Canadian Alt-Rock Duo Talks Process & Playlists

Words & Photos by Marco Denzer

cleopatrick (spelled with a lower-case c), the hard rocking duo comprised of guitarist and vocalist Luke Gruntz and drummer Ian Fraser played a sold-out show at Mercury Lounge last week. And they kindly took a few minutes to speak with us before hitting the stage for an absolutely riveting high energy set.

I have read that you guys are childhood friends who grew up in Canada. Can you tell us a bit more about that? How and when did you start playing as a duo?

Ian and I have been best friends since we met at the age of 4 years old, on the first day of junior kindergarten. We always loved music; it was something we shared together growing up. When we were 8, our parents got us matching acoustic guitars for Christmas, we played music together through high school, and after graduating we started cleopatrick and put out the “14” EP.

What is the origin of the name cleopatrick and is there a particular meaning to the logo of the two deep-sea diver helmets?

The name came from a phase we had in our humor where we loved smashing two words together to make a new one. We were trying to come up with band names and I think I suggested cleopatrick. The helmets were supposed to represent a sort of duality which is something we try to capture in our music. Fun rock songs that serve as a Trojan horse for lyrical depth and emotional expression – highs a lows like space and sea.

How do you define or describe your music and which artists have influenced your sound and style?

We make honest music. Our influences are broad. We really love any music that feels real. Arctic Monkeys, Violent Soho, Ready the Prince, Zig Mentality are some of our favorite rock bands.

Please describe your song writing process. Is one of you the main lyricist or is it a combined effort focused on a common theme? Are lyrics developed first or is it melody, guitar and percussion followed by lyrics? How do you do it?

Our process is pretty sporadic. Sometimes we jam one of our ideas and it grows into something. Other times I bring a more full-concept. We basically just jam stuff, then I take it on my own and analyze the fuck out of it, bring it back to jam some more, and repeat that process until we both say “yeah this is cool”…

I write all the lyrics, usually based on a concept I already have. I like to write song titles first then fill in the blanks when an idea we jam fits. I also try to have one line per song that can sum up the entirety of the track. Usually that line comes first, and the rest of the song grows around it.

Are the themes in your writing derived from personal experiences, anecdotes, observations on life, or are they ideas that you develop over time? Tell us about this process.

I write from personal feelings. I’m only 22, so there aren’t may crazy life experiences I can call on lyrically. Instead I like to analyze feelings or small moments that feel notable to me.

In the past I’ve found myself writing a lot from other people’s point of view, rather that in my own voice. But that’s something I’m trying to get over. It’s way easier to say what you mean when you hide behind the narrator / don’t feel accountable, but I want to be more vulnerable moving forward. All the songs on the new album are going to be my words. I want the kids that are listening to trust me.

Your sets are very high energy, so I’m wondering if there’s a specific song in your repertoire that is always fun to play live, the one tune that really gets you going on a personal level, and why?

‘Sanjake’. That song is so fucking fun… It’s so stupid too, it’s like, one verse and 1000 repeat choruses, but we always have so much fun playing it. I’m really proud of that song – it means a lot to us that people like it.

Considering your impressive Spotify stats, where songs like “Chromeo”, “City Kids”, “Hometown”, “Youth”, and “Bernard Trigger” among several others from your EPs “14” and “The Boys” have reached millions of streams. What are your plans for releasing a full- length LP in the near future?

2020 is the beginning of something really special. We have taken our time to perfect these new songs, and plan something meaningful and calculated for our debut LP. Our friends too. New rock mafia is going to restore balance.

What sort of music do you listen to on your down time? What are some of the artist on your go to playlist?

The Districts, Demob Happy, Ready The Prince, plus Zig… obviously, Julia Jacklin, Andy Shauf, Baby Keem, Deepsix, Arctic Monkeys, Sjay, and Show Me the Body to name a few.

What are your plans for the upcoming summer festival season? Do you have tour dates planned?

We are gonna drop tunes, smash sets, and live forever… but we can’t tell you any more than that. | NYC