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I Am Giant - INSIDE THE MUZIC: I Am Giant

04 Apr 2018 // An interview by butch181

The Inside the Muzic crew sat down with Paul & Aja from I Am Giant to discuss their recently released third and final album "Life In Captivity" and their upcoming final tour of New Zealand.

Check out the video here:

Alex (Interviewer): Welcome to this episode of Inside the Muzic. Today we're speaking with Paul and Aja from I Am Giant. You guys have just released your third album?

Paul (Bassist): It feels a bit old, been around the block bit now, so it's good to have it out there. It took us a while to do it, maybe a year. So it’s nice to have it out.

Alex: Have you been working on the songs on the album for a long time or was that just from the period you started on the album?

Aja (Vocalist/Guitarist): For me, it's a weird experience. I didn't have any input on the writing of the album, but I went over in 2016, did the vocals in October for two or three weeks. Some songs I was hearing for the first time. Um, but yeah, Paul and Shelton had been laying down the work over there and it makes it easier, but it's weird from my perspective going into their work and doing vocals. The outcome has been awesome though, and the feedback from it's been really good too. I put my trust in these guys to let them do what they do.

Alex: Is it a bit like doing a cover song to song you've never heard before?

Aja: Kind of. There are lyrics already there and there was a lot of back and forth, "maybe add this to it", "what about this?", "does this work", "does that work?". They're very open to letting me throw some things in there and give it a go.

Paul: In an ideal world, we would have just gotten together and written the album, but the way that things have worked out,  Aja lives in Sydney, I live in London, and Shelton is back and forth between London and Auckland. We didn't really have that luxury of being able to get together. The album just kind of happened in 2016 and Shelton was really pushing for it. For those who don't know the backstory, we'd had our original singer Ed leave. We tried out a new guy, Ryan, which didn't work out. At the same time that Ryan came on board, Aja came back playing the guitar. Because Ryan wasn't available for the Homegrown show, Aja just stepped up to vocals at Homegrown. That show was a lot of fun, so we thought we could do some recordings. So that's where the idea started. We started writing some stuff in 2016. We've got a friend of ours from Berlin, Hannes Chalice. He's a great guitarist and producer, and he came and worked on music with us, so he was involved. It was a lot of fun.

Aja: Yeah, it's funny about that Homegrown show in 2016, a lot rested on that. If I went up there and just terribly, then you probably wouldn't have carried on.

Paul: Yeah, probably not. You did a really good job. Then the next year, we were really, really disappointed with our performance at Homegrown 2017, and we got a lukewarm review from Alex Moulton for that.

Alex: My bad.

Aja: It was the kick in the ass that we needed.

Paul: Sadly, we had to agree. We were shooting a video there, but we were disappointed because we've been around quite a while and we've played mostly good shows. So we were really disappointed. We're in this room tonight and we're working on the Homegrown 2018 set. We're playing in Tauranga on Thursday night, so we're going to do a show beforehand this time and we can warm up properly. We're going to see things differently this year at Homegrown, we're going to get ready,  nice and quiet backstage before. Just getting ready for the show; no shooting videos, no mucking around, and no distractions. Just focusing on being the best I Am Giant for all the people who have liked our songs and have come to see us.

Alex: Homegrown is a part of your final NZ tour. Is this going to be the end or do you think I Am Giant will be back?

Aja: I'm open to it. We've been working and writing together for so long, after a couple of years we might get the itch again or just miss each other.

Paul: Maybe in the future, we might look to do some shows with Ed again.

Aja: I'd be open to that.

Paul: I'd like to do the original lineup thing, but in the short term, we've just been focusing on getting this record out, it was a lot of effort. It's a great record. We're really happy with it. Get out and do this one last tour of New Zealand.

Alex: Any stops on the tour that you're particularly looking forward to?

Aja: Hamilton... Homegrown will just be awesome. The main spots just because we like them, but there's a few in there that I haven't been to before, like Nelson.

