Interview With David Huff of GIANT
The 1989 release of Giant’s debut album “Last Of The Runaways” would pave the way for many melodic rock bands to follow. Giant, formed by brothers Dann and David Huff (and rounded out by Mike Brignardello on bass and Alan Pasqua on keys) would follow up their debut release with their 1991 release “Time To Burn”, an album that maintains its melodic rock fortitude to this day and is often cited as a source of inspiration for melodic rock bands around the globe.
As music ushers in a new era, melodic rock still has its place and in 2009 the brothers Huff started working on some new material. Although Dann contributed to the overall writing process, his successful career outside of Giant forced him to leave behind being an active member of the band causing the line-up to shift a bit. Enter vocalist Terry Brock and John Roth on guitars. The new Giant album titled Promise Land, drops on March 9th on Frontiers Records and is a complete labor of love.
I recently had a chance to discuss the future of Giant with David Huff, currently working in Memphis TN.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Giant released two classic albums: The Last of the Runaways (1989) and Time to Burn (1992). Does Promised Land (2010) pick up where the band left off?
Well yes and no. I think we have stayed true to the brand that we had started and developed as far as the music and the melodic style that Giant had become known for. But at the same time there has been an evolution as well. With lineup changes and the addition of Terry and John, Giant is ready to put itself back on the arena rock map.
Is Promised Land (2010) a collection of songs written/recorded over a period of months/years or were they written more recently with the current line-up actively involved?
The album was recorded over this past year. We started writing about 6 months prior to that. There were a few songs that we had been taken from some older ideas in the original incarnation of the band, sort of a mixed bag here. What we did was take all of that material, give it a melodic twist and I think have made it work.
Your brother, original vocalist Dann Huff, co-wrote several of the songs on Promised Land and remains a contributor to the band today. Do you think they were written with the idea of him actually performing the tracks or was Terry Brock the only one in mind?
My brother is no longer a member of Giant because he could not commit to it full time due to other projects that he is actively involved with. However he was involved as much as he could be during the writing process. Giant was very much Dann’s vision.
How exactly did Terry Brock and John Roth come to be a part of the current Giant line-up?
Mike (Brignardello) and I had an idea of the kind of members we were looking to add to the mix and had been given some names when we were first approached by Frontiers. We had met a few singers and a few guitar players but just personally and playing-wise Terry and John were an ideal fit. Terry came to our attention after I had had made a call to Serafino (Perugino, Frontiers records founder) having been a little frustrated at the singer search process up to that point. He had mentioned him in one phone call to me so we had him come down. Terry was a great choice ultimately because he not only had a rock singer’s chops but also had a very soulful background, which in looking back was exactly how Dann, Mike and I started this band in the first place. Our backgrounds were all very much riddled in soulful roots. John came to us having been recommended by a mutual friend and then also his name had been mentioned by someone I had been working with in the studio shortly before we started to get Giant back up off the ground. John is an amazing Rock player but he also lives in Memphis and has a similar sort of soul back ground as well.
Do you think it’s a tough transition for a band that has been fairly inactive for a period of time to come back with a new vocalist or does that period of inactivity actually work tour advantage for new fans that may not be that familiar with the older Giant material?
Personally, I think it’s an advantage. We are a very unique band and there are certain expectations that the fans have about us. I think that music styles have changed so drastically and that its come around full circle to where if we had done this back in the mid 90’s we would been criticized quite harshly for any lineup changes. For the fans it would have been unacceptable. So now it’s been awhile to where I think enough time has passed and I don’t think it matters. It comes down to good music and I think the new fans will accept the band for what we have to offer in 2010.
The Giant fanbase is a worldwide community. What do you think is the biggest difference between US fans vs. other fans around the globe?
I think the current musical climate is a direct reflection of our society. Pop music here in the US is music by demand. I think in Europe it’s a lot different. When melodic rock of the 80’s became a dinosaur here in the US there still was a fanbase for it in Europe. Here is was just not cool and clearly the US is more fickle to whatever the hot thing is right now. For instance in the 90’s remember how big Boy Bands had become? It became so inflated so fast that it just as quickly became the un-coolest thing in the world to be a part of. I’m lucky that I can say (in my opinion) that has never happened to Giant. In Europe they don’t throw the baby out with the bath water there. If they change styles they still have a deep respect for that music. However I think the US is starting to come back around to our style of music. Younger folks are starting to discover us and think that this is a pretty cool style of music.
So where do you think are the biggest appreciators of Giant?
By sales alone from what I’ve been told Germany is #1. Close behind would be Italy and the U.K. The Swiss and Danish fans are also very well represented in the Giant community. Oddly enough we never made it to Japan. We never played one show over there. I’m not even certain if we even have a following there. But let me make this perfectly clear I’d looove to go there!!
What is the bigger challenge: drummer, songwriter or producer?
Without question producing is the biggest challenge of those three because you have to multitask and cannot just focus on one thing. It’s such a challenge to produce because you want to do what’s right for the song but at the same time follow certain guidelines about what’s acceptable sonically and so forth and it can get frustrating at times. Songwriting is harder than drumming for me personally. Coming up with a well crafted song that is melodically and lyrically fresh and still have a great stable structure to it is a gift. But being both a songwriter and producer it’s made me a better drummer. I don’t play drums as much as I used to but drumming to me is like riding a bike. I can play solid for a week or two get back my timing back and it’s like I never left.
What are the touring plans for Giant in 2010?
We are currently searching for a booking agent and Europe will most likely be the starting point to get Giant back on the road. We have already been invited to play a handful of festivals this summer and also have had a few other offers on some big tours as a support act. It will be somewhat challenging for each of us to commit to Giant with all the other projects and commitments that each of us has but we want to do it. It’s just a matter of working out the details. John is still an active member of Winger. The idea has been thrown out there to possibly do some shows with Kip and the boys. Time will tell but back in the day we did some very heavy touring in the US. We played with Bryan Adams, Heart and Whitesnake just to name a few.
Do you have any fond memories of playing in Boston?
Oh yeah we came though New England several times. I know we played the old Boston Garden at least one time I think with Boz Scaggs. Worcester and Providence were also good markets for us; great fans and good times. Just to let you know..I’m a huge Red Sox fan. I’m really hoping we get back on track in 2010. The 3 and out against LA was not cool at all. I blame everything on Johnny Damon. My team won it in 2007 without him but now that they (NY Yankees) went on to beat LA and won it all in 2009..I’m glad he’s in Detroit!
What message do you want to send to the fans of Giant as you move forward into the future on the road and possibly back to the studio now that the band is back on its feet?
We have really missed our fans. We have had fans over the years looking to the day when Giant would return and we did it for them. It was a labor of love making this record and we are very excited to be back. We wanted something that would please our old fans but at the same time stay current and hopefully appeal to a new audience at the same time. We are really looking forward to hearing our fans feedback after listening to Promised Land. Some fans were not initially pleased with us doing Giant without Dann. Dann and I are best friends and we totally support each other 100% in everything that we do and Dann was ok moving on with Terry.
Purchase the new album from GIANT here