Naked Giants are perhaps the most professionally unprofessional band on this side of the Mason-Dixon line. They dress like thieves reclaiming a burned down Burlington’s and play their instruments like habit-formed aesthetes. They “feel” instead of “think.” I’ve concluded that’s their dirty secret.
A Naked Giants song is a portrayal of instinct: there’s no room to think, overthink, or, like, stress-out, man. They provide the groove and direction to take the audience on a trip, a safari tour of just how many noises three instruments are able to make.
Arrangements twist and turn into riffs into solos into furious breakdowns. Chants coalesce and die in the span of seconds, and songs often become adventurous jam sessions that occur suddenly, with passion. Their arsenal is nothing new: it’s that good ol’ guitar-bass-drums situation that we all know and love. But the music is conveyed like a war reenactment, a war where everyone is having a grand time and even wiped their shoes on the mat.
Grant Mullen spearheads the Giants with mighty crimson hair, 6’5” stature, and a guitar that cries louder every strum after violent strum. He writes to exemplify his own screams and whispers, embellished with a dash of guitar-shredding to spawn an amalgamation of sonic force. Gianni Aiello can be seen on bass doing much of the same thing, but with one foot in the air jumping back on forth from stage right to left. He spins, jumps, crawls and secondhand screams the vocals when Mullen needs to inhale.
They ruin most preconceptions of the indie rock three piece and look very dashing while doing so.
Henry LaVallee enjoys poetry, long walks on the beach and beating his drum set senselessly into the ground every few days in front of hundreds of people. His fills and tempo changes duct tape the demonic rollercoaster back to reality; from blistering fast to slow-dance slow.
Naked Giants are a force of nature. Even when they aren’t mixed correctly, they still sound good. It defies science. Fortunately, the scientific research of these three twenty-year-olds was spotted early enough in advance by SSE to book them for Fiestas 2016.
The Giants ended up sharing the stage with Gramatik, Skizzy Mars, Vista Kicks and Eugene. By chance, they were the only artists who played in the vein of garage rock, much to the crowd’s savage pleasure. They’re going down as one of best Fiestas acts of all-time; they probably knew that too when leaving the stage. I managed to yank a few sentences out of them before they fled back into the dense forest of Seattle, like yetis of indie garage rock.
DL: Your first show in Albuquerque was on Election Day November 2016, opening for Car Seat Headrest. How did that tour end up going, as well as opening for a Matador signed band? Did you know them beforehand?
Gianni: It was pretty cool. They live in Seattle too, so we bump into each other often. But it was nice. They’re nice people. Definitely the biggest tour we’ve done in terms of crowds. They have amazing publicity, and they’re everywhere, so they’re able to get huge crowds. Which is great for us, we get to play in front of those huge crowds. That day, though, was pretty terrible.
DL: Your band is impressive. Do you get that a lot? Considering the whole style you’re going for?
Grant: I feel people who see us, either like us a lot or throw us under the bus. It’s like Rush; you hate them or you love them. You know?
Gianni: Except we’re not nerds. Well, okay, music nerds.
DL: How long was the band been going for?
Gianni: (Henry and Grant) met in preschool. We all started jamming in high school and formed the band senior year. So three years ago in 2014. And then we played some shows. And then SSE found us, so we’re here now. We went through a couple of names at the beginning. Alpha Space Man. That one was too ahead of its time.
Henry: One was going to be The Mad Sounds, after the Arctic Monkeys song. I handed out one CD that had Mad Sounds written on it to Vaudeville Etiqutte who we played at Doe Bay fest with. Yeah. Grant was there.
DL: Is there an album in the works? There are only so many tracks online.
Gianni: We have an E.P. out. We’re trying to get more content up. We have a couple album concepts floating around, but they have yet to touch ground, you know? We’re talking to some labels about funding.
DL: You’re unsigned? I wouldn’t have guessed.
Gianni: Yeah. I feel like having the support of a label will, first of all, fund, and second of all spread the word. It would put our minds at ease about actually going in and recording a full album. Whereas right now it’s like, “Oh well, we’re going to record this, and it will sit in our car stereo for five months.”
DL: The stuff you’ve released now, it’s self-produced?
Gianni: We recorded with a guy named Dylan Wall from Seattle; he kind of has his own sound. It’s really funny, I didn’t realize that. But Dylan is a great producer and engineer. He recorded us all at the studio in downtown Seattle. Not self-produced, no.
Henry: Is it common to get chapped lips in New Mexico?
DL: Oh, honey.
Gianni: It’s too wet in Seattle. It’s too humid.
DL: Lastly, any future stuff? You’re not touring right now, are you?
Gianni: No, this is a one-off gig. We made an exception. As for future stuff, our theoretical album doesn’t have a release date. Theoretically, I’m going to say 2018.
Check out Naked Giants on Bandcamp, Facebook and most music streaming services. They’ve been engrossing the west coast over the past year, so it might be worth finding them before they, assuredly, receive a trebuchet into the limelight.
Audrin Baghaie is the music editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.