Giant: New Promises
Giant drummer David Huff celebrates the band's return - albeit in a new form. Time to get mometum up and continue that on he says. Let's hope so!
Hi David - so, you're ok to talk now?
Yeah! I'm good!
Great! Ok, so, you've obviously been doing interviews pretty flat-out. What's it like to get back into the whole interview process and album prelaunch phase?
It brings back a lot of good memories. It really does. It's been good. We're talking about something that's not a grind. We're talking about something that we're proud of, enjoyable stuff to do.
It's been good.
Ok, so you're normally working behind the scenes of the music you're making, right?
Yeah, exactly-totally. I work with a lot of artists: that's THEIR job. (laughs)
So, the last few years, who have you been primarily been working with?
A lot of people. I've lived in LA and, now, I've moved back to Tennessee about 7 months ago…I work on film and TV movies; I work with some pop artists-some stuff that is totally not in the Giant vein at all. I've done some country artists and some rock bands-kind of all over the place. It's kind of like how Dann and I grew up. We played on a bunch of different records when we were little, or young I should say. And so I was busy doing that-just busy making music, which is awesome. It's just a pleasure.
Absolutely. But, always close to your heart is the idea of Giant.
Well, yeah, somebody asked the other day what brought it about. First of all, I've got a great relationship with Serafino and Mario over at Frontiers records.
I've stayed in touch with them over the years. I was producing a rock band in L.A. and I was working with a guitar player, DJ Ashba who played on a lot of Motley Crue stuff. I hired him to come in and work with me and, man, it just –just the power of the rock and roll music. This was kind of melodic; this was the new rock and roll. Man, I remember telling the artists that I really miss making this kind of music-they way we did with Giant. It brings back the power of the good style of rock and roll music.
I do a lot of work with programming and all that kind of stuff, which I love, but I truly miss that style of music. So, it kind of prompted a couple of conversations with Serafino and we just moved from there; we went on from there. Obviously the talks went well because we did a record. (laughs)
Obviously, Dann's involvement was a debate point for you for a long time. I gather you waited for him for a while because I remembered Mario coming to me in 2002 while we were in the U.K. together saying, “What would you think of Giant if we had a different lead vocalist? That was in 2002! (laughs)
Yeah. You know, to be honest with you, after we did Giant 3 that was really a test for me because they'd asked us to do another Giant record. We're obviously best friends-brothers too. We work together now and we worked together then. It's kind of like we let the music die-we let the band die because the music style was over in the U.S.- it just totally died. It's kind like trying to unload a Hummer I right now.
It doesn't work in this day and time, you know? So, that was kind of a test to me and it was kind of...I understand why it was kind of a lukewarm reception because it wasn't new music.
Over the last….shoot man, over the last 4 or 5 years, I noticed a lot of people putting together tours again and all going over to Europe so that it has always stayed in the back of my mind.
But Dann...he never really wanted to do it but the idea in my mind never totally quite died off, you know?
I know the style died, but it's like anything else-it's difficult coming back.
Yes, it might not be a huge audience but it's a very loyal audience.
Very loyal. Yes, You're right.
In Europe and even in America, it's growing a little bit. It's a loyal audience. And we're an a bit older now but we still love what we grew up with and there's even some kids coming into it.
I've known some U.S. markets and they're ready for some good songs again.
It went through a good period but that period needs a change. That's what keeps us all young, right? Keep it varied? You know, new music?
Absolutely. Are you happy with the songs you've lined up for this album? Not all are co-writes by the band but you've got a few great tracks in there as well, haven't you?
Yeah! I'm very aware. You know, Serafino and I talk and we talk pretty frequently. I was always a big fan of them. They came over before 2000 and we had some wine at my house. I was so close- in kinship with them. I had visited their site once in a while and had asked Serafino about co-writers and he had mentioned Eric's [Martensson] name. It just so happened that he's had some songs . I kind of cut him mid sentence and said, well, does he have some? Would you open to sending some songs to me!
And Serafino asks me, and he says, would you be open to listening to some songs? ABSOLUTELY! I kind of wanted to hear more of what he wrote about. I heard the songs that he wrote and, you know, the real musician part of me went, I wouldn't change that.
Yeah, I LOVE Eric's stuff-I really do.
