By Kathryn Pinto
Photo By Zach Smith
GIVERS’ joyful, polyrhythmic music broke the spell of melancholy in a month of beautiful, but downhearted music. I first listened to them on one of those days when I thought I would never catch up on email or listening to the tracks piling up in my inbox. So I took a chance on a slightly familiar name in one of those emails and played a couple of GIVERS’ songs. To my surprise, it was bouncy, danceable, percussive music that made me feel like my heart was hopping on a trampoline, in contrast to the doleful, yet excellent, releases of recent weeks (see Bon Iver, the Antlers, Other Lives).
GIVERS, from Lafayette, Louisiana play the Bootleg Theater Thursday with Caddywhompus and Family of the Year. Their debut album In Light comes out Tuesday June 7, but is now streaming in its entirety on NPR Music’s First Listen. Band members Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco caught up with me by phone from a gas station in Denver on their way out to the Sasquatch Festival and schooled me on young avant-garde Cajun bands, why every band needs a solar bus and their tour van playlist.
Radio Free Silver Lake: We’re really excited to have you guys play LA next week.
Tiffany Lamson: Yeah, we are really excited to play. We love playing on the West Coast; we’ve only done it twice and every time it’s just amazing.
RFSL: How’s your tour going so far?
Taylor Guarisco: The tour is going great. The tour started in New York. We spent a week [there] … just spreading the word about the album that’s about to come out. It’s called In Light; it’s coming out June 7th. We’re really excited about it because we put a lot of love into it.
RFSL: Where are you calling from now?
TL: We’re at a gas station in Denver, Colorado.
RFSL: How’s the price of gas in Denver?
TL: Oooh. We just got it yesterday, but you know, yeah, pretty shitty, I guess.
TL: Yeah I don’t know, we don’t have a vegetable fuel bus or [anything].
RFSL: If you go through Olympia my brother will set you up…
TG: …all applications for [a] solar-powered van, bus, if any geniuses are out there and they want to support the band in their own time…
RFSL: Have you been in the van since New York?
TL: We had a couple shows …in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Kansas City, but it’s been a lot of driving, you know?
TL: After this we’re going to drive to … the Sasquatch Festival. So, a lot of driving but the scenery is really beautiful, we just got through the mountain area, which is amazing, so it’s always a good drive.
RFSL: So, do you guys have any road rituals? What have you been listening to in the van?
TL: Different people will pick up DJ-ing, you know like sitting shotty… So we’ll do like throwback album listens, you know?
RFSL: What was the last thing you were listening to?
TG: We were listening to Bon Iver, right? We listened to the new Bon Iver, that one’s like… yeah, it was awesome… Wait, I’m sorry, we didn’t listen to the new Bon Iver, actually. That’s not out yet. We don’t have that, right? OK, then yeah we were listening to old Bon Iver. [Everyone laughs]
TG: We play Sasquatch Monday, that was Kirby.
Kirby Campbell: Hey.
TG: Kirby plays the drum set in GIVERS. He says that we play on Monday, which is, what date?
Kirby: The 30th
RFSL: How was touring with Ra Ra Riot?
TL: It was great … we’ve toured with them twice. Yeah, like the last tour. It was sweet at the end the girls played some strings on one of our songs, and yeah, they’re very cool people.
RFSL: Yeah, I’ve been following those guys for a long time.
RFSL: How would you describe your music to somebody who hasn’t heard you before, who’s just going to go out on Thursday and check out the show?
TG: If they’re coming to the show we could say that, the music is going to be loud…and it’s also going to be colorful and it’s a very…rhythmic, but it’s also very melodic. I’m just being goofy, but I would say it’s a good mixture of a lot of things. That’s one of our favorite things about being in this band. It’s actually kind of hard to describe some of the, most of the music. You know we’ve been in a lot of bands where it was so easy to tell you, “Oh yeah, it’s like funk music mixed with like a little bit of Led Zeppelin vibe… That’s why we made this thing, this band; we tried to make these songs as hard as it could possibly be to try to describe. You know? Colorful is a good [word], I like colorful.
RFSL: What are some of your musical influences?
