Deli Magazine




Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham


It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

This week we talk with Todd Grantham, also known as the suave ivory tickler of The Quivers.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Todd Grantham: 

I play a Roland XP-80 and a 1968 Vox Continental organ with The Quivers.  I think the XP-80 was introduced in 1996. That's the year I first bought the smaller Roland model - the XP-50.  They both have 3.5" disk drives. So cute. I like the XP series. 

At home, when I'm relaxed and want to play sitting down? I play a 1959 Cable Nelson Spinet piano.  It's been in the family since before I was born and I've been playing - mostly banging on that piano since I was a baby. I love it. You can't make a keyboard thunder and rumble quite like it.

The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Todd: Opportunity, convenience, good fortune and affordability.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Todd: Sometimes it's a little toot or a beep. Sometimes it goes Rrrrrrrarrrrrrrwwwwwrrr. When I'm in a hurry on piano it goes pling pling pling.


The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Todd:  The Quivers have become a full-time job for me. I couldn't be more artistically satisfied playing with this gang. But I played organ and piano on a few songs for Red Kate's upcoming album. Can't wait for that to be released. Holy cow, them boys are serious! Their song "Hypnotized" is gonna be big! You'll see.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Todd: I've toyed with an accordion and a tin whistle, and can make a harmonica groan like a flattened tire. Oh, and I shouldn't say this, but for at least a dozen years I've had a vibraphone that doesn't actually belong to me. If the rightful owner sees this, I'll probably have to kiss that vibraphone goodbye. So this is off the record, right?

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Todd: Locally? Jason Beers plays a wicked organ with Wild Chipmunk & The Cuddly Poos. He sickens me with how effortlessly fantastic he is. You know what? This is a difficult question. He's not a favorite, nor inspirational. He's freakish. He's a mutant. He should be shunned and banished from society. Devil-man! Devil-man! He loosens our morals and our morale, and I hear he's one of those free-thinkers.

The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Todd: If it were the ideal dream, we wouldn't be talking about musical gear.

The Deli:

 Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Todd: To be honest with you? I don't shop for gear. Bernie [Dugan] tells me, "You need to get one of these…" and then he goes out and GETS IT FOR ME! I love my friend! But he makes me play extra pretty for him.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Todd: recordBar always does us well. I recommend the Cowtown Mallroom too. The acoustics in there are a hoot.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Todd: Oh god… Oh GOD the burns! Call 911.

Although Todd probably doesn't have the burns, you can catch him performing tonight at The Brick with The Quivers. They'll be joined by The Wild Ones and Bummer City, both from California. The Quivers' new EP Gots To Have It! will also be available this weekend!

-Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She enjoys the smell of Elmer's School Paste, but never the flavor.

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Todd Grantham

Photo courtesy of Steve Gardels 

The Quivers