GIUDA: LET THEM CHANGE YOUR LIFE
illustration by felipe flores
Giuda are probably the premiere junkshop glam-slash-rock ‘n’ roll band—with emphasis on the “slash” part, cuz these guys are just merciless live—on the planet. They’ve got plenty of inspiration from the post-“Baby Come Back” Equals—the era when Eddy Grant was the king of crushing but catchy riffs—and the heaviest of Sweet-style pre-punk glam guitar rockers, as well as a world-class depth of knowledge about the very many unjustly unknown bands that slipped through the cracks between Bowie/Bolan and the first infamous TV appearance of the Sex Pistols. They know their history for sure, but they don’t play like a bunch of professors—at a recent packed Long Beach show, they were positively relentless, delivering a spot-on Move cover (“California Man,” a gift to the locals?) and making Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” sound like Cock Sparrer. Last year’s Speaks Evil album is one of their best and the lead single “Roll The Balls” is set to punch a permanent hole in your head. Rhythm, riffs and rock ‘n’ roll—does there need to be anything else? They perform on Fri., May 26, at Alex’s Bar and on Sat., May 27, at the Teragram. This interview by Chris Ziegler.
How would you explain Giuda to Americans? Our 70s glam and protopunk was a lot different than the European version. We have plenty of bands ripping off the Stooges now but hardly anybody trying to follow in the footsteps of the Equals or Slade or something.
Giuda: We’re a modern band: we learned from the past, shaped our sound and brought it all into the present day. We had our influences, going deep into the 60s and early 70s: bands like the Equals, Slade, Third World War and the so called ‘Junk Shop Glam Rock’ with bands like Rats and Hector. Then all the Aussie bands such as Marcus Hook Roll Band, the punk rock of Slaughter & The Dogs and so on. I guess most people coming to our concerts are aware of what we play, the way we sound like. We’ve been lucky enough to have a solid fan-base—they did catch really soon what we were trying to do. Do we really have to explain American people something about rock ‘n’ roll? It seems some people really enjoyed our concerts, so, come to see us, don