Interview: Total Giovanni
The most in-demand dance quintet in the country right now are preparing for a mammoth phase in the band’s history. With sold out shows across Australia and a debut album three years in the making on the way, the sky’s the limit for Melbourne’s own TG.
Your first headline national tour and congratulations on the album, it must be a really exciting time.
Yeah thanks, I think it’s just about to get exciting. The album has been, I’d say like three years in the making, so for us it’s a relief and like a finicky end to it all. When we’re actually on tour, when the album’s released on the 19th, I feel the excitement and the general giddiness will start from there. But I think we’re just taking a breath for now.
Firstly, selling out your first Melbourne show in 24 hours, what was that feeling like? Especially it being the bands hometown?
Listen, that was amazing. It was very humbling to see and for us, we played a few shows probably in the past year and a half to 2 years, but significantly less than when we first started off. Taking that big break, mainly to write the album and live stuff that was also happening in between, it was actually really heart-warming to see that there were still people out there keen to see what we’re up to at the moment. We haven’t played at the Croxton before actually. I’ve been to the gigs there, if that’s full, then it should be a good time.
Speaking of that big break, 4 years ago your first single was released, how much has changed in all that time?
How much time have you got? I guess the bands journey has reflected what people have gone through personally and their own personal developments in either career and/or family. That time four or five years ago, was obviously a different time, a free’er time, a less complicated time, not complicated in a bad way, and that reflected our first sound really. Just quite an outgoing, party, all-encompassing dance vibe, we still think that is certainly something which is what brought us together, and I think that still runs with us now. But I feel the music has probably matured, I guess as we have as well, to sound cheesy on that note. You know, people settle down and everyone’s got a different field or occupation, many different calendars and now interstate as well and families, there’s a lot going on. I would say these tracks are a little darker, and maybe more emotional. Like I said, I feel that fun or party element that was in there at the start, I still feel that’s there within us and can certainly come out again. It’s just how I describe going out these days; you don’t get to do it as much as you used to, so you just gotta do it smarter. It’s like ‘adult party’. So when it does come out, you know, you’re best prepared for it.
If we go back to the origins of the band, how did such a big group come together? I’m aware that you were all mates to start off with, was it as simple as 5 mates who loved to make music and dance coming together? Or was there a bit more to it?
You’re not far off in those particular elements. Four of us went to the same high school, and the fifth, Horse, he was friends with one of us from high school and later linked up with us in his late teens early twenties. We’ve always had a big interest in music in our friendship group and you know, that naturally develops a people’s experience with playing musical instruments growing up, fused with what they’re into now. I think everyone’s certainly got their own taste, so we can find a clique within that dance and connective realm. The dance floor is certainly something that does connect and something that we, consciously or not, connect to when writing the music, that’s such a big part of it.
The debut album, Euphoria, tell us about how that name represents the album for you? Is it different for each of you? Why Euphoria?
I think it is different with everyone slightly. For me there are different parts of the songs, but there’s that ecstatic element, if it’s performance, but also if it’s the connectivity to people whilst dancing. It’s this high that you get to and for me, that’s deeply connected to the type of music that is actually playing. I describe this feeling; it hasn’t happened to me many times, I could probably count on one hand the times in my life where I’ve been on a dancefloor and just felt this electricity. Really, that is a combination of the song and also, looking around sensing that everyone is on that same particular page as well, it’s wild. So I guess it’s trying to describe that particular feeling and for me, I mean, the songs on the album vary within tempo and also within emotion. There are darker ones, and there are lighter ones as well, just the particular journey that you take to get to that particular feeling, I think you can get there in a few ways. I know for some of the other guys on the album, like Vachel, he wrote quite a few of the songs on the album, he’s reflected on his family and also just the progression in his own life, so he’s got different things that he’s drawing from to create that particular space.
The album is really diverse from front to back, but there’s still a real cohesiveness about it – everything still fits. How did the process of recording the album differ from previously? In particular, how have you incorporated so many different influences and dance sub-genres in there?
