Interview with: THE SATURDAY GIANT

VanSo you’re visiting Macon for the first time for a show at The Rookery on July 28th. It’s generic, but what should our readers and people in the area who may come to the show know about you/The Saturday Giant?

I suppose that, first of all, they should know that my stop in Macon is part of a 5 1/2 week tour. Between October of last year and the end of this tour in August alone, I’ll have played about 120 shows. So I’ve been working hard. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I think the sheer volume of shows has molded me into a pretty good entertainer—if you’re interested in hearing something more unique than covers of “Sweet Home Alabama,” anyway.

On a side note, it’s midnight on a Thursday and I’m hanging out in a strip mall wings/beer joint in Marietta, Georgia, listening to a blues band. Life on the road is full of surprises.

You play everything during your live show, quite literally. Have you ever worked with a full band on these songs or is this a more personal project that you prefer, with the challenge of being responsible for everything that goes on?

When I released my debut (You’ve Heard of Dragons) in 2010, I briefly put together a five-piece band (composed of my friends) to play the songs locally in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. That was fun, but I always knew that I wanted to tour aggressively and expand beyond the city limits, and touring solo is just way, way easier. It’s cheaper, I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule or determination, and ultimately I’ve found that people tend to respond to the songs more when I’m the only one on stage. Maybe because it’s a more novel experience than seeing a rock band, which you can do any night of the week.

Now that I’ve been doing it on my own for 3 years, it’s pretty hard to imagine going back. I relish the control, and though it’s no longer quite so challenging, there’s a kind of exhilaration that comes from being able to step back for a moment once a while in the set and think, “I made that.”

When Death Comes was self-released in January of 2012. Have  you incorporated newer songs that aren’t on the album into the current set as well?

Man, you’re making me feel guilty! Haha. I honestly can’t believe so much time has passed since that EP came out. I haven’t been putzing around, I swear! The business side of things (mostly booking/planning for tours) has gotten in the way. And since I’m my own driver, roadie, tour manager, etc. on the road, it’s tough to get much writing done.

But! I have been experimenting with some songs on the road that aren’t on the EP. And I think they’re sounding pretty sweet. Just last night in Tuscaloosa, I was hanging out after hours with a couple folks and I was improvising some grooves based on what they were telling me to do. That was really fun.

In any event, I’m hoping the next record will be out sometime this fall. It’s almost all recorded; I just have to find time to mix it.

This current tour has you zig-zagging across the country over the course of just shy of a month and a half. Of both the new and returning markets, which are you most excited about getting to?

That’s hard to say. So much of the experience night to night is out of my control that I try to avoid setting expectations at all. Usually when you have overly high expectations for a gig, it disappoints you. And conversely, when you have low expectations, you’re often surprised. So I just try to come in every night and do my thing, and let the chips fall where they may. Every night’s a new opportunity.

Sorry, that’s kind of a cop out, isn’t it?

Lastly, I saw that you just finished up a Daytrotter Session in Rock Island… How was it!?

Daytrotter was awesome. Those guys are real pros. I had a long chat with Sean Moeller, one of the dudes who started the whole thing, and it was really inspiring. These were guys who started out as kids in a super small Midwestern town with crazy, high-minded aspirations. That’s not uncommon. What is uncommon, though, is the work ethic to make things happen. I really identify with that.

Sean told me that he listens to literally everything that’s submitted to Daytrotter. Everything, at least one song. Which is insane. They’re in a position where they could literally only bring in people who’ve already been on Pitchfork or Stereogum, or whatever gatekeeper site you prefer. But they seem to be making a really conscious effort to bring in music that they respond to, regardless of the notoriety. In a media culture that’s dominated by outlets that only want to talk about what everyone else is already talking about, that’s really courageous.

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