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Naked Giants - Just like life, music is all about the journey and the little pieces of perfection you find along the way Aanbevolen

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Naked Giants - Just like life, music is all about the journey and the little pieces of perfection you find along the way

Naked Giants  is a formation from Seattle that put themselves in the spotlight with their debut 'Sluff', 2018. The band manages to combine punk rock with infectious pop. A wide audience could be addressed, who like alternative rock and are not afraid of an accessible sound. It is also reflected on the latest disc 'The Shadow'. We had a nice conversation with the band about this release and the future plans and also talked about the life visions of the band.

For the readers who don’t know you … Who are Naked Giants, where does the name come from?
We’re a rock band from Seattle, Washington USA. We came together over a love of garage rock and jamming in small rooms, and grew with a love of touring, songwriting, and spreading joy through music. The name comes from a time when we were camping in the redwood forest of Northern California, and we shared a dream where the trees turned into these giants (the giants weren’t wearing any clothes) and they told us we had a responsibility to spread positivity and love by the power of rock and roll.

When we think of Seattle, we immediately think of grunge. What is it like growing up in an environment that has produced a style of music that has proven so progressive?
Grunge has definitely left a lasting influence on Seattle, but I would say the attitude and spirit of it are much more impactful than the music style. The grunge scene, as well as other hugely important scenes from this area like the Riot Grrrl scene in Olympia and the more recent indie music from all over the Northwest, these scenes were all rooted in a deep sense of honesty and DIY attitude. That’s the legacy that musicians from the Northwest inherit - just trying to make music with integrity that brings people together.

What I liked about the debut’ Stuff’ in 2018 is that you walk the thin line between alternative punk rock and accessible pop, agree? What is your opinion?
We do enjoy both punk-rock freakouts and classic pop hooks, so I think it’s natural that both styles make their way into our music. However, we’ve realized recently that pop has traveled so far from the pop music we idolized growing up, and I don’t think we could call our music “pop” while Ariana Grande or Shawn Mendes are around. Same thing goes for punk - I think punk has split off into a super-commodified accessible version and a truly experimental and abrasive version, and I don’t think ours really fits into either of those.

I have read you guys are also a big fan of Velvet Underground? Am I correct? tell more about it
Totally, they’re just one of those bands that set the template. I’m sure anyone who has heard the Velvet Underground has immediately thought, “I should start a band!” It’s just something about the bold simplicity with the fearless experimentalism that really makes them timeless and inspiring. And of course, without them we wouldn’t have many other idols like Talking Heads, The Raincoats, heck even David Bowie wouldn’t have become what he was without the Velvet Underground.

Where did the taste for punk rock come from? Any bands who have been a big influence  on your music?
Our first exposure to punk was from very modern iterations of the punk ethos. Bands like Thee Oh Sees were hugely influential to us - I remember being a teenager at one of their shows and just losing my mind at how much energy they emitted off the stage. Henry was a big fan of Blink-182 and Green Day growing up, and I think that shows up a lot in his drumming style! But it wasn’t until recently that I started to understand the importance and influence of the original punk movement of the 70s and 80s, and that opened the doors to its related movements like New Wave and Hardcore, as well as pretty much any type of rock that came after it! Some more classic punk/punk-adjacent bands that have been influential are DEVO, The Raincoats, Meat Puppets, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc...

How where the main reactions on this debut? Did it open any doors to success?
We were just so excited to have our own album! It was such a new experience for us - being on a label, going to a professional studio, going on tour - I don’t think we paid much attention to the reactions at the time. But looking back, we did start to play bigger shows after the album came out, and the biggest thing for me was seeing people in the audience singing along to the songs! That was so unexpected and it’s really special to bring people together over a love of music.

What do you think is the big difference between the debut and the new record?
The biggest difference is just the level of honesty. With SLUFF, we didn’t think too deeply about the music or the lyrics - it was mostly just whatever happened to come out of jams. But by the time we started putting The Shadow together, we had done some years of heavy touring and we had grown a lot as individuals, so we sat down and really thought about the kind of album we wanted to make. The lyrics got a lot more introspective and meaningful, and the musical arrangements were a bit more precise than the frenetic off-the-wall pacing of SLUFF.

