I Am Giant were formed in late 2008, and consists of New Zealanders Shelton Woolright and Paul Matthews and the London-born Ed Martin. Drummer Woolright is formerly from critically acclaimed triple platinum selling band Blindspott, the only rock band in New Zealand music history to have both their debut and follow-up albums enter the charts at number one. Bassist Paul Matthews has had success with double platinum selling band Tadpole, and more recently Stylus and is also a producer/engineer in his own right, having his own production company producing singles and albums for the likes of the Lagan, Agent and Jason Norris. Ed Martin was the singer in the UK band Volume, and has worked as a vocalist with the likes of the Artful Dodger, Bruno Ellingham and Mark Hill.

We spoke to these extreme sports fans during the UK leg of an extensive tour to promote their debut album, 'The Horrifying Truth'. Paul and Shelton joined us whilst sampling a few of the beers at The Flapper in Birmingham for a chat around the pool table.


PB: So how old are you guys?

PM:I tell you what. I get prejudiced against and picked on for being the oldest every day and it is a daily occurrence! There are pros and cons though. I get to drive.

PB: How long have you been together now?

PM: Since around 2008 I guess. I'd met Shelton around 2007, and we'd been looking for a singer for about a year when we met Ed in 2008, and I suppose that was the start of the band really.

PB: Is it true that you went through about 160 vocalists before you found Ed?

SW: Yeah, we'd looked at and listened to around 160 guys, and none of them were right. We didn't get all 160 into the studio but we did listen to 160. There were 160 applications. I tried personally about 120.

PB: So did you have a lot of the songs written before that time?

PM: No, we had a bunch of songs written and a couple of instrumentals, so the best people we chose we got to come along and record their vocals to the track. Then when Ed came in, we listened back to it and thought, “Hey this is the guy!”

SW: He was actually pretty stunning!

PW: Yeah, he a voice in the style of what we wanted to do. We had some guys come over from Portugal and one of them sounded stunning on his recording, but when we got him to sing one of our songs live he started singing in this real Portuguese accent, so we stopped the track and were like, “Dude you're sounding awfully Portuguese,” and we tried to get him to sing a little more internationally. So we tried again, and he broke out into his accent again and we were like, “Dude, this isn't going to work out,” so that was that.

PB: So this all went on in Britain then?

PM: Yeah, we did it all here.

PB: And this bloke came all the way from Portugal to audition?

PM: He sounded stunning when he was singing someone else's song but...

SW: We had a couple of people wanting to come over from New Zealand and have a go as well, but we were just really picky in what we wanted and we're glad we were.

We'd been in bands before and had a decent amount of success in a smaller territory like New Zealand, so we knew what we were doing. So we thought if we are going to give this a real crack we'll be doing it for a long time, Let's do it properly. And it got really stressful. A year to find a singer is a fucking long time!

PB: Did you start to think of doing something else?

SW: Oh yeah, there was a lot of that.

PM: Can we be honest? I actually looked on the Met Police website, and thought, “I could be a London Met Police Officer! I might have a go at that for a while.”

SW: People they don't actually think where you're at. They look at you know because you're in a band, but we weren't in the band then. We were just like, “Fuck! What are we doing here?” And it was getting really hard, and we were thinking that we couldn’t afford to just be working pub pumps. This has to happen and it has to happen really fast.

PM: We were thinking after the year, “Let's get another bunch of ads out and have a fresh look at this.”

SW: It was in that renewed positivity that we found it. We had some fucking real awkward guys like the singer who played keyboards for Betty Boo and some weird shit like that. There was weird fuckers came through the door!

PM: It was quite funny because you start to get desperate and thinking, “I can make this work.” You get delusional. Then you have a chat with each other and you go fuck that! It was a funny time that!

SW: So then we Ed came in and we were quite happy...

PB: So what was it about Ed?

(Ed at this point has come over for a quick look to see what's going on).

SW: His voice, the way he sang. Nothing else. Look at him. He's a fucking wanker! No, no, seriously we were very fortunate when he walked through the door. Some people like to call it fate, but we like to say that we went through 160 people. It was hard work. I certainly got a fucking headache!

PB: And it really took you a year?

PM: Yeah, because it was so stressful. Probably the most stressful time of my life, mate!

PB: So in the meantime while you were finding Ed what were you really doing?

SW: We formed a production company in London, and we were working with some artists and doing other stuff as well other than the band, some remixes and stuff like that. We did a remix for Lily Allen, and we did a recording with Bryan Ferry's sons band.

We still have the production company going because we produced 'The Horrifying Truth' with it. We do stuff in New Zealand too. It is fun, but being in a band is the most important thing.

We want to do what we are doing so we stuck in there. We just wanted to get out there and play. We finally got the band together, and then we were playing all these venues around London and no-one would come. It was a hard task trying to get over who we were and to keep on writing material.