Paul: You and I played there with Stylus that time. We drove up after the Christchurch gig. We've done Riwaka shows before, but we're going to Greymouth with I Am Giant for the first time. I went to Greymouth with Tadpole back in 2001, I wonder how it has changed. I'm looking forward to doing the Auckland show, it's the hometown, and we're playing Galatos. Sadly, the Kings Arms is no more. Actually, the last time I played at Galatos was with Stylus in 2004 for our first album release. It's all nostalgia and memories.

Aja: Living away from home, it's just cool to come back and play anywhere. I'm not picking any spots I want to play in particular, I just want to go out and play wherever we can and wherever they'll let us. Get some countryside roadtrips happening, get some music playing,  I just love those moments of being in New Zealand. I've missed those moments, during road trips and traveling.

Alex: You're doing two shows in Christchurch.

Paul: The first one is selling really well and we thought is was probably going to sell out. So we added a second show. We've changed the venue, it's at Sullivan's now. My friend Andrew had a new bar, part of the Armadillos restaurant chain down there. A really good guy. He was going to have us at the new venue but they had some noise issues. So you know, we're noisy, so off to Sullivan's.

Alex: Going back to the recording of your album, were there any particularly difficult songs or songs that were more challenging than others?

Paul: Yeah, Aja did an amazing job, coming over for about two weeks, singing every day, and he didn't lose his voice. I've produced a lot of bands and I've worked with a lot of artists and the singers tend to... complain a lot, and have issues with their voice. But Aja was just brutal, and smashed it. It was really good.

Aja: There was one time for me where I went out the night before. I've got a lot of friends over that I hadn't seen in a long time. So yeah I went and had a cold drink, or 10 or 20. Before I got to the recording session the next day, I had to go to an off-license and grab a water and a Red Bull, sit outside for 10 minutes and just get some air. Then, OK, cool, go back and do vocals. I was behind a little booth, so in-between takes I was doubled over trying to breathe. Vocally, there was no real challenge, I would just have to be kind of ready for trying many things, "try it with a scream" and "try a scream in key". It wasn't challenging, it was more experimenting with different things in my voice. I'm used to screaming in bands, but singing in tune has always been a hard thing for me.

Paul: He sang in tune really well, and I was the one that had to put it all together. Those three weeks with Aja were really fun. Shelton was there every single day and he was really involved, but the hard part of the record for me was when everybody went home and they left me with all the rest of the work to do; a lot of backing vocals, I hadn't played any bass, a lot of sorting out, tidying up, and I had to record cellos, violins, all that stuff to make the record.  It took me through to the following year, I did take periods off as I had to do other work, but I was trying to get it done and it was hard when you are on your own. The least fun is had when you're on your own, you're just  "Nigel no mates".

Aja: A few times I'd get a text or a message with an audio file.  I'll listen to it, and give feedback, which was cool because that was my progress report. It had been a year since I did those vocals and he sent me snippets here and there, which is exciting because you know, each time, you wonder what it's going to be like now, and as I said, some of the songs I was learning and hearing for the first time when I recorded them, so when it came back fully mixed, then I would get familiar with the song again, and I'd know it's gonna be awesome.

Paul: We had this thing with the guitars where we'd written these songs; outlines, layouts and we had like some old songs from back in the day. We went over to Berlin to record drums for four tracks, and we ended up recording drums for ten tracks. My mate Hannes was right into it and he just caught the plane back to London with us, stayed at Shelton's place, and sketched down ideas for the record.  The had a really good attitude and really vibey, but a little bit rough in places, but he's a really good player and it sounded great. His idea was to go back to Germany and play them all again properly. The first song he sent back, he'd cleaned it up so much, it was sterile. Really precise and it didn't sound right. It sounded like Alter Bridge. We actually ended up using so much of his sketch guitar tracks and yeah. He refined parts over the year, but it was largely done in one inspired period.

Alex: That's a different way of coming up with the guitar parts. Did you use any other different methods, seeing as it was the last album?

