Saturday 9 March 2013

Interview with GIZA

Future Ruins cover art

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing – GIZA – A brilliant Instrumental Sludge Metal Band who have just released their excellent debut album – Future Ruins which I featured previously back in Dec 2012.

For a band that has only been in existence since March 2012 they have accomplished a great deal with their first record. It's a stunning record that Pelican would be proud to call their own. Plus they got Matt Bayles to record and master it as well. Matt Bayles has produced records by Mastodon, ISIS and The Sword amongst others.

Well I want to hear what GIZA had to say about their style of Apocalyptic Sludge Metal as they call it. And see how this great band came about.

They have kindly agreed to do an interview with me. So lets get started.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you Today.

Steve – Ehhh

Trent - Hi! Excellent.

Rich: Going great!

Q2 – Can you give a brief history of the band and how it came about.

Steve - Well, last March, Rich and I, in the wake of another band imploding, decided we wanted to do something heavier and more intense. We wrote some songs/riffs and contacted Trent to determine his interest. Two and a half months later we recorded Future Ruins.

Rich: I met Steve in 2010 and we talked about starting a band. We spent a lot of time jamming and messing with equipment but couldn't find good people to help complete the project. When I say good people I mean drummers who could show up one night a week, or play loud enough so we could hear them in the same room. We had a couple of bad incarnations of Giza, and a guitar player we used to play with used to work with Trent and introduced us. As soon as Trent showed up we threw out all of our old songs and started from scratch. The rest is history!

Q3 – How would you describe your sound. Well I know you call it Apocalyptic Sludge Metal. Can you provide a more detailed answer.

Steve - Labels and comparisons are really for fans and others to deal with. We don't really care what it's called so long as we dig what we're doing.

Trent - I would describe it as minimalist tone-worshiping stoners/beer-champions making the slowest and heaviest jams possible. Being tired and sick of the daily routine of endless wage slavery, we just like to take some time to enjoy ourselves and make music we like.

Rich: I think apocalyptic sludge metal is a great way to describe the sum of the parts that make up Giza. We're definitely a heavy metal band but we're influenced by modern post metal and even indie rock, and then obviously a love of stoner doom sludge bong-warrior type of stuff gets thrown in. One of our friends calls us an "amp band" and I think that's dead on.

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians.

Steve - We're gonna be all-over-the-place with this one. For me, Sabbath of course, Coltrane, Mermen, Shiner, Archers of Loaf, King Crimson, this list could seriously go on and on forever.....basically anything I listen to is something I try to take in and let influence me on some level.

Trent - Zach Hill, Damon Che, Ben Koller, Junius, Converge, Hella, Don Caballero, Knut, Hum, Harkonen, and The Flaming Lips.

Rich: I really like a lot of old thrash metal, current black metal, old school hardcore, classic rock, indie rock. Anything really. Neil Young and Andre Segovia are really interesting to me as a guitar player. But YOB and Dark Castle are two of my favorite bands and stoner metal or doom metal or sludge metal are tags that always catch my attention.

Q5 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.

Steve - hahahahahahah, day jobs of course, there's no money in music anymore. Everyone has day jobs.

Trent - I have a super shitty low-paying job that I fucking hate at the moment.

Rich: We've only played a handful of shows and if we had to live off what we bring in I don’t think we’d have internet access to do this interview!

Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Steve - Define supportive... Yes, they are but once you're over thirty your friends have better shit to do than to come see your shows all the time. Honestly, I'm not trying to reach my friends with our music. I guess, we're not trying to think locally.

Trent - My friends are all very supportive. My family acts like it for the most part.

Rich: My family is all on the east coast so they are pretty detached from my free time in Seattle. I think they are just glad I have a job and am happy.

Q7 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

Steve - Rich or I bring in some riffs and we as a band flesh them out and move things around. So, to better answer your question, we do most of the work as a group but the initial riffs are brought in usually by one person but we add to them or merge them with other ideas to form songs. We have a riff bank and we pull from it when needed.

