Interview with Julian Buchbinder of Grand Splendid + New Song

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What does a band and the world’s most beautiful bookstore have in common? Both are steeped in eclectic musical history.

What started as a performance theatre in 1919 which prominently featured Tango performances, evolved into a radio station in 1924, a cinema in 1929 eventually hosting the lavish bookstore today.

Grand Splendid, the band, is likewise a collection of eclectic musical styles that has evolved and adapted along the decade of its existence.

Montreal Rocks spoke with Julian Buchbinder about the evolution of the band, how get your song onto a Podcast, what is the centre of Julian’s universe and the future of the band.

Montreal Rocks:  When did Grand Splendid come to life?

Julian Buchbinder: I’m not so good with dates, but it’s been around a decade. Time flies! 

MR:  Before we touch on the new album, let’s start at the beginning.  When you started your guitar lessons AGAIN at age 13, what was the catalyst to focus on music.  Was it a song or band that awoke that desire?

JB: Wow! How did you know that? <<laughs>> I first started taking guitar lessons when I was 6 years old. At the time I was playing mostly children’s songs and a few tunes by The Beatles. I only took lessons for a few months and then got tired of it. Then by the time I was 12, I started listening to some rock music that my older brothers introduced me to. I was really into The Cure and R.E.M. and started to be fascinated by the sounds that they created with their guitars. That’s what made me want to play guitar, and I started taking lessons again shortly after. Haven’t stopped playing since.

MR:  When did you arrive in Canada, and what are you most proud of from the Argentinian culture?

JB: I moved to Montreal from Buenos Aires in 2002. There’s lots of cool things in Argentinian culture: Music, movies, literature, food and our passion for soccer! I’d say one of the things I like the most is the Argentinian sense of humour.

MR:  You have fans like The Joy Formidable.  How did your song get to their ears?  Is there a story there?

JB: Yeah. That was pretty surreal! I love The Joy Formidable, an incredible band from Wales. Shortly after we released our first EP, I saw that they started making podcasts with music that they were listening to. One time they asked for people to suggest bands to feature on their podcast. I shamelessly sent them one of our songs; Energy. The next podcast, they featured it! I believe that was the only time they did that, and they only chose our song. I was not expecting that, imagining that they’d get a lot of requests. On air they said that it was suggested by someone named Robbie. So, who knows, maybe someone named Robbie also sent it to them. Just in case, if you are reading this, thanks Robbie! <<laughs>>

MR:  Just like the original former Grand Splendid theatre, now a breathtaking bookstore, how do you find that you evolved/changed as a band over the years?

JB: I think there was an evolution in the way we write, arrange and performed our songs as time went by. Having played so many live shows made the band sound more solid and energetic. I think that translated well when we went on to record our new album. It has the energy of the band playing live. It is more of a rock album. 

MR:  When you write the songs, it is an intellectual or emotional experience?

JB: I would say it is purely emotional. 

MR:  You Are The Universe starts off with this modern Beatles-like riff, then gets into this Stone Roses vibe along with harmonizing.  Who is the Sun in the song?

JB: That was the vibe we were going for. I guess it worked! I don’t always write from a personal persfective, but You Are The Universe is very personal to me. I wrote it when my son was born and my whole perspective of life chaged completely. Maybe the fact that I was sleep deprived at the time could have something to do with the psychedelic feel of it. <<laughs>> So, to answer your question, the Sun in the song is my son. 

MR:  We have many venues closing their doors in and around Montreal.  Which was a band favorite that you are mourning and which do you hope stays open?

JB: It is very sad to see so many venues closing. La Vitrola and Divan Orange were some amazing venues that we miss. I feel that once the pandemic will be over people are going to want to go to shows more than ever and we may start seeing more venues opening rather than closing. I really hope so!

MR:  If regular touring was back in full force, what Montreal band would you like to bring along as tour mates?

JB: There are so many great bands in Montreal! If Half Moon Run or Arcade Fire are up for it, i’d say let’s do it! <<laughs>>

MR:  What happened to the pump Organ?  Do you still visit it from time to time?

JB: It’s been a while! Alex, our bassist, played the pump organ on our first EP. It was in the studio where we recorded, and I have no idea where it is now. We lost touch! <<laughs>> It may still be in that same studio. 

MR:  This seems to be your first Facebook Post.  What memories does this bring back?

JB: I have no idea what show we were about to announce, but it may have been one at Les 3 Minots. We used to play a lot over there back then. I think it changed to a karaoke bar now. 

MR:  If we were to open a bottle of Champagne in 1 years’ time, to celebrate something you just achieved…what would that be?

JB: We are hoping to celebrate that we finally got to play in front of live audiences again, launch our album, and already start working on the next one!

The current band members are:

Julian Buchbinder (lead vocals/ rhythm guitar)
Alex Pilla (bass, keyboards)
Mathias Fugen (lead guitar, vocal harmonies)
Renaud Viero (drums)


Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs with out of the box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives.

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