The Indie Spiritualist is a new website devoted to... well... a whole bunch of stuff. From spirituality to skateboarding, and the music that permeates it all, Connecticut native Chris Grosso is making it his mission to explore his varying interests, and how they intersect, all for our reading pleasure.
CTI: What were your inspirations when you were getting started?
CG: I'm the type of person who has to have some sort of creative outlet or I'll eventually lose my shit. One of my bands had taken a hiatus (and has since broken up), and the other hadn't had much time to work on stuff either due to conflicting schedules. So I was going through the motions of working, going to school, and interning and it began to get really mundane, really fast. I knew I needed to do something, but wasn't sure what. I didn't have time for anything musically, and needed whatever I was going to do to work around my schedule. One day as I was driving, the idea of doing a website just sort of hit me. I was definitely on the fence about it at first. I mean, there's enough people on the web running their mouths about this or that, which got me to thinking...why not run a site about the stuff that I'm into, which is really pretty eclectic, but present it through the eyes, and words of others, via interviews and features etc.
So I got it up and running and wasn't really sure what to expect regarding the response at first. Like I said, it’s pretty eclectic. I have an interview with Jeff from Isis about horror movies, next to a piece on metaphysics, next to an interview with The High Priest from The Church of Satan, next to an interview with Hip Hop artist Benn Grim etc, etc...but that's the stuff I'm into, and it's actually gotten a really positive, strong response in the short time I've been doing it. I had to go into it with the attitude that if people dig it- cool, and if not, that's cool too, just as long as I had some sort of outlet which also contributed to others as well.
CTI: Indie Spiritualist covers very different topics, but they all manage to come together in just the right way. Did you have a theme in mind when you set out, or did you let it develop on its own?
CG: Yeah, I guess I had a very loose idea of where I wanted to go with it, but I’ve intentionally tried not to set a concrete vision. I’d really like for it to grow organically into whatever beast it will. I’m sure it will be different next month as I’m currently focusing on a lot of Halloween features, as it’s my favorite holiday…Plus having guys from Isis, Cable and The Church of Satan on board to contribute has only enabled my self-indulgence.
I’m working on doing an Independent/Counter-Culture Business Feature next month which I’m excited about (it actually began early with your interview Mr Devin). I’ll be talking with Ben from Verellen Amps (Minus The Bear, Sunny Day Real Estate, Botch etc), Darren Walters Co-Owner of Jade Tree Records, Mark and Ben from Manic Productions, Josh at Redscroll Records, and a slew of others. Plus, I have a lot of interesting folks lined up for non-business related subjects.
Then December is going to be focused on skateboarding. So if you take all of that into consideration, you can see how it’d be virtually impossible to try and set a particular theme for the site, and then follow through on it.
CTI: As far as having different topics all under one roof, Arthur Magazine comes to mind, but that publication is, at least superficially, bound to the 1960s. Do you think there is a new counterculture coming together, one that Indie Spiritualist is giving voice to?
CG: Haha, I wish I could say I’m so influential, then again, you never know. I really don’t know if there is a new counter-culture happening. I can definitely say there is a growing trend in spirituality and the indie culture, especially in Buddhism. You have Dharma Punx, which is Noah Levine’s stab at fusing Buddhism with punk rock/indie/hardcore. There’s also author Brad Warner who’s written such books as Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, which are all wonderful because they take the dogma surrounding spirituality and throw it right out window. One can read these books and realize you can be spiritual and swear, and listen to whatever music you want, or watch whatever TV/Movies you want etc.
Spirituality is such a beautiful, sacred thing and unfortunately, it’s had a very dark cloud cast upon it due to humans inept response to fear. For example, say an individual finds solace in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, or whatever…which offers them comfort. If it ended there, that would be wonderful. The problem however, is a lot of people identify their belief as the only true reality, thus shutting themselves off to others and creating a false, egoic sense of separation.
What seems to be happening now though is that more people, especially younger people, are really opening up to different ideas. Personal paradigms are beginning to be examined and that’s an amazing thing! So I suppose what I’m trying to do with my site, is create another place, where people can come and read about a lot of different stuff, and possibly find a connection between some of it.
