Adrian Grenier is Pretty...Busy
by Jonathan Zeller, 11/07/2012
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Entourage may have finished its run on HBO in 2011, but it's safe to say Adrian Grenier has kept busy since then—working at his local food co-op, making pull tab–free beer and, now, running a music collective out of his Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, basement.
It's said music project, dubbed "Wreckroom," that's brought Grenier to Fontana's, the Lower East Side bar hosting the organization's CMJ Music Marathon showcase, on this mid-October Saturday night. The lineup includes Grenier's own band—The Honey Brothers, in which he plays drums—and a diverse collection of other Wreckroom participants like Israeli dance-music duo Hank & Cupcakes and teenaged, soulful classic rockers (and Grenier's Bed-Stuy neighbors) The Skins.
The performances—part of an event that brings even more music fans and industry than usual to New York City—presented an opportunity to attract more eardrums for participating bands, and for Grenier's project as a whole.
Wreckroom bands spend a day in Grenier's basement recording a track and making a video. "It's a very relaxed, inviting atmosphere," he says, "and people record like they're recording an album." The session with a professional engineer costs musicians nothing, and the resulting song and video are posted online for free streaming and download—fans can pay whatever they see fit.
Grenier's other pursuits share a similar family-and-community–oriented vibe. Take the food co-ops, for instance (he currently is a member of the Greene Hill Food Co-op and was at one time part of the Park Slope Food Coop). While "fresh, healthy food at a reasonable price" appeals to Adrian, he's most excited to "participate and contribute"—the co-ops require all members to work shifts. The Honey Brothers have made a habit of playing gigs revolving around political and environmental causes that are important to them—like a Democratic National Convention launch party and Wanderlust, a "green"-leaning music festival. "I try to find projects that have a greater narrative about community, about participation, about making meaning out of one's life," he says.
Grenier feels at home in brownstone-heavy Bed-Stuy largely because it's a fit with this philosophy. "People look at you, they smile, they say hello," he gushes. "It's very diverse; I think it's a beautiful example of what New York is."
He's made friends with the proprietors of Speedy Romeo, a local wood-fired-pizza joint, and talks up their slices. By the way, that place is right down the street from where The Skins, the only band Wreckroom currently manages, live. (He really likes The Skins.)
Grenier hopes that Wreckroom and its bands will expand their influence, but there are no plans to leave the basement in the foreseeable future. "I didn't grow up with brothers or sisters, so I crave company," he explains, meaning it's no problem to have bands filing in and out of his home. Plus, "our business model requires it." Professional recording is expensive enough without rental space. "One of the reasons you have a lot of these sites that are live-only," like Daytrotter, "is because it's cheaper to do. We really take the time [to do studio recordings] because we own the space. We don't charge for it. It's ours to utilize."
Summing up Wreckroom and his other pursuits, Grenier opines: "I feel like if I have good things—I have a great house, I have a great studio—I want to be able to use it. Things are better when they're shared."