Translation Loss Records Giant Squid Interview

1.There have been a few yrs between your Debut album on the 2nd your self released 2nd album and now your new one Cenotes on Translation Loss. Tell us bit about band history I know its a turbulent one...

Well, honestly, the longer we continue to survive and thrive, the less I want to revisit the turbulent history of this band. It's packed with a lot of painful memories due mostly to a huge lack of respect and trust in so many of the past members in the group over the years. A lot of wrong people were in this band, and things got fucking ugly around the release of Metridium Fields. It's amazing that Bryan Beeson, the other founding member and I, survived it to continue on so powerfully.

So, in wishing not to dwell much more on those dark ages, I tend to savor and really think of the band now as an entity that experienced a true rebirth with the addition of Jackie Perez Gratz. She's as much the lynch pin in this group now as I have ever been, and is a true God send. We were also very fortunate to acquire Scotty Sutton on drums in Texas, who moved back to California with us to regroup. With those two, we were able to beat the pavement on tour as just a four piece, and keep touring behind Metridium Fields which hadn't even been out for three months when some serious sabotage was taking place behind my back. There was a hard time later on when Scotty had to leave the band for a while, and we floundered trying to find a solid drummer, but that was resolved when we found Chris Lyman, who worked at Aquarium of the Bay with me. Great oceanic spirit, and massive love for heavy music made him the ideal drummer for us, and enabled us to write 'The Ichthyologist'. We also had a long time great friend, Cory Tozer who is now the wife of Grayceon drummer, Zack Farwell, who came in and played second guitar on the road with us as we toured behind that record. That line up was truly special and everyone from it is pure family. Currently though, we're back to our immediately post Austin, TX line up, with Scotty having moved to SF to play with us again, and we are feeling rather fucking unstoppable.

2. How did you to work with Translation Loss A label I may add that really fits you well with your very Post Metal/ Post Rock sound?

Well, we were just about to sell out of the initial batch of self released copies of 'The Ichthyologist', and so I started writing labels seeing if anyone was interested in receiving a copy of the album for consideration. I had always been familiar with Translation Loss through their work with Mouth Of The Architect, and so I think they were one of the first companies I wrote. They were also the first to write back, and showed a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Both Drew and Christian were fans already and were ready to work with us with out even receiving the album yet. It's a great match for us, far better than our last label. Damn near every band on their roster I think is great, and they're down to earth, family guys, so their expectations of us were very realistic, rational, and respectufl. Super cool label who is no way, too hip or pretentious, which fits us like a glove.

3. Is there a story line to Cenotes looking at the cover I would say there was and listening to the tracks its sounds like a story..

Absolutely a story going on, one that continues the mythos of 'The Ichthyologist' protagonist. But, I can't give too much away cause it all goes along with the accompanying comic book I'm producing myself, a mini promo of which will come out with the vinyl release in March. 'Cenotes' takes place after occurrences in the album before, which dealt heavily with the origin of the character, and how he deals with becoming something entirely inhuman. 'Cenotes' finds that character having a child, and both of them witnessing the end of everything terrestrial, traveling through benthic rips in time, and eventually becoming an everlasting food source for something. So all and all in some real fucked up situations.

4.  There is a strong mix of Strings/Folkish elements mixed with Doom and Prog rock where did this sound come from its very different then most?

It just comes completely natural. We don't strive to do anything at all in particular, other than just write rock music that works for us. I'm sure our backgrounds reflect a lot of what transpires in our music though. Bryan and I, both founding members of the group who have been playing music in punk bands together since 1996, were obsessed as kids over the Subhumans, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, Misfits, and Minor Threat. All the staples. Jackie has a far more metal background, and definitely brings that to the table in addition to her lifetime of being a classically trained musician. And Scotty grew up not only a punk, but also a metal head and product of the 90s like both Bryan and I. So, we share a big love of arena rock bands like Primus and Deftones, but also old time Americana groups like Devil Makes Three and Old Crow Medicine show. In the last ten years, I've become very much in love with any Middle Eastern sounding music, and have always tried to give a bit of that flair where ever it felt right in our song writing.