Paul: I did try some new methods. I just let Hannes do the guitars and released my stranglehold. In the last album, Science and Survival, we took Michael Triponel to the studio with us in France and he played like a lot of the guitars, but there are so many guitars in that record that I played a lot of the guitars too. But this record we kept the guitar tracks down so less guitar tracks and like more focus on the individual tracks having some character.

Alex: With your live shows you will still have two guitars?

Aja: Two guitars was always something we wanted to do. When we started out, I just don't think we knew how to go about doing it. Also taking two guitarists around means like two extra dudes; they're eating and drinking.

Paul: You're being kind, because you and Shelton always liked the idea, but I was just like, "oh, one guitarist is enough". One lead singer, one guitarist, one drummer, we'll be fine.  

Aja: I guess Paul was worried he'd be overshadowed by two guitarists.

Paul: Sure enough, that's what happened yesterday at practice.

Aja: The songs are written that way so it makes sense to add the other guitarist in and we're very lucky to have guitarists step up whenever we need them. Depending on where we are. We're a weird band. I've had trouble explaining this to people in Sydney. "Oh, you play in this band? OK Cool. When can we see you?" Well, you can't. because the drummer and bass player are in London. I'm here in Sydney and we don't really have a guy here. So we'd have to fly a guy from Auckland to Sydney. We're a weird band, but we do what we do because we love it.

Alex: Where else will you be touring after New Zealand?

Paul: Well, we're looking at doing a European tour, we've got a festival in Ukraine booked in the first week of August, as the starting point and we're just looking at the rest now. We've never been to Ukraine before.

Alex: Got any surprises in the setlist? Are we going to hear some songs that don't normally get performed?

Paul: Yes, but we're not telling you. Aja picked the songs, it's quite cool

Aja: Looking over the first two albums. I thought "we don't play that song" and "why don't we play this song?". I've just pulled out a few here and there just cause I just want to, vocally, give those songs a go. And I know there's people out there, that have been asking for them. Last week I had to watch a whole bunch of videos. I've watched a couple of videos of Ed singing just so I could try to take it on from his perspective, but it was cool seeing those videos. These songs that we just haven't played for years.

Alex: All right, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Good luck with Homegrown and the rest of your tour, and see you guys in Tauranga on Thursday.


Enjoy the interview? Follow the Inside the Muzic Crew's interviews on their dedicated Facebook Page


About I Am Giant

With an impressive 70,000+ loyal fans on Facebook and over 1,000 international members of their ‘IAG Army’, I Am Giant have amassed a huge worldwide following with four #1 rock singles and a certified gold album in New Zealand, music videos featuring skate and surfing icons Tony Hawk and Kelly Slater, opening for Slash in Australia, a UK tour with Taking Back Sunday, performances at Big Day Out in Auckland and Sydney, opening for Stone Temple Pilots in Singapore, touring throughout Asia several times, and playing the prestigious Viper Room and Mercury Lounge in the US.

Their debut album The Horrifying Truth, was recorded with acclaimed producer Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, The Butterfly Effect). I Am Giant bound together what they describe as “a collection of stories, thoughts, observations and exploration” into a cohesive and hard-hitting explosion of sound and melody. From the first song Purple Heart to closer After The War, the sharp lyrical themes draw the listener into the band’s growing awareness of mortality and loss of innocence. The Horrifying Truth is pure, unadulterated rock, with its heart on its sleeve and an unquenchable fire in its soul.

October 2012 saw I Am Giant release The Horrifying Truth in the UK and Europe, where their single Purple Heart won support on BBC Radio One as Zane Lowe's ‘Next Hype’ , XFM, Kerrang! Radio and Q Radio as well as hitting the No 1 spot on Polish Radio Eska Rock.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for I Am Giant


Life In Captivity
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Science & Survival
Year: 2014
Type: Album
The Horrifying Truth
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
City Limits/Neon Sunrise
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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