By Nolan Siegler
The members of Standing On Giants are people who appreciate variation in their lives. “All four of us have a wide variety in tastes, but we generally like what each other brings to the table,” said their drummer in this interview.
The pop-rockers have enjoyed critical acclaim and have become a staple act in England’s own Kent-based music scene. Their debut EP No A Medias’ drew many comparisons to other high-profile artists, but didn’t seem to faze the quartet as much as one would think. The band quickly sprung back with The Signs, their recent EP that has a self-described darker edge while retaining their live aesthetic.
Vocalist Simon Briley and drummer Daryl Crowly described how they are affected by the words of both fans and critics in a recent conversation. They also weighed in on the Kent scene and why artists involved don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
Spartan Chronicle: Can you give some insight to your recently released EP?
Daryl Crowley: The Signs was recorded a few months ago year at West Park Studios. It’s also the home of our bass player Alex, who produced the project. It was mixed and mastered at Far Heath Studios by Angus Wallace, who has worked on records for the Prodigy.
Spartan Chronicle: How does it differ from your previous release?
DC: The overall tone on The Signs is darker than our debut. Our first collection of tunes are much more upbeat and positive, but the new tracks are more introspective, leaning towards the darker sides of life and the turmoil that certain relationships can bring.
Spartan Chronicle: Is this darker sound a result of a shift in musical tastes?
DC: I don’t think our tastes have changed greatly. The only major difference is a change in the dynamic of our band. Alex wasn’t in the picture when we recorded the first EP, but he has changed our vocal sound since he joined. He sang on lead vocals on “She Won’t Pick Up” and introduced more harmonies.
Spartan Chronicle: How did you guys come together and discover Alex?
DC: All the members of our original line up went to the same secondary school in Sevenoaks, Kent. Simon reached out to me on Facebook and told me he wanted to start a band. We then arranged a rehearsal and the rest is history! Eventually, we replaced our original bassist with Alex, who we met through mutual friends. It was an obvious decision because he produced our debut EP and was familiar with all of our songs.
Spartan Chronicle: Did you guys bond over a certain type of music?
DC: We haven’t really bonded over our influences, but we’ve educated each other about them. All four of us have a wide variety in tastes, but we generally like what each other brings to the table. I’m into Rush and Zeppelin, but Ant and Alex like the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Hendrix. Simon likes to keep up with current artists and has an ear for Mystery Jets and the Kooks. There are definitely elements of our individual tastes that we all appreciate, and we like to educate each other about them. It keeps things fresh.
Spartan Chronicle: What’s your reaction to the comparisons some reviewers have made between you and bands like the Arctic Monkeys?
DC: I think that being compared to other bands is unavoidable. That being said, being compared to the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and Orange Juice isn’t the worst thing a band could ask for, so we take them as compliments. We like to have an appreciation for the artists we get compared to, but we don’t necessarily listen to them. We would rather amalgamate them into a big cooking pot and call it Standing On Giants.
Simon Briley: Personally, I love comparisons because it gives me insight into what listeners like or dislike about our tunes. It allows us to go to the drawing board and play around with those ideas.
Spartan Chronicle: What is the weirdest comparison you’ve gotten?
SB: I can’t really remember a comparison that took me by surprise. I guess that’s a good thing because it means we are translating our style well. Though, I’m sure our parents would compare us to the Spice Girls or something if we asked them.
Spartan Chronicle: How do you handle the critical praise you received from your debut EP? Does it affect your songwriting process?
DC: It’s nice to receive positive feedback from critics, but when it comes to songwriting, we have to ignore any expectations and create songs that we believe in. However, we can’t help but think if the song we are writing will sell, or be received as a failure. I think it does play some sort of role in our process, even if it is a minor one.
Spartan Chronicle: Can you share any upcoming tour plans?
SB: We can’t reveal anything just yet, but we are currently in talks with a few people and places regarding upcoming shows. We will soon post all our upcoming tour dates our website and Facebook page.
Spartan Chronicle: Do you prefer playing large or intimate shows?
SB: We love playing shows in general, but our preferences differ slightly. I love playing big shows because of the rush I inevitably get when I’m on stage, but Ant prefers smaller shows where the crowd is on top of us and it’s sweaty and fun. We try and replicate a small show asthetic in all our performances because it makes everyone feel like they know us. A big idol of ours is Dave Grohl. He has this ability to speak directly to you even if you’re in an arena-sized crowd. This is a trait that I strive to master.
Spartan Chronicle: What’s been the live reaction from your newest material?
SB: Although the songs are a bit darker, they are fun to play live and a bit more interesting. They seem to have gone down quite well within our audiences; we still have that live edge that makes people want to jump around and go nuts. Our set is really starting to take shape, but we have a little bit further to go. We are furiously writing at the moment, but will soon be able to attack the live scene again with our strongest set up-to-date.
Spartan Chronicle: How do you feel about the recent music scene in Kent?
SB: Kent seems to understand us well and I think there are some hidden gems of artists that people should really get involved with. We have had the pleasure of sharing a stage with White Bone Rattle, Kaleidophone, Pete Briley and Es muss sein. There many other bands that are active in the Kent scene that we also love, such as Jamie & the Portraits. These are bands people should have their ears to. It’s a shame that many of them get overlooked because they are so close to London.
Spartan Chronicle: With your live set developing, do you place a higher value on consistency or evolution?
SB: We value both, but I personally like change and evolution as a band. I would love to be an act that had a long sustainable career, but also one that exhausted every possible musical outlet. I would love to play with an orchestra one day and experiment with different instruments to write beautiful songs. For now, we must stay consistent and reliable so people can get used to what we have to offer.
Spartan Chronicle: What does the future hold for Standing On Giants? Is a debut album in the works?
SB: Our future looks good; listeners can expect more songs soon. We want to write an album, but we don’t feel we have enough material yet. We want to write some outstanding songs before we record them, so we will have more demos, gigs and fun in the near future. We have about 12 songs we need to develop so we can play them live. Other than that, we have a million more licks, lines and starts that we want to develop as well. I think we have a desire to write music that gets people up and moving because we all like a dance. Hopefully, audiences will join in.