Rich: There's no handbook with writing a Giza song!

Trent - I come in and throw down beats when they have a general skeleton worked out.

Q8 – How did you get Matt Bayles involved with your début album. A real achievement for a band's début album if you don't mind me saying so.

Steve - Easy. Ask him to do it. I had done an album with him in the past and I just emailed him to judge his interest. He was stoked to do it and that's really it.

Trent - Thanks! Steve had recorded with him in the past so he just asked him, and he was totally down. I don't think he actually knew what we sounded like until we starting recording.

Rich : Luck and magic!

Q9 – It does has Matt's signature sound on your music. I loved the style of the slow paced riffage that takes it time before exploding into a loud wall of noise. Are you happy with the final result of the album.

Steve - Oh fuck yeah, he's the man. If we up to me, I would never record with anyone else. I love his style, techniques and the general ease at which he makes things happen.

Trent - Yeah I'm totally happy with everything. It far exceeded my expectations, and they were extremely high.

Rich: Happy is an understatement! Matt caught what we were after right away. It wouldn’t be the same record if we went with someone else.

Q10 – Where did the name GIZA come from. Does it have any specific meaning to the band itself.

Steve - It came form sitting around for fucking months trying to brainstorm ideas for a band name. Either one of us hated the other things we came up with or the name was taken. It has a meaning, but more in the general conveys that ethereal place that we hope our music takes you to and has that mystical imagery that works well as our backdrop.

Trent - It was one of the hundreds of names I wrote down while I was at work. We are all interested in the Pyramids and Egypt, as well as other ancient civilizations, and thought the name GIZA would fit well with the type of music we were making while being easy to remember and spell, etc. Most importantly, it wasn't already taken. We went through so many band name ideas.....there's just so many bands out there. It's crazy.

Rich: There's a lot of cliches we wanted to avoid. There's also an OM record called "At Giza" that Steve and I really like so that helps tie it all together.

Q11 – Has BandCamp been a big help in getting your music across.

Steve - Definitely, it makes it easy to send links and easy to make things free.

Trent - Yes, bandcamp is great.

Rich: Sites like bandcamp and more importantly sites like Sludgelord have been the primary way we've gotten our music into peoples hands. The internet is really powerful.

Q12 – Future Ruins is being released by yourselves. Was that an easy decision to make.

Steve - Yes, since no one else offered to put it out.

Trent - Yeah. Of course we are trying to get labels interested; it's just that we aren't going to wait for that to happen. We'll just continue to do what we love, and if someone gets interested enough to put it out, then great. If not, that's fine too.

Rich: We talked about sending it out to labels but at the end of the day we wanted to get it into people’s hands faster, so we saved up money and got CD's pressed ourselves. We'd love to work with someone for vinyl or for our next record.

Q13 – Obviously with you releasing the album yourselves, there must of been a financial cost involved. It's not easy self producing and recording your music these days. Especially with the download culture around on the internet.

Steve - Correct. These days it's both easier and harder to do. It's easier because recording costs have come down and you can choose to record it yourself if you haven't the funds for a true studio recording. But, it's harder because in the long run you pay for everything.....because there are no labels anymore and the ones that are left aren't throwing money at anything. Plus, I mean come on, we're an instrumental metal band, not a ton of money in those genres to be made.

Trent - Yeah, it's really expensive. Honestly, every penny I make goes directly to music/band stuff, rent, and food. I'm definitely the lowest of low class right now, haha.

Rich: Yea but this is a hobby and significant part of our free time. If I didn't play music with people I'd probably spend more money going out drinking or seeing shows so it all evens out. I think musicians just like to be dramatic about money. Go figure that vans and gas and musical equipment isn’t free… At least with putting it out and selling some copies we've been able to get some money towards our next recording.

