When Kevin and Anita Robinson of Viva Voce finished their extensive tour last year, they knew they wanted to approach the next project differently. So rather than begin another album as a duo, as they had done for so many years—with each of them playing and overdubbing all the parts—they aimed to try something more spontaneous. It became clear their next project would be "something distinctly different from Viva Voce," says Kevin. "It began with songs that, for lack of a better term, were just something 'else'—more organic than what we'd been doing up to that point. We'd played with some friends before we went on our last tour, so we knew when we got home we had some assembly required."
They asked Evan Railton, formerly of the Swords Project, and Seth Lorinczi, of the Golden Bears, to join them in the new endeavor. Says Lorinczi, "I think Kevin and Anita felt constrained by the format of Viva Voce—just the two of them, playing with a pretty dense prerecorded backing for the most part." The four recorded an EP, without "any expectations of what it was supposed to be or turn into," continues Lorinczi. "It was all very low key and fun, just hanging out in the studio and playing."
The band—and it became quite clear that what they were dealing with was an actual band—is called Blue Giant and their tunes are remarkably different from Viva Voce's swirling psychedelic kaleidoscope. Several of the songs are rooted in traditional country music, reflecting a greater piece of former Alabamians Kevin and Anita's Southern heritage.
"Target Heart" uses the ponderous 3/2 beat-and-a-half of the Kinks' "Strangers" to tell a story of being hopelessly defeated by love over and over again. It's indie rock gone American Gothic, with its hymn-like melody and unhurried pace evoking devotion in a potent and powerful way. Meanwhile, Anita sings "Lonely Girl," a blue-sky country song that juxtaposes the purity of Loretta Lynn with the 12-string jangle of the Byrds.
The desperation and fatalism of some of the songs, though, is largely just storytelling; Blue Giant took advantage of the new format and its resultant freedom to don different guises and try different voices, with the hope of creating and conveying moods in their entirety.
"The songs I've been writing for Blue Giant are just that—stories," says Kevin. "Tall tales. Fiction as opposed to an autobiography, I reckon. Sometimes it's nice to relate to a character in a story, rather than just hearing about someone else's broken heart."
Attendees of Blue Giant's debut show this Friday, June 20, will receive a digital copy of the EP included in their ticket price, and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney will be appearing as a special guest, which hints at the epic possibility of dueling lead guitars between her and Anita. It's just the start of a project that'll include an album later this year.
As Kevin says, "We'll start recording the full-length soon after the show at the Wonder. This is a deliberate change for us; we've typically recorded, then performed the songs. But, yes—there will be more live shows, and a proper release of the EP and LP in the short future."