The name Granian is to singer/songwriter Garen Gueyikian what the name Alice Cooper is to Vincent Furnier: a name that was originally applied to a band but was subsequently applied to solo performances. Before 1975's Welcome to My Nightmare, the name Alice Cooper technically referred to a band as well as that band's leader/frontman; from Welcome to My Nightmare on, Alice Cooper was officially the name of a solo artist -- and similarly, Gueyikian started recording as the leader of the band Granian but continued to use that name when he recorded his third album, Live Sessions, by himself.
But whether Granian is the name of a band or a solo project, Gueyikian specializes in a style of alternative pop/rock that is melodic and tuneful as well as sensitive and introspective. Gueyikian brings a certain thoughtfulness to his writing, which has been compared to Toad the Wet Sprocket, Live, the Rembrandts, and Guster (among others). Granian's recordings of the '90s and early 2000s didn't make him a huge multi-platinum superstar, but they did earn the New Jersey resident a small following (mostly on the East Coast).
Based in Holmdel, NJ, Gueyikian formed Granian's original lineup in 1995, when he joined forces with George Schultz (electric bass, background vocals), Chris Nicoletti (acoustic guitar, background vocals), and Anthony "Faz" Fazioli (drums). At first, Gueyikian's band was called Grane, but after learning that there was a band in Pittsburgh called Grain, Gueyikian opted for a name change. Because of the different spellings, perhapsGueyikian could have continued to use the name Grane without any legal problems; however, he learned that Grain's name had been copyrighted and decided to err on the side of caution. Along the way, Granian had their share of lineup changes. In 1996, Fazioli left the band to pursue a career in law enforcement, and he was replaced by Tim Shahady (who Gueyikian met through headbanger Charlie Mills, formerly of the heavy metal/hard rock outfit Skid Row).
The next person to leave Gueyikian's combo was Nicoletti, who departed in 1998; instead of replacing him, Granian opted to perform as a trio consisting of Gueyikian on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Schultz on electric bass and background vocals, and Shahady on drums. Gueyikian led that lineup until 2000, when Schultz left. Granian went through a few more bassists in the early 2000s (including Adam Braun and Tony Maceli, who went on to join the band Dough and shouldn't be confused with Philadelphia-based jazz vibist Tony Miceli) -- and when Shahady left, he was replaced by drummer Graycon Legere. Despite all those lineup changes, Granian never lost their sound; the band was always Gueyikian's baby and reflected his alternative pop/rock vision.
Granian's first album came in 1996, when they recorded Without Change; that disc was followed by Hang Around in 2000. On both of those releases, Gueyikian is leading an actual band, but when he recorded Granian's third album, Live Sessions, in 2002, he performed without any other musicians and accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. In 2003, Gueyikian released Live Sessions on his own label, SG Records. ~ Alex Henderson