Don’t let Joe Grushecky’s tough guy exterior fool you. On the inside is the core of a compassionate family man with a heart for hot and fiery music that he’s been making since the 70’s with his band The Houserockers from Iron City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
A glowing feature on the CNN news network in 2005 portrayed him as one of “the best rock and rollers ever” as they praised him for helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for all kinds of causes over the years including regular headlining slots at the Jersey Shore’s annual Light of Day benefit concerts. Still, outside of Asbury Park and his Pittsburgh home base Grushecky is largely an unknown quantity.
That probably has a lot to do with the fact the for much of his adult life Joe was working in difficult daily environs as a special needs educator. The television special pointed out the high-turnover in the field while noting that Joe had been at his job for over 25 years while working with troubled teenagers and children in his home state.
But, don’t feel too bad for Joe, he’s been living the dream with his side job. In the course of over 40 years he has released nearly 20 recordings with the apex being 1995’s American Babylon complete with production from Grushecky’s good buddy Bruce Springsteen. In fact, the Houserocker leader and founder has made jamming with The Boss a near regular occurrence for the past two decades – so there’s that.
And, there’s Joe’s brand new album co-produced by his talented offspring Johnny revealing Joe’s successful fatherhood skills while proving that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. We are honored to have Joe here on the site in the midst of this exciting moment for the Houserocker household.
Q: What is currently happening in your musical universe at the moment?
A: We have a brand new record out. More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows is our latest and one of our greatest. We are extremely excited about it.
Q: As mentioned, your new album is called More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows. So, obviously you have spent some time contemplating your place in the Universe?
A: Well….. When you reach a certain age you begin to realize that the end of the road gets a little bit closer everyday and that you should not take everything for granted. That being said, everyday is a new adventure to be enjoyed and you should not waste your time.
Q: Steelworkers evoke that whole image of “blood, sweat and tears” and you’re closely associated to Steel Town. Why did you feel the need to forge a brand new Houserockers? Is it important to work with new blood over time? Speaking of blood, what’s it mean to you that your own son Johnny is stepping up his role by taking on production duties this time around?
A: We have always been closely identified to Pittsburgh. Our original manager, the legendary Steve Popovich, was really into regional music and he did his best to break us in Western Pa. hence the Iron City moniker. As the years went by, we have become a part of the fabric of the city. Our music is tough and raw, and I write about the life of the common man so we are an easy fit. We had to forge a new band due to a severe accident to our original bass player, Art Nardini. We had to re-tool a bit, so we came out with guitars a blazin’. My son, Johnny, stepped into a producer’s role in addition to playing guitar and drumming. He is extremely passionate about music and makes me remember why I started playing in the first place. Brian Coleman joined our production team along with long time producer Rick Witkowski. Joffo Simmons is on drums, Danny Gochnour is on guitar, and Jeff Garrison plays bass.
Q: What is your personal “Stairway To Heaven” as far as recording or performing goes?
A: For my own songs it is “Pumping Iron”. I think I’ve played it at every one of our gigs for the last 20 years. My listening one is “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones. It’s just badass rock and roll but I like it.
Q: You’re tasked with putting together a Galactic Supergroup to represent Earth and Rock music. What’s that configuration going to look like?
A: We have to have Keith Richards and Jimmy McCarty (from the Detroit Wheels) on guitars. Paul McCartney on bass. Ray Charles on piano, Steve Jordan on drums, and King Cutis on sax with Levi Stubbs singing would complete this monstrous line up and convert every alien nation to rocking rhythm and soul. Where can I buy a ticket?
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about “alien technology” helping mankind achieve great advances in recent decades. On the musical front technology is always changing and advancing. Any recent discoveries or favorites you’d like to share?
A: I am old school all the way when it comes to gear. I use Schechter Pete Townsend Telecasters from 1984 with either a Matchless or Trace Elliot Velocett amp, and I love the sound I get. For acoustic guitars, I use a Gibson Hummingbird in the studio and Takamines for live playing. The new Fender Teles are also sweet.
Q: Last but not least. Ever see a UFO?
A: Not tonight but then again I haven’t ordered take out from Mars yet.
Related Links: For more information on JOE GRUSHECKY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links — JoeGrushecky.com