South London rockers Hey Gigantic are a great example of making music for the fun of jamming with your mates. Their catchy alternative rock sound harnesses their love for contrasting quiet with loud, with moments of calm blasted away by big hard-hitting rockiness.
The quartet of Jonathan Bateman (lead vocals and bass), Matt Nicholson (backing vocals and guitar), Jonny Haylock (guitar) and Jon Moon (backing vocals and drums) – yep, three variations of Jon, which must be confusing – first formed of former university friends who all moved to London for work and started jamming a few ideas.
As Jonathan tells us: “The main reason was just to hang out with mates, talk about music, have a laugh and drink a few beers. We’ve been messing around with ideas since 2013 but only really been focused on it in the past couple of years as people start to take an interest and you realise people are actually hearing the songs you’ve written in a dank old practice room. Which is always awesome!”
New single Passenger is the band’s first release from a recording session with Neil Kennedy (Creeper, Milk Teeth) at Ranch Production House in the summer. Jonathan explains: “It feels like the most immediate capture of our love of punk driven alt rock. It’s a driving song, full of energy and urgency, it’s meant to be played loud and on the road with the windows down. Like in a kind of Thelma and Louise moment, without the driving off the cliff part.”
The track kicks off with a drum intro that’s soon joined by a fun fast-paced guitar riff that supports laid-back opening vocals “As you woke up on the platform, Thinking where did it go wrong, Watching it all pass by, You’re a passenger tonight” followed by more intense vocals “And I don’t know where I am anymore, How do I get back home, I don’t know where I am anymore, When did I lose control?” A similar second verse pattern follows with palm-muted chords building the intensity towards a big rock-out under cries of “Control” then a mini guitar solo.
It drops down into building guitars and drums under more subdued repeats of “These are dark roads that we are driving on, It’s been dark there for far too long” that gives way to a big guitar solo and pounding drums that bring the track to a big ending. Check it out in the video below:
Passenger typifies Hey Gigantic’s big rock sound, and the band feels this upbeat, urgent track is the first time they’ve truly captured the energy and aesthetic of their live show.
And when it comes to what inspires their music, Jonathan explains: “We really started to doing this just purely for the fun of it, and that’s how it should be shouldn’t it? Just four good mates growing up together and inspired by the same kind of music, but also as we get older the inspirations become more varied and so everyone brings more and more interesting ideas and references to the mix.
“Lyrically all the themes are about pretty day to day stuff, emotional experiences or interactions that hopefully people can relate to or find their own interpretation of. Perhaps not all the themes are obvious but it’s always interesting to hear people put their own spin on it.”
Their sound is inspired by a wide range of influences, as Jonathan tells us: “We all listen to a variety of genres and bands, anything from Kendrick Lamar to Explosions in the Sky, or Mac DeMarco to Converge. We love how all these varied styles of music can inspire a song in the tiniest or more sub-conscious kind of ways from the composition, to lyrics or production. It’s all inspiring.
“But the more obvious reference in our sound is indie, punk and hardcore, we definitely love that contrast of quiet and loud in our songs, taking you through the ups and downs and keeping the journey interesting and sometimes unexpected. We’ve always love the heavy rawness of At The Drive-In, with the intricate guitar work of Bloc Party and the big hooks and melodies of Biffy Clyro. So that’s what we aspire to, striking that mix of quiet and loud while making it catchy as hell. Hopefully with these new songs we’re getting there.”
Passengers is out now, and there’s more to come early in 2018 either through new singles or an EP – so watch this space. You can also see the band live supporting Faux and Polary at the Old Blue Last in London on 29 January then Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton on 31 January.