I like the new record. 'The Shadow' is varied, colorful punk rock. You hear a band that has evolved enormously in a year, and still has energy left to push the boundaries. The end point has not yet been reached. What is your opinion about this statement?
I totally agree! The songs on The Shadow are already old to us - we started writing some of them even before SLUFF! We’re constantly growing and changing and finding new musical ideas that excited us (isn’t everybody?) and I think the next record is going to be much, much different. I’ll consider it the third of a trilogy - SLUFF was just three teenagers trying to fit as much energy into 12 songs as possible, The Shadow was a more honest take on rock and roll cliches, and the third album will be an experiment, an abandonment of everything we thought we knew and an embrace of the unknown.

Which I also liked so much about the new record. constantly adding spoons of melancholy to that particularly energetic, fuzzy punk. Your opinion on this statement?
That’s something we’ve noticed people like about the new album - the moments where it slows down and gets more moody. I think it has a lot to do with who have become as people - as we grow up our rosy world-view fades in favor of a more melancholy, yet more realistic one. Especially after this year, when a lot of us Americans are really starting to understand the legacy of racism and patriarchy in our country, and trying to unravel that within ourselves and in our communities. Sometimes you have to stop and acknowledge that pain.

How where the main reactions on the new record?
It’s been great - we’ve been doing more interviews like this one and everyone we’ve talked to seems to have found something they like about the album. Of course, it came out at a time when we aren’t able to play shows, so it’s hard to judge how much our friends and fans like it. But overall it seems like there’s a good amount of support for The Shadow.

Let’s talk about corona lol. I suppose your plans have also been canceled? Which?
We had some big things fall through - we were supposed to play at SXSW, which was cancelled just weeks before the event. And there were some other opportunities like being in a commercial for a local credit union that fell through, as well as just the loss of playing shows in general.

How you deal with this crisis as band, musician but also as human?
Luckily a lot of the music community has come together to get around the fact that we can’t play shows. We’ve been doing lots of livestream concerts with venues like the Nectar Lounge here in Seattle, and they’ve got it down really well to just have two or three people in the venue with us operating sound and cameras. In addition to that, most livestream shows have been partnered to benefit non-profit organizations who are doing important work - we’ve played some for Nurturing Roots Farm here in Seattle, The Bail Project, Noise For Now/Seeding Sovereignty, a get-out-the-vote campaign, and plenty of others. I think that helps deal with the crisis as a human, knowing that we can put our music to good use for the community.

In this days bands are artist are streaming there music? To show on social media? What is your opinion about that
It’s a completely different thing than playing a live show, and we’re just starting to figure out how to make it special. I don’t think our usual method of 100% rock all the time works so well on the livestream shows, and it’s tough not having that connection with the audience that we’ve come to have. But the livestream shows can access a certain level of intimacy that’s not available at a concert, so I think doing more small-scale, semi-acoustic sets is a good way to go.

What is your opinion about streaming anyway?
I do feel bad for people who love to go to concerts. There’s something special about being in a room with music being made live, that you just can’t get from a screen and speakers. But again, I think there’s room to experiment and provide something unique to the medium that will make it worth it for people to tune in.

Let’s talk about the future. What are the future plans after this crisis? Or are there ‘coronaproof’ concerts?
I really have given up on thinking about the future! Everything is so uncertain - not just for the pandemic but for our country as a whole, and the world really. We’re reaching a turning point in our society where we are either going to undo and rebuild everything we have, or it’s going to get a whole lot worse. And same thing for the world, I really worry about climate change as this huge existential threat to humanity. We might not even have a future to look forward to after the pandemic! But that’s all the more reason to act now, be kind, and use your skills to make sure others can live as comfortably as possible in this moment.

To elaborate on that a bit further, what are your actual ambitions?
I’m focusing on the near-future - I’d really like to make an album that finds its way deeper into my soul and incorporates the experimentalism that I love in music. Aside from that, I think we’ll continue on our current path of making our music to spread positivity in any way we can.

Is there such a thing as an end goal that you have in mind?
Definitely not. Every time we put out an album, I’m immediately ready to make something new and better. If we ever reached some sort of goal, I think that’s a sign of the end of things, as we wouldn’t have anything to look forward to! Just like life, music is all about the journey and the little pieces of perfection you find along the way.

Thanks for this interview. We hope to see you guys soon on stage  and have this conversation face to face

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