The name Greylag may sound like a Narnian wolf, but it’s actually 1) a species of European goose, 2) a WWII-era minesweeper, and 3) a Portland band with a May Day release, a national tour, and a spot at Sasquatch 2012.
Billed as the two-piece buddy project of Andrew Stonestreet and Daniel Dixon, Greylag has often played live as a 5-piece, resplendent with multi-instrumental flourishes (here a violin, there a tambourine). Meanwhile, their new EP The Only Way To Kill You settles into the Portland music canon somewhere between the stadium-sized, youthful elation of Typhoon and the more sparse, rural resignation of Dolorean.
Bestubbled and furrowed-browed man-of-few-words Andrew Stonestreet gets emotional with his lyrics, but seems to avoid explicit storytelling in favor of “everyman” themes, most notably the struggle for self-betterment. This only works because his words are virtually cliché-free and practically bleed authenticity—hinting that each philosophical whim is haunted by a personal story.
We asked Stonestreet to expound on a few lyrics, but in many cases, his answers were even shorter than the cryptic musings he originally penned. Sounds like he’s sticking to a plan he expresses often in song: fewer words and deeper ruminations.
LYRIC: I see you staring back at me in the mirror every evening and I know…the only way to kill you is to kill me too.
STONESTREET: I try to shed my many evils, but the evils never go.
LYRIC: Our good intentions don’t mean sh-, Tiger.
STONESTREET: We can talk about change all day, but talk is cheap—as are my many good intentions without any action.
LYRIC: I’ve been driving down the I.O.U. as long as I can remember.
STONESTREET: I often feel like I take more than I give, and it weighs heavy.
LYRIC: Hold your tongue…take a minute…settle into yourself.
STONESTREET: Again, talk is cheap. I find myself at rest when I am quiet and with others, participating instead of entertaining.
LYRIC: I’ve outgrown all of these clothes. Nothing’s fitting quite like it used to.
STONESTREET: Just talking about growing up and out of a thing or a place.
LYRIC: What a shame we keep ourselves constantly moving, it’s always the up and up.
STONESTREET: I’ve conditioned myself to always be moving so that I feel forward motion, but constant movement isn’t always forward motion, and being still has often been the very thing that brings me the vision to do anything meaningful. “It’s always the up and up” was a way of expressing my disdain for the opportunist’s ladder, a ladder I keep working to get off.