INTERVIEW: AND THE GIRAFFE
I recently came across a band named, “And the Giraffe”. I was in search of something that sounded like Modest Mouse, Bon Iver and Wilco all mixed in one. I know, it is a lot to ask for but I mean, doesn’t hurt to try. I went along with my day and got an email that said “hey, check us out” so I did, and my prayers were answered. FINALLY! What I have been in search for (AND IT WAS ON SPOTIFY!) I reached back out to them, already acting like a crazy fan girl (it is a full time job), telling them that I would love to do a story or an interview on them and they were more than helpful with answering the many questions I had. I tried to keep my “no marriage policy” in act, I am so proud to say I did. This band is the perfect mix of Modest Mouse, Wilco, Bon Iver with a coat of The National. I couldn’t ask for anything more than to let these intense, and wonderful sounds hit my ears numerous amounts of times. I love them, and you should too! Like them on Facebook and check out the And The Giraffe Playlist on Spotify! I added some Wilco, Mo
dest Mouse and Bon Iver so it would be easier to tell the similarities. I got to interview these epic human beings in between their crazy schedules and right before their new album came out! Their new album comes out November 2nd, 2012. All links will be posted below. Now, enjoy this awesome interview I had with the band!
Name: Josh Morris
Instrument: Vocals and Guitar most of the time
What are you majoring in? Audio Engineering
Favorite color: Blue and Green
Name: Nick Roberts
Instrument: Vocals and Guitar and whatever else is needed
Favorite Color: Green
Age: 21Name: Robert Edmondson
Instrument: Bass, Synths, Banjo, etc.
Major: Film and Media Studies
Name: Malcolm Martin
Favorite Color: Blue
Instrument: Drums, Percussion, Backup Vocals, some other little things
Favorite Color: Blue
How did you all come up with the band name?
We came up with the band name when Nick suggested that we could call ourselves The Giraffe. Josh then suggested naming the band The Pelican and the Giraffe after the Roald Dahl book, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. That was a little too long so we shortened it to just And the Giraffe.
How did all of you guys meet?
Josh: I met Nick at Preview for UF. He was the first person I talked to about music that I didn’t already know from high school. We decided to play music together pretty soon after that. I wasn’t very good at playing music then. I’m still surprised Nick stuck with me. I met Rob and Malcolm through a music club on campus that none of us managed to stay involved with for over a semester. I believe that’s how Nick met them as well.
How do you write your music? Where do you look for inspiration?
Josh: I honestly don’t know how it works. Sometimes the songs come and sometimes they don’t.
Nick: Like Josh said, it just kind of happens. Songs come together differently every time and sometimes they feel like a cathartic process and other times they just slip out.
Robert: I find that the less I look for inspiration, the more that I have. Especially in writing anything and everything with these guys. If it ever feels forced, we try to back off and just let it happen.
Similar to the last question, what is your musical process like?
Josh: Nick or I will tend to have a skeleton of a song that we’ll collectively work on and expand as a band.
Do you play to ever go on tour? If so, when and where?
Yes! This summer we want to start playing shows, but we’ll likely also be working on another record. I think the plan that we are hoping for is to tour after that, so maybe next fall! The current placement of the band is divided over three cities and two states situation makes things difficult to say.
What inspired the name, “Creature Collector” for the new album?
Songs are creatures: some crawl, some slither, and some howl at the moon. This album collects the creatures of our summer.
Who are some of your inspirations musically speaking?
Josh: The Beatles, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith, David Bowie, Spoon, Bob Dylan, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Wilco, T. Rex
Robert: Way too many to list. I’ve been listening to a lot of Akron/Family, Liars, Annuals, Tortoise, Broadcast, Here We Go Magic, and Keith Jarrett lately.
Nick: As always, it changes just about every day. Wilco,Bon Iver, Explosions in the Sky, The Beatles, Gregory Alan Isakov, M. Ward, AA Bondy.
What is your favorite album of all time?
Josh: Abbey Road by The Beatles.. obviously!
Nick: This is impossible, but I’ve been enjoying Tool’s Lateralus a bit recently and that album definitely had an impact on my early years.
Robert: Filles de Kilimanjaro, Miles Davis
Malcolm: Hmph, that’s a tough one. Let me get back to you.
Is this band for fun or something you want to pursue with your lives?
Josh: I think we’re beginning to think of it pretty seriously.
Nick: I’m pretty sure in the back of my head I’ve always known I wanted to be playing music in some capacity. Having put out 2 albums now though, it feels a lot realer than it did when I was just strumming away in my bedroom.
Robert: This is something I definitely hopped on board for the fun of. But I think we may be able to seriously have fun if we keep pushing ourselves.
Malcolm: Both. Playing music will always be a big part of my life even if it never turns out to be very profitable. But if I have the opportunity to do so, why not?
Have your performed as a band? If so, what is your ritual?
Not in public altogether. Rob and Nick play together though.
What do you do individually before you go on stage?
Josh: Typically, I take deep breaths. Playing for large numbers of people is not my favorite part of music.