So for this particular album, the majority of the songs were routed in this weekend that we had maybe 3 years ago. We went away to Apollo Bay and for 3 days, we just jammed, recorded and then we sifted through that. So quite a lot of the original ideas from the songs on the album stem from that session. Since then they’ve been tweaked and added and sort of taken apart again. I guess there’s a feeling amongst that collection of songs and with some of the others, they just formed organically in these particular times. Two weren’t even thought of being songs beforehand, one of them was an old beat that one of the guys threw on into this new studio that we were rehearsing at and I think I just went over the top of it, just because it was a new little recording booth and from that we made it into a song. We finished that probably within the space of like 3 or 4 days. There’s another one, ‘Awake’, our most recent single, the base of that song was actually created by Vachel and Horse when they were throwing around some ideas for this exhibition that they curated the music for, they made this walk-through experience. So that was just a random idea that we got excited about and decided to flesh out with in the space of a couple of weeks. How they all fit within this diverging vibe, tempo, feel and right down to the arrangement, I think we were all comfortable knowing that even though they were so different, there seems to be this vibe, or this sound if you will, that is still very TG. Whether that lays within the polyrhythmic sort of guitar-ing, a particular way of vocals, or the use of a couple of synthesiser, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hopefully it does still feel like something born from us, and hopefully it does come across as cohesive.
Definitely, I’ve been asking myself what makes this album sound so TG? I feel like through this album (as a band), you’ve really developed your own sound? You have obviously had that all along in many ways, but this is kind of a way of putting a stamp on it?
Yeah 100%. I mean, that’s all part of the exciting elements of making any album, let alone your first. It’s getting to showcase the specific flavours that get you excited as a band to make music in the first place. Being able to try and articulate everything just the way you want. The excitement of a live show cannot be knocked, the exhilaration and electricity you get from how it sounds without any takes. But being able to hone the other side of that craft in creating an album, even for the fact of to be able to create something that hopefully, you can wave in front of your kids when you’re older and tell them how cool you were compared to them.
I remember your set at Beyond the Valley a couple of years back – it was pissing down with rain and people started using the mud in front of the stage as a slide, obviously, the Golden Plains set as well, which shows really stand out to you?
I think first and foremost, our first Golden Plains show was just such a pinnacle and highlight for all of us because we had all been to that festival so many times. For me I think since 2004, we’ve gone to Meredith and then when Golden Plains started, we started to go to all of them. So for our friendship group, it was such an amazing experience to be able to be on the other side of that, having been a punter for so long in this place that you feel so comfortable in. That was on a Sunday afternoon, a lot of people hadn’t really heard about us and the crowd picked up as the set went along, it was really nice to see this bucket list sort of thing, it was incredibly heart-warming. On the other side of that, we played this show in Sydney in ‘GOODGOD’, RIP, unfortunately one of the last of the Sydney night life, the set-up there is very similar to the Mercat in regards to its downstairs, it’s a bit of pit, heaps of smoke machines it has a very low roof as well. That place was packed, it was a small place, the vibe there was electric, I think that was the first time actually, that the crowd sang back, it was one of our songs ‘Can’t Control My Love’, and towards the end of it the crowd started singing it back, we’d never heard that before. Then you’ve got the low roof which is starting to drip of sweat, and everyone was in it, you can’t escape that, you gotta just accept it. Very different gigs but the feeling; very similar. Those electric moments that you get on stage, I was talking about being on a dancefloor and experiencing that but yeah, when you’re on stage and you can hear that everything’s ‘in’ and you feel the excitement, on one hand it’s a beautifully overwhelming experience and then on the other I guess, what you do with that is harnessing that and making new jumps at the next level as well.
Finally, how do you expect or hope, this new album to propel Total Giovanni into their next phase?
That’s an interesting one, I haven’t actually thought about that particular, or any particular trajectory. We’ve had a conscious discussion about where we wanna go from here, admittedly I think it’s actually been just getting to this point that has consumed us all you know? Trying to make the album and then sort of about half way into that process, people’s own personal schedules start changing, limiting the time, and then basically just drip-feeding the finish of the album up until now. We wanted some clarity after the album was done and that point just kept on moving, now that we’ve finally kicked one from 45-out on the run, we’re actually just taking a decompressing break and allowing ourselves to enjoy this national tour. From there, the plan is certainly not set. I think if we just keep making music because we all love playing with each other and jamming, just using that I guess as a yard stick to get to in consistency, and then build it back up from there. I think it would be great to play more shows, you know, everyone wants to play overseas, you’ve just gotta mingle those in with the realities of the 5 people in the group. I think the biggest message we’ve had to take is more of a general one because the timing is always so tricky. If we don’t buckle ourselves down to gruelling schedules, deadlines or due dates and more just keep the knowledge that we want to make music, when we can and when we’re all in the same states. Just knowing that if we can get to there, then we’ll be okay.
Total Giovanni’s debut album ‘Euphoria’ is out October 19th.
Tickets for the Headline National Tour can be found here.