I mean we changed some of the arrangement stuff but that's not re-writing, you know?
I thought it was GREAT. Personally. I thought it was awesome! I went, well man, I thought we needed a few more. To be honest with you, the market over there-I respect it and I don't know it well enough right now.
You know, had it been like before with Giant and the real money and stuff was there…you know what I'm sayin'? -- with the label and we would have flown over and written for a month.
But that's just not, in this day and age right now, and especially with all the work we've got goin' on, that just wasn't possible.
I understand that; it's an entirely new budget these days.
But, it just so happened to work out that they had these great songs. I was like, man, if you mind, I'd love to cut them and see if we cut them right and we can see if they can make a record. We and the label both felt the same--that they worked great.
Yeah, they were-absolutely. And, you've pulled a couple of old Dann Huff co-writes there as well?
Of course! (laughs) I mean Dann…he's been such a …he loves… I mean…He hasn't sung since probably early 1992 when Giant disbanded, you know.
I think that's criminal. I remember interviewing him once in the mid 90s and he said, “I could never get my voice back in shape.” I just thought, that's a perfectionist talking because he's got such a WONDERFUL voice! It's just a criminal waste to not hear it again.
I know. It's so unique and so signature. I agree with you. When that point hit, I knew he wouldn't want to do Giant-the way giant was.
The funny thing is, when we started Giant, there was a producer-I won't mention the names-who we first hooked up with-who we wanted to produce our band and take us under HIS production company (to a label) who HIGHLY suggested that Dann not sing and that we find a lead singer…..
...and the four of us were like, “Are you-are you KIDDING?” You know, we told him to...is this a PG interview? (laughs)
(laughs) No, no no!! Tell it like it is!
We said, “You don't know… are you CRAZY?” And then, we stood behind our gun. We like Dann's sound and the feel that he brings. And it was a good call because that's what we felt.
So, in making the bold step forward to record without him, what was the criteria for a new vocalist? How many guys did you look at?
We looked for a while. You know Andrew, we've got a different philosophy; this was mine and Mike's philosophy. We talked about doing this band, under the name Giant. We understand when you make change in the world, or anything, some people are not gonna like it. We didn't go into the whole thing trying to please everybody. We knew we had fans but it had been a long time. We didn't go into it trying to replace Dann.
He's irreplaceable and so we wanted to stay true to the brand of Giant…
….but we also wanted to evolve because it's been so many years. I think that was the criteria for us looking for singers. What met the criteria for us was someone who could play and sing rock music but just as important was that he have some soulful sort of background.
Yeah. Terry Brock's a great choice.
Yeah and you know it was a very natural choice, as was John [Roth]. He's the same; he's got a lot of rock but he's got a lot of soul in him because he's in Memphis.
So anyway, that was kind of our philosophy. And, we had approached the label too with we can't replace Dann, nor are we trying to. We just want to make it true to the melodic rock, guitar driven music but kind of evolved.
There's a lot of guitar on this record actually.
John really PLAYS. (laughs) Everybody knows what a really great player he is but he gets to shine a bit is what I meant.
I think he's an awesome player. Dann's heard stuff and he was very impressed with everything; he was TOTALLY impressed with it. And he is very supportive of it.
Where did the rumors come from, that there was a rift between you guys because of you moving forward with the name?
Between me and Dan? Oh no, no, no. You know, you've been in the media long enough to know that some people will just day things to start some stuff…
The bottom line is, like I said early on in the interview, Dann and I are best friends; we are blood brothers and we're best friends. We have nothing but love. You know, I went to Dann first and said, Hey, I know you don't want to do Giant because you don't want to sing and I know your commitments. But, hey, I'm gonna ask you officially anyway because we're brothers…and that's how I do things. Either way, it's fine. He didn't want to do it but he is absolutely, 1000% supportive. He has absolutely bent over backwards to give song input and play some solos, which are amazing.
Because that's what brothers do. So there's no rumor-no.
That's fantastic but I'm still stunned that he doesn't want to sing! (laughs)
I know. (laughs) I know! He's SO good; he's so interpretive and soulful. Yeah, I agree with you; I agree with you. Maybe had we been in Giant 5 years earlier, you know, at the PEAK of all that kind of music….maybe we woulda had enough records under our belt-you know, hits-maybe we could be around like, and I'm not comparing us with Journey, but kind of like how they have lived through that.
