Big Sky is out now.
New York duo For Giants is an absolutely fascinating project. Combining djent, post-rock, instrumental rock, post-metal, and prog, they have crafted a sound that is most definitely 100% their own. My favourite aspect is the unexpected Steve Vai/Joe Satriani like flourishes in the guitar solos. It shouldn’t work. It damn well does. Also, it is one of the best albums to be released this year. For reals.
Big Sky is their latest record. It is a completely apt title for a record that sees no limits in convention, genre, and/or expectations. The band told us all about the inspiration behind the record, touching on writer’s block, and the theme of ‘healing’.
Just like our previous releases, Big Sky was written in two different cities. Since we started For Giants in 2013, we’ve found ourselves in the same room only about 3 or 4 times. Luckily for us, our musical tastes, technical ability, and style of playing are so closely matched, you’d never guess the only way we communicate is through e-mails, IMs, and texts.
When it comes to naming albums and songs, we have a bit of freedom since there are no lyrics to play off of. So to keep everything cohesive, we’ll start with a theme that not only reflects the mood of the album, but also the experiences we’ve had over the course of writing it. This album’s theme, which we came up with while one of us was in Montana, was centred around the idea of healing. So we have for you, Big Sky.
When we wrote Remedy, we immediately knew it’d be the first song on the album. It’s got a familiar structure we’re used to writing, lots of soaring melodies, but it felt like something we’ve never written before. Maybe even a little more mature than what we’re used to, but definitely a step in the right direction for us.
2We Wrote This Wall
Often times we’ll joke about how many songs we lose, just because we have them in our heads while we’re stuck at work, and they’re gone by the time we get back to our guitars. Luckily, this one stuck in Eric’s head. He got the entire song written within a weekend which might be a record for us.
This song gets lots of comparisons to Erra from our fans and…yeah they’re pretty right. They’re one of our biggest inspirations and we accidentally stumbled into a scale mode they used on their last album (not that I could even name it, considering both Eric and I’s theory knowledge is very minimal). So instead of trying too hard to sound different for the sake of sounding different, we just embraced it.
Every once in awhile when we’re in a bit of a writing rut, we’ll give ourselves the challenge of writing something in a time signature we’ve never tried before. In this case, the 5/4 meter gave us a lot of great ideas right off the bat, and we ended up with a really uplifting main theme to work with. We’re a big believer that you don’t need to write in a minor key to be heavy, and this song is a great example of that. And since we were both listening to a lot of post-rock at the time (and still are) our goal in this song was to build a lot of tension leading to release by way of a massive, multi-layered outro.
5This Green Field
We like including an interlude in all our albums. In this case, it was a palate cleanser that helps transition a relatively bright, energetic front half of the album into a darker, heavier back end. This Green Field is probably one of the simplest of all our interludes. When I played the chord progression in my bedroom, I wasn’t convinced it could be anything but my fiancee was in the room and told me to do something with it.
We wanted this section of the album to change in musical tone from the more upbeat feel of the first few songs. So with Second Skins, we wanted to come out of the interlude swinging with a heavy, angry, uptempo track. This song was also one of the most collaborative on the album. Eric started with the outline of the song, then I added some eerie ambient layers as well the first solo that leads really well into the chorus. We twisted and turned through different time signatures, hitting on 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8, before finally arriving at possibly the heaviest breakdown Eric has ever written.
In keeping up with the theme for this part of the album, we wanted to write another angry, aggressive track. So we thought, hey this’ll be easy, let’s just start with a breakdown and go from there! Naturally, after we nailed the intro riff… we got completely stumped. This song got chewed up and spit out numerous times over the course of writing the album, but what came out the other side was the product of a ton of collaboration, which we’re really proud of.
8It’s Just Money
We wanted this song to convey the confusion and discomfort that often comes near the end of the personal healing process, so we purposefully put ourselves out of our comfort zone while writing it. We set out to push our boundaries as a band and make a song that was more post-rock than metal, while still maintaining the band’s overall sound. The result was a meandering, trippy track with lots of ups and downs. Thematically, it was important to bring some resolution and shift into the “healing phase” of the album, so we finished off the song with a satisfying, triumphant outro.
9We’re Still Here
We’re Still Here is the transition from the heavy/dark portion of the album into an epic finish. The song opens heavy but still has a bright, uplifting quality to it, similar to songs from the beginning of the album. Then we land in a massive chorus with a whole bunch of melodic and texture layers which we like to think kind of makes For Giants, For Giants.
We used this song as the title track because it’s one of our favourites we’ve ever written and it seems to encapsulate the entire mood and theme of the album in 5 minutes. It even manages to roll almost all our influences into one. You can hear pop punk, metalcore, prog rock, djent, post-rock, and ambient rock, all in one song. We also manage to squeeze two completely different moods into this one. It starts out almost poppy then ends with just a huge, epic, anthemic wall of sound that you’d never expect to end on from listening to the beginning of the song.
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