In 1999 Joe DeNardo moved into a house in Olympia, Washington. It just so happened that a musically inclined individual named Kevin Doria also lived there, and a few months later the pair began playing guitars in the basement under the name 1000 AD.
Their early two-guitar sound stressed repetition, physical volume, sustain, and harmonic density. After self-releasing a tape that was recorded during Wynne Greenwood’s (TRACY + THE PLASTICS) brief stint on keyboards, the band changed their name to GROWING in 2001 and began playing with drummer Eryn Ross.
In 2002, that incarnation recorded The Sky’s Run Into the Sea with engineer Stefan Simikich (HAMBURGER EYES) on a non-existent budget. Around this time GROWING began incorporating spatial elements into their song structures as the process of recording in a studio allowed them to push their boundaries further than ever. Shortly after completing the album the band sent a copy to Kranky Records. The label graciously agreed to release it and its follow-up LP (now minus Eryn Ross), The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light, which was recorded in Portland with Rex Ritter in 2003.
At this point the band began to develop its use of layering and recorded much of the raw tracks at home, relying on Ritter’s studio to help reorganize, reamp, and embellish the music. Early in 2003 MOGWAI invited GROWING to play at Camber Sands as part of ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES. Joe moved to New York following the SRHL sessions. Late in 2004 the duo played ATP again by invitation of Jake and Dinos Chapman.
By then Kevin had joined Joe in New York and the guys were gearing up to record His Return at Junkyard Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for Troubleman Unlimited’s underlabel Megablade. His Return articulates both incredibly minimal structural progressions and a sort of “folk music”-inspired traditionalism, while remaining very thick.
In 2005 the pair recorded Color Wheel in Montreal in The Pines studio run by Dave Bryant (GODSPEED! YOU BLACK EMPEROR) and Craig Bowen. The Pines granted the band the first opportunity to truly utilize the studio as an instrument in their recording process. In the spring GROWING played with friends SUNN 0))), BLACK DICE, GANG GANG DANCE, and OOIOO on the Australian What Is Music? tour.
The band returned to the PINES in 2006 to record Vision Swim, their final record for TMU. This record and Color Wheel widened the spectrum of what listeners could expect from the duo as they explored electronics in new and less categorical ways.
As a testament to the quality inherent to The Pines studio, GROWING returned there in the summer of 2007 to record some new tunes for The Social Registry. TSR released a 7" in December and an EP in February of 2008 called Lateral. Both releases balance abstraction, pure sound, and melody without the crutch of unnecessary premeditation.
In the winter of 2007/8, the band began recording another record at Ocropolis Studio in Brooklyn with friend and studio engineer Barry London. They then toured Europe in April ’08 with BORIS and played ATPNY in September. After the Ocropolis sessions were released as the full length All the Way in September, the band toured the east coast with HOT CHIP. GROWING wrapped up 2008 by adding new member Sadie Laska (IUD, EXTREME VIOLENCE), who has increased the depth of the act’s sound with varied electronics, samples, and vocal parts.
In 2009 GROWING played at Netmage in Bologna, Italy, and travelled to Japan for the first time for shows in Tokyo and Osaka. The band started work on another full length titled Pumps in March 2009, again at Brooklyn’s Ocropolis in with engineer Barry London.
Ocropolis is a great big pile of warm lights, effects boxes, synths, drum machines, and a live room overflowing with amps, cabs, guitars, optogons, etc. It’s a nice place to relax and tinker with all sorts of sounds, i.e. a perfect environment for GROWING to develop their sonic vocabulary. The initial tracking took only four or five days, but the extremely intensive processing and mixing processes weren’t completed until October 2009. However, the extra time proved fruitful because it allowed the trio to rework songs multiple times and, in some cases, write completely new, transformed versions of tracks they no longer felt were as strong as originally intended. Drum-machine rhythms and layers of vocal and guitar textures drive the new jams, and the band was able to integrate a lot of new processing techniques. It made GROWING’s sound fuller and more developed. It also allowed more time to integrate Sadie into the recording process, and gave her more opportunities to fine-tune her contributions.
After finishing Pumps, GROWING toured the US with Fuck Buttons and began the working relationship with Vice Records, who releaseed PUMPS! in April of 2010.