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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Giant Eagles - Second Landing

The Dutch band GIANT EAGLES has recently released its sophomore album, the aptly titled "Second Landing". 

On this latest delivery, the band has come up with a batch of tunes that are pretty much impossible to resist. It’s quite hard to pull out a couple of songs to be favorites since the entire album is so amazing. From "Evil Robot Nation" to "Zombie Apocalypse", these songs will have you singing along all day long. If you dig the Riverdales or the Lillingtons this is going to be right up your alley.

We are only at the end of June but it is safe to say that this flawless record will definitely be in the TOP 3 of the best records of 2020. So it was time for this blog to have a conversation with veteran of the Dutch rock'n'roll scene, guitar player Marien Nicotine

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself? Can you also introduce the other members of The Giant Eagles who participated in the recordings? what instrument are they playing? 

I am Marien Jonkers, AKA Marien Nicotine. I’m one of the founding members of Dutch punk rock band The Apers, who had (and still has to this day, but without me) a great stretch in the 90's, and ‘00’s, with lots of touring, records and fun until I wanted out in 2007.

Three years after I quit The Apers I started a band called The Windowsill, and a project/studio-thing called Giant Eagles (which was kind of already there since 2003). Both bands don’t play that much live, because that is what drove me out of The Apers after so many years on the road. Giant Eagles never even played a show.

The Windowsill is more or less a continuation of the songwriting I did for The Apers, more personal lyrics. Giant Eagles on the other hand is more a fun project where we take certain subjects like murder, war, wolfs, or whatever is fun to write about, and make it into a song. We started out as the Real Ramoneroonies (myspace!) and changed the name when we recorded the debut album in 2014.

Another reason Giant Eagles came to be was the fact that Simon Speechless, who is the singer and producer, wanted to learn audio engineering and producing, so he needed something to practice on…and that became Giant Eagles.

The first song we (me and Simon) ever did was ‘I Don’t Love Nobody’ which is on the Second Landing LP now. That song is 17 years old! Just because we aren’t really a band doesn’t mean we don’t have band members.

When we record we have Ivo Backbreaker (Apers, Lone Wolf, Windowsill) on drums and Ox Accelerator (Accelerators, Lone Wolf) on bass guitar. I write almost all the songs.

2) About this sophomore full length album "Second Landing",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

We recorded lots of demo’s over the years. Like I said, some songs are very old, and some were written last year. I have a big tape collection (used to be tapes, now it’s on my phone, and just this year I’m using Garageband) of half written songs, or ideas. Sometimes i just go back to those half products and finish them.

Then we usually record the drums in a rehearsal room with a full mic set, and take those drum tracks to our home studio at my place. Here we digitally add guitars and sing. Sometimes we re-amp, but most of the time it’s just easier to use the virtual amps. People might think that is sacrilegious, but we don’t care, it works really good for us.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We take full advantage of nowadays digital recording technology. It’s faster, cheaper, it makes us sound better, and in our little style bubble nobody really minds, or notices.

4) How would you describe the music you're playing? 

With all my bands it’s punk rock. Doesn’t matter Giant Eagles is synth heavy, it’s still punk rock.
For Giant Eagles obvious influences are Ramones, Riverdales, Misfits, but on the cover of the first record there was a Duran Duran button on the leather jacket the eagle was wearing, and on the ‘Second Landing’ cover there is little nod to David Bowie, who was one of my favorites.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

I find it easy to write songs about heartbreak, and miserable people, usually girls. I also write a lot of songs about motorbikes. But anything goes. I find it hard to write smart witty political songs, because of the nuances you can’t really put into a language that isn’t your own. So I’m not changing the world unfortunately.

6) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the new LP?? 

No, we didn’t really anticipate this buzz around our new album, so we are kind of caught of guard. We did a single for Spotify and such, but that was it. The label told me yesterday that a re-press is already on the way. So, maybe we should do a video, could be a lot of fun! Order some eagle outfits and run through a forest. (Note: I just can't wait to see that! ha ha ha Eric)

7) What can concert goers expect at a The Giant Eagles gig? Are you guys playin' any famous cover songs during the gig? 

This probably comes a disappointment, but Giant Eagles do not play shows, due to the nature of the band, and the busy lives of the band members. We would have done one show this year, our debut show at a festival in Italy called Raduno, to celebrate the release of ‘Second Landing’. Unfortunately it got canceled because of the corona-virus. But we will be there next summer.

8) Are there any bands in Holland today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

With Giant Eagles not really anyone, I honestly don’t think anybody in Holland knows what we do or who we are apart from a small group of people. This is also because we don’t play shows of course. Most fans are in the USA, Norway and Germany (at least, according to Spotify). With The Windowsill we are good friends with The Real Danger and Lone Wolf. Both bands are from Rotterdam.

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

Early 90ties, so Nirvana, Screeching Weasel, Weezer, NOFX, REM and a lot of other stuff. Great period for music I think, but everyone says that about their teenage years right? Main influences right now for songwriting are Tom Petty (catchy, but simple) Thin Lizzy (great rhyming, great verses) and Ramones of course… But we also often ask ourselves: ‘What would Rivers do?’

10) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as The Giant Eagles are concerned?

We will be hopefully rehearsing a little for Raduno 2021, and maybe do some demo’s for a new album. This one took 6 years to finish, so we should get a move on. With The Windowsill we will probably release our 4th album end of this year.

11) Anything you wanna add?

Just thank you for the interview, and thanks for liking the record so much!


Monday, June 15, 2020

Faz Waltz - Rebel Kicks

"Rebel Kicks" is a fantastic rock'n'roll album and probably FAZ WALTZ best release so far. The trio can churn out some frantic rockers like the title track or "Born in the wrong time" and at the same time is able come up with a splendid John Lennonesque ballad called "Do you remember".

The band managed to improve the song-writing process with more complex structures and catchier melodies, without losing any of its spontaneity and energy. An absolute must buy!

Rare are the bands which get interviewed twice on this blog. For the release of FAZ WALTZ' latest brilliant album "Rebel Kicks", produced by Brown Barcella and Faz La Rocca at T.U.P. Studio in Brescia, it was worth talking again to main man Faz.

1) A first question about the origins of the band: How did you guys come together and decided to start a band? Were you all attending the same school or living in the same neighborhood?
Have always be a trio including the same 3 guys or were there any changes in the band during all these years?

Faz: Well, in 2007 I had all these songs, I've recorded some by myself under the name Faz Waltz and shared on myspace, so then I decided to find a backing band for live shows and future recordings. I've started with Flav (a friend of mine) on the drums and then put an ad in some rehearsals rooms in my town, looking for a solo guitarist and a bass player. That's how I met Omar and Diego, so we released the first EP in 2008, but after a while Flav quit the band just before the recording sessions of the first LP. Then came Dario on the drums, until him and Omar left after "Life on The Moon"... so Marco joined us for the album "Back On Mondo" in 2012, since then we're 3 in the band.

2) Had you already some musical experience on your instruments when you guys started the band or were these difficult beginnings?

We all had previous bands before and experienced live shows and recording sessions for years.

3) Now About Your latest full-length album, "Rebel Kicks", was it recorded before the corona lock down? You guys are living in the part of Italy which was the most affected by the disease. How did you cope with this situation?

Yes, fortunately we've recorded "Rebel Kicks" just before the lock down. Lombardia, here in the north of Italy, has been hit hard by the virus, now it looks like it's getting better, that's what we all hope now. During the lock down I've worked on the artworks for the album, recorded some live acoustic acts, trained a bit with boxe and painted a lot.

4) Faz Waltz is often described as being a "glam" band. When I listen to this new record, the only real "glam beat" I hear is the one played on "Is it love", a brilliant tribute to the T.Rex song book, by the way. The rest of the album makes me rather think that FAZ WALTZ is a fantastic rock'n'roll/boogie machine but not a glam band. What is your opinion about that?

The sound of Faz Waltz has always been influenced by Rock'N'Roll, Glam Rock, Punk and Pop... every album is quite different but all of these music genres are ever present. I don't like labels too much, but I think we can be easily described as a Rock'n'Roll band or a Glam Rock band too.

5) Why are the 2 latest albums of FAZ WALTZ only released on vinyl and no more on cd, like you used to?

Cause Vinyl had a renewed revival in sales in the business lately, but CDs with all the digital platforms online become a little unnecessary. Anyway, for "Rebel Kicks" we've released the CD version too, cause some Compact Discs enthusiasts were asking for that. You can find it only on our webstore.

6) There is this song on the album called "Do you remember". Every time I listen to it I can't help but think of John Lennon's solo records. Is this a new direction FAZ WALTZ is going to pursue in the future?

I love that song. Well, Lennon has always been a huge influence on my work, so maybe you could be right, but if you listen to all our records there's always been a pop vein in many songs, in most of our albums there's a piano and an acoustic ballad, that's something I can't live without...sorry not sorry.

7) No less that 3 labels joined forces to release this record: Surfin' Ki (Italy), Spaghetty Town Records (USA) and Contra Records (Germany). How does a joint venture like this puts itself together? Do you have to convince personally the 3 labels or is one of the labels contacting the other 2 and putting the joint venture together?

We always used to let the albums to be released from more than one label, I think it can be spread better all around the world. I've personally put the joint venture together between the 3 labels.

8) Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the latest release? 

Yes, you can find a video for "Grown Up Guy", released as the first single on 7" and for "Rebel Kicks", with footage from our latest US Tour. On our youtube channel there's also a live piano version of "Do You Remember", recorded during the lock down at my home place.

9) What is the secret of Faz La Rocca's guitar sound? What guitar are you using, what amplifier? And do you use a lot of effects(if so, describe the effects!) or none at all?

My main guitar amp is a 1965 Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve since 2011. The guitars I use the most for recordings and live shows are an Epiphone Casino, a Gibson SG and a Mosrite. I use some simple effects:  MXR Microamp, Delay, Big Muff and Whammy.

10) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 as far as FAZ WALTZ is concerned? Are you guys planning to tour Europe to promote the album?

First plan is to get safe and well out of this period, then we hope to go playing live and promote the new album everywhere it will be possible, Europe, USA etc...

Get the new album here