As the next wave of the Kiwi invasion of the rock n roll charts prepares to break, I Am Giant’s Paul Matthews calls in from his home in London. The four piece, comprised of Matthews with fellow New Zealanders Shelton Woolwright and Andrew Kerr as well as British vocalist Ed Martin, are hitting Australian shores in support of their debut album The Horrifying Truth during June and July. Forming from the ashes of acclaimed bands Tadpole (Matthews), Blindspott (Woolwright) and Volume (Martin) respectively, I Am Giant have filled the last few months with feverish touring.
“We’re really proud of it” says Matthews of the record, “four songs actually reached number one on the New Zealand rock charts.” Their debut success echoes that of fellow Kiwi’s Six60, whom Matthews and Woolwright have produced for in the past. Reaching gold status on their debut offering was a welcome shock for the group. “To go gold was a nice surprise. We were hoping it would do well but to go gold was awesome” says Matthews.
The busy London-based quartet have no plans to slow down, getting in as much studio as time as possible before they tour. “We have our own little studio over there so we can just lock the door and away we go. When we’re not in London we’re here, there and everywhere so there is still that need to be writing when you’re away otherwise your output is cut in half.”
As The Horrifying Truth continues to gain momentum in Australia, the next step for I Am Giant is to release the album in Europe and America. Despite having the pressure to release the album again, the bass player is calm and collected about their prospects. “I’m not nervous at all. Putting it out there in the first is an achievement. It’s early days for our band, it’s our debut album so it’s really an introduction to the band and hopefully there are people out there who can identify with that. I will be grateful for anything.”
If I Am Giant’s fans are anything to go by, the band will have an easy time breaking into the difficult European and American markets. A quick scroll through YouTube brings up a video from a fan getting a “Purple Heart” tattoo, one of the songs from their album. Matthews laughs, “he is a diehard fan and I appreciate the dedication. We know him through coming to our shows and immortalising our song. It looks pretty good.” The YouTube fan faring better then another, “a guy tattooed Ed’s signature on the inside of his arm. Ed has an awful signature and it was the most horrific form of calligraphy I have ever seen and this guy went out and got it on there,” he cracks.
Not all gestures of goodwill from fans are as extreme, but at times well intentioned gifts can leave the band a little worse for wear, Matthews points out. “Drinks are always well received. There is the odd occasion where people bring over shots and you’re not in a shot mood. It’s like “oh no” and you have to take the shot, it’s always something fairly brutal.”
Though the perks are worthwhile, playing full-time in a fledgling band has its downsides; successful releases, a dedicated fan base and sold out shows take work are far from guaranteed. Having been on both sides of this, Matthews is able to acknowledge the bad while being thankful for the good. “You haven’t got a steady income. It is a massive labour of love; your creature comforts go out the window. You see your friends buying houses and being promoted in their jobs but you know it’s what you love and that’s why you do it. People think that you’re backstage with your feet up and driving in a limo at the end of the night, not us man. The only person doing that right now is Simon Cowell; he is just having a laugh.” But the good mostly outweighs the bad “Where we are now, the best part of that is I guess just being in the band and writing music which is something that we are privileged to be able to do. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Despite the size of the Sony empire, Matthews and co are happily signed on, firmly stating that the band have retained their own identity and have no intention of it being any other way. “The type of band that we are, they just go with whatever we want to do. They tell us which songs they think will be successful as singles in a particular country or on a particular radio station but we have 100% creative control. People quite often have a pretty distorted view of what being on a big label is like.”
Some of their label mates have been the cause of many laughs for the guys, with Sony housing many of the ousted contestants from the Idol franchise. “We are actually label mates with One Direction, but they’re over one side and we’re on the other with the big kids” Matthews chuckles.
While the kids over at One Direction may have just about completed their plan for world domination, I Am Giant has them covered on another front – girls. When asked who gets the better groupies, Matthews just laughs and answers “Legally? We do!”
– Madison Thomas