TL: I think that everybody’s influenced by a lot of things, like they all come from pretty different, various music backgrounds. It’s hard to just describe. [That’s] the beauty about it. We all really love some of the same music, anything that’s like really rhythmic... I don’t know if you would pinpoint us all having the same influences and that’s kind of where our sound comes from… we’re all like kind of part of this melting pot.
TG: Yeah, she said it. That’s the main thing about the band, is that everybody has such different influences, everyone contributes to that whole. [There’s a lot] happening that it’s hard to describe our music.
TL: …but we all really love Bon Iver
RFSL: What’s the music scene like in Lafayette, Louisiana? How is it for like a young band there? Who-all do you play with, are there a lot of places to play out?
TG: No, there are not too many places to play in Lafayette. It’s [a] pretty small community but what’s so special about it… These bands that you see in Lafayette or the type of music that you’d see in Lafayette, you’d never find it anywhere else in the world. You know, it’s very unique and very regional, kind of a special thing...the whole Cajun, zydeco… The music scene in Lafayette is very special, very unique, and we try to get people to go check it out cause it’s hard to try to describe the feeling in the air. You go to this bar and everyone’s doing these regional dances, the two-step and the waltz and everybody’s partying and it’s like all these young people two-stepping and it’s pretty crazy.
RFSL: And who are some of the bands over there that you like, any flavor?
TG: The bands in Lafayette that we like, there’s a band called Lost Bayou Ramblers,
TG: That Yeeeah was Kirby…and we’re going to be doing shows with them eventually. This band, another young Cajun band, their name is Feufollet, which is kind of hard to spell…
RFSL: Isn’t it P-H-O P-H-O F-I-L-L-E-T?
RFSL: That was a Vietnamese [food] joke.
TG: It’s F-E-U-F-O-L-L-E-T. Those are two Cajun bands that are, you could say, pushing the boundaries of Cajun music…
TL: And also rock bands we play with they’re all from around there like Caddywhompus that we’re going to be touring with, actually starting tonight. We’ve played with them a couple times and they’re awesome plus our friends Brass Bed [when] they’re in Lafayette or…
RFSL: Brass Bed played a show up here in LA last fall and they were just incredible … just amazing. It was just like an insanely great show.
TL: Awesome. They’re one of the only other bands around, rock bands that tours a lot… That’s cool that you got to see them.
RFSL: Yeah, it was cool. It was not a great night out there, but they just killed the whole show. It was amazing. It was just one of those nights where you’re like, “I’m tired, I want to go home.” And then [after the show] I was like, I’m so glad I stayed out.” So yeah that was great.
RFSL: OK, so what’s next for you guys? You have the record coming out and you’re touring…
TG: Yeah, we’re going to continue to tour like crazy. And then after that, we’re going to go tour some more, in Europe. We’re going to go do a tour there. Yeah, we’re gonna go to Shea, Ireland and Norway in August and then we’ll tour there.
RFSL: Oh, cool.
TG: And that’s probably going to be super-fun. And when we get back we’re going to take some time and tour some more…
TL: We’re going to work out some new songs
TG: Yeah, we’re probably going to work them out on tour.
RFSL: Do you guys write on tour?
TG: That’s the main thing right now, just to play as many shows to people as possible. That’s our big thing it’s like whenever you go to our show you get to experience the essence of all these people in this band, you know? So we’re going to work on the album and see where it comes from. Even if you’ve never seen us live, the album does speak for itself, you know?
TG: That’s June 7th, y’all. Droppin’
RFSL: Droppin’ like it’s hot…
RFSL: Is there anything that you want to tell the people of LA?
TG: We would love to see you guys there, people of LA. If you know personally any friends you can tell. It’s really going to be one of our most exciting shows on tour; LA is such a very exciting place to be. And the last time we played there I remember all of us, we probably all had a few heart attacks because it was so exciting. So, yeah, I would just say LA is going to be a great show.
TL: And we’re playing with two of our closest friends [bands] so that will be awesome. More exciting. Caddywhompus and Family of the Year. [I hope] everybody gets to see them because they’re awesome bands…
RFSL: OK, well thank you guys
TL: Cool, yeah, thank you so much. It would be nice to see you out there. You should come and introduce yourself
RFSL: I definitely will. Thank you guys so much.
TL: Awesome, have a great day.
Interview has been edited and condensed.