June 11, 2008

By Melora B. North, 11/06/08

As kids, Provincetown brothers Marc and Larry Grab were always playing music, making up songs and having fun with the musings that crossed their imaginations. Today their whimsical mental and musical wanderings are paying off in a big way. In fact, if things go the way they hope the pair, along with the other two members of their four-piece group called the Grab Brothers, are poised on the precipice, about to tumble into that netherworld where fame is the name of the game, leaving us behind in the glitter of their success to mumble amongst ourselves, “I used to know them when…

It’s been a long, hard haul over the years and the brothers are not taking this impending boost to their career lightly. It’s serious business and they respect the challenges ahead of them while also looking back and thanking their lucky stars.

“Our producer Mark Wolfson saw us in New York when we were showcasing original music — he wanted to meet us,” says Larry, somewhat astonished. “We got really lucky, he was the musical producer for ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and Tom Hanks in one of his films. He produced the music for ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘That Thing You Do.’ He’s done a lot of other stuff too. I had to write a lot of songs, like one every day, to prove to him I could do it.”

Well, Larry proved his point all right. Because of the brothers tenacity they are now in the throes of making a new CD, their fifth, and this time they are doing so with some big hitters thanks to their affiliation with Wolfson and engineer Neil Citron who has some strings of his own to pull.

“This is a big project, really big, we’re on the edge,” says Larry. “It’s going to be all originals, all our CDs are originals, we don’t do cover songs for recordings. I hope it comes out this spring, there’s just so much involved. This CD is going to have some major names.”

Among the chosen is drummer Greg Bissonette who is Ringo Starr’s drummer of choice when on tour. He has also played with James Taylor and David Lee Roth. A friend of Citron’s, Bissonette has made videos and done commercials.

Another addition to the mix is Jack Daley on bass. His resume is long and impressive with names like Michael Jackson, the Temptations, Lenny Kravitz, the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson on the roster. Phillip Wolf who has played with Alcatraz is at the keyboard on the track that will also include the other Grab Brother band members and a handful of other musicians yet to be named.

In the meantime, the Grab Brothers, who are joined by Robert Scott on keyboards and Jason Wamboldt on drums, can be heard at different venues locally as well as every Thursday night at the Land Ho! in Orleans where they perform a show of originals at 10 p.m., which says something about their professional path — very few bands can stand on their own and not play some old favorites and standbys familiar to the audience.

“It’s hard to go and just do originals,” says Larry. “People want to dance and sing and just groove. But we’ve been doing this for a couple of months and the response has been very good. They’re listening and they’re dancing. They love it,” he says with a laugh of pure joy.

Originally from Randolph, Mass., both brothers attended the University of Mass. at Boston where Larry majored in business. Mostly self-taught on bass, acoustic guitar, flute and harmonica, during college he spent his down time playing in the UMass Boston Jazz Band and singing with the elite chorus chamber singers. Marc took a different track and immersed himself in music, graduating at the top of his class. His preferred instruments are the guitar and the trombone.

Over the years the pair, who look incredibly like twins with their wild hair and compact physiques, but are in fact five years apart, have played together in several different bands or as a duo for various events and concerts. It was about four years ago that they started up the Grab Brothers band and all the members literally lend a voice to their music — they are all vocalists.

“We want everyone to sing so we can be more diverse,” says Larry.

Larry writes most of the lyrics for the songs and Marc writes the majority of the music, however, these days they are working closely with Wolfson and Citron who are doing some collaborative writing. But always the pair work as a team at all levels.

“To write a song I use word association, I see things and jot down notes,” says Larry. “Sometimes I put myself in a story situation. Sometimes the music is already written. I have to look at the mood of the music and the words. I try to create a rhythmic form, a flow. You have to see how it can fit. You can’t tell a sad story backed up by upbeat music,” he says, laughing. “You have to work to make it all fit. I come up with a floor plan and Marc fixes things. He carves it out and fixes it. We chip away, he’ll help write and fit the words with the chords.”

When the brothers are not performing, writing or composing, they are working together running the family shop, Mystik Moon in Provincetown. They even share a home with Larry’s wife, Sabina, who met her husband at a gig at the Governor Bradford in Provincetown in 2004. Married now for two years, the couple will travel this winter to Romania where they plan to visit Sabina’s family for an extended time.

The Grab brothers creativity is not limited to the musical venue. They appeared jointly in the Academy of Performing Arts’ production of “The Wizard of Oz” as Nikko and Rikko the flying monkeys, in which Larry also played the coroner. In addition the pair were in “Cabaret” and Larry played in “Hair.” For fun they love to noodle with their music but they also like to bowl, skate and ski. And, of course, they enjoy clubbing it and attending theater, together.

“We’re pretty close,” says Larry. “We live together but we let Marc have his own room. We lock him in there and let him meet with us in the kitchen sometimes.”

mnorth@provincetownbanner.com