By Wal Reid
New kid on the block I Am Giant's vocalist Ryan Redman is still coming to grips with his new found role in the Kiwi rock group after it was announced in December 2014 that vocalist Ed Martin was leaving the band to embark on a solo project, which is to be produced by band member Paul Matthews. Of course this would mean Redman would have to adapt from his native English roots and adopt the Kiwi vernacular, something he's getting quite used to doing these days.
"I'm picking up ‘eh' at the end of sentences" he quips "In some way New Zealand looks a bit more like Scotland. It must seem like a classic when you go to another country and everyone's real nice but yeah I didn't meet a bad person on my trip". "I think a very important part of this band is that it's a Kiwi band" he continues. "It means a lot to them [band] and it means a lot to their fans around the world. I'd be more than happy to become a Kiwi if that's what's required".
Redman was here with the band earlier this year playing north of Auckland at sleepy Matakana with rock stalwarts Shihad, The Datsuns & Cairo Knife Fight, an initiation that became a ‘baptism of fire' for the young vocalist.
"It was amazing it was amazing the gigs were received so well like it's such a strange thing to sing for such a well-established band people were so positive so supportive, I loved it" he says. "It was really good, Cairo Knife Fight a couple of just really sound guys... I think I was just surprised sometimes when you're on a bill you get to talk up to the band that's above you, and then the band that's above you gets to talk up to the band above them. That's the normal way, that's the sort of pecking order but it wasn't like that on this tour. Shihad were so open to having a conversation and having a drink I really appreciated that. I have a lot of time for bands that can be so huge but humble as well at the same time and be nice and not be up themselves".
So far the plucky pom has been looked after as you would expect being a visitor to our fair shores, even staying a few nights with bassist Paul's girlfriend's family, then at Shelton's house remarking "I was fed well we drank well, I could do with it, I don't if you've seen me but I'm on the light side". But like most visitors that venture here he doesn't seem to have the fortitude to handle our warm summer weather "It's fucking hot," he laughs. "Real hot. It kind of feels English in the way the country looks somehow. Especially from the sky as well, I'm just blown away really by the size of the scenery how it dominates the country. I live in the South of the UK and everything's flat, I mean there's hills but even they're not so big really".
Band mate drummer Shelton Woolright is recognisable, his tattooed body every bit as eye-catching as the band itself, having scoped Redman's band photos, it's apparent he is either an ink virgin or does a good job covering them up. "I got one tattoo a big piece on my back" he says nodding. "A big piece across my whole back. No I'd been wanting it for many years and finally one of my mates agreed to do it, not for free though I'll add, but he did a really good job. I guess I wanted a tattoo that was a bit more private, a bit more mine that was from my perspective. I love particularly Shelton's tattoos, I've got the tattoo on the back and he's got everything else, and not the back yeah" [laughs].
The band has also enlisted Redman's old guitarist Stuart Steele from his previous band Exit Ten to the groups line-up. Ryan and Stuart's first song with I Am Giant is called Russian Doll. The track is a departure for the band but are forging into new musical territory, one that Redman is relishing the thought of. "I always felt from my other band that I would fit in quite well to the sound the boys were moving towards" he says. "I guess my voice compared to Ed's is a bit more rock maybe. You might say it's a bit hard, it hits a bit harder maybe than Ed. I think I've always loved screaming bands and loved heavy bands like the Deftones that the vocals can be both soaring and soft at points just as heavy as the music. So I hope to bring a bit of a heavier edge as well as continuing with the sound they started with."
"We all worked together on that track [Russian Doll] here in the UK. I love the vision that Shelton & Paul have got for the music. For me as a vocalist they get me to try and do something so they can hear what it sounds like, it's really refreshing to have producers in the band, guys that have a pretty clear idea of what they want. That's not to take away anything from the boys in the band I was in before but, we were a bit more diplomatic and it was bit harder to tell each other what we wanted and these guys are just positive and just go for it".
The band is concentrating on touring while recording a few more tracks and potentially releasing an EP. in the next few months, they play Homegrown as well as an Auckland show this Saturday Feb 28th at theKings Arms before embarking on tour dates in Europe and the UK
I Am Giant
Saturday February 28th: Kings Arms, Auckland - Tickets via NZTix
Saturday March 7th: HOMEGROWN, Wellington Waterfront, Wellington - Tickets via Dash Tickets