Amid a management switch up and changes in the world of country music, country rock band Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys have maintained their originality.
The band, led by songwriter and frontman Gunnar Nyblad, is made up partially of MSU alumni. After booking their own shows independently since their formation in 2009, they now has their own management team and are looking to branch out to other states.
“We’re in a very comfortable situation transitioning from a completely independent band, which we have been for the past few years, to having a few people on our team,” Nyblad said.
Joe Schuld had been looking for the perfect Midwest country band for more than a year when he first saw Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys perform at The Hard Rock Cafe Detroit. Taken aback by their energetic stage presence, he has been the band’s manager since January.
“I was just blown away,” Schuld said. “How they walk around the way they do (on stage) and not clobber each other is a miracle in itself. You take Johnny Cash and Mötley Crüe, put them put them in a blender, pour it out and you have Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys.”
But the boys weren’t always country darlings. Nyblad said he had more of a punk rock edge until he joined a travelling ministry band at the age of 19. Since joining up with Joe Rood, Shane Grehan, Rob Mason, Chris Newberg and Joe Connolly, he said the band has amassed a faithful audience across Michigan.
“I grew up playing more of a pop-punk kind of music through high school,” he said. “I realized how powerful country radio was and I wanted to be a part of it. There’s a good stock of country people in the Midwest, and we’ve found a way to communicate
But with many country artists switching over to a pop sound, Schuld said a quick rise to fame isn’t the band’s main priority.
“A big problem you have (with) country artists is that once they get signed, they’re driven completely by radio, so when the hits stop happening, people stop caring,” he said. “The longer it takes band to develop, the longer they’re gonna be around.”
Ultimately, Nyblad said the songwriting is what keeps the band from selling out.
“What keeps us true to our roots is the songs,” he said. “We’re open to creating good music. Trying to make music with the goal of the radio is a good way to drive yourself insane. We’ve been very grounded.”
In the eyes of Jake Kennedy, the band’s booking agent, there is nothing but success ahead.
“The sky’s the limit with this band,” he said.
“They connect with all different kinds of people, whether they be bikers or college girls.”