Q14 - What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records

Steve - They've been fabulous. Thank you also for the write-up. We thought they are better at getting to word out to people who actually like metal. It'd be rad to get a Rolling Stone write-up but honestly, who gives a fuck. It's a rag of a magazine that doesn’t cater to metal. Metal-heads don't read that shit so why should we care about getting our music out to fans of John Mayer. They won't like it and it’s a waste of our time trying to impress people who wouldn't give a damn about our recoding in the first place.

Trent - I think it's awesome! Stoked about it. Glad people are interested.

Rich: You guys are incredible. I have an office job and the high point of my day is going on Sludgelord and 1 other blog site. I do that before I even check my email at work. I listen to new music every day from all over the world thanks to blogs like this and have discovered some of my favorite records that way. I buy a lot of records thanks to blogs and sites like bandcamp. This is a great way to find music. 

Q15 – Is there a scene for a band like your own to perform in your home town on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to do regular gigs. As people mainly associate Seattle with grunge. Is it hard to break away from that scene.

Steve - Seattle has a HUGE metal scene. Id venture to say it's the largest scene here and the one with a ton of AMAZING bands. We have some very heavy-hitters here and it's getting bigger every day. Grunge was some made up shit from twenty five years ago. The people who are still looking for Grunge aren't looking for new music anyway, they are still trapped in the early 90s.

Trent - Yeah there is an amazing scene for us here in our home-town. I'm pretty heavily involved with the music scene here being in three full-time bands and all.

Rich: We are lucky to live in Seattle as there is a big heavy rock scene here. We're also close to vancouver, tacoma, bremerton, portland, olympia, spokane, eugene, boise, so hopefully we'll get to play those spots soon.

Q16 – Do you have any interesting and exciting stories from tour.

Steve - Not really, we haven't had too many nutty experiences with this band.

Trent - Not many yet. Haven't toured with GIZA yet unfortunately.

Rich: Hopefully we’ll have more to say in the future about that!

Q17 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal.

Steve - I listen to a ton of shit....I mostly buy metal these days as that's what I play but I like all sorts of tunes. Favs in the metal world......hmmm, that's tough to narrow it down but, here goes. YOB, Dark Castle, Sleep, Primitive Man, Bell Witch, Samothrace, Conan, Pallbearer...this list could go on forever so I'll cut it off there.

Trent - My favorite bands around at the moment are probably Converge, Mogwai, Junius, and Helms Alee.

Rich: Mutilation Rites, Bell Witch, Ash Borer are my holy trinity right now and all 3 are playing Seattle this month. The new Primitive Man is incredible. We all listen to more than just the classic era of stoner/sludge/doom.

Q18 – What were your original intentions when you started the band. And have they been met yet.

Steve - Write, record heavy music we love. It's never going to get met as that's an ongoing goal that can't be totally met. We set baby step goals and keep accomplishing them and moving on to the next round of goals.

Trent – I wasn't there when they originally started, but I can say that our intentions are to make records and plays shows and tour as much as we can.

Rich: Steve and my original goal was to form a band that had some space, where the amps did the work, and where the tone shaped the songs. That led to us playing heavier and heavier music and establishing us. I'm really happy with the record and the progress we've had so far.

Q19 - What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

Steve - We are recording our second album and another ep in the summer and plan on doing more shows. We hope to also re-release our last album on vinyl if funds permit.

Rich: Depends on our jobs tragically. Definitely playing more shows around the northwest. We've talked about going down to California for a run of shows.

Q20 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band?

Steve - Settling goals and achieving them is the most rewarding and the least is just some of the day to day stuff like promoting yourself. It's tiring and not what we're best at.

Trent – The most would be the fact that it gives me something that I can't get anywhere else, and it makes me truly happy to make music that people enjoy. The least would be the fact that there's not much money to be made.

Rich: I really like practicing, playing shows, and recording. It sucks when you have to pay the bills, waiting for things to show up or equipment to get fixed is a big bummer.

Q21 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Steve - Thanks for listening.

Trent - Thanks so much for listening!

Rich: Thanks for all your support!

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord. Hope your future touring goes great and you sell out your album. Thanks. Steve.

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