"It came to me in a vision," says the aptly green-haired lead singer/guitarist Curtis Grubb of Grasshopper Takeover when asked how the name of the electrifying pop-rock trio came to be. After a near-fatal accident while hunting pheasant on the expansive plains of his home state of Nebraska, Grubb says, "I just lay there with this insane ringing in my ears, afraid to open my eyes, thinking I would just see whiteness. When I finally opened my eyes, the entire sky was filled with a swarming, amorphous blackness, and then I lost consciousness. The only thing I remember thinking was that grasshoppers had taken over."
Add Bob Boyce shredding the skins, and the smooth mastery of his instrument by bassist James McMann, and the Nebraska-native three-piece rock trio has definitely taken over the underground unsigned music scene across the country and show no signs of letting up.
In 1996, Grubb and Boyce could be found playing any number of clubs and bars scattered throughout the Midwest as part of The Kind, the granola darlings of the hippie-funk gamut from Chicago to Denver. When the band called it quits a year later fans felt rejected and let their disappointment be known. Grubb and Boyce stuck together and laid low for some months writing and rocking until they were introduced to McMann, arguably the best amateur bassist in the nation and "a cross between Flea and James Dean" who completed the trio.
A bit jaded, in hermitage and under pressure from fans, the three worked together until the end of 1996, and then after much anticipation, played their first live show together as Grasshopper Takeover in January of 1997. What had resulted from their time off was an ejaculation of raucous-filled, yet poignant lyrics under heavy guitar, even heavier drums, and the jammin’ versatility of McMann's bass. Any thoughts that the band would assume their old positions as experimental pychadelicians were immediately liquidated - this was rock… pure, melodic, loud, in-your-face-but-not-tearing-the-skin-off-it rock.
The self-titled 1997 CD came only 7 months later. The larval stage completed, the Takeover had begun. A year later, the band released Gaia, toned down their hard-rock inclinations, tapped into their formative '70s and '80s pop-music years, found a lighter side in their lyrics, and tightened it all up.
The outcome was a huge success, and the matured, more well-rounded Grasshopper was ready to fly. In August of 1998, having conquered the Midwest to its maximum threshold, twice, the boys packed up their infamous tour-van --"Ol Redd", "Big Redd", "The Sin Bin," or "That big 'ol red piece of shit over there", as it was affectionately called -- and headed to L.A., wary but faithful in the gas-guzzling behemoth. (The van was later to take a full plunge into the waters of Echo Park lake, survive, and still start after a two-day dry-out!)
Upon relocation, the band rapidly climbed into notoriety and respect in the L.A. music scene, and quickly gained a formidable SoCal following. Their 1999 release, Echo Park, a play-it-loud-or-don't-play-it-at-all-motherfucker 6-song CD, set the stage for the band’s 2000 release, International Dance Marathon which would prove itself to be GTO’s most note-worthy and acclaimed project to date. IDM fused all that is genius of the terrible trio: perfect pop rhythms with extreme rock danceability, no-holds barred punked-out guitaring and drumming from Grubb and Boyce, McMann's smooth-like-butter bass, and catchy and intelligent lyrics and melodies. Tracks like "Esta Vida" and "Hit Song" received copious college and commercial radio play, the buzz was all over internet music sites and rock underground, and the Takeover was on the horizon.
After a two year, coast to coast national tour in support of IDM, GTO, more motivated than ever, returned not back to LA, but to their roots in Omaha where they purchased a home studio and set out to write an album that would define all that GTO was, is, and will be. As one song after another made its way from the bowels of the super-consciousness the band’s sound began to define itself in a way it never had before. "This has been the most incredible creative process I’ve ever been a part of. To have our own studio and record the album we’ve always wanted to is better than I could have imagined. We’re coming out of this more confident in ourselves and our material than we’ve ever been," said Grubb. Songs like "Make Love, Not War" offer listeners a balls-to-the-wall, 210 bpm guitar rock trip reminiscent of the band’s punked out
past. Others like the B3 driven "Omaha", tug at the hearts of fans with a maturity in songwriting not before heard in previous GTO releases. And, finally, there is the unquestionable smash single and fan favorite, "No Pressure", with bigger hooks than are in Babe Winkleman’s tackle box.
With the new material more guitar-driven and tracked up than ever before, it begged the three piece
a big and formidable question: "How in the fuck are we going to pull this shit off live?!?" Never a fan of bands who sound great on CD but suck live, GTO knew another guitarist would be essential if the band was to give its fans the entire GTO listening experience. It was while the band was touring the East Coast, with the need for a new member never a distant thought, that they came across street performer and modern day gypsy, Michael Cioffero, outside of a club in Brooklyn, New York. After listening to Cioffero play classic jazz numbers such as Coltrane’s "Giant Steps" and classical guitar pieces such Bach’s "E Major Lute Suite," the band was hooked on the raw and untouched talents of this amazing player. A conversation ensued, money was tossed into Cioffero’s open guitar case but, ultimately, the band and Cioffero headed their separate ways. At the end of the evening after the Brooklyn gig, drummer, Boyce, left the club to buy a pack of cigarettes at a nearby convenient store. As he made his way, he was jumped by two men hiding in an alley and tackled to the ground in an attempted mugging. From down the street, Cioffero saw the commotion and ran to Boyce’s aid. Knowing both were in imminent danger, Cioffero, without thinking twice about it, lifted his guitar high into the air and smashed it down over the head of one of the attackers. Startled, and surely amazed, the attackers ran off but Cioffero’s guitar lay in splintered pieces on the street. Boyce gave his thanks to Cioffero, offered to buy him a new guitar, and the two of them returned to the club to tell Grubb and McMann the gruesome and glorious details. It was at that moment that clarity and fate merged at the hand of destiny and the members of GTO asked Cioffero if he wanted to join the band. With nothing but the street to call his home and only his talents to guide his way, Cioffero obliged, finished off the East Coast leg and made his new and permanent home in Omaha, NE as the newest member of Grasshopper Takeover.
With a new full-length CD due out in late November 2003, three limited edition EP releases (August, October, February), a write-up in Rolling Stone, publicity on VH-1, a national tour planned post release, a new player and new management, Grasshopper Takeover is poised for nothing short of greatness as the band rocks its way steadfastly into the future for its place in history.