The Waterford blues-rock quintet’s debut album reveals personal thoughts about loss, growth and ambition, especially from lead vocalist-guitarist Frank Grimaldi and organist Peter Zajicek.
“I wrote ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ when I was 17 after my first bad breakup. It’s just a heartbroken kid who thinks he’s never gonna fall in love again. ‘Long Road Ahead’ was me trying to write a song that sounded like a Jimi Hendrix song,” Grimaldi said.
“What comes out from me lyrically are things that I don’t have the courage to say directly to people, or they’re something I just wanna get off my chest. They’re also mantras, even if they’re negative. I feel like Pete [Zajicek] writes out of frustration as well.”
Those shared experiences from Grimaldi and Zajicek truly produce “something good” for Slowfoot listeners.
With bandmates Mike Conley (guitar), Kris Grieg (bass) and Tony DiDio (drums), they present a profound release filled with soulful vocals, introspective lyrics, vintage Hammond organ solos and bluesy instrumentation.
“If you asked all five members of the group, you would get five different favorite bands. There’s a lot of different stuff melting into our sound, and you know who wrote what song,” said Grimaldi, who’s influenced by Humble Pie, Led Zeppelin and Derek Trucks.
“It’s only me and Pete who have been writing the songs, but you can feel my writing tendencies versus Pete’s. He has a lot of words in his songs … and my songs are more Hemingway in their approach.”
Fiery electric guitar, bass, Hammond organ and drums echo his ongoing frustration with life’s incremental progress.
Grimaldi sings, “My wheels are turning, but I’ll never get far / Come to find out how alone that you are / How you do it’s a mystery to me / Give up your life for safety.”
“‘Taken Its Toll’ comes from partying too much and being jealous of other people’s success. It’s also the appearance of things being easy for other people, and it’s not even true,” he said.
“What I’m trying to express is like, ‘Yeah, it works out for them; look how easy it is.’ But if you stepped into their shoes, they’re probably working their schnitzels off and trying to make things happen. If you live your life in a state of paranoia, then you’re going to fall off the rails.”
Next, Slowfoot tries to stay level-headed on the breakneck blues-rock jam, “Day Job.” Swift electric guitar, bass, Hammond organ and drums reflect the chaos of balancing a daily profession with an after-hours passion.
Grimaldi sings, “Wake up every morning I run as fast as I can / Racing for the punch clock to hustle for the man / Don’t let the rat race bring you down to your knees / If you just keep running little boy, one day you’re gonna find the cheese.”
“Pete has gone back and forth, and he works in a bookkeeping firm now. But for a long time, that kinda job went away. He was digging ditches for a sprinkler company,” said Grimaldi, who’s an accountant by day and attributes the band’s name to broken ankle DiDio once had.
“Pete wrote ‘Day Job’ about two years ago, and he gets the nine to five. He has a kid and a wife, and they do the homesteading thing. ‘Day Job’ is really about the frustration of having to be a gigging musician and having work [at the same time].”
Slowfoot brings that familiar struggle to life in their new video for “Day Job.” Filmed and edited by Rockin’ Ronnie Haines, it intersperses black-and-white footage of the band working in a corporate office with color footage of them performing at Billy’s Tip N’ Inn in White Lake.
“I’m an accountant, and I asked the president of our firm if I could use the office for some of the [black-and-white] shots, and I got a bunch of my friends to come out. My friend Mike’s wife is a corporate executive, so she has the power suit and is the boss man,” Grimaldi said.
“We’re all in the boardroom wearing white shirts and black ties, and she’s yelling at all of us. There are also shots of us at a bar with a cool stage and lighting, and all the chorus parts are in color.”
Finally, Slowfoot captures another internal struggle on the melancholic ballad, “Hysteria Blues.” Despondent electric guitar, bass, Hammond organ and drums echo years of slow-building stagnation and hopelessness.
Grimaldi sings, “Evils with me in the morning / Evils with me, and I can’t get away / All your life, you search for what’s missing / Now you found it, and you let it get away.”
“‘Hysteria Blues’ was written during the pandemic with my friend Marc Glenn, who passed away in July 2020. He was a super great guy. Marc wasn’t a musician, but he played the harmonica a little bit,” he said.
“I went over to his house one night, and he had the beginnings of the verses. He also decided what key it was gonna be in, so we co-wrote that song in one night. I will always remember how excited he was that we wrote a song together.”
Grimaldi also credits Glenn with inspiring the band’s album title.
“The whole [idea] of Something Good came from Marc, and he would always come to our shows,” he said. “After we wailed on a song, and everybody would go nuts and then the crowd would die down, he would say, ‘Play something good,’ and everybody would get a laugh out of it. He was just the life-of-the-party and a funny guy.”
Something for Everybody
Slowfoot started recording tracks for Something Good in March 2020 with co-producer Peter Jay at Ferndale’s Tempermill Studio. They overcame pandemic delays and COVID outbreaks to later finalize the overdubs in Jay’s Shelby Township basement studio.
“We had been woodshedding the newer songs for a year or two playing them out live and molding them into what we wanted. A band’s first record is everything they’ve been working on since they’ve been a band,” said Grimaldi, who co-produced the album with Jay.
“I told [Peter Jay] from the outset of the record that I wanted his input on everything—if he thought we could do a better take, if the song didn’t work, if we needed to change it, if we should throw it away, how we should mix it, and what he thought it should sound like.”
The band also collaborated with percussionist Dan Wolak on “Mexico Lindo,” a murder-themed track written by Chuck Moberg.
“Chuck Moberg was the guitar player in Jam Samich with Mike [Conley], and Mike was like, ‘We should play this Jam Samich song,’ and he brought it up, and we listened to it. Once we started playing it, it immediately became a fan favorite,” said Grimaldi, who formed Slowfoot in 2016.
“Chuck’s an interesting songwriter, and he’s the king of ‘Look at this, but it’s really about this.’ It’s like such a fun song, and then you’re like, ‘Oh wait, he fed her boyfriend to the sharks.’ Dan was also the percussionist for Jam Samich, so it’s all family intertwined.”
Slowfoot will share “Mexico Lindo” and other Something Good tracks during their Dec. 23 album release show at Otus Supply in Ferndale. Detroit’s Dan Minard and Billy Brandt and the Sugarees will open the show.
“We’re going to play about an hour and 15 minutes, and we might play the whole record, but maybe not in the same order. We also have one surprise Christmas song that we’re gonna do,” Grimaldi said.
“We have Dan Minard opening, and then we’re gonna play in the middle. Billy Brandt and the Sugarees will close the show out.”
After their album release show, Slowfoot will play several live shows this winter, including Jan. 7 at Pontiac’s Alley Cat Café, Jan. 20 at Billy’s Tip N’ Inn and a Feb. 11 slot at the Groove Hotel festival in Chelsea. They’re also working on new music.
“I’ve got three new [songs], and I know Pete [Zajicek’s] got a handful,” Grimaldi said. “We’re not counting the chickens before they’re hatched, but we’re about halfway through writing the next album. It’s in the infancy stage right now.”
Friday, Dec. 23 | Doors: 7 p.m. & Show: 8 p.m.
Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale