Grey Lands

By Kristin Archer

Grey Lands is easily one of my favourite new acts. I first saw them last month during JUNOfest and was blown away. The band began with Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke and evolved into more than just a solo project. Now based in Hamilton, Dan Empringham and Nick Hind-Knapp round out the trio and they are ready to release new material. I chatted with Wayne to get the scoop before we see them take the stage on May 1st!

I Heart Hamilton: The Playlist 4.0 (Fundraiser for Food4Kids)
Featuring Fast Romantics, Grey Lands, Aukland, Munroe, DJs Kristin A/B
+ Pop-Up Shop Girls With Gunz

Friday, May 1, 2015 / 9PM
This Ain’t Hollywood, 345 James Street North
$10 Advance / $12 at the door
[Facebook event]


Poster by Darlene MacNeil
Poster by Darlene MacNeil

I Heart Hamilton: We know you best through your work with Cuff The Duke. When and how did Grey Lands begin?
Wayne Petti: Grey Lands started a few years ago with myself, and my friends Adam Hindle and Andy Lloyd. We didn’t play much, mostly just jammed and worked on songs. They both play on 4 tracks on the upcoming release. Which will be out at the end of August on Paper Bag Records.

Songs By Other People was our first introduction to Grey Lands. I love that it is such a collaborative album and also pays tribute to many of your musical influences. Where you also writing original material at the time that you intended to release as Grey Lands?
Yes. I had most of these songs written for over a year. I always have multiple songs on the go.

What brought about your move to Hamilton and how are you finding Hamilton’s music scene?
My wife and I had our first baby just over a year ago. We were living in a nice apartment in Toronto but it was too small. I knew some people who lived in Hamilton and I thought it would be a great city for us to move to. The added bonus is we could afford to buy a house here. Artists/musicians are being completely priced out of Toronto. I was excited for the change. Music scene here is great! I was welcomed with open arms from day one. It’s not that easy in all cities.

Being based in Hamilton now, it works out great that you’ve got a solid lineup with Dan Empringham and Nick Hind-Knapp. How did you link up with Dan and Nick – had you worked with them previously?
Dan came recommended from my friend Dylan. Adam was unable to do some shows this past fall (because he also plays in the Born Ruffians, as does Andy) so Dan said he’d fill in. We had one rehearsal and he nailed it. After that I realized that I should find some people that would be more available for shows. The other guys understood. I asked Dan to join and then he suggested Nick. The rest is history, albeit a brief history. I was also excited to have a band that was fully based in Hamilton. I had never worked with either Dan nor Nick prior to us getting together.

Grey Lands. Photo from official website.
Grey Lands. Photo from official website.

Cuff The Duke has had great success and it’s amazing you have been together for over 10 years now! When fans are so used to you playing one particular style of music, have you ever felt boxed in as just being a folk-alt-country musician?
Cuff has been a huge part of my life. It’s near and dear to me for sure but after a long time one can’t help but feel a little suffocated by a particular style. I have always felt that Cuff could make whatever kind of record we wanted and in some ways we always have but it would be weird to play Grey Lands songs within the Cuff The Duke wheelhouse. I have a broad range of musical taste. Before CTD I was alway in noisey rock bands. It’s exciting to be playing music like that again. It’ll also make it refreshing when I go back to CTD when we start working on our next record later this year. It’ll be interesting juggling the two.

How does the songwriting process work with Grey Lands? Do many of the songs start with just you before bringing them to the band?
With Grey Lands all the songs start with me… for now. As we move along I’m sure Dan and Nick will become more involved in that process. I’d like to explore more abstract ideas and pull further away from traditional song structures which I think will come through collaborating with Dan and Nick.

What can we expect from the new album [to be released in August on Paper Bag Records]?
Well, it’s definitely different from CTD. You won’t hear an acoustic guitar for example. It’s louder but still melodic. 8 songs. 32 minutes.

Grey Lands. Photo from official website.
Grey Lands. Photo from official website.

I was really happy I caught you guys play during JUNOfest at The Casbah. What was JUNOs weekend like for you? Playing right after Fred Penner must have been a bit surreal (can’t get over how much fun he was to see live, after all these years!)
Thanks! The JUNOs weekend was a lot of fun. It was great to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Playing after Fred Penner was intense! He’s a pro and we’re just three dudes from Hamilton but we did our thing and I think it went well.

You also recently played SXSW – have you played this festival before? What was your experience like?
I’ve been to SXSW a few times over the yeas with a couple bands. Its always a bit of a whirlwind but now SXSW has sort of become more of a spring break destination than anything BUT that being said there are still amazing shows to see and be a part of. The first night we were there Nick and I saw Alvvays, Metz, The Damned, Thee Oh Sees and Future Islands all playing the same show! That doesn’t happen everyday.

I’m really excited to have you guys as part of I Heart Hamilton’s anniversary bash and fundraiser. It must be exciting to play Hamilton and introduce audiences to your sound and build a following here.
We’re totally excited that you asked us to be a part of it… and yeah at this point I just want people to hear us and see that it’s probably not what they were expecting. Hopefully they like it too.


Favourite place to eat in Hamilton:
Bread Bar

Favourite breakfast food:
Coffee with a Montreal style bagel and (good) cream cheese

If you were a drink, what would you be?
A Miller High LIfe (it’s the champagne of beers!)

Your go-to karaoke song:
Paint It Black

If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be?

Favourite word:
Fantastic (I say it too much)

Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen:
Sonic Youth w/ StereoLab opening. June of 2000. That’s a tough question to answer by the way.

What is on your playlist right now:
The new Etiquette album as well as the latest Viet Cong and the new Hayden album

If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Spain, it’s one of my favourite places in the world.

Favourite mode of transportation:

What’s one thing on your bucket list:
Invent teleportation so that my previous answer will one day be legit.

Thanks so much, Wayne! I’m really looking forward to Grey Lands’ set on May 1st at This Ain’t Hollywood. If you haven’t seen them yet – don’t miss this show!

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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