The story of Grinderman begins within the working processes of another band: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. At the start of 2004, when Nick Cave took a small team of Bad Seeds members - violinist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn P Casey and drummer Jim Sclavunos - off to the tiny Misère studio in Paris for a songwriting session, they effectively established a new working process.
Rather than compose songs on his own and present them to the band, Cave began to spin lyrics out of the air around Ellis, Sclavunos and Casey's tight, intuitive trio. When expanded out to the full Bad Seeds personnel, the result was Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus, a double album with a raw, organic, driving sound that some consider the best the Bad Seeds have ever produced, selling in excess of half a million copies worldwide.
Nick: "There was only a certain amount I could write in the office any more... With that little session in Paris with Warren, Jim and Marty, suddenly it was so easy to get a song out because you had the bass and drums behind everything and you're singing a different way. Your mind works in a completely different way."
The small combo configuration of Nick, Warren, Marty and Jim had its public debut in a showcase performance to promote the Bad Seeds' Nocturama album; the foursome continued working in this streamlined format, getting together frequently for Nick Cave "solo" tours, and functioning as a vital, active band. The prolific output of the Misère sessions, as well as various soundtracks and theatre scores that the four were working on during this period, began to suggest potential for a brand new band that might operate autonomously from the Bad Seeds, with a radically different sound and musical approach.
In February 2006, the four musicians booked themselves into London's Metropolis Studios for a five-day marathon of non-stop demo sessions, resulting in several hours of raw material.
Warren: "It was meant to be really open liberating thing. We went to places we would not normally go... and then tried to push it even further..."
Marty: "Having Nick on the guitar changes the whole dynamic."
The following month, Grinderman called in the producer behind the last two Bad Seeds album, Nick Launay.
Warren: "Launay gets good sounds down. We didn't want any obstacles between the band sound and the production, so Launay was perfect."
Together they recorded thirteen songs at RAK Studios in London, and then returned to Metropolis in October to mix their self-titled album, Grinderman.
Jim: "The name Grinderman seemed to suit the band. It sums up the sort of music we are making. We grind."
As Memphis Slim put it back in 1941, "While everything is quiet and easy/ Mr. Grinder can have his way..."