Horseshoes And Hand Grenades are a band that is living up to the hype that has followed them over the last year or so. The Wisconsin-based act has a knack for crafting catchy, original songs, and they tour hard in support of their music. Those are two of the reasons why they’re considered one of the “5 Up and Coming Bluegrass Bands Poised To Take Over The Scene” in 2017. Their high-energy, progressive musical leanings have earned them spots on the same stage as Merle Haggard, the Del McCoury Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, and more. The group is set to headline American Beauty in New York City this coming Friday, April 28th (purchase tickets here), joined by The Falco Brothers, which features Andy Falco of The Infamous Stringdusters. We caught up with Horseshoes And Hand Grenades’ guitarist/dobro player Adam Greuel to shoot the . . . well, shit.

[Cover photo courtesy of Ty Helbach]

Live For Live Music: So, tell us about the beginning of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. When and where did you all form, and what was the original vision for the band?

Adam Greuel: We all met while going to college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. We were all friends before we were “in a band” together. The Horseshoes And Hand Grenades thing started super organically with us all just realizing that we loved playing music together and traveling around. We all had different musical backgrounds, and we had all been interested in a wide range of music growing up. So, we just started playing what felt right and what we were interested in. The only real “vision” was just being ourselves and making whatever music seeped out of us individually and collectively. That sort of feeling has never changed, and I think it’s definitely a big part of who we are as a band.

L4LM: You all as a band have made quite the name for yourselves. In such a highly saturated music world, what would you say are some things that have helped you burst that bubble and set yourselves apart?

AG: Well, I’m not entirely sure. I can say that we definitely have a hell of a fun time on stage. We like to be good to one another and be open to each other musically. That can sometimes create this really fun improvisational aspect at our shows. I think we are pretty light hearted about our performances and we want to create an environment where people can come and be themselves. Everybody in the band likes to write and sing too, so that makes for some interesting diversity to the shows. There’s so much great progressive bluegrass and old-time music happening right now, so many different micro-styles. It’s a special and exciting time to be part of the scene.

L4LM: The thing about traditional bluegrass music is that not too many bands make it anymore, right? Seems like almost all bluegrass musicians have taken their own new approach to it, which has kept it alive in many ways. How would you say traditional bluegrass has been a part of the creation of the Horseshoes And Hand Grenades sound?

AG: Well, you know, I think there’s still a fair amount of traditional bluegrass happening; you just don’t see it as much in popular culture, for whatever reason. I really love traditional bluegrass, and am quick to say that we are, by no means, that. One of our biggest early influences is a Wisconsin-based band called Art Stevenson and Highwater. To this day, they’re my favorite traditional players. I have learned a ton from Art, and going to a couple picking parties at his house is a big part of what led me to love bluegrass and old-time string band music at a young age. So, that traditional sound is part of who we are, along with our love for jazz, rock n’ roll—like the Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Rolling Stones—local Wisconsin polka music, and so many other genres we’ve come across in time. I think we like to let our musical consciousness sort of dictate the music we make. Like you said, elaborating on music is what keeps it alive. Monroe did it to make “Bluegrass”, New Grass Revival and others made “Newgrass,” and so many new offsprings of that are happening right now. I’m also really happy that folks are playing and holding true to that original bluegrass sound. It’s such a beautiful kind of music and I would hate to not hear it.

Horseshoes And Hand Grenades Debut Talking Heads Video, Announce Falco Brothers As Support For NYC Show

L4LM: In that same vein, isn’t it a wonderful time to be in this genre? What excites you most about being a part of it right now?

AG: Totally. I’m excited to see how it continues to grow. I’m thrilled by the sense of community that’s been created around it. There’s a sense of togetherness between bluegrass and newgrass musicians, the fans, and even sometimes the promoters and venue or festival owners. There seemingly isn’t as much of a boundary there. It seems like everyone appreciates each other, and that seems really heathy. Bands are making really interesting music, and we’re all bouncing ideas off one another, whether we’re deliberately hoping to or not.

L4LM: What has life on the road been like for you guys?

AG: To be entirely honest, up and down, a rollercoaster. We feel really lucky to get to do what we love with our best friends. Making music is a serious joy. When we’re on stage, it feels awesome. There’s a ton of traveling that goes into playing every show. A lot of weird hotel rooms. Many nights sleeping on a very bouncy bus. Lots of nights away from your partners or family. But you get to make music for people, see new places constantly, and get to experience all kinds of things you might never come across without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Meeting new bands and peers is always a good time. Playing some historic rooms has been an absolute honor. Fishing a couple goofy and/or beautiful places has been memorable. We’ve met a couple of our heroes, like Merle Haggard and Béla Fleck. We’ve also met some remarkable people at our shows, fans that have become good friends that inspire us. Personally, I’m really thankful for the journey, the odyssey as I call it sometimes. It’s all a learning experience. Doing it with these four guys is an absolute joy.

L4LM: With summer coming up (whoa), which events are you most looking forward to?

AG: We’re going to Alaska for the first time! I’ve always wanted to do that. We’ve got SalmonFest and a couple other sweet looking events up there, and probably some days fishing and exploring too. But you know, this summer is looking kickass. There’s not a single event that I’m not looking forward to with great fervor. Summer is such a fun time, in part because we get to play outdoors! I absolutely love the fact that so many of these festivals are in lovely locations. Taking a hike before or after a show is seriously the best. In our home state of Wisconsin, Blue Ox Music Fest is a great time. Northwest String Summit was a hoot last year, and we’re on a late night this year. I don’t know, there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had this summer.

L4LM: Is there any recording in your near future? Or any other exciting news we should know about?

AG: We’ve been doing some work in a studio that Nirvana actually recorded their last album at, which is super neat! We did like a four-day session in January and the next record was basically finished. We’ll likely be releasing it in late 2016, but there’s no official plans yet. Aside from that, we’re touring like crazy this spring, summer, and fall.

L4LM: And lastly, Live For Live Music is super excited to have you on April 28th at American Beauty NYC! How you guys feel about the Big Apple? Have any stories to tell from the last time you visited?

AG: Yeah! Pumped to be back. Thank you for having us! We’ve had two great shows in the Big Apple thus far, and they were both super memorable: Irving Plaza with Greensky Bluegrass, and Brooklyn Bowl with the Infamous Stringdusters. Irving Plaza was especially memorable, so much so that I have my backstage pass stuck to the top of my bunk in our little tour bus. I remember that we were always curious how our music would be received in a place like New York. It’s so so different than the places that we grew up. For whatever reason, it seems to translate really well. People have raged during our sets and it’s been really encouraging. We also ran over a shovel once in the middle of the highway in Brooklyn. That felt bizarre but it made us all laugh.

*** Tickets for the Horseshoes And Hand Grenades show at American Beauty show in NYC this Friday, April 28th, are currently on-sale and can be purchase here. For show updates and additional information, join the FB Event page.

Interview conducted by Tory Pittarelli of The Mischief Collective.