PB: At the time how did you guys feel when you were turning up to venues and there was no-one there?

PM: We had some friends that came along, and supported us at many of our London shows. Then when you play like the fifth one they start to get tired of it, so you start to play with other bands to make it different. At the first few gigs we were just trying to make ourselves sound right live.
And that was the whole thing. By getting out there and playing, we got noticed really quickly by Quicksilver. They heard our shit and thought these guys are perfect for filming videos and extreme sport videos; they picked up on our stuff right away.

PB: Yeah, because you two guys have got into snowboarding recently?

PM: Yeah, snowboarding. He's the man.

SW: I wouldn't say I'm the man snowboarding. In the band though, yeah. But I'm nowhere near a professional snowboarder. That's for sure.

PB: So how did you get into that?

SW: It was something I have always been interested in, and I had to give up skateboarding because of drumming because concrete has got no give : in it!
The closest thing to skateboarding was snowboarding and a lot of my friends were snowboarding, so I went down to Queenstown which is where they filmed 'The Lord of the Rings' and spent a year with my mates, and got totally pissed and they taught me how to snowboard.

So now whenever I go back to New Zealand I go snowboarding. It's another passion outside of the band.

PBSo, you got into the thing with Quicksilver before that?

SW: My friend was doing some work with Quicksilver through Universal, and we used to go out on the piss with him, and told me one night about it. So I tried to push some stuff at him to try and get us a record deal and that, and he showed them some of our songs and they got quite excited about it, and he asked if he could manage us, so we went with him for a while.

During this Quicksilver grabbed a bunch of our music and started to use it on their videos and Kelly Slater's 'Cloud Nine' in particular, so we asked if we could have our cuts from that movie and Kelly Slater said, “Sure, go for it!” We ended up having loads of stuff being done with our music which was good.

PM: It was a sort of reincarnation of the band as it were, but now we are standing on our own a bit more.

PB: You two guys are from New Zealand and Ed is from...

PM: Southampton....

SW: I'm actually from Parts Unknown, the same place as Ultimate Warrior....

PM: They went to school together.....

SW: I was actually born in High Wycombe, and I got taken against my will back to New Zealand when I was three, so I grew up out there. I had been back in England for five years now.

Paul had worked with one of my previous bands. He produced the album and we went to school together. He was older than me, and we did this album together, and I got into the music scene better. He was at a professional level, and started to give me some guitar lessons, and he said, “When I move to the UK. Do you want to go up?” So I said, “Fuck it! My band’s becoming a problem,” so he went up six months before me and I followed him up, and I've regretted it ever since (Laughs).

We are very fortunate that we get to travel and are never in one spot for more than three or four months, so we've only been back here for a month and like next month we are off to France for another two months. When we come out of that, we are going to Europe, and then we come back here before going to Australia and New Zealand.

PM: You know what it is about the UK is that it's the real deal. It is a big industry, and it's not for the faint hearted. When you come from a smaller place, it takes some adjusting to. The fans here have been really great and they have stuck with us.

PB: Well, you've got over 60,000 likes on your Facebook. Do you find any difference between the fans here and those back in New Zealand?

SW: The difference is that the fan base over here is more fashion-based than to do with talent sometimes. Some of the indie bands over here put out the image before the songs. The song might be pretty shit, but they've got some shit hot stylist and they look cool and the next minute they're on the front of ‘NME’.

There are loads of bands we play with on this circuit that are really more passionate about the music, and don't really get the exposure they deserve. That's the only thing I've noticed that I can relate to, and with our particular genre of fans they are really good guys.

PB: Do you get any pressure from management or similar to sound different to what you do?

SW: We had a deep and conscious conversation about it at the time of the birth of the band, and about the fact that we wanted to take the time to make good alternative rock. People could put our music on in years' time and go, “What fucking era is this?”

Moving forward we want a good classic sound using classic instruments and recording techniques, and to just write good alternative songs. It's a little bit frustrating because people don't quite know where to put us.

PB: Your guitar riffs are really quite heavy in places.

PM: That's something we are going to promote on the next album.

PB: So there is more on the way?

PM: Yeah, we're writing it now. We are probably about 80% of the way through it. We actually start recording on June 10th.

PB: What are your favourite tracks from ‘The Horrifying Truth?

SW: That's really hard, you see? I have been playing these songs, and obviously so has Paul because we are in the same band for quite a while now. To be honest it changes from time to time. Live I like to play 'After the War'. (To Paul) What song do you not enjoy playing live? One for me is ‘Neon Sunrise’.

PM: I can't really tell you. I quite like playing Escape Artist.

SW: I said least!

PM: Next question!

PB:(Laughs) Well, we don't want to keep you guys any longer than we have to, and you've a gig to do very shortly so we wish you all the best. Thanks for your time.

















Related Links:


https://twitter.com/iamgiant
https://www.facebook.com/iamgiantband


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