Giant Star, they have balls and seemingly pretty large ones. Their first album ‘Year Of The Snake’ takes on terrorists, the government and Rupert Murdoch. Not only that but it sounds pretty awesome too. Style and substance, you betcha! We caught up with the lead singer of this band of Mancunian outlaws, Richard McNevin-Duff to have a wee chat about the state of the nation, songs that may or may not be about drugs, Lisa Stansfield and being signed to Factory back in the day. Read on friends…
Hello Gentlemen! Last year was pretty big with the album release at the end of the year, how has it gone down so far? And any highlights from 2013
Hi Kate. The album ‘Year Of The Snake’ has been getting good reviews. We put it out ourselves on our own label. We’re just building things up slowly and it’s all going well.
I’ve been loving it. I’d describe the sound as kind of ‘bunch of lads leave the pub and accidentally end up in Star Trek’, but that’s just me…how would you describe the sound?
The sound of the band is just a natural thing really. All our influences thrown together. Our record collections are full of different stuff, Mod, Soul, Indie, Rock, Reggae so we put it all together and jam and do our own thing.
So embedded with the spacey sounds, lyrically you’re very politically engaged, and explore terrorism in Bright Lights Big City. That’s a pretty bold move, what moved you to do that?
Lyrically I wanted to write stories rather than do personal stuff. Bright Lights, Big City is based around 9/11 and each verse explores a different religion/character/viewpoint and hopefully captures the overall theme that extremism in religion of any kind is a bad thing, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. I’m a born again atheist. The closest I ever got to believing in a higher being was when I first heard Bob Dylan.
You handle more domestic issues in England’s Burning and The Riddle (which could be my favourite song on the album), but it’s almost like they’re disguised as dance floor tracks. I mean, they don’t sound as aggressive as politico-indie could do. Is this intentional so you don’t get typecast or…?
The band write the music and I write the song/lyrics over the top. When I heard ‘England’s Burning’ it reminded me of the Specials/Clash so I wrote in that vein. The UK riots had just happened and the Hillsborough enquiry and Murdoch trial so it just felt right to tie it all together. I’ve never been a big fan of authority and being told what to do especially from corrupt hypocrites.
As musicians, you’ve been on the scene in different places for a while now. Is the plethora of experience between you guys a help or hinderance in the band?
I was in Space Monkeys, the last band ever signed to Factory Records by Tony Wilson. I’m proud of what we did but I’m equally excited about Giant Star and the music we make. All the band are proper players, the next album is gonna be even better and we’ll see where it takes us. You don’t need money or hype if the music is good then it will always find the people.
What do you guys want to achieve together as a band, what’s the big goal? Is it toppling the government? 😉
Haha. I think the government are doing a pretty good job of toppling themselves.
Right random question time – weirdest story to come out of recording the album?
We recorded the album at Gracielands Studio in Rochdale which is owned by Lisa Stansfield, who also went to the same primary school as me in the 70’s. Is that weird enough?
Where’s Giant Star’s ideal gig venue?
We’re playing Glastonbury this year on one of the more underground stages so that’s pretty cool. In the 90’s I used to play the Hacienda nearly every month it started to get boring. Manchester has lots of cool venues, Deaf Institute, Night & Day, Ruby Lounge. Carson’s Bar in Middleton has a great vibe, top people involved in it. That’s more important than a big stage and lighting rig.
The song Happy Pills, are they naughty substances or are you guys just really into Haribo?
Haha. Happy Pills is a love song. It was the first song we wrote together as Giant Star. Everyone loved it immediately but there was something missing. Denise Johnson added a part at the end and everything fell into place. Screamadelica was always such a big record for me so to finally get Denise to sing on one of my songs was amazing. She suggested, funnily enough, that we could sell the song to Viagra
And finally, what’s coming up this year? Where can we see you next?
We are planning a few shows/one off events and festivals in the summer, writing the next album which will be more live sounding with the full band, it’s sounding great and who knows from there. Higher and higher hopefully.
Thanks 🙂 xx