Building Giants - M1 Festival - Interview and Review
On 22nd May, Manchester commemorated the anniversary of the Arena bombing, in which 22 people tragically lost their lives. Services were held to remember the victims, which saw people coming together in a fervent show of solidarity.
In true Manchester spirit, the city held momentous remembrance events, including the M1 Festival, which brought together some of the most exciting up-and-coming local bands and artists to pay tribute to those lost in the attack and raise money for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Acknowledging and celebrating the unique character of Manchester, as well as the sense of pride and unity felt across the city in a nine-hour spectacle, M1 Festival paid homage to Manchester’s musical landscape over the last 40 years.
The event took place over three floors at the iconic club, Factory-251, with each floor representing a different genre of music that the city has become synonymous with - Indie, Electro/Dance and Hip-Hop. One of the twenty-plus acts on the bill was a new Preston-based rock band that had been on my radar for a while, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of seeing them perform at such a symbolic occasion.
Building Giants, who only formed last year, have already been making waves on the scene, with a busy gig schedule and a debut EP to their name. I caught up with them for a chat before their set at the local landmark, Joshua Brooks, just across the street from Factory-251. Sitting around a low table on multi-coloured leather Chesterfield sofas, I asked the boys to each introduce themselves and describe what it meant to them to be part of M1 Festival.
Matt (Guitar): It’s massive to be on this tonight, it’s such a big event, obviously a year to the day after the tragic events of last year, so it means so much to be here.
Joe (Lead Vocals/Bass): Yeah, it’s brilliant to be involved in something like this. Obviously it’s great to remember the tragedy of last year, to remember the 22 people who died and it’s such a sad situation, but it’s lovely that everyone’s getting together and celebrating their lives with music, which is what they were watching when it happened, so I’m happy to be involved.
Huw (Drums): I think it just shows the strength of Manchester, the fact that so many people want to come out to remember those people and to celebrate their lives, as well as just for the love of music.
Tom (Guitar): I’ve actually lived in Manchester for the last five years, so for me it’s quite a special gig because it’s a demonstration of how strong the community is here and it’s an opportunity to celebrate the gathering together of people since the attack, not just remembering those who unfortunately lost their lives or were injured, so it’s an honour to be asked to play our music as part of it.
Now I understand that protecting independent music venues and supporting live music is something you feel very strongly about, can you tell me a bit about your involvement with Independent Venue Week?
BG: Yeah, we did a mini tour of independent venues in Preston, Liverpool, Northwich and Glossop for Independent Venue Week and it was good to go around a few different places and see loads of different people. We hadn’t done many gigs in those places before and it was good to get our music heard and support some of the venues that maybe don’t get all of the headlines or the massive bands, but they really support bands who are coming up and trying to make a name for themselves. We need the independent venues because that’s the platform for us, the smaller bands who are unsigned, those are the kind of venues we need. If they go, then we’ve got no stepping-stone to bigger things so the whole reason we’re supporting it is because it helps bands like us and the bands we’re playing with. We did Independent Venue Week because it celebrates the fact that those venues are there and highlights how needed they are.
We’re actually part of a campaign called Fight Back Campaign, which aims to do a hundred gigs a year. It’s similar to Independent Venue Week, the aim is to protect those smaller venues which unfortunately have started to close over the last decade or so because people are taking less interest in what’s on their doorstep and their local bands that are up and coming and more interest in what’s on their televisions and what’s on X Factor at the moment so yeah, that’s really important to us.
Now, I know you only formed less than a year ago and you’ve been busy recording and touring since then, so can you tell me what’s it’s like juggling working full time with being in an up and coming band?
BG: It’s fun, it’s a struggle, it’s a lot less sleep than I’d like to get, than we’d all like to get! But yeah, it’s good fun. There’s a lot of driving, a lot of travelling around, but it all comes with the job. My holidays at work are dwindling because of playing gigs in places such as London during the week, so it is good, but it’s a lot of money obviously for travelling and stuff like that so I’m lacking funds and sleep at the moment, but it’s all worth it. There’s nobody I’d want to see at the end of a hard day at work more than these three... It’s what keeps me going through the week - looking forward to gigs. Now you’re all laughing at me!
You’ve already recorded a 5-track EP called Frontier, how’s that been received and what influenced the song writing?
BG: It’s been received really well. We like to think it’s quite different to stuff that people have heard before. The amount of different artists we’ve been told we sound like is so varied, which is fantastic because all too often you get bands that are like “Oh, they sound just like X or just like this band”, but there are so many different bands that we’re likened to, which means hopefully we sound a little bit different to perhaps something that people have heard before.
We played a festival at the weekend called Highest Point in Lancaster and quite a few people came up to me and the rest of the guys as well and said “this is completely new, I’ve never heard anything that’s quite the same as this”. We’ve all got slightly different influences, but I think it’s probably an amalgamation of those influences that has just landed us in a style of music that we seem to have started to create. So in terms of how it’s been received, we’re absolutely over the moon with it. Everyone seems to really enjoy it and in fact two weeks ago we just recorded another four tracks, which will be accompanying the 5-track EP that we’ve already got out there at the moment. Not too sure when it’s going to be released as yet, we’re probably going to have a few music videos that will be coming out around summer and autumn time to accompany those. Sorry, I’m jumping the gun a little bit here, aren’t I?!
So, we’re coming up to festival season, will you be appearing at any festivals over the summer?
BG: As Tom mentioned before, we’ve just played one this weekend called Highest Point in Lancaster, which was in conjunction with BBC Introducing and that was our first proper festival. It was completely different to anything we’ve done before and it’s probably the biggest gig we’ve done so far this year. There are a few more we’re appearing at – there’s Sonder Fest here in Manchester at The Bread Shed on 30th September, and then we’re playing at Blackthorn Festival on 21st July, which is quite close to Stockport and there’ll be quite a few big acts there like Pete Doherty, We Are Scientists, Peter Hook and The Sugarhill Gang have just been announced, which is good. The first bass-line I ever learned was Rapper’s Delight, so it’ll be quite cool to watch them.
Apart from festivals, do you have any plans to tour later on in the year?
BG: I suppose we tend not to call them tours but we have got gigs booked all around the country. We’ll be going over to Yorkshire on the ‘wrong’ side of the Pennines in the summer for the first time, which we’re quite excited about and we’ve got some festivals that we’re going to be announcing over that way and hopefully have a couple of other venues that we’ll be playing there as well. We have got plans to go down to London, we’re actually in London at the back end of this week and then the rest of our time I think is going to be spent around the North West, mainly around Preston, Carlisle, Manchester and we’re probably going to be playing a couple of shows around the Midlands and the South East as well.
Thank you for your time - I’m really looking forward to your set tonight!
After the interview we went back into Factory-251 to watch the fantastic Rook and the Ravens. At 10:30pm everybody observed a minute’s silence. The club fell completely still and it was quite eerie – the only sound coming from overhead gobo lights, whirring as they shut down. Building Giants came on at 10:45pm and played a half-hour set, which included three songs from their EP plus three of their new tracks. It was obvious how well the band gelled together on stage and their competent performance certainly lived up to my expectations. They may be new on the scene but they are busy making a name for themselves and their hard work will surely pay off as more people start to hear their music. For a finale, the band played Dream Falling, the instantly recognizable opening track from ‘Frontier’. It was an excellent choice and left a very positive impression of what was an immensely significant, poignant evening.
Blackthorn Music Festival