I Am Giant Open up about Fears Around Replacing Frontman
This story was originally published on 22/07/2015
In an interview Shaun Morgan from Seether says you can replace anyone in a band but the vocalist.
Imagine The Wonder Years without Soupy or A Day To Remember without Jeremy or Slipknot without Corey (the fanboy in me is having a full fledge panic attack thinking about that!) you just can’t do it. Those bands would cease to exist. Like Attack Attack! Without Austin Carlile and Caleb Shomo.
And yet, that’s exactly what I Am Giant have done. Ed Martin [former vocalist but still badass] left and so they’ve got this (fairly) new guy, Ryan Redman. Sure, it’s not exactly news and after the release of two singles (‘Russian Doll’ and ‘Kiss From a Ghost’) plus a performance on X Factor Ryan’s cemented as the guy, the voice, of I Am Giant.
The change over happened in December and other than knowing it was amicable split and the band are excited to work with Ryan and yada yada yada they’ve been pretty quiet on the whole shebang.
Drummer, NZ icon, one half of the founding duo and heavily tattooed Westie, Shelton Woolright says that there were some concerns about what the fans might think but their label (Sony) and management had the biggest freak out of all.
“There were a few people that were kind’ve freaking out, that we told before we had publicly announced it but me and Paul [Matthews, bassist, other founding member] were really confident and we applied the same songwriting principles and worked really had with Ryan and got a good result.”
Despite having the I Am Giant sound down, even before Ed joined the band, Shelton says they knew they couldn’t leave their fans in the lurch, with the big question: what’s it going to sound like? Hanging over everyone’s heads.
It was a race against the clock. Cut the red wire or the blue?
That’s where ‘Russian Doll’ came from.
“Management and our label were wondering what it was going to sound like and we said, ‘We’ll show you’. And we showed them and they were kind’ve like, ‘Oh, shit, okay,’ and that made everyone go ‘aw phew this will work.’
“Paul and I had a big discussion about it [Ryan joining the band] and started writing the song towards Ed leaving. Obviously Paul and I are the main songwriters in the band so the core is always going to be there.”
Shelton is one of the most animated people you could ever want to meet. He talks like he’s on fast forward and his stories are peppered with ad-lib anecdotal accounts that, sometimes, slip into blow by blow.
One of the points he drives home the hardest is one of the most simple: work hard and you can achieve anything. Even when you could be facing the chance of starting again (at least, that’s what’s slightly sensationalist journalists posit — he totally disagrees).
“No [it wasn’t like starting again] because I’d been through that going from Blindspott to I Am Giant and honestly, the thing is, I knew it would be easy. It’s just hard work, man. Obviously it’s daunting and you think of all this stuff, can you replace the frontman? And all of this other crap but if you work hard and write good songs there shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just confidence and commitment and it’s paid off.”
‘Kiss From A Ghost’ came out of the Horrifying Truth album writing sessions and while it’s fairly new to us, it was a bit of a safety net for Paul and Shelton.
“We didn’t want it to be that we’ve got a new singer but we’re going to play old songs, we knew we had to start writing as soon as possible and moving forward to keep the momentum of the band up.”
Fast forward and Ryan’s place in the band is pretty cemented. It’s his second tour of NZ, he’s fronted more than his fair share of international shows and garnered fans the nation over after the band played ‘Kiss From A Ghost’ on X Factor.
“There are still people out there that think Ed might be better or worse and they’re always going to have that opinion when you change something.”
Either way, I reckon Ryan’s fit in pretty well and Ed and Shelts are still good as mates too. Everyone wins.