Alternative rock band Red Giants sat down with The WALK to talk about what’s in store for them as the end of the year is on the horizon. Red Giants features Robbie Fink (’12) on lead vocals, Emily Orrson (’13) on keyboard and vocals, Evan Ellman (’12) on drums, Jake Spinowitz (’13) on guitar, Nick Volpe (’14) on bass and Alex Utay (’12) on guitar and vocals. We got the chance to learn more about the band and what they have coming up.
The WALK: Do you guys want to talk a little bit about how you got started?
Alex Utay: I founded the band. So me and drummer, Evan, lived next to each other freshman year in the quad. Back in those days you could play amplified music in the quad at any hour of the day, so we would finish our work and just go in there and play really loudly for an hour or two. Also the former lead singer, Alex, would come sing with us sometimes, so did the current lead singer. As a result of that, you’re not allowed to play amplified music in the Quad anymore… Evan and I are in AEPi with the current lead singer. We found a bassist there who was a senior there when we were sophomores. I found her [Emily] in my music theory class. She was this kind of shy, unassuming, blonde piano player who wore a lot of floral dresses, so I knew she would be easily manipulated to be in the band. Jake just doesn’t really know what’s going on ever.
Jake Spinowitz: I pretty much just wandered into this.
A: We’ve had a lot of turnover. Now we have Nick Volpe playing bass for us.
The WALK: How did you guys come up with the name?
A: Joosed, we didn’t know what to call ourselves when we had our first fling set. It was pretty arbitrary and stupid; there was already a “Joose” so we had to add a ‘d’ at the end to make it original. People like to cheer “Joosed.”
J: During the nameless period we thought about calling it Cochlear, because I’m deaf.
A: The first song we played was called Red Giant.
Emily Orrson: It was our first original song.
A: And our symbol when we were Joosed was this big red sun that was the cover of the notebook I wrote the song in. So we thought we could play on that Red Giant being a dying star, and we just decided to go with Red Giants, we had to add the ‘s’ at the end because there was already a Red Giant.
The WALK: The WALK is a fashion publication, so I’m going to ask about your style.
A: Emily looks good at the shows.
E: People tend to not notice me so I wear a lot of sequins. It doesn’t help. My day wear is mostly floral-Sound of Music-type post-industrial modern artwork.
J: In other words, she’s very hipster.
A: Let’s talk about Jake’s style. Jake’s hair is a source of inspiration for me. We aim to have as much body in our sound as he does in his voluminous locks. He’s got this disgustingly blue guitar.
J: It’s sea foam green.
E: Funny story, they all… even the bassist used to have the same color guitar. So uniformity is a key aspect in our style. Sometimes we all wear the same sunglasses.
A: We hope to all dress in tuxedos at some point. My style is whether I decide to be apart of the American Apparel hipster school that day or the Urban Outfitters hipster school that day.
E: So really you ask yourself, should I wear my flannel shirt or my tank top today?
A: Our drummer can’t dress, that’s been a point of contention in the band. Our new leader singer has some tattoos.
J: Nick wears a pink bandana.
E: …that I gave him when he joined the band.
The WALK: What inspires you guys musically?
J: We all inspire each other.
A: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, a splash of Radiohead.
E: Muse. He was classically trained, like me.
A: I write about my feelings, and I write about girls…
J: We practice in St. Mary’s church. We recorded our EP there too.
The WALK: What other music are you interested in?
A: I’m a music majour, so I listen to a lot of classical music. Emily and I are in a jazz combo together.
J: We listen to all of our inspirations. I also happen to be a pretty big Jason Mraz fan. And Portugal. The Man.
E: We, as a band, like The Black Keys a lot. We cover two of their songs. My favourite pianist is Herbie Hancock.
J: John Mayer happens to be a pretty big passion of mine.
A: Jake is the sensitive side of our band.
E: We’re trying to get out another EP before the seniors graduate. So we’ve been working on writing new songs.
J: We just want to give Penn students a great time, that’s our job. We want them to be as happy as we are.
The WALK: What’s going to happen when the seniors leave?
J: Emily and I are starting an experimental pop project with our bassist. There’ll be a lot of organ.
E: Red Giants is going to end when they graduate.
The WALK: This is more directed towards Alex, but with graduating do you want to continue with music?
A: Yeah, I definitely want to start something in New York on the side. Definitely a different scene then the Penn music scene.
The WALK: Anything else you guys want to add?
A: Be easy on us, we’re special.
E: We have an EP that’s free to download on our website, we recorded it in the church where I play the organ. We’re using the money I make to save up for a pony to ride to shows.
Be sure to check out Red Giants at Smokes on April 9th, and download their EP free here!
– Rama Hamarneh