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August 1, 2011 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Interviews… I AM GIANT

I AM GIANT, the brainchild of Shelton Woolright (formerly of Blindspott) and Paul Matthews (formerly of Stylus), have been honing their musical baby in the UK since 2008. Having gained members in the motherland, they are making their way back to NZ to unleash upon us their debut record and a host of live shows. Shelton, having come over early to take care of the business side of things, spoke to us about his worldwide endeavours and what’s it’s like making music in the age of the Internet…

Hi Shelton.

Hi Barney.

What’re you wearing?

Sorry… I missed that…

Sorry, I asked, how long have you been back in NZ for?

I just came back last week, the others are still in the UK, and I’ve just come back early to help with some business stuff and to set up some things here for the release of the record, so I came home early man. The others are coming back on I believe the 30th of July. So not too far away now.

How come you decided to be based in London rather than in NZ?

Well it wasn’t so much that I AM GIANT decided to be based there, it was that Paul and I did, and that I AM GIANT were actually formed there. So Paul and I moved over there as musicians with not really any intentions or clue of what we were going to get up to, we just wanted to be playing music over in the UK, and to play around with a few other bands, and then Paul and I formed I AM GIANT and wrote City Limits one afternoon and then auditioned 160 vocalists and found Ed and then 120 guitarists and found Max, who was a UK guitarist, who we’ve recently replaced with Aja, who was in Blindspott with myself and now is in I AM GIANT fulltime and is based up in the UK with us.

I hear you guys held auditions, which is how Ed joined the band, did you have specific ideas of what sort of music you wanted to be making before you all got together?

Kind of, but we didn’t really know. We’d done City Limits, and then we’d done a couple of other half tracks, but then from a previous project we’d done a couple of other songs, and we had all the vocals, like, we’d done everything, and we used them as the songs that we sent to these people who would contact us. We would say, ‘cool here are these songs, so you could learn these and then come in.’ And those songs were obviously rock, cause that’s our forte, you know. I mean, it was always going to be rock, you know, but I didn’t know how heavy or whatever it was going to be. The vocals were going to kind of sway which way that was going to go. If some dude had rocked in and had a wicked voice but had a crazy screaming voice, it probably would’ve turned out a lot heavier, but Ed came in and we were just like, ‘that voice is fucking phenomenal and lets just roll with that.’ And here we have the new record and it is what it is, you know. It’s I AM GIANT. I mean, it was me and Paul’s vision from the start, we had a pretty strong vision from the start of what we wanted it to be, on the music side, you know. We wanted to be an alternative rock band with no gimmicks, writing straight up progressive rock, and we’ll see what the vocals do on top of that, but that was always going to be our sound and we haven’t really moved too much from that. Ed’s vocals have just naturally fitted with our music, and given it it’s own sound too. It’s kind of continually evolved until it is what it is now.

You guys had done quite a few shows before recording the album, how did your live experiences affect the recording process?

I think the tracking itself wasn’t as painful as it could’ve been. About ¾ of the record we were already playing live, so it was straight in there, bang. And because Paul and I co-produced it, we had already made the changes when we were writing the songs, so there was no producer coming in saying, ‘I want to completely change the time signature, or get rid of that, or write a new verse here.’ That happened in a couple of songs, but predominantly it was straight in, bam.

How come you guys split up where the album was recorded?

Well we’ve got a studio up in London where we recorded the E.P, so some of the drum tracks from the album were actually recorded up there, like the song Night Vision, and actually City Limits, we liked the raw feel of the drums, so we kept those drum tracks. So some was recorded up there, and then in Sydney we recorded all the rest of the drums, and then in Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne we recorded all the guitars and vocals and stuff like that. And it happened just when we were doing a deal with Sony in Sydney, and they were like, ‘oh, come downstairs and do some recording of acoustic songs, for promo for when the record comes out. And we went down into this studio and were like, ‘what the fuck!?’ there was this amazing studio, and we were like, ‘fuck can we record in here?’ and they were like, ‘sure.’ And they had these fucking vintage CBS mics, from back in the day when Sony was CBS, from New York and stuff, some really cool vintage gear, so we got a few drum kits in and just did these really wicked drum tracks on this big, vintage gear, so the sound is fucking rich and warm. So we did that, and then the guy who co-produced the record with myself and Paul, he’s called Forrester Savell, and he’s one of the best alternative rock producers in Australia at the moment, and he works out of Sing Sing, in Melbourne, and so we went up there for comfort for him, cause you know, he had all his gear and he knew what he was doing, and we wanted his sound on the record so we thought the best way to get his sound is to go up to his studio, use his toys.

What’re your plans now with the album being released?

We touring NZ on the 4st of august, the album drops on the 1st of august, and then we drive straight to the airport and fly to Australia and jump on a tour with a band called Dead Letter Circus, who are quite big in Australia at the moment, and the singer from that band actually features on our record, on a song called Electric Bones. His name’s Kim Benzie, he’s a really cool friend of ours, so he was like, why don’t you jump on an Australian tour with us, we’ve got quite a big profile and it’ll really help the band out. And we might do swap tour with them, bring them down here. Then we’re figuring out whether to go to Asia in September. Then we’re coming back to NZ to do some shows for the Rugby World Cup, and then we’re back to the UK, we’ve got a mini tour there. Then we’re looking to probably come back down here for New Years and stuff, get away from the UK winter. But it also kind of depends what comes up. With the record dropping internationally through Sony, if somebody says you know, you’ve got to come here, we’ll go there, you know. You’ve got to promote. But it’s great to be able to play music full time. That’s kind of why we’re based in London, because its quite hard in NZ, there’s just not enough people for you to constantly tour. You can only do 1 or 2 tours a year and then you start maxing out the amount of times you’re playing in front of people, then you’ve got to get a job to pay the rent, then you lose focus on writing music, you know.

Tell me about ‘the army.’

Basically it’s just a street team really. In this day and age man it’s all about online communities, and your fans are everything to your music. Firstly there’s not much money in the music industry anymore. I think people think that musicians are these rich rock stars like Guns ‘n’ Roses, and it’s so fucking far from that it’s not funny. So without getting people supporting you and buying your music, turning up to your shows, you’re fucked. And there’s so much competition out there, and not even with music, with gaming, with the Internet, people are spending money on everything but music. They’re still getting it, but they’re fucking taking it for free. So you’ve got to try and channel that and get people involved in your dream and in your band and your music. So we thought we’ll try and get these people involved and if they help us out, we’ll bring them into our world and give them benefits and that. So benefits might be if you promote the tour hardout, you get to come backstage, or watch from side stage, or jump in the tour van and drive with us to the next town or something like that. Free shirts etc. Like we’ve got this thing where we’ve got people to try promote the record, and the people who have gone hardout have got their name on the inlay, and so we have got about 16 people on there who have gone from die hard fans to actually being our friends. Their work can mean that we can put on a good show and we can afford to live and eat, and not have to worry about getting another job, and therefore we can write more music, and we can continue to put music out, which is good for them, you know.

Thanks very much man, appreciate your time

No worries man, cheers.


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