The Griswold family, but not as you know it…

Words by Joanne Tramontana

We’ve said goodbye to Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, and his gawky family on a road trip to nowhere as we welcome a new generation of the Griswold family, starring Ed Helms, in the film titled ‘Vacation’. They don’t seem to be the only Griswold family on the rise, as there are other Griswolds currently on the road.

The Griswolds are a four-piece alternative band from Sydney consisting of frontman and guitarist Chris Whitehall, guitarist and keyboard player Daniel Duque-Perez, bassist Tim John and drummer Lachlan West. Emerging in 2012 and often described as tequila-inspired party pop (because let’s face it, that is probably what they were drinking when writing the songs), the sound of their music contains alternative, pop and rock vibes.

They released their debut album Be Impressive in August 2014 under US label Wind-Up Records (read our review here.) It was a huge leap from their previous EP, showing a developed sound as well as potent lyrics. The band write from their personal experiences with the lyrics carrying heavy meanings, overlaid with sweet psychedelic sounds. The Griswolds are showcasing the harshness of reality while musically reflecting on the good side of life. The album is about loss, life, longing to be youthful and of course the pressures of being in a band on the road. Title track Be Impressive reflects the desire to stand out, while 16 Years is about the challenges faced while seeping into the music industry.

Of course, there are more to this Griswold family than just the band members. This Griswold family spans across borders and their international love is on the rise.

“They are people that you want to be friends with. They have great personalities and talents,” says New York based superfan, Denisha Widyani.

Denisha has met the band ten times. She sums up their live performances as “Fun, very dancey – you can’t just stand there.”

Music-wise it’s fun and upbeat, but the lyrics are deep, they are really dark and meaningful but it still makes you want to dance,” she says.

A cherished member of the Griswolds family, Denisha is more than just a fan. She goes out of her way to make the guys feel at home while on the road, even bringing along a few gifts from their native land; “I bought them Vegemite and Tim Tams because they’re far from home. I know they’re homesick.”

Fans who haven’t physically met the band are also a part of their family.

Kiona McConnell, also from New York, explains that the band have effectively used social media to interact with fans. “From our interactions on social media, I feel pretty confident in saying that they’re kind, intelligent, hard-working artists and I respect that. I see that they take their craft and careers seriously although they’re so hilarious that it’s apparent they aren’t full of themselves at all.”

Kiona explains that the band has won hearts through Twitter because “they have great quirky personalities, are honest and unafraid to speak their minds, they give so much of their time to talk with fans, and always stay accessible and real.”

Swedish fan Elvira Heiman from Sweden began #thegriswolds5 hashtag on Twitter, where the fans show their admiration of the band by tweeting out five things they love about the band. “I just felt like they needed to actually hear all of the things we appreciate” she says. “They get 100 ‘I love you’ messages every day but no one really points out what they love,” she adds.

The Griswolds have achieved success in Australia, particularly with the single Beware The Dog. The song was number 28 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2014 as well as winning Single of the Year at the Rolling Stone Australia Awards.

Their American success and accolades are on the rise – and no, it’s not just because they are named after the film family, have a song titled America, and a song named after an American river (Mississippi). Their debut album hit no. 5 on the US iTunes Alternative Album chart and they are embarking on their own US headlining tour this month, following a support slot on tour with Walk The Moon.

i99 Music Radio owner Ryan Smith comments on The Griswolds’ success in the USA, saying, “They will be headlining in some of the big radio market areas on their own, which is pretty cool to see. It’s a huge step, but a step in the right direction.”

Ryan adds, “I’ve seen pretty good feedback, especially when they do private acoustic radio sessions.”

Speaking about how far the band has come, including work with renowned producer Tony hoffer, frontman Chris said, “I’m proud of where we started and where we are now. I’m proud of our songs and how hard we work.”

The band plan to continue touring and writing new material throughout 2015.

The road trip isn’t over for The Griswolds!