At the beginning of this year, a video of an old woman shrieking into a microphone unexpectedly became one of the most genius examples of viral band marketing in 2015. It's likely that before "The Grindmother" made her first appearance on our blog back in February, few outlets in mainstream media had ever paid any attention to the throat-shredding world of grindcore music, let alone the Canadian band Corrupt Leaders who initially put her up to it. Yet low and behold, there was the 67-year olds angry screams being blasted on the Maury Show last month on TVs across the country. Great gimmick? Well, at the end of 2015, we're still talking about it.
A couple days ago, The Grindmother's video for her first solo song "Any Cost" started making the rounds. And the Internet is currently devouring it. There she is once again in all her glory, screaming pure brutality into the microphone with the close cropped grey hair, thick-rimmed glasses and perhaps the most geriatric of all accessories: the waterproof wrist watch. But if this were just an excuse to snicker at an old lady–actually, Corrupt Leader's vocalist Rain Forest's mom, we wouldn't even bother with it. Because whether you believe it or not, this is actually the best thing to happen to grindcore music this year.
It's the kind of gimmick born of unintentional greatness. If you look back at how Forest and his band mates happen to coax this senior citizen into screaming on camera in the first viral video, you can see her initial sheepishness of recording her vocals blossom into demonic determination as she squeezed out every drop of intensity she could in take after take. We're literally watching a star being born in real time. "I'll try not to make it sound like I'm having a shit," she says laughing. By the end of that first video, it was clear…she was the shit.
But you can't just leave it at that. After the single for the track "Black Cloud" came out on the aptly-titled Grindmother EP, her initial scream was mixed so seamlessly that if no one had told people who the vocalist was, most would've never given it a second thought. Even on The Grindmother's latest video (with music created entirely by Rain Forest), close your eyes while listening and see if what you hear corresponds to what you see when you open them. Your incapability of hearing her age is almost as important as the fact that grindcore is being mentioned on national TV this year (in a positive light) thanks to this woman.
As the rules of the music industry continue to dissolve, it seems fitting that the fresh new face of an underground genre could be a 67 year-old lady who is just having a goof with her son. The only marketing strategy needed is exactly what you see in front of you and within a year she's become one of the biggest stories concerning the genre…and we don't even know her real name.
It's also kind of amazing that out of all the quick-hitting viral sensations that this recent attempt at taking a second bite of the apple feels as ageless as the first. It's not really a project that's cashing in on a fad. Grindcore's existed since about the mid-'80s and is far from new, but still definitely a lot newer than the woman who is making it the topic of conversation this week. It reminds musicians who take themselves a little too seriously in the demonic arts, or any genre, that having fun with your music is always a recipe for success. The popularity of the video just goes to show that this kind of anachronism never gets old, and neither will The Grindmother as long as she's never afraid to have a laugh and scream her head off.