Nick Nerves aren’t as big of a deal for me, but they come in mild waves leading up to an actual performance. I’ll take a few deep breaths and when I’m calm, I just start so I can’t look back and psyche myself out anymore. It always works out just fine.
Robert: To be perfectly honest, I drink a bit. It helps to calm my nerves and focus a bit more.
For the Instrumentalist: How did you start playing? When did you start playing? Did you ever have formal lessons?
Josh: I couldn’t play any instruments in the school band because I couldn’t form the correct embouchure. I decided percussion was where I should go. I start bashing the drums when I was eleven. I took both drum and guitar lessons. It took me a long while after I stopped taking lessons to get where I am with guitar now. I’m still trying to get better.
Nick: I started playing trumpet in 6th grade band and after I switched schools I needed a new instrument to start playing in my free time, so I picked up guitar. Just the other day I was thinking about this and realized that it’s been almost 8 years now. I played trumpet in school band, but for guitar and singing, I’ve never had any lessons.
Malcolm: My parents bought me a drum set one Christmas after seeing me fool around with one in a music store. I haven’t stopped annoying them since. About seven or eight years ago I started playing the drums. I’ve never had any formal lessons, but I’ve tried to learn everything I could from performances and clinics and videos and musicians I’ve met.
Robert: I started playing saxophone for middle school band/jazz band. My little brother got an electric guitar when I was 13 or 14, and I started playing after he moved on to take drums more seriously about a year later. I remember my dad teaching me this funny song with a simple C-G-F progression about a dog told from the first person. That was the beginning of the end for me. I started playing saxophone when I was 11, but picked up guitar and bass when I was 15. I am happy to say that I am self taught with my instruments.
Vocalist: How did you start singing? When did you start singing? Have you ever had lessons?
Josh: As far as I can tell, it all started in the back of a minivan singing along to the Beatles, Beach Boys, Queen and more. I haven’t had any lessons though.
Nick: I had sang along to heavy metal records for a while (maybe since I was 13 or so) before actually ever trying to sing over my own songs. My ideas of vocal melody have definitely come from singing along to other stuff. I never had any formal lessons either.
Tell me more about how you recorded the album.
Josh: There was a strong focus on performance. Instead of fixing stuff in the computer we redid it when it was wrong. I think it helps keep things more personal. We recorded around town in Nashville in a few studios and also did quite a bit of work in my basement/bedroom. Tracking and producing took about 3 months and the mix took me another month working on the songs around class.
Malcolm: It was interesting because by the time I’d gotten to Nashville all of the songs felt very complete. After those ten days, the songs felt like they’d taken on a completely different shape. It gave us a sense of doubt as to whether or not the songs still needed more to them. But I feel like this album reflects the new dynamic really well.
What is something cool coming out for this new album?
Josh: There’s no tuning on any of my vocals on this record. I’m proud of that. There’s only tuning on one of Nick’s vocal takes for The Silent and that’s only because the demo vocal’s emotion and delivery were absolutely perfect. I’m really proud of the vocal performances on this record.
Nick: Just to comment on the “tuning” part. This time around, unlike the last EP, we made a conscious effort to avoid tuning our vocals and trying to hide mistakes. If we couldn’t sing it live, we didn’t want to “put it to tape” so to speak. I had put pretty hard auto-tune on The Silent as an effect when I was demoing out the song and like Josh said, we liked it so much, we kept it. As far as something new is concerned, I think we had a lot of fun playing around with the end of “Sorry.” The weird voice recording happening at the end of that song is and audio sample from the news report of the Hindenburg blimp crash. The “siren” that comes in over the top of it ended up working there completely by accident. Josh built a homemade synthesizer in highschool that just makes static noise. Luckily, the noises it made were in the key of the song and we were able to run it through some effects pedals and fiddle with the knobs to give it the sound of a siren.
Robert: There are tons of happy accidents peppered through this record too. I remember specifically, for The Silent, we were having feedback problems on the mixer when tracking the bass and we just let the thing go right after Nick sings “Don’t worry…” the first time. One of my favorite parts of this production was doubling Malcolm’s drums in the last minute or so of “Of the Moment”. The spatial effect was unreal to me.
What do you want the listeners to get out of this album?
Nick: When I listen to albums, I really resonate with them if there’s a completeness to the whole thing. We really try to make our albums a complete thought from start to finish so there aren’t necessarily singles or better spots in the album than others. We hope that people like what we do and can listen to our albums in their entirety to get the “whole” rather than just single bits and pieces.
Robert: Definitely comfort.
Malcolm: What matters to me is not so much what they get out of it, but that they feel something when they listen to it. What I’d like them to get is not a message but a worthwhile experience
There you have it earthlings! I hope you all enjoyed this interview and hope those of you on the East Coast are safe and didn’t have to read this from a shelter, even if I hope it warmed you up and made you feel safer that you, as I, finally foun something like Bon Iver, Wilco, and Modest Mouse.
Creature Collector – OUT NOVEMBER 2ND 2012
More about And The Giraffe:
Spotify Playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/tyfofficial/playlist/5PdfUjDmPzjsfoDdtoUGh8
Band Website: http://www.andthegiraffe.com/home/