Austin-Texas punk revival tent-crashers A Giant Dog bring their ten-armed god of destruction to Seattle’s Substation this Thursday, July 30, before heading to Portland’s Pickathon (7/31 @ Mountain Stage, 4 p.m. + 8/2 @ Galaxy Barn 4:40 p.m.) as part of a West Coast tour following a 2014 that saw them woo untold millions opening for Spoon, and garner buzz from the British music press.
Picked by the UK’s New Music Express (NME) as one of fifty new bands to watch in 2015, the band’s ability to create small hurricanes of humanity via their Iggy and The Stooges-meets-X energy levels and songs bent on saving and/or destroying you, they are –along with Feral Future, Sweet Spirit and Borzoi– among the gold standard for live shows in a very crowded Austin music space.
Earning a rare local-band spot at this November’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, a new album is expected in early 2016.
A Giant Dog frontwoman Sabrina Ellis and guitarist/songwriter Andrew Cashen took a moment from the road somewhere between Amarillo and Seattle to entertain a mélange of questions from Nada’s Austin bureau chief, discussing their impressions of the Northwest, the transition to larger stages after playing in more intimate venues and whether or not the band’s bass player sleeps in a coffin.
NadaMucho.com: What do you think of when you think of the Pacific Northwest as a place to visit? How would you contrast the space with Texas? Were there any bands (Sub Pop or otherwise) that were important to you growing up?
Ellis: The Pacific Northwest is awesome. It’s a beautiful drive and makes me want to camp out. People like to compare Portland and Austin. I can concede that both towns have great food. Coming from Texas, we have to be all tough. We’re thick-skinned, bearing the 105 degree heat all summer and riding bareback on horses, spitting tobacco, scaring people with our loud voices and big guns. People from the Pacific Northwest seem so gentle and nice.
Ellis: Growing up I did not have a cool bone in my body and there is no way I would’ve heard any Sub Pop bands. Except Nirvana, of course we were influenced by Nirvana, but that was without us being cool and knowing anything about Sub Pop. In college, Sabrina got heavy into Ween. Heavy. Current Sub Pop artists we listen to a lot are: Deaf Wish, Jaill, King Tuff, Sleater Kinney and Goat.
Cashen: What’s the Pacific Northwest?
NM: If you could go back and time and had to choose between preventing the outbreak of the Bubonic plague or emo, which would you choose?
Cashen: If I could go back and stop the bubonic plague or emo I would probably stop emo. It lasted a lot shorter and I’ve got things to do.
Ellis: Neither. The Bubonic plague was horrible and sad and completely out of human control, and happened to people I will never meet. Emo also hasn’t affected my life in any way. I think emo was a healthy thing for teens who felt outcast or overly emotional. Being a kid is hard, so anything that can help one get through that is good and useful to society. Emo … helped people.
NM: You’re going to hit the Pickathon festival in Portland and later in the fall you’ll be hitting the Fun Fun Fun three-day festival in Austin. In addition to playing some bigger festival shows, you’ve been playing increasingly larger stages be it festivals or on tour with Spoon. What’s that transition from smaller venue to bigger stage been like? What kind of challenges does that pose?
Ellis: We will always be happy to play a show at any venue that has a good staff and treats us like coworkers rather than street orphans. The venue staff can really make or break a show, whether there are 30 people in the audience or 3,000.
Cashen: I’d always love to play small intimate thrashy places, but I realize if you want to progress as a band that’s not possible. I’m still figuring it out. We’ll see what happens.
Ellis: Of course, we want to play the big festivals and open for established bands with devoted fans. But playing a game of catch in the park is just as fun as competing in the World Cup. Is that a mixed-metaphor? A game of footsy in the yard.
NM: Once upon a time, you were in a band in high school called “Youth in Asia” … as part of your tour, you will be playing shows in Oregon where euthanasia’s ugly step sister assisted suicide is legal with the assistance of a physician. Do you plan on euthanizing anyone during your time in Portland? If so, what method would you use?
Ellis: I would not want to be the doctor who has to execute people. I do think it’s nice that people are legally allowed to make this choice and to die in a peaceful way, but it’s also very sci-fi.
Cashen: Personally I would recreate [South Park’s] The Human Centipede with three willing participants. That guy was a doctor right?
NM: Speaking of death, your bass player has a coffin-shaped guitar case. Does Graham ever sleep in it? If you could sleep inside something really bizarre what would it be?
Ellis: That’s funny. Just last night we were talking about how Graham should be a little smaller so he can sleep in his coffin case, holding his bass like a rifle. It’s lush inside, red velvet swirl. If we could sleep inside something bizarre I guess it would be [also on the bill] The Blind Pet’s Sprinter van. They built a loft bed up in there and covered it in memory foam and Mexican blankets. They all spoon.
Cashen: I honestly have wanted to try going to one of those sound deprivation chambers. I hear if you stay in there long enough you will start to hallucinate. I would probably just fall asleep. I think it would feel like you’re in a womb which could be interesting.