Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Shawn Biggs
Gram LeBron had about an hour to get ready for this here recording session. It was early in the morning on the last day we were hunkered down in San Francisco for a little taping spree at the end of February. He was on stand-by and when a cancellation came in late the night before, just before our morning coffee, we called him up and he trucked over to see us, at the Studio Paradiso, just down the block from the bar where Dashiell Hammett drank hard and wrote his classic "The Maltese Falcon," which just so happens to also house the grill that makes the finest hamburgers in America. LeBron, who has spent many years as a guitarist in Bay Area band Rogue Wave as well as about a hundred other projects (many of his MySpace friends are of other bands and their profile photos feature him in many with an arm around the shoulders of someone), may have had to brush some sleepers from his eyes as he tuned up his guitar and hacked out the frogginess in his throat, but then again, he's a man who lives for making music so there's a chance that he sleep sings and sleep strums. As you can plainly hear, this recording doesn't sound as if it were laid to tape pre-breakfast or mid-breakfast as it was - the pastries in the bakery around the corner were still hot or relatively lukewarm and none of the coffee had been given any chance of kicking in and doing any damage yet. The streets were still not yet hosed down to remove the urine and odors of the many homeless residents in the neighborhood, huddling under awnings and overhangs. Hell, LeBron may have even offered to pick the doughnuts and coffee up for us, but our memories don't serve all that well so many months further on. Golden Gram, the solo name that LeBron does the majority of his recordings under, is music that takes so many parts from the man himself - a guy with a ready smile and a fetching, sweet personality - and parts from the front moniker of "golden," with the bulk of the thoughts in regards to it going to imaging a grape growing on the vine in super, fast-forward time lapse photography so it seems as if the skin of the reddish-purple fruit were actually filling with sunlight, like a water balloon. The same could go for oranges, but not so much strawberries or apples. The shape just doesn't work the same way. It's not "golden" enough. So, his music sounds like grapes and oranges expanding via sunshine as if he's caught something in a bottle, actually bottled a secret ingredient or intangible and is using it for the benefit of many. What he's captured in that bottle, which he lifts the top of to give free whiffs of as they do the sweet-smelling, fermenting corn mash at the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee, is of an unknown compound, but what it seems to involve is the overriding belief that we're here to impart good. Bad days are only bad if they're spent lonely, otherwise, with others, they later become parts of jokes and ribbing. Sadness can break spirits and make one shudder cold, but it doesn't have to last long. LeBron makes a point - with his cheery leanings and his falsetto-ed voice that sounds like the toothy grin he wears like a birthmark that's not going anywhere - to give of himself in an unselfish way with his writing and coaxes out the harder to arrive at questions/answers (the back slash is there because sometimes the answers are the questions and vice versa) in a way that makes them easier to look at. He sings, "Does everyone on Earth get another start in heaven/That's a real hard question/Real hard to say/Real hard to say" on "New Bounce" and there's no real knowing what he wants the answer to be but, everyone knows that he's got no choice as the question will just tumble out there into the superfluous air not striking anything, almost carefree.
Golden Gram Official Site
Golden Gram MySpace Page
Cedar Fever Records