By Sandra Okamoto
Arts and Entertainment Writer
The Griswolds. The Griswolds. There’s something familiar about this. Todd mack, Beth heidelberg, Matt Carroll, Stephen Thomason.
Oh, they were magnet. And they played at The Loft.
Well, now they’re The Griswolds, and they’ll be at Victoria’s on Dec. 13.
“We changed our name about a year and half ago,” said mack. When they were called magnet, people thought they were a “hard-edged, alternative rock band.”
The Griswolds have Heidelberg, who plays saxophone, flute, recorder, penny and tin whistle, melodica, clarinet and sings. How many bands can say they have someone who plays a penny whistle?
And who’s going to name the band after the fictitious family in those “National Lampoon Vacaion” movies? And who’s going to have an album called “Sparky’s Revenge”?
The Griswolds. That’s who. They even travel in a wood-paneled station wagon like the one Chevy Chase drives in the movies.
“We feel like The Griswolds,” said Mack. “We’re all big Griswold family fans. And we’re getting great response. But I think we’re done using playing off the movie thing.”
Besides the name change, Brad Deal, who used to be in the band, left. “He’s still actually with us,” said Mack. “He just got a real job, and can’t travel.”
They’ve had a couple of other changes, but throughout it all, mack and Heidelberg are still in it together. Carroll plays bass and Thomason plays drums and percussion. Mack is the lead guitar player. They all sing.
“It’s gotten better,” said Mack. “The music has not really veered much from what we started. We’ve defined out sound, which is a broad mix of musical styles.”
Mack is still the principal songwriter. As soon as he finishes a song, he takes it to the others, who fine tune it.
“We’re trying for that collaborative-type writing,” he said. “I take the musical idea, and everybody gets a chance to add to it.”
It’s been about 18 months since magnet played in Columbus, and Mack is looking forward to coming back.
Mack and his wife have a newborn girl in their house. “I go on the road to catch up on my sleep,” he said. “I’m up at 5 or 6 in the morning when I’m at home. On the road, I can sleep until 11.”
By the way, Sparky was Chevy Chase’s nickname in those “Vacation” movies.