Derek Grant gets personal with new album

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Musician Derek Grant almost didn't release the songs on his new album, "Breakdown."

"They're really personal songs and they were from a difficult part of my life, and I wasn't sure I wanted to share that with the world," says Grant, a Detroit native who is best known as drummer for Chicago punk rock band Alkaline Trio. With tracks like "Waiting for the End of the World," "Love is a Bad Dream" and "You Don't Know," the album tells the story of his own divorce.

The tunes — which span the rock spectrum with bits of pop, punk and country — were recorded in 2008-09, and Grant says after time passed he got closure with some of the issues he wrote about and, with the help of a friend, changed his mind about releasing the tracks.

"I was right on the verge of scrapping the whole thing, then my friend Toby (Jeg) from (Chicago record label) Red Scare said, 'I really want to put this out, I really like this.' "

Grant wrote all the music and lyrics and performed all the instruments on "Breakdown," which was released Tuesday. He says he wrote the songs while traveling the country with a guitar, trying to write a song a day. He traveled to Portland, Detroit (Garden City, specifically), New York, Chicago, Indiana and Los Angeles.

Once he knew the songs would be released, Grant toyed with the idea of performing the tracks solo with just an acoustic guitar, but decided he wanted people to hear the songs as they are on the record. He assembled a band of his friends, who also happen to be seasoned musicians.

"I just called up a bunch of old friends," says Grant, who now lives in Vermont but was in Chicago last week rehearsing for the tour. "Neil Hennessy is on drums, he plays in the Lawrence Arms. I knew he would be the right person for the job. (Bassist) Matt Van and I had played in bands before and I've always enjoyed being on stage with him so that was a no-brainer, and then the guitar player is Eli Caterer, who plays in the Smoking Popes. He's just a wonderful guy and a great musician."

Besides the Detroit show on Friday, the band will play a few dates in the Chicago area. Grant, who is on tour six to seven months a year, says he'll continue to support the record with solo shows in the spring, but details haven't been ironed out yet. He thinks his solo material will resonate with Alkaline Trio fans, in spite of a a much different sound.

"Stylistically it's a lot different," he says. "We have pretty cool fans; I think they're pretty open-minded. They seem enthusiastic to hear it."

Derek Grant

with Leather Kings of Beer (Telegraph unplugged) and Timmy Reynolds

8 p.m. Friday

Magic Stick Lounge

4120 Woodward, Detroit

(313) 833-9700

Tickets $10