And still make it worth your while to tour or whatever.
Yeah and they can still make a comfortable living off of all the stuff they did back in the 80s! (laughs)
(laughs) Exactly, yes. Their songs just won't die, some of them.
Yeah. I heard some of them the other night, Don't Stop Believin', and I was like, Wow, that sounds awesome.
It's hard to believe that it's 30 years old, isn't it?
Uh huh. Yeah.
Speaking of aging and things like that, the first of your 2 studio albums still sound AMAZING today.
Wow. Well, thanks. Thanks.
They have aged and I just wanted to ask you whether you are aware-I'm sure you are aware of the cult following that those 2 albums have.
We are all very aware of that. We are very appreciative of that. Part of making this record is knowing that we still have…people come out of the blue, Andrew, and say, Man, I love Giant. Are you ever going to make anything else? And I'm talking recently. People that I know that are in the pop world-I won't mention any names but famous people-they LIKE the band.
So, we know we have fans, especially over in Europe. We always really wanted to make another record. We'll make some of the fans happy by that. We sure had fun making the record, and although it's a different day and age, we still hope we can have some of those fans.
And you've captured a great sound, once again. Obviously, you guys know your way around the studio by now. (laughs) So, you can make a great sound for a lot less these days.
Yeah, well, and we get to work at world class studios I was asked the question, Did you do this just for the money? (laughs)
And I said, I'll tell ya-I'm glad you ask because I don't take anything as an insult from anybody. I can just tell you straight up that we DIDN'T do it for the money. We put the money into the project-what budget was there-we put it into the project.
Anybody that's aware of the scene as it is now wouldn't ask that question.
Well, good because I told someone else that wasn't really convinced, I said, You know, hey, Mike and I put our own money into the video. Because I wanted something that was…we are used to doing things on a high level, you know? I didn't want to something that was real shitty and neither did anybody in the band. We wanted to give back to the fans and hopefully they like it and appreciate it. We certainly had fun doing it. I'm not trying to do the martyr thing; we have a lot of pride and we want to make something good.
Well… it sounds GREAT! There's no doubt about it.
It's not a one off and it certainly wasn't to make a killing to go live in the Bahamas, ok? (laughs) That wasn't about that.
(laughing) Absolutely. So, you say it wasn't a one off so the idea is to keep things rolling?
Yeah! We just turned the record in about a month ago-not quite a month ago...right at a month. We're building the website. We have the website started: just now building it up. We did the video. Our plan is to do some touring-get hooked up with a booking agency that really connects in Europe. What we'd like to do is get offered a couple of festivals and just do something in Europe, one off, is, right at this point, impossible. It's almost impossible.
You know I was nagging you for my show in Chicago in May.
I know and we want to but we are at an unfortunate point that we just made a record and we are already up and running. Our intent is to be fully up and running to where we can go…. a lot of bands go over to Europe and do shows twice a year. That's what we fully want to do.
And, to be honest, we miss that, you know? Mike and I – we MISS that a lot. We had the most incredible time playing in Europe. We played HUGE shows here, in the states. But I can tell you, we played arenas and HUGE outdoor sheds and arenas. Our true, fun times were when we played in Europe—way more intimate' we just felt way more appreciated. And that was really… we were really received well. We were soooooo grateful for that.
We want to get back to that.
I hope it can come together, David, I really do.
I think it will. We just have to. I don't know the European market so I don't know how. I can't book shows over there. You have to get the right people for the right job. So that's what we're looking for right-the right agents that can kind of string some stuff together for us so when we leave we can for 2-3 weeks at a time, which makes a lot of sense.
Like we used to do.
I understand that. What –I was going to ask you earlier – but what were the budgets on the first 2 records? I'm not asking what today's budget is because we know what It's like (laughs) but just so people know the silly kind of amounts that it took to make records in the heyday. How much were the budgets for the first two albums?
Well…they were well over a half a million…pushing….pushing…..just recording? Just recording was well over a half a million. We recorded in London and we stayed there for 3 months.
Oh my god.
It was expensive. And a lot of money mixing. We spent – I remember when Nigel Green mixed—what was the song he did—I think it was the first one he mixed. He mixed that one and it took him 3 days to mix that one. In London!