5. Will there be any videos off Cenotes or if were lucky a full DVD as your music fits so well to this format.

I definitely plan on having a video or two made for 'Cenotes'. I think they're really important in todays day in age with youtube and what not. They're just really hard to find funding for, and someone good to produce it with in that budget. I've been really wanting to put out an open call though for newbie directors wanting to take a song on. As far as DVDs, we've talked with people really excited to do it, it's just no one understands how broke we are, and that everything we do is out of pocket. We get excited if we have $250 bucks in our paypal cause we can make a new tiny batch of t-shirts. Finding two grand to make a video or bigger yet, a DVD, is impossible for us. If someone is a huge enough fan to do it for next to nothing, then hell yeah. I have so much never seen before footage of the making of all of our albums, and ancient shows, and whatever. It'd be rad if it could ever happen.

6.  Does Giant Squid like live performances or being in the studio more?? Or is there pleasure and pain in both?

We like em both equally, and miss one always when we're doing so much of the other. There is so much frustration in both, and I feel we don't get an opportunity to do either enough to get, really, really good at them. Because of funding, we always have to rush our recordings and writing process. And because of life and it's logistics, playing shows and especially touring is hard to manage too as we get older. We're always trying to find a balance so we can do either as much as possible, for this is what we live to do. Write music, record it, share it.

7. If you were asked to explain your music to someone that has never heard it how would you do so?

Quoted straight from our bio - "San Francisco post-metal, progressive rock, sludge scientists." If none of those terms meant anything to the person, I'd say extremely loud rock music with lots of pretty parts.

8. You have a member of of Amber Asylum and Grayceon in Jackie as a full time Giant Squid member  being that she has other projects as well is it hard to get tours or recording times to work out . She adds such a layer of sound with her Cello and vocals that were not there on early material?

She definitely brought a whole new, mature, beautiful, organic, ethereal presence and vibe to our existing sound. I don't ever think of us having a cello as being strange, as I'm so used to it now. But when we play shows, I realize by peoples reaction how peculiar it is.

Grayceon and Squid always make it work. We're all super tight and family so very supportive of each other. We've done two huge national tours with them before which have been unforgettable. And when Jackie has Grayceon practice, I stay at home and watch the kid. When I have practice with my other band, HELL SHIP, she stays at home and watches our daughter. When Squid practices, friends or family watch her so we can both be away. If one band is offered a gig but can't do it, usually the other comes in and fills the slot. If anything, both bands are a great help to each other and hardly ever a hindrance.

9. Being that its 2011  whats you thoughts on the DIgital age ( Social Media. Mp3s, Android apps and internet media)  Do you the day of old  Tape trading  and fanzines and radio and CD promotion???  or is it a brave new age?

Everything about new technologies today is incredible and very freeing for the small time band like us. Everything except the theft. Some bands are OK with it, and have accepted that you just have to give away your music now. I for one am not so easy to roll over. Technology enables anyone to hear your music easily and quickly now streaming from your website so they can make an opinion whether it's worth supporting with a purchase. There is no need to blatantly steal the music. But, the now common place tech that brings you streaming also brings you the stealing. You can't have one with out the other. Sadly, it has reduced bands to glorified t-shirt design companies, since physical textiles are one of the last things a band can still sell. Other than that, the internet is a priceless tool for bands. This band has been around long enough that there was a time when we were still sending out physical postcards to our mailing list to let people know about shows. It's weird to think that we share the stage with other bands today that have never existed in an industry without myspace or facebook. Man, we're old I guess.

10.  Being that your song are complex and longer then mainstream fans are use to . Do you have a more extreme fan base like Prog or Jazz bands???  As I think your so much more then just a Metal band in those terms??

We're definitely not just a metal band, but we're way too heavy to be simply labeled a hard rock band. I never try to get too picky about genre tags when it comes to us. I truly think we're pretty undefinable. Our crowds show that. We've got hippies and punks, metal head heshers and even hipsters. We got middle aged fans just as excited about us as those teens less than half their age. It's really diverse, and maybe that can be attributed to us being "extreme" in some small aspects, but I like to think it's just because we're pretty good at writing music.

