SESSION IN PROGRESS
ACTOR ADRIAN GRENIER CULTIVATES A HOMEGROWN SOUND WITH THE WRECKROOM. BY LISA MISCHIANTI. PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID SHAMA
From the maracas on the mantle to the bronze buck by the front windows, Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn townhouse is home to an eclectic array of kitschy collectibles. The curation is informal and unassuming—the man simply knows something cool when he sees it, and is eager to gather uncommon creativity under his roof. It is precisely this spirit that defines the former Entourage star’s current venture, the Wreckroom, a “music incubator” of sorts, whose mission is to discover, develop, record, and promote emerging bands from Grenier’s own basement studio.
While he’s probably best known as an actor, Grenier has been making music all along. “I’ve always had bands or studios, some of them slicker than others—most of them pretty lo-fi and crusty,” he admits. So when he moved into his Clinton Hill home a few years ago, Grenier converted the basement into a cozy recording room where he and his friends could jam. But with great power amps came great responsibility. “I felt kind of douchey having this wonderful space as my own personal indulgence,” he explains. “I thought there was some fundamental injustice in hoarding such a beautiful thing, so I decided to make it available to cool new acts that needed an opportunity to record in a professional studio.”
And so last year the Wreckroom was born. With Grenier at the helm, the project has since grown into a vibrant breeding ground for talent. Grenier and his team of industry vets assess prospective acts and invite a select few to the studio for a free, full-day session to record a single and video. Just a few months ago, they added EP production to their list of services. Many of the bands participate in an interview series called “Skinny Dip” and a covers series called “Under the Covers” to promote the recorded material, which is sold through the Wreckroom’s website and social channels.
The end goal: to create a self-sufficient community of Wreckroom artists who can reclaim the creative process by inspiring and promoting one another. “We’re not a conventional label,” says Grenier. “We won’t do all the work for you; we’ll aid you in doing it yourself. The community becomes the organization as our bands give back and collaborate. It’s a collective.” The Wreckroom’s model is not only democratic but also nostalgic, a tribute to the pre-digital age when bands worked together and pooled their resources in order to be heard. “It’s sort of reflective of what I grew up with,” recalls Grenier. “I was in a band, my friend was in a band, my other friend was in two bands. This was before the Internet, when we were still making our own flyers at Kinko’s, so we would all go to see each other play and support each other.”
Right now, the project’s two biggest prospects are Radkey, a punk-rock band made up of three brothers from Missouri, and The Skins, a Brooklyn-based quintet with a rock-metal-soul sound. Both bands have recently released EPs through the Wreckroom, and not a single member is over the age of 20.
As I chat with Grenier on his sunny—and buggy—back patio, The Skins lounge inside. Grenier remembers fondly the moment he recognized their talent. “I saw them kick it in the studio, and they hit this one note where [lead vocalist Bayli Mckeithan] goes, ‘Hey!’ and the goose bumps just crawled over my body. I thought, ‘Oh, here we go. We really have to do this.’ The mandate came from the music.”
The admiration is mutual. “Adrian and the Wreckroom are really about the music,” says guitarist Daisy Spencer. “They are helping the scene grow, and they’ve been so generous and kind to us.” Adds Mckeithan, “It’s been a sweet ride.”
When I ask Grenier the key to his success with the side project, he shrugs, expertly swatting a mosquito with ninja-like reflexes. “There's no formula for taste.”