Nigel took like 4 days on one of them!
Imagine -a full on studio. I know what they were in New York; they were 1200-1500 a DAY just for the studio.
So, 4 days plus the mixer's fee, which is…well, I can't tell you what he got paid. I know a lot of those mixers in L.A.- a lot of my good friends in L.A.- they're making $12,-15,000 a mix.
…in pop music. So, just imagine…the budgets were a lot! Let's put it that way.
(laughing!) YES!!! (laughing!) Amazing.
But it was cool because we got to experiment with tones and sounds and arrangements and we LIVED the music, you know? We made the music by living it.
They just sound Immaculate-the records just sound … you know….not a note out of place without it sounding sterile.
And, we were working with great engineers. Obviously, the world's a different place now. People aren't making-not even the big, big artists- they're not making records like that for that kind of money anymore.
No, they're always making a tour pass, aren't they.
Exactly. So you know , you still just work with great engineers-that's what we did. We STILL work with great engineers: that really helps you.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. What are some of the favorite songs you've got on the record? I must ask you-the title of the album, I think you've been asked this before, but the original Mark Spiro title is Back To The Promised Land and the lyrics are “Promised Land” yet the title is Promise Land.
That's good question. I would revert it back to the writer, Mark Spiro, and let him try to figure out why. You know? I don't know; it's just kind of like a different state of mind, you know? It doesn't have to be…they kind of mean the same thing but then again, a promised land is something that you strive for. We didn't all write it…Dann and Mark wrote it-but we all worked that song many times.
That's kind of cool because it brings back a lot of great memories to me. Um, I like Believer -the new version of that. At first of all, I thought that it might be a little bit weird that it had the same title, kind of the same title…but the song sounds so different.
Oh, I LOVE it! Love it. My favorite song, I think.
I like stuff like Complicated. Man, I like a lot of the different stuff. I like Save Me-you know, that song Dann and I wrote. It's kind of like….it's part of US. I like that. I like Our Love. I love that.
Yeah-a good ballad. And Power of Love is ..that's straight out of the Giant songbook.
Absolutely. I think all the songs, like I said, stay true to a brand that we started and it has also evolved. It's both.
In the second half of the album, there's some good original stuff on there.
It's melodic, it's commercial, commercial kind of rock kind of stuff to me. All I can say is we had a GREAT time making the record. We just knew it brought so much enjoyment. You know, it's funny when we first started getting ready to go in and record, I hear some negativity about it--- Why are you going to record Giant.
So far, for people that have heard the record that's not even a point of contention anymore. It has touches of Giant-very much in the same page as that- but it has also evolved. Thank God, it's evolved a little bit.
Yeah. I'm glad you moved forward. I was a bit hesitant myself but once I heard the record, I was really pleased.
Andrew, like I said, our philosophy was to go into the thing…. We didn't go into it scared, we didn't go into it pressured like, How are we going to do this. We went into it ….the one thing that was hard was making sure that we were comfortable with the new lineup.
And once we went with that, Serafino and I worked very closely on songs and, you know, we just went in there and made music. We never thought.
When we made the first Giant record, we never thought; we just made music.
That's what we did and I felt like we accomplished our goal by doing it. We made music. Ultimately, everybody's going to make their assessments on it and we were pleased; we were very happy with it. We love it and we hope people do too. Time will tell.
Fantastic and you won't leave it 10 years between records now?
No, you know what's funny is that it took us a minute for Mike and I. We spend a lot of time together out having a beer and talking about what we need to do to start this up. So…..no. Now we've got some momentum, I wouldn't dare think of wasting this. Hopefully, we can get some tour stuff backed up on this thing and continue to write some stuff for the next project. I mean, granted, it has to be accepted enough to warrant doing another record. You know?
There has to be some sort of demand out there and that's why I keep saying, I hope people like it; I hope there's a demand for it.
I'm sure but the music stands on it's own.
Oh well, Andrew, that means a lot coming from you-it really does.
I've seen some comments. We just got a page started, www.gianttheband.com, and we've had some remarks from people…very, very complimentary and just very excited to go buy the record.
That was cool; very encouraging.
Great stuff. Great stuff. Well, that's about all I had for you, David.
Well thank you very much for the support Andrew.
c. 2010 MelodicRock.com / Interview by Andrew McNeice