CTI: Music and spirituality get along pretty well, but what about the horror movies? Hatchet II and Buddhism? What's the connection?
CG: You mean to tell me you’re not familiar with the ancient tradition of Zen and the Art of Gratuitous Sex and Violence? I kid. It’s funny because I recently took a Reiki Attunement Level I class, and during the lunch break, the Reiki Master (Craig Gilbert) and I were discussing zombie flicks. I mean, here we are, spending all morning talking about some beautiful, spiritual stuff, followed by doing some really powerful energy work, and then we spend our lunch break with an in-depth conversation on zombies and their brain eating ways.
I think people, especially some "spiritual" people, need to lighten up! It amazes me that folks aren’t dropping dead of heart attacks left and right, you know? The Indie Spiritualist tries to fuse independent culture with spirituality, and sometimes it’s not always there. Sometimes you just need to let cannibals be cannibals and meditators be meditators. I wonder if there are meditating cannibals somewhere out there?
CTI: And you’re covering skateboarding, but not just some local punks tooling around on a curb. What drew you to legend Mike Vallely?
CG: In all fairness, the local punks tooling around on the curb are the true heart of skateboarding, but at the same time, I doubt anyone is going to read an interview with them besides friends and family.
As for Mike V, he’s an icon. I’ve admired him since I was probably about 8 years old, when I was riding the original Tony Hawk Powell Peralta board and watching Animal Chin. And besides his well documented, insane fights, he’s a very stand up guy. He has real heart and integrity. He deserves the status he has in the skateboarding community.
I’m also interviewing another legend, Chuck Treece, who besides being a skateboarding icon, is also a founding member of McRad and has played in Bad Brains…I could go on and on about Chuck. Check his Wiki page for more on him!
I grew up skateboarding and it will always hold a dear place in my heart. I’m 32 and still have a deck in my trunk because sometimes you just need to break it out and have a session.
CTI: There's been a long tradition of skating and underground music going hand in hand. Do you think that still holds true today?
CG: I’d have to assume so. Honestly, I don’t know what a lot of the kids listen to these days. They still wear band shirts like we did when I was younger, I’m just not really familiar with any of those bands. I did an interview with Steve Karp of Yuppicide recently and he was talking about back in the day when you’d flip to the back of Thrasher and see the ad for Suicidal Tendencies shirts, and then you’d write Mike Muir directly and he’d ship it off to you. That was really special for us.
I don’t know if that’s really happening anymore. It may be on some level, but definitely not to the extent of the 80’s/early 90’s. Skateboarding is more socially acceptable now, and that’s great for the kids. When I was in high school, we were looked at as complete fuck ups, not only by the teachers, but the majority of the community. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly did our share of mischief making, but usually the bigger stuff like vandalism etc had nothing to do with us. Actually, that’s not true either. I’m thinking back to a video my friends and I shot over the course of a summer called "Devastation In Me Land," and yeah…next subject please.
CTI: You do a ton of interviews. What have been some of your favorites so far?
CG: Hands down, the interview with We Are Scientists was my favorite so far. Those guys were ridiculous in a really great way! I generally hate transcribing interviews, but I was laughing my ass off on that one. I also really enjoyed the Horror Movie Q and A with Jeff from Isis and Randy and Pete from Cable. I told them to have fun with it and they definitely did! Danielle Harris was also special for me because the Halloween films have always been my favorite horror movies, and to talk to the star of part 4 and 5 was really cool.
I consciously choose to interview people that have impacted my life in some way, shape or form, so I can conduct a really sincere interview, with content that means something…at least to me, but hopefully others too.
CTI: Speaking of Danielle Harris, I've been meaning to ask, do you think you could pass her number on to me? I'd like to, uh, talk music with her sometime.
CG: The best part of that question is you’re not the first person who’s asked me for her number to "talk music" since the interview. Boys and their penises… And with that, I bid ye farewell.