D'Ercole

Chicago-based artist Jason Griff (sometimes, just "Griff") has become a heavyweight in Indie Hip-Hop in recent years. Griff is part of an Underground Hip-Hop network that spans from Chicago to Philly and likely even farther. Griff has produced music for the likes of Zilla Rocca, Scorcese Lorde Jones, Alex Ludovico, My Man Shafe, and Curly Castro. Within recent years, Griff co-founded a label imprint dubbed Insubordinate Records along with Alex Ludovico and Scorces Lorde Jones (may he rest in peace) to release both collabrative and solo efforts from each. Griff's most recent album is a primarily Punk/Hardcore-sampling affair, Fireside Chats, which references iconic Chicago venue, The Fireside Bowl. It features collaborations with emcees Alex Ludovico, Juganaut, ALASKA, defcee, Moecyrus, Scorcese, billy woods, Curly Castro, Zilla Rocca, ialive, PremRock, and SKECH185.

I. What made you decide to start creating this project?

Jason Griff: I wanted to tackle something original conceptually. Lots of producers have done sample-themed projects, but no one has really ever touched the Punk genre. So, it was a perfect fit for me.

II. What made you finally decide to finish and release it?

Griff: It was already a goal for 2021 and after Scorcese passed, I decided to stop creating and start finishing.

III. Now, I know you probably can't fully answer this... but what are some of the artists, songs, or even styles and eras of Punk/Hardcore sampled throughput Fireside Chats?

Griff: I'd rather let the listener enjoy sorting that out themselves. But I will say, I originally was going to only do Chicago bands that played at The Fireside, then, I broadened my scope, so as to not be too limited in source material.

IV. How did you go about procuring artists to be featured across Fireside Chats?

Griff: A lot of them are friends, but others, I just randomly reached out to and pitched the concept.

V. Would you mind talking about some of the references Scorcese Lorde Jones (may he rest in peace) employed throughout his appearance on "Summer of Punk?"

Griff: I gave him a list of 90+ bands to check out. He referenced nearly every one of them and, also, put in the work and listened to them all and made references beyond just the names of the bands. He [was] the best.

VI. What would you cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating Fireside Chats?

Griff: 17-year-old Jason Griff had a big hand in this one.

VII. In your opinion, are there really any "good" or listenable Rap-Rock/Punk albums?

Griff: The Judgement Night Soundtrack * was great. [Deftones'] Chino Moreno spit them bars hard on [Korn's Ice Cube] "Wicked" cover. There's a few others, but, also, a lot of corny sh*t.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: It looks like Korn's cover of "Wicked" was, actually, featured on their 1996 sophomore studio album, Life Is Peachy...

VIII. What can you tell us about the alternate Fireside Chats artwork created by Ethan D'Ercole seen across the limited edition cassette and prints?

Griff: Ethan is a legendary Chicago screen-printer and artist and a good friend of mine from his days in Mannequin Men. He's done countless flyers and posters for shows all over the city. When the time came, I knew I had to get him to do some art for the project.

IX. What, if anything can you tell us about the three Bonus Tracks featured on the cassette and CD versions of Fireside Chats?

Griff: Scorcese was supposed to be on the joint with King Micah The Infamous, but was unable to record it before his passing, so I just left it as "Untitled" with the one verse.

X. Now that Fireside Chats have been released into the very unsuspecting world, what do you have planned for album's roll-out?

Griff: Just gonna keep pushing and, maybe, have a few surprise merch drops, at some point.

XI. While creating Fireside Chats, did you happen to learn anything new about the featured artists and their Punk Fandom?

Griff: ialive [Donovan Days] and I have chatted about it in the past after he did that Lookout! project with the spoof Lookout! Records album art.

XII. Since we're almost at the halfway mark of the year, what have been some of your personal favorite Punk/Hardcore projects of 2021, so far?

Griff: I haven't been too up-to-date on new releases. They kinda find me when they find me. But I really like ULTRAPOP by The Armed and the most recent Spanish Love Songs album [Brave Faces Everyone] from last year. I'm, also, excited for the new F*CKED UP album [Year of The Horse,] but haven't checked it out yet. I got to hear an advance of the new Having Kittens album and its f***ing tough.


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