Singer Joe Grah has received many injuries in the name of rock 'n' roll. Twenty years ago in Dallas, while opening for MTV darlings Silverchair, the Jibe frontman dived head-first into a group of buzzing hecklers, crowd-surfing and singing while taking a nasty shove from a drunken Silverchair fan. The show simply went on.
A YouTube video recently surfaced from a packed Jibe concert in 2002 where Grah jumped from a speaker 15-feet off the ground into a welcoming crowd and knocked himself unconscious. The crowd is shown carefully passing his body along to the front of the stage, where the sound man quickly grabbed him and closed the curtain. On yet another occasion, Grah successfully broke up a fight by jumping off a building into the skirmish, breaking one ankle and badly injuring the other. Jibe played a full set that following Friday night without so much as booking a doctor’s appointment.
To summarize, Grah racked up an excruciating list of injuries over the band’s first 10 years, including broken wrists, fingers, toes, ribs, along with a concussion or two. To Jibe's other members, Grah's antics, and subsequent injuries, were all just part of the show.
“He just brings this tremendous energy live that draws people in. It's amazing and terrifying to watch all at once," says lead guitarist Toby Bittenbender. "Amazing in the way that he doesn’t miss a note while hanging from the rafters or floating on the crowd, terrifying in the way that you don’t want your brother to get hurt.”
It was part of Jibe's ethos to ride out Grah’s injuries and simply make it to the next city, as the band played over 2,500 shows before splitting up in 2004. In 2015, Jibe reunited, released a new album and made it to the Billboard charts with their single “Release.” Within two years, the Dallas alt-rock four-piece were again poised to be one of the biggest rock bands in the game, until October 2018 when Grah took a hit that nearly cost him his life.
When Grah moved to Los Angeles to form another band in 2004, he bought a customized motorcycle he playfully named "The Beast." A competitive BMX rider in his youth, Grah was no stranger to speed, danger or acrobatics. Last year, while riding his motorcycle down from his home in Laurel Canyon, he was headed down Fairfax Avenue when a driver in a BMW made a left turn, causing a head-on collision that nearly killed Grah.
“The impact completely crushed and destroyed the entire front end of the car, sending me airborne over the vehicle as I ducked, tucked and rolled, luckily escaping death," Grah tells us via phone from his California home. "All of the emergency workers informed me I should have certainly died upon impact.”
In the hospital, where he received extensive X-rays, scans and MRIs, Grah learned he had shattered his left clavicle, crushed his left foot and his left hand, fractured two ribs, broken his right thumb and suffered internal bleeding that left an anomaly on his left lung.
“I’ve never been hit like that before. That impact fucked me up,” Grah recalls, as he pauses to take a deep breath.
Upon receiving news of the accident, Grah’s longtime girlfriend, Tiffany Anderson, frantically called his family and friends to inform them about his condition. Bittenbender remembers that phone call vividly.
“I was relieved to hear he was OK," Bittenbender says. "It could have been worse. A lot of people don’t survive that type of accident, unfortunately, but Joe was one of the lucky ones.”
Doctors told Grah he would need four to five months of recovery after several rounds of operations scheduled at the Beverly Hills Surgery Center over the following weeks. Grah faced a painful and lengthy recovery, with a range of mobility limited to the space in his bedroom. For Jibe, it also meant canceling an upcoming tour, slated to start in less than a week, with multi-platinum artist Candlebox.
“Upon being discharged I told them, ‘If I'm physically capable, then I'm going to complete the tour,’" Grah recalls. "Never one to cancel shows, I was fully prepared to eat pain pills and rough out the Candlebox tour. However, the day I was to fly out, I was rushed into emergency surgery and basically stopped from boarding that plane. I literally have a bucket of Home Depot holding me together now with nine plates and eight screws.”
Grah's band members, Corey Tatro, Todd Harwell and Bittenbender, were shocked that he'd even consider going ahead with the tour after experiencing an accident of that magnitude, but Grah called Bittenbender from his hospital bed, insisting that the shows not be canceled.
“He called me a day or two later and I asked him if I should send out a message canceling the shows and in typical Joe fashion he was all, ‘Hell no man, we are not canceling these dates,’" Bittenbender remembers. "I wasn’t surprised by this response, but I had a feeling his doctor was going to have a different idea, which he did. Joe called me again after speaking with him and was completely bummed after being told he was forbidden to travel by flight or in a van for 20 hours much less. Sometimes life just takes the wheel from you. We’re just glad Joe is recovering and getting stronger every day."
In the seven months since the accident and eight months since Jibe last took the stage, Grah has written and recorded a solo album in his home studio, due for release later this year.
“Having everything pulled out from under me like that really bummed me out. I couldn't move. I wanted to write and record constantly," Grah says. "So I wrote a record. It turned my shit around. It saved me.”
The singer has also been working on new Jibe material.
“Toby and I are soulmates," Grah says of his bandmate. "When we write together, everything is everything and anything is everything.”
With a Dallas show in the works for 2019, Jibe is slowly veering back into the fast lane again, beginning to work on new material while still promoting their last record, Epic Tales of Human Nature. Grah is due to make a full recovery and is more ecstatic about his return to the band than his own fans, cleverly named the “Jibe Tribe," who have taken to social media to pledge their support for the recovering singer over the past months. All members of Jibe agree that their fans' devotion, coupled with their love for one another, is what's kept the band going.
“When we create music or take the stage, anything and everything can happen, and it always does," Grah says. "It’s been a long and winding road just getting to this point. With so many hurdles still to overcome, I definitely see our little rock band continuing to climb for years to come. Death has eluded us thus far, so we'll chalk this up to a gift from the gods.”