Rocking their way over from the Yew Ess of Aaaaaayyyy today, we have a band with a rather unusual name. I’m sure they’ll tell us all about it…
We’re all longtime Chicago-ans, although I grew up in a tiny farm town in Northwest Illinois and drummer Larry Beers is from the rocking (and I mean that) town of Champaign, IL.
How did you meet?
Guitarist John Scholvin and I played for decades in Chicago rock group The Good; that band slowed down to almost a halt when the other singer/songwriter, Devin Arkin, died of brain cancer in 2016. Bassist Jackie Schimmel auditioned for The Good a billion years ago and we remained friends, and Larry used to play with The Charming Beggars, a magnificent local band The Good played some shows with in the 90s.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood really came together in the fall of 2018. John and I started riffing together and writing new songs in the spring of 2017. It took a while to solidify the line-up; we played our first show and recorded our debut EP (Dram A) with Greg Fundis, a terrific drummer who got way too busy with his successful Led Zeppelin tribute band.
Before you get sick of being asked…where does the band name come from?
We wanted something that felt ten feet tall to represent the music and the attitude. We also liked the acronym, TBGB, and there was a little bit of Hodor in it, if you know the reference.
What are your influences?
Queen, obviously, and other over-the-top glam rock artists like Bowie, T. Rex, Lou Reed, The Tubes…early Queen (Queen 2) also had some progressive rock elements that we love, that dash of time signature/tempo/structure playfulness that you rarely see today, with the exception of great modern records like King Gizzard’s Murder of the Universe or The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love. We also love the voltage of punk bands like Sex Pistols or their modern spawn, Idles, and the smack talking spirit (if not musical influence) of hip hop artists like Run The Jewels.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We call ourselves glam punk/heavy rock, which feels about right. There are inherent contradictions between glam and punk, but we’re okay with that. It’s a lot of energy, attitude, playfulness, and sheer excess. Our motto is that nothing is ever too much, and the presentation of the music means as much as the content.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
We cover a lot of ground, but I would say it all has a sense of making yourself twice as tall as you are in daily life, when you need to be or want to be. It’s a vital skill to have as a human, whether you have to overcome some kind of shit-storm or you just want to forget everything and have a good time.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
We’ve only played a handful, because of the pandemic, and also because it’s a pretty elaborate production when we play. We’re not the kind of band that can wander in off the street and start strumming our guitars; we have giant stage letter lights (that John built), and giant 5-foot platform shoes (that I built); we have elaborate outfits and props, a smoke machine, capes…it’s a theatrical event. I would say that seeing a Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood show is like seeing The Wall, but more manic than depressive. It’s a roller coaster ride and we are working very hard to elevate and entertain you.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Hahaha, I’ve seen a lot of things: people wanting just about every body part autographed; people running onto the stage to make out; once from the stage, I watched as a pregnant woman’s water broke while she was on the dance floor and she quickly ducked out of the club. One of the most terrifying things for me was walking across the stage for the first time in my enormous five-foot heels; I really thought that I could die.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
John plays a Gibson Les Paul through a Kemper modeling amp and a Mesa speaker. Jackie plays a Fender Precision bass with a Zoom B3 effects box and an SWR amp. Larry plays a 1971 Rogers drum kit. I play a Nord Electro 3 HP keyboard, and sing with a handheld staff that is a vintage ornate cane I turned into a mic holder. It’s carved wood, with a snake wrapped around it.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
We’re still pushing the Gigantosaur record that came out early this year and we’ve made three really ambitious music videos for it, one in a completely pandemic-friendly way. The record is an epic statement for us, and we put a lot of work into it. We think it stands as a really sprawling and entertaining piece of music, and we’re trying to get as many people to check it out as we can.
What are your plans for [the rest of] 2020?
We’ll keep writing new tunes and we’ve got an extra track from the album sessions (a surprise cover tune) that we’ll release when it feels right, maybe when we can play a show again. We’re not really a “play in a patio” kind of band, so we’ll have to see how this pandemic unfolds. There are lots of costumes that are just waiting for the buckets of sweat we will pour into them.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Oooh, that’s a good question. I’d love to open for Rage Against The Machine or The Pixies, neither of whom I’ve ever seen but are actual possibilities at this point and then, for a supporting act, I’d recruit my pal Nik Krimm’s garage soul band Daytonics! unless I could get Brian May to do a solo opening set (sorry, Nik). Just maybe I’d give the spot to dem Buneez, a keyboard funk sex duo you’ve never heard of, but you will.