‘Pick up a guitar and scream about what bothers you!’

Grisly Hand guitarist speaks on life, love, and inspiration in the Northeast community

Johanna Pounds
Editorial Assistant
Northeast News

Everywhere you turn, there are pockets of thriving artist communities in Kansas City. Northeast Kansas City, our own little corner of the world, contains one of the strongest artists communities in the city.

James Fitzner, a vocalist and guitarist for the group, The Grisly Hand, has grown up in that community. He went to school and worked in Northeast, so settling down here in 2004 with his wife was only natural.

For Fitzner, the Northeast community is a constant source of inspiration as the diversity here allows him to experience different cultures from all over the world. Having a family and going through the experiences he has had here has allowed him to write unique music.
“Northeast is home. I love that it’s affordable for working class families, especially immigrants coming here to begin their American Dream. Working class immigrant neighborhoods have so much to offer in any town; an eclectic mix of people all bringing their foods, their dress, their languages, their culture, all into one location. Try not to take this for granted, fellow Nor’easters! Our little corner of the world is special.”

Fitzner is raising a family, has lost friends, let go of grudges, and fallen in love here. This has stimulated his lyrics, and has helped him co-create some songs like  “Brand New Bruise” and “Regrets On Parting” from the albums Flesh & Gold and then Hearts & Stars. He’s proud of all of his bands work, but like any artist, he has his favorites.

“I’m really proud of the double LP that my band released in 2016. It’s our two most recent full length album (Flesh & Gold; Hearts & Stars) with the track listings re-imagined into 4 sides on vinyl. The band around me is an absolute murderer’s row of talented players and it shows on those two songs ( “Brand New Bruise” and “Regrets On Parting”).”

Fitzner started creating music very young, he had been singing since he was very young, and when his sister bought him a guitar, it all just came naturally. He hopes that all kids interested in music will commit to it as soon as possible, as it’s important grow your artistry, and to have an outlet to let yourself create.

“I always loved singing. My older sister got me a guitar when I was 10 and I’ve been trying to learn how to play it ever since. In my teens, I gravitated to punk rock music, which basically told us we could all be artists. You don’t need to be from the Art Institute or the Conservatory: just pick up a guitar and scream about what bothers you! The DIY ethos of punk rock still burns in me as bright as it did then. Kids, start a band right now!” commented Fitzner.

The Grisly Hand’s popularity has grown in the United States and the band has played shows like the South by Southwest Music Festival in Texas and several gigs at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City’s East Bottoms.

To check out more of The Grisly Hand, visit their website at thegrislyhand.com, or check them out on Spotify, Amazon Music, and iTunes.

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