Giant Drag
On Their Past, Present & Future…
February 2010
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

After being away for what seemed like an eternity, one of my most treasured US alt.rock bands, Giant Drag, finally returned to action on February 16 with a brand new EP entitled, Swan Song, which was first previewed with a dazzling promo video for the song Stuff To Live For. Starting life in Los Angeles in 2003, most UK music fans will probably best remember Annie Hardy (guitar / vocals) and Micah Calabrese (drums / keyboards) from 2005, when their debut EP, Lemona, was released over here, quickly followed by their first long player, Hearts And Unicorns, in 2006.

Choosing the name Giant Drag because it “summarised Annie’s whole life” (who learnt how to play guitar in tenth grade at boarding school), each of these records in turn, introduced listeners to Annie’s sweet riffs, unique voice and introspective, eye-opening and darkly humorous lyrics / song titles. The duo were on a roll, being praised by the music press (particularly in England) and supporting some awesome acts, including Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Nine Black Alps. But then, in late 2006, Micah left the group amicably and Annie was later diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, also finding herself without a record deal since 2007. Which explains why things have been so quiet in the intervening years.

Help however, has come in the form of fan donations – The Giant Drag Relief Fund – with Annie admitting in a previous interview when asked about writing and recording new material: “People get to actually be a part of the making of this album, which wouldn’t happen without them.” With Micah officially rejoining the ranks in 2009, I contacted Annie with a R*E*P*E*A*T Q&A request, wanting to know more about the duo’s forthcoming music together, as well as what else in life inspires Annie – a questionnaire she graciously completed and returned in only a couple of days!

Giant Drag are back, and oh how we’ve missed them…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.As you’ve just released a new EP, can fans also expect a sophomore album and tour dates this year as well?
“I hope it will be out this year. We take forever to do everything, but the second album is in the home stretch. Who knows, we could get caught up in artwork for two years, but I hope it comes out soon.”

2.Would you say that your new songs are an evolution – both musically and lyrically – from your previous work?
“I would definitely say that. I wrote about 40 songs since the first album and I think my songs have evolved and maybe are a bit more mature, but not all of them!”

3.Does your environment and personal life affect your songs, and when writing and recording, do you build tracks step-by-step, or can they develop anyway, anyhow?

“Every song happens differently, but my environment definitely affects everything. I've been living in the most depressing apartment for so long, I had an album of major bummer songs but then I wrote more. The best songs just happen and I have no idea how they got there.”

4.One of the first things that drew me to Giant Drag’s music, was the array of mesmerising guitar sounds and tones in your songs – but from the music that you love, do you have any favourite guitar parts, riffs and solos + any guitar heroes?
I love the simplicity of Neil Young's riffs and solos, they're simple yet incredibly powerful and moving without moving around the guitar that much. My guitar heroes would have to be Neil Young, Todd Rundgren... yeah, that's it.”

5.Of all the records you own, which have you played the most?
“Fuuck, that's a hard one. Better Can't Make Your Life Better by the Lilys. They're just called Lilys, but it sounds weird without throwing a 'the' in there.”

6.Is there an interesting story behind each of your album / EP titles + were there any alternative titles that were nearly used?
“The titles are like the songs and they just happen, but my best friend and the dude who has been producing the new album, Joe Cardamone (from the Icarus Line), always seems to be there when a title is decided on.”

7.If you were asked to record a ‘Split EP’ with one act, where you would both cover each other’s songs – who would you choose and what track, plus which song of yours would you like them to cover?
“I'd cover Sound And Vision by David Bowie and he can cover High Friends In Places just for kicks.”

8.I saw that you have your very own Giant Drag eBay store, but do you yourself shop on eBay, and if so, what are some of the coolest things that you’ve ever seen or bought?
“I stopped eBay shopping because nothing is ever as good as it is in the pictures. I bought a cool vintage suitcase like 6 years ago.”

9.What inspires you outside of music?
“Life stuff, relationships, love, hate, pizza.”

10.What’s the best and the worst gig that you’ve ever played?
“I don't know, because my memory sucks, but maybe my favorite show was in Brighton. The worst was probably at South by Southwest when I had the stomach flu.”

11.Continuing with this train of thought, as someone who enjoys a bit of banter with an audience in-between songs, of all your stories / jokes, which ones have been the best received?
“One time, I really burned someone in the crowd who tried to heckle me, I don't remember what I said, but I remember the whole crowd making that "awww you just got burned asshole!" sound.”

12.If you could put together a fantasy Guest List featuring musicians, producers, writers, poets, artists, actors, film directors – anyone that you admire really – with the guarantee that all of these people would turn up to watch one of your shows, who would you most like to invite?
“I don't really care... It'd be awesome if Oprah came to one of our shows and loved it.”

13.As you have a Club DJing past, which tracks should every aspiring DJ have in their record box?
“All the records Micah borrowed a year ago and hasn't given back. I like to split a room and play Hunger Strike by Temple Of The Dog and watch half the room get bummed and the other half get stoked.”

14.What have been some of your favourite memories since you first started the band, and if you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
“My favorite memories are from when we did everything for fun and didn't think of the fact that people would hear the songs on a record and judge them. I wouldn't change anything, because I'm sure it was all for a purpose.”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?

“Cream buns, I don't even know what that is, but it sounds sweet and dirty... just like me.”

A very special thanks to Annie, and to Giant Drag’s Manager Brigitte, for all of their time and help.

“You’re full of shit (check out my sweet riffs)”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?