Grant Lawrence has been involved in almost every level of the music industry for over three decades.
From 1988 – 2005 he was the lead singer in the internationally acclaimed Vancouver rock band The Smugglers. During that time, the band released eight full-length albums, as well as multiple singles, EPs, and compilation appearances. In his late teens, Grant was manager and booking agent for the band, working from an office in his parents’ home, where the band also rehearsed in the basement. From 1995 until their retirement in 2005 the band was signed to two of the best independent labels in the world, Mint Records in Canada and Lookout! Records in the USA, (the birthplace of the modern pop punk sound). Throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, the Smugglers successfully rode both the rebirth of punk and garage rock, and the worldwide popularity of pop punk. The Smugglers staged monumental, totally independent tours throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Many of the band’s sordid and hilarious adventures are captured in The Smugglers tour diaries, written by Grant without a hint of censorship, and one day GL hopes to publish them.
In the early 1990s and still a teenager, Grant was a concert promoter in Vancouver during the grunge explosion, putting on concerts by bands such as Nirvana, the Screaming Trees, Tad, Bad Religion, Mudhoney, Green Day, Fugazi, Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats, and many others. Some of the largest shows were put on in partnership with his good friend Nardwuar the Human Serviette. Once again, Grant’s parents’ house served as the home base for concert productions, and their home phone number was listed as the info line on the gig posters for many years. Several of the bands stayed at Grant’s parents’ house, including Nirvana, Fugazi, the Gruesomes, Southern Culture on the Skids, the Mummies, and Billy Childish. Grant has remained friends with many of the musicians he worked with for years afterwards.
From 1992 – 1998, Grant Lawrence worked at Mint Records in Vancouver as A&R, publicist, booking agent, show promoter, distributor liason, and marketer, working closely with artists like cub, Gob, and Pluto, and helped shape the early career of a young Neko Case.
From 1998 to present, Grant Lawrence has worked primarily in music at CBC Radio in Vancouver. His first job was an entry-level researcher for the program RadioSonic with hosts David Wisdom and Leora Kornfeld. Both hosts eventually moved on, and in 2001, after cutting his teeth hosting a late night CBC Radio Two program called Radio Escapade, Grant Lawrence became the host of RadioSonic. In 2004, RadioSonic officially became known as CBC Radio 3, a new department dedicated to the development of independent Canadian music. CBC Radio 3 with Grant Lawrence broadcasted live every Saturday night on CBC Radio Two from 7pm – 10pm, one of only two truly live, national shows on either CBC radio network at that time (the other being Cross Country Checkup). CBC Radio 3 on Saturday night played a broad range of Canadian and international independent music, featuring live guests such as Johnny Rotten, William Shatner, Beck, Radiohead, the Flaming Lips, and Steve Earle, and lots of interactivity from listeners around North America.
In 2005, Grant Lawrence became the host of the first-ever CBC podcast, called The CBC Radio 3 Podcast with Grant Lawrence, a then-weekly hour of the best in independent Canadian music from all genres, featuring trademark segments such as the 90 Second Egg, the Canadian Dictionary, Occupational Hazard, and 14 Forever. The award-winning show quickly became the most popular music podcast in Canada, and was named “Canada’s best podcast” by Spin Magazine. It continues to be released every month, now well past 300 episodes.
In 2007, Grant Lawrence became the daily show host of Grant Lawrence Live on CBC Radio 3’s live simulcast on http://music.cbc.ca/#/radio3/ and SiriusXM satellite radio. The four-hour weekday show was the most interactive program on CBC Radio, the audience contributing constantly to the live content of the show through the Radio 3 blog, email, Twitter, Facebook and phone.
Grant also hosts many live music events around North America for CBC Radio 3 at the Grammys in Los Angeles, South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, North By Northeast in Toronto, CMJ Music Marathon in New York, the Halifax Pop Explosion, Pop Montreal, the Juno Awards, and the Polaris Music Prize. Grant also spends much of his summer on the road, hosting the main stages of music festivals such as the Dawson City Music Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the Regina Folk Festival, and the London Home County Folk Festival.
Grant was also a keynote speaker at many music conferences, hosting his own seminars called Making Friends with the Media and On Stage and On Point which he has conducted at festivals, conferences and seminars throughout North America, including CMJ New York, Nova Scotia Music Week, ManitobaMusic, SaskMusic, MusicBC Bootcamp, and Canadian Music Week.
Grant is married to the successful Canadian singer-songwriter Jill Barber, and enjoys tagging along on her tours around Canada, Europe and Australia, a totally different experience than those many soiled years behind the wheel of the Smugglers tour van…
In 2017, Grant releases his third book Dirty Windshields: the best and the worst of the Smugglers tour diaries.