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Exclusive Interview with Guilty Giraffe

// Artists, Interview // May 2, 2017 // Adam

Guilty Giraffe is a name you may not have heard yet on the local scene, but I guarantee you that will change following their release of Server Error coming up on May 5.  Mint 400 Records’ newest, and youngest, band have already released the music video for the album’s first single, “Doom Song,” and have been earning the reputation for being “the loudest band in the five buroughs,” which is a pretty fucking cool epithet to claim.  But these dude’s aren’t just wild and crazy loud, Mat and Felipe are both talented way beyond their years as well as hard working and ambitious enough to carve out a niche for themselves in this scene.

Last week, I was able to chat with the Guilty Giraffe bros for a minute about the upcoming album release, their writing process, their musical maturity, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

N.J. Racket: Ok guys, starting off with a serious question.  You have Salem, the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, right at the opening of your new music video for “Doom Song.”  Were either of you born when that show was on TV?

Mat:  Yeah (laughs), I’m not sure when that show came out but I definitely grew up watching that and shows like it. My room-mate and I recently binge-watched a bunch of the seasons. Salem is hilarious. I guess I just randomly had a picture of him in the suit because I made a meme out of it and I just threw it in the video.

NJR:  Joking aside, you’re pretty young dudes.  Part of me is super impressed, and another part of me is just old and bitter that my chance to be cool is long gone.  When and how did you each get started with music? 

Mat:  I got started with music years ago I guess when I was in high school. I didn’t really start taking it seriously until I graduated. I got really obsessed with writing songs and recording them on garage band. I got my first guitar when I was like 14.

Felipe:  I was fixated with the drum-set as early as four years old. My aunt used to be part of a church in São Paulo, Brazil back in 1999. My mother and father to this day tell me that I would stare at the drummers and would always run up to the drum-set. Ever since then I would nag my mother for a kit, unfortunately I was never able to actually get one and start playing until I turned fourteen, my first year of high school. Sometimes I yell at my mother for not getting me started with music earlier on, but recently I began to appreciate the fact that everything I’ve accomplished in music thus far has happened due to my own interest, passion, and hard-work. I believe that us self-taught musicians have a different spark in our playing, a different aesthetic, a more unique and personal experience. Feels good.

NJR:  What brought you two together to form Guilty Giraffe and how long has it been that you’ve been playing together now?

Mat:  I’ve known Felipe for years, we played a few times together in high school.  Once I started getting serious about wanting to start a band, I was always trying to get Felipe to play with me, because he’s an amazing drummer. I guess he eventually caved (laughs) and we had a good time jamming so we kept it going.

Felipe:  What Mat said. We had played in a few different settings back in high school. We had tried forming a band at some point with two other friends, but it fell through. When Mat contacted me again, I was at a traditional period in my life and began to try playing with new people and getting myself out there more than I was used to. We began to develop a sound as well as a friendship while having fun playing music together.  In September I believe we will mark two years of Guilty Giraffe.

NJR:  I listened to your previous demo, A Time to Slime, which came out about a year and a half ago, and was really impressed by it.  Also worth noting, you recorded, mixed, mastered the whole thing yourselves – definitely an accomplishment.  How was that demo and the band in general received at the time and what did you learn from the experience as a whole?

Mat:  We released that demo maybe after six months of being a band. We had a singer at first, it didn’t work out with him and when he left we re-recorded everything and I did all the vocals. So, we kind of released it twice. We got some nice feedback from people and our friends but it definitely didn’t blow up or anything. We feel we improved a lot just playing together as a band.

Felipe:  It was definitely a learning experience. I know at first, we did not have an analog-to-digital converter, so we recorded the drums as one primitively mixed track using a Behringer mixer. I remember being excited to collaborate with Mat because I had always wanted to record and mix my own drums. It was cool working with Mat because he would take care of the guitars, bass, and vocals, and I would focus on the drums, and later mixing everything together. The second time around we had some better gear and we’ve definitely seen improvements not just in our playing and recording work-ethic, but also on our production skills and intuition

NJR:  Your new album, Server Error, is going to be released on Mint 400 Records.  How did that relationship with the label come about?

Mat:  I can’t remember how I found out about Mint 400, but I sent an Email to Neil with our demo to see if he would be interested, and he got back to me. We were pretty psyched he was interested in working with us. He’s been awesome, really hard working, friendly, and straight forward.

NJR: “Doom Song” has definitely got me excited for the release of the album.  From that one song alone, there’s a clear growth that’s occurred and it seems that you guys have taken that next step as musicians.  What makes this release different from anything you had done previously? 

Felipe: “Doom Song” is a bit of a different track for Guilty Giraffe, mostly because of its metal roots. Actually, when I began playing drums, my world revolved around metal, screamo, and hardcore. It’s interesting because most musicians start learning what us musicians consider the rock “classics” and whatnot. Although Metallica was probably one of the few “classic” bands that I began picking up the music to by ear, some of the first tracks I learned were from contemporary metalcore and deathcore bands which then flourished into progressive metal and jazz fusion. In “Doom Song” I made sure to bring out the double-kick in the mix and make it extra sludgy with Mat’s guitar and bass. We’re pretty happy with the result.

Mat:  This project is definitely performed and produced much better than our previous project. I think it’s going to just be an evolution and progression of what we started on our A Time to Slime. I came up with the riff for “Doom Song” a while before I showed it to Felipe. When we first jammed it out it was really fun to play.

NJR:  The reputation of Guilty Giraffes is that you’re friggin loud.  I’ve been told “the loudest in the five boroughs.”  But what stands out to me isn’t just the volume, or even the energy, but more so that your music, “Doom Song” especially, is the technicality of the song writing.  It’s not just loud, its actually musical, which is a tough balance to strike and really shows off the maturity of your musicianship.  How do you feel you came to such a balance?

Felipe:  Definitely a lot of trial and error as well as experience. For Server Error, I had actually decided to re-record the drums for most of the album. Mat did the same with a few songs. Our live sound has definitely improved. When you play out enough you begin to pick up on certain mistakes and fine-tune your craft. Not just musicianship mistakes, but also how you interact with the sound guy and the audience. We are beginning to be more aware of our live sound as we play more and more shows. The beauty of recording, mixing, and producing your own music is that your general knowledge and awareness of your sound expands much faster.

Mat:  We definitely tried to progress with the songwriting. Having Felipe give ideas to make the songs different really puts a whole new perspective on the song. Even something as simple as repeating a phrase or a chorus can go a long way in making the song sound more interesting. It’s always nice to have another opinion. Felipe and I work really well together, as musicians and friends, so finding a balance in our creative process is pretty easy for us. We play really loud, but we try and keep it very lush and melodic.

NJR:  Alright, about to wrap it up here.  You guys are incredibly talented, super young, putting out a record on Mint 400, riding a high from the video release, what’s next?  How do you plan to ride out 2017 and what are your goals for the future of Guilty Giraffe?

Felipe:  As of now, we plan to keep on pushing the envelope. We have our third release in the works actually, and we are excited to begin working more on that. Apart from working on another release and new music, we really just want to keep getting out there playing shows, meeting new people, and expanding our name in the region. Hopefully a small tour this summer.  That would be super rad!

NJR:  Thanks for giving N.J. Racket some of your time.  Best of luck with Server Error and everything after!

Mat:  Thank you N.J. Racket for the questions and feedback!

Written by Adam

Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.