Voices of Metal: Thomas Grim of Archiver
Written by Brett Kihlmire – Photo by Kolin McCormick
Hailing from West Allis, Wisconsin, Thomas Grim is the lead vocalist for rising dark symphonic heavy metal band Archiver. His onstage theatrics, recognizable voice, and terrifying yet well-crafted lyrics have earned him a great deal of respect, but where did it all begin?
“I was about three or four years old and my mom played me Bon Jovi. That’s it right there. That’s the start of it. All of his VHS’s, dancin’ around in my underwear to it,” Grim says without shame. “If we’re talking about when I started actually pursuing music that was 7th grade when I was about 13 years old.”
Joining his first band with longtime friend and collaborator, as well as current Archiver guitarist Jacob Stone, Grim was given a shot at music by his cousin. Grim recalls being offered the vocalist position on the grounds that he provide his own equipment. The same was said to Stone and the pair quickly bought some gear and joined their first band, The Ever Rising Rabbit Population.
Though he hadn’t yet played in a band up to that point, Grim was inspired by the works of Slayer and Atreyu for quite some time. As such, he taught himself to scream before he learned to sing.
“I knew how to scream right away as if I was born with it. From there I learned how to get louder, different kind of screams, and yelling goes it with it obviously…singing came within the next few years after I started.”
After the demise of The Ever Rising Rabbit Population, Grim went on to play with To Serve Man, Vendetta Blakk, Scarlet Memory, Twilight Calling, Amberson Hall, and Archiver – the latter of which was formed at the dawn of 2015 and is Grim’s current and most successful band to date.
Though Archiver is known for their infatuation with horror cinema and Grim’s goth look, this actually began while Grim was still with Amberson Hall. In fact, some of Archiver’s early, and unlikely to be released, material carried over from this era. And despite having some great material including the fan favorite ‘Mansions’ Grim and Archiver have left that music behind and started fresh while running with the horror metal style. As well, Grim has since expanded his vocal talents and stage presence to make him stand out more.
“Nowadays I do different talking voices. Some people say I’m like a voice actor,” says Grim. “I like to think of myself as not some singer but a voice actor. Lon Chaney was the man of a thousand faces. I want to be the man with a thousand voices.”
Despite the success he is currently experiencing at the helm of Archiver, Grim once thought to leave music behind.
“It was really hard to get five, six people in a band to cooperate and want the same thing. It’s a little tiring at time and it’s hard, and it makes you forget about the fun,” laments Grim, but despite the frustrations of being a young, struggling musician, he couldn’t quit even though he wanted to sometimes. “When I tried to get away it brings you back in.”
Despite some hard knocks, Grim has finally found his truly calling with Archiver. He admits that he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted out of music in his previous bands, but is very happy with what he’s doing now.
“Trial and error, man, trial and error. I learned a lot from those bands,” says Grim. “If I had made it with any of those bands I wouldn’t have taken advantage of it or anything. I probably would have made some poor business choices. I’m glad where I’m at now.”
A year and a half into his career with Archiver, Grim has seen some dark days while fronting the band. What was meant to be their debut extended play fell through and the band was left broke and angry. Despite the frustrations of seeing their debut slip through their fingers with a lot of hard earned cash the band carried on. Their second attempt at a debut, which is an entirely new full length album, is running smoothly thanks to the professionalism of Cherry Pit Studios in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
Focused primarily on building his band’s reputation, Grim and Archiver have been playing anywhere and everywhere they can. The band’s love of horror films, many of which can be found in Grim’s extensive 100+ DVD collection, shows not only on their new album in which each song focuses on a particular slasher villain, but their live show as well. Witnessing an Archiver show is like witnessing a live horror film. There’s smoke, a creepy and energetic MC (Grim), and even a couple of slasher villains for good measure. (Leatherface and Michael Meyers) Of course, the band’s stage show, while impressive, isn’t quite “Avenged Sevenfold on streroids” just yet, but Grim says they’re getting there.
So what’s next for Thomas Grim? Well, considering the fact that Archiver is the band he’s always wanted and they’re going strong, we can rest easy knowing he’ll continue on with his horror-inspired metal project. As for his style, Grim is one of those guys who’s constantly evolving his style to fit each song just the right way. He’s definitely got his screams down, but something tells me his clean vocals and high screeches are next in the evolution, but only time will tell.