Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giant Drag interview: “My God, we’re so gay!”

There hasn't been much going on at Bloody Awful Poetry for the last week...but to make up for it, here's a much-larger-than-usual piece of muzak scribbling. It should be up soon at Gigwise aswell.

“Shut up before I come and take a dump down your throats”.
Not the sort of thing you’d want to hear from a girl you’re hoping to introduce to your elderly relatives, but just the sort of sit-up-and-listen shocker you wish more of our play-it-safe rock stars would come out with. Such a proclamation is especially surprising when it comes from a mouth in which it looks like butter wouldn’t melt - that of Giant Drag singer and guitarist Annie Hardy.

Along with the other half of her band, simultaneous drummer and synth-player Micah Calabrese, she makes for a larger-than-life presence on stage. But offstage, in the dressing room of Liverpool’s Carling Academy before the final night of a twelve-date tour with The Cribs, she behaves in a manner much more befitting of her china-doll beauty. Softly spoken, verging on shy, and fiddling nervously with a bottle lid throughout the interview, she still isn’t exactly your typical girl next door though, explaining her onstage persona and excrement-related heckler baiting as “just something that comes out. I don’t want people to, like, fuck with me. You’ve gotta stand up for yourself onstage, especially when you’re a girl. No-one’s going ‘show your tits!’ at The Cribs”.

Based in LA, Giant Drag have been making waves here in the UK since the release of their Lemona EP in 2004. Their debut album Hearts and Unicorns has just received its full UK release, and they’re busy taking their spacey dream-pop songs around the country’s venues. And with just the two of them, they’ve become pretty close, finishing each other’s sentences and mocking each other as only best friends can. “We get separate hotel rooms once in a while, but even then we just end up talking to each other on the phone” says Micah.
Annie: “It’s weird, we’re together all the time. We hang out a lot together at home too. Obviously, we get along very well. Although we do have a lot of space really on tour. We can even find space from each other on the bus.”
Micah: “But we always end up both sitting in the two front seats anyway.”
Annie: “My God, we’re so gay!”

There’s that take-her-home-to-meet-your-mother charm again. And she seems to have a bit of a penchant for that three-letter synonym of “homosexual”, with a recent single being titled ‘Kevin is Gay’. “Kevin is just a guy though,” she says, “the song is nothing to do with him. But this guy, a friend of ours, hacked into our website, so it’s a response to him. We posted up on there, ‘Kevin, stop posting all this stupid crap on our website. Come and see us tomorrow when we’ll be debuting our new song Kevin is Gay’. And the title just stuck.”

Another song of theirs whose title has nothing to do with its lyrical content is the surprisingly radio-friendly ‘You Fuck Like My Dad’. With song names like that, you can’t help but wonder whether Annie’s parents consequently feel a little uncomfortable with their daughter’s chosen career path. “They love it!” she says. “They understand my demented sense of humour, although it was a bit of a shock for them at first. ‘You Fuck Like My Dad’ must be the gnarliest thing I’ve ever said, but they like the song”.

Micah, though, doesn’t care much for such controversy and showboating: “If someone asks me about the band, I’ll normally just start talking about the instrumentation like ‘Oh, Annie plays guitar and sings, I play drums and keyboard’.” From a musical family, he’s been playing the keyboard since the age of four, and now his left hand does all the work of a bass player. He and Annie see their minimalist line-up as a good constraint though, with her commenting “Fucking bastard’s already playing synthesiser and drums at the same time – imagine what would happen if there was more!”

It’s no surprise that Giant Drag’s record label wasn’t keen on titles like ‘My Dick Sux’ and the aforementioned father-love anthem. So, keen to maximise retail opportunities and profit margins, it censored them on the record sleeve in order to stock the US version of the album in über-chains like Walmart. “You’ve gotta choose your battles when dealing with the fucking record label” though, according to Annie. She’s obviously not one for self-censorship, but while many would kick up a fuss at such label intervention, she says “I’m not gonna be like ‘Fuck that! I want that U in the word fuck!’ I don’t think it’s compromising our integrity to asterisk out a word on a piece of paper”.

Looks like she knows how to play the industry game. She’s not keen on it though, describing the band’s recent night out at the NME Awards as “Just a bunch of industry jerk-offs being drunk”. She later refers to the ceremony as “the Shit Awards”, hastily adding “not that I think the NME is shit or anything”. And this keenness not to make enemies doesn’t just extend to the music press - when pushed to name a band he really hates at the moment, Micah remains stubbornly tight-lipped, pretty much summing up the band’s keep-the-peace attitude in general. For all Annie’s controversy-courting, Giant Drag are really just two friends who love their music, and don’t want any trouble. While waiting for a soundcheck, they’re content to amuse themselves with a laptop and an internet connection, and when they get home from touring Annie says she just wants to stay in and watch TV. And what’s her ultimate career ambition? “I’d just like to be remembered as a kind, honest person…that had an awesome rack”. You can’t say fairer than that.

There's a review of the aforementioned final tour date with The Cribs here aswell.

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