FROM PARADISE TO A ROCK MECCA, GRIM SMILEY RELEASES CD AFTER MOVE TO SEATTLE For three-piece grunge-pop band Grim Smiley, it's relocation this summer from Honolulu to Seattle was the realization of a lifelong inevitability, a permanent pilgrimage to rock's great Mecca. The band brings with it an exotic and unique brand of sweet 'n' dirty grunge-pop called "lava rock," and has left behind all it has accomplished in the islands so that it can reach the audience that raised up some of it's idols. 'I felt the rich tradition of music up here almost as soon as I stepped off the plane," said Grim Smiley singer/songwriter/guitarist Ben Henry, 29. "It is an honor to be in a place that lionizes quality rock music." The group became one of the premier rock bands in Honolulu (where it was known as 'The Crud'), opening up for Hawthorne Heights and Alien Ant Farm, and playing at all of the city's top venues, including Pipeline Café, Wave Waikiki, Hard Rock Café, Anna Bannana's and many others. The band has garnered tens of thousands of MySpace plays with thousands of online friends, and a music video for it's single 'Ain't It the Truth' received regular daily airplay on the Oceanic 16 show "TRX-TV." The band twice appeared live on the radio, playing hour-long sets on KTUH 90.3 FM. But this success did not come easy. Henry grew up poor in Hawaii, the son of a single dad strained by long hours as a cab driver, where the price of paradise has driven the cost of a gallon of milk to nearly $5. While in eighth grade he lost his older brother to a drowning, and eventually lost his father to cancer. But while in high school, Henry discovered the one thing that provided an escape from his life: a three-piece outfit from Aberdeen called Nirvana. He became a junkie of the music, devouring any new releases and bootlegs. 'I was probably one of just a few people in the state of Hawaii to own the 'Outcestide' cassette tapes,' said Henry, referring to a series of bootlegs circulated in the '90s of rare Nirvana outtakes. 'I absolutely could not get enough of the music.' Henry was inspired by his rock awakening to pick up a guitar. In 2003, he started a project that went on to become one of Honolulu's top alternative rock acts, receiving critical acclaim and a rabid following. Respected music critic Wayne Harada of the Honolulu Advertiser said the band "could emerge as the catalyst to inspire and nurture a culture similar to what happened to the Seattle landscape some years back. These chaps rock." John Berger of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin said the band's material had the "components of an alt-rock hit, perfect for radio airplay." But the band decided to leave all that behind. It was it's second mainland tour -- the "Rock From the Rock Tour," a 12-city jaunt of the West Coast with other Honolulu-based bands -- that planted the seeds for an eventual relocation. "It really was an eye-opener for us," said drummer Justin Vincler, a bandmate of Henry's since 2003. "We realized how big of an audience is out there and that it was time to do what we could to try to reach them." The band, which also features Hawaii transplant and New York native Mark Di Nitto on bass, was so committed to a fresh start that it changed it's band name and started from scratch. 'Grim Smiley represents contrast,' said Henry, who came up with the name. 'It represents the struggles I had growing up, and some of the bitterness that comes from that. But it also represents a positive silver lining, an optimism that, while insipid, has helped carry me through the darker days.' Both Henry and Vincler are reconnecting with family members who live in the Puget Sound area. 'I think our music could be exactly what people in Seattle are looking for,' said Vincler, who has considered Seattle a second home for 25 years. 'It's even cooler living here now though,' he continued. 'I used to come to Seattle to watch all the great bands. The music scene here is legendary and people really want to see something cool and different. Out here, rock is just a way of life.' Notes: 'Antidote' will be released this winter and will be available at various Washington stores and here on it's Web site. 'This album represents an arduous past,' Henry said. 'But in a way, our panacea, our antidote, was to put it all behind us and start over.' ... The band plans to return to the studio next year to record it's second album, which will feature a lot of politically charged material. 'I had never considered us a 'political' band,' said Henry, Grim Smiley's main songwriter. 'But living in today's times, it's hard NOT to get political. A lot of the angst we experience today is a direct result of some bad politics.' Vincler, the drummer, served a six-month tour in Iraq in 2004 as a Navy medic, tending to wounded soldiers. 'It is an artist's duty to speak the truth,' he said. 'We're just doing our part.' ... Grim Smiley almost didn't record one of it's most popular tracks on 'Antidote,' the song 'Do I Need You Now.' Vincler, in the Navy at the time, found out shortly before tracking began that he was going to deploy to Iraq . He recorded his parts to the songs then left, while the rest of the band finished up without him. 'DINYN,' which was new to the band at the time, was not on the original lineup for the album, but was added at the last minute. 'A couple days before Justin was to be shipped off, he told me, 'Let's go in and record that song.' So I scrambled and set it up,' Henry said. 'And we nailed it pretty good, too. It wasn't originally to be included and was recorded just before our drummer was sent off to war, yet it's quite possibly the strongest song on the album.'