11. If I may ask if you don't want to answer that is fine what happened with The End Records they seems to really push your Debut Full Length?

Fuck it, I'll tell you exactly what went down. It may sound bitter, but this is exactly how it happened. Token big label, small band story.

The End is a large business and signs bands based on their marketing and profit potential. They are not really an indie label anymore, and I don't think they ever wanted to be from the beginning. That wasn't always the case, as when we were signed to them they still possessed a fairly cohesive progressive metal aesthetic, but their goal for big sales has never been more apparent than it is today. One only needs to examine that roster.

They've worked really hard to get where they are, and work equally as hard and put a lot of money in to each release. I guess they thought we too could be a high grossing band, and I really appreciate that and am grateful for that blind faith, whether it was being misplaced or not, as they really kick started our musical career and exposed us to the world. They were always very kind and supportive both financially, and even emotionally when shit fell apart in 2006 and they really encouraged us to keep pushing on and that they'd support us all the way (ahem*), and so they started to feel like family while we were on the roster. We worked our asses off in every way we could for them. We toured with bands we never should have, headlined our own grueling full national run, playing to no one on so many nights all across the country - all the usual brutal band stuff to be expected. We were doing exactly what they told us they wanted us to do. That's why it hurt so bad when literally after so much blood, sweat, and tears, what seemed like an amazing growing relationship, came to a sudden abrupt halt after we told them we were planning on hiring Matt Bayles - one of the most prestigious and sought after producers in heavy music - to record our next record. They felt we still hadn't done our time in touring behind Metridium Fields, and didn't care that the majority of the people on that album were long since gone. They insisted we focus only on touring, touring, touring behind that recoord, and that we should not be thinking about writing another. They actually said point blank that they didn't see Giant Squid doing anything to get our name out there. After four tours (one of which nearly killed us, and certainly destroyed life long friendships and more with in the group) and flying ourselves out twice to play festivals while on their label for those quick two and a half years - we were shocked to say the least. But, we quickly realized It was just as good a thing that they dropped us as it was that they signed us. We may not sell a million records and wear costumes, but we sure as fuck work our fingers to the bone making incredible art and getting our name out there. Whatever, the next year we self released 'The Ichthyologist'. Enough said.

12. For new bands out there is there any words of advice for them now that your on your 3rd proper album and been around the scene for while?

At first, just do it yourself. If you're worth a shit musically, you can do it yourself these days if you are computer savy at all. All you need is a solid online presence like with Bandcamp and Facebook, a booking agent, and then hire a PR firm to promote your releases. Look at the cottage industry bands and study how they do it. Don't waste money on bullshit like half ass managers or ridiculous websites. Man up, be a pirate, book some fucking basement tours with the right bands, and your music will do the rest if it's relevant. Focus on the music above and beyond anything. You're supposed to be a real artist, not an entertainer. Stop thinking your going to make a fucking living at this.

If you feel you have to sign to a label, read the answer to the question before this again to get an idea of how utterly disappointing that arrangement can be. Then choose carefully.

13. You seem to not have a proper website Do you feel social media is enough for musicians  in 2011?

We used to, but found it wasn't needed or being visited a fraction as much as myspace or later with facebook. Social media is a must. As I state above, a Bandcamp page and a well done Facebook page with a player, like Reverbnation, Root Music, or actually what Bandcamp now offers for Facebook, is enough. Social media has the world engrossed, with ever shortened attention spans. Everyone is on Facebook, so that's where you should hit him. That site is crack and people don't want to turn it off, so keep them there while they find out all about your band. Facebook isn't perfect, but it's a must. When new fans are convinced they want more and are ready to buy some stuff, send them to your Bandcamp from there. Elaborate websites are rad, but ridiculously expensive. Unless someone in your band can make one, then use that money to buy a trailer and play every city in your state instead. Facebook markets itself. How are you going to market your own website outside of the social networks? Spend more money! Fuck that. Buy better tubes for your amp. Your tone sucks. Who cares about flash intros.

14. Thank you for the time any closing thoughts here

Nah, I've said enough. Thanks!