In anticipation of the Lafayette-native GIVERS' appearance at BUKU Music + Arts Project at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, The Daily Reveille sat down with the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Taylor Guarisco. GIVERS is playing on Saturday, March 12, from 3-4 p.m. at the Power Plant stage.
The Daily Reveille: You started off your festival run with Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival in Florida- what do you anticipate with your upcoming festival appearances, i.e. BUKU, Hangout and Bonnaroo?
Taylor Guarisco: We’re really looking forward to people knowing more of these new songs with the new record. I look forward to that exchange of taking people to this new place with these new songs, but with the same energy and stage that they once experienced back in the day with us. Our live shows are pretty rambunctious and raucous; we try to push all of the songs from an album version to a new place, and so it’s always fun having that exchange happen during that. So yeah, that’s what I anticipate: an energetic exchange.
TDR: How has reception been since your last album came out in November?
TG: It’s been good. It’s been a thing that we get to watch grow and for a while we were touring the songs before the record came out and that’s always this experimental approach, to play a bunch of new songs that no one knows. It borderlines being selfish and self-indulgent, but you give it your all and you throw it out there. So the reception lately now that the record’s out is like when people know the map or footing of a place; they feel a little bit more comfortable taking the adventurous turns that we throw in a live show. It’s always a special thing when people know the material, know they’re routing through this world that you created and you get to dance with that. I love it. I love that dance.
TDR: Can you tell me about the process of making the new album? You guys met in North Carolina, the Smoky Mountains, Wisconsin and Louisiana to record. How did all of that traveling influence the making of the record?
TG: Each different place had its own function. North Carolina was the bedrock, the foundation. We got all these ideas on the ground. There was somewhere around 50 song ideas after our couple weeks in North Carolina. Then we took it to False River and that’s when this thing grew legs, started to walk and these 50 song ideas got condensed into 30 songs. It was like, okay, now these are actually songs. They have an emotion, a direction, a feeling, they’re songs now. And the next few trips to Eau Claire, Wisconsin and then back to New Orleans to do studio work was like adding all of these colors, shaping a more specific trajectory and direction and getting it fine-tuned. Each of those places offered something different, it allowed us to complete each chapter one at a time.
TDR: What inspired y’all when making this album?
TG: There’s so many things you could say inspired a record like this. This band is always about experimenting and exploring new things. That was one of the reasons I feel like this band came into existence, was because we all wanted to try something new. And I feel that’s how this band is going to continue: trying new things now, pulling what we love from the last chapter and pushing that forward. What inspired us for this record was that we were inspired to push that buoyant, pummeling kind of energy in different directions, push it in different grooves and not repeat ourselves and not rely on a West African groove to pull out a different kind of sound and approach. We ended up drawing on all these inspirations- soul, funk, dance music, emotive balladry, zydeco grooves — from Southwest Louisiana that have been in our ears. This is our chance to explore, so we did. Every song is a different exploration and a different direction that we’ve never been on before. It’s really exciting to finish the record and be like oh, we did it. We didn’t just repeat ourselves. We maintained certain things we love about this band, but we took it to a new place.
TDR: How do you think you guys have grown and changed since your debut?
TG: We were so young when we started. The age range was 18-24. I feel like naturally you just become less naive. There’s a maturity I’ve witnessed all of us experience together because we’re growing older together as band mates and friends. I’m grateful to have these people around me for these years, because it’s like you have all of these people reflecting themselves to you. We’re just older and more mature, a little slower, maybe a little uglier. Except for Tiff. She’s like a fine wine over there.
TDR: Has the increased exposure GIVERS has received over the years changed the dynamic within the band at all?
TG: The dynamic of the band in a way is a shifting thing. Any band’s dynamic will change throughout the years, especially when you have different band members. We’ve had different band members come into the fold in the past couple years and that changes things for sure. As far as how ideas and how things come to fruition, a lot is similar from the very conception of the band. There’s this concept of letting ideas come into the open form, having our input heard and working together to get it there. It’s democratic in that sense.
TDR: How does being from Louisiana influence your music? How is touring nationally as a Louisiana band?
TG: We’ve grown up in Louisiana. There’s some bands you listen to and you can tell there’s no Louisiana influence at all. When I hear our old stuff and definitely some of our new stuff, I hear direct influences that inform certain rhythms. How has that happened? I think it’s just embracing it and loving it. We love Louisiana music. There’s something very special about the music down here and the rhythms in the nature of certain musics, whether it’s zydeco or Cajun music or New Orleans brass band music or New Orleans funk soul music. These are all things that are native to our state and that’s pretty amazing. This is all music that is so funky and has so much uniqueness in the melodic and rhythmic structure. I love drawing from all those influences. At the same time, we’re not a band that tries to go for any one genre. Louisiana music has indirectly made its way into the whole way we create music and I think that’s what it’s about, as far as drawing from all these influences in life and making this one dish that’s yours.
TDR: GIVERS plays festivals as well as intimate venues. Which show do you like better?
TG: My approach to that is always the same. You forfeit things and you gain things on both sides. The yellow lab in me that likes to run wild, loves the festival stages, because we get to cut up and play around. I feel like there’s some freedom to express myself physically, to not be constrained and I love that. At the same time, sometimes festival shows are horrible because you have limited time and it can go really wrong. With the venues, it’s beautiful because you have the intimacy. You have this total connection that you can feel everyone because they’re right there. There’s nothing really like that. That’s the best that it’ll get with the exchange.
TDR: Especially since BUKU is in New Orleans, how do you guys feel about it? Excited/have anything planned?
TG: We’re excited. We consider New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge hometown shows. We love playing the hometown vibe. The only shows I ever really get nervous for is the hometown energy, it’s like, alright, these are all of my friends, all of my family are here. Don’t f--- it up. I love caring, I love doing shows down here, so yeah, I’m excited for BUKU.
TDR: Thoughts about the future for the band?
TG: Overall, I love where we landed with this record. With “New Kingdom,” I feel like we set out to explore new places within the sounds, and I feel like we did that. It’s exciting now that we’re able to make something we’re proud of and feel like it’s connected to what we were aiming to represent overall. I’m excited to keep making music now with the notion that we don’t have to rely on any one platform to stand upon. We’re able to create a new palette of grooves, a new palette of sounds and maintain a court of honesty, maintain this feeling that all of these songs are written from an honest place. Hopefully when they’re translated and someone digests them, they go to that good feeling and honest place inside someone. But they don’t have to be any certain format or genre that this band has to follow. We changed the formula but we still got to that place that we wanted to get to, which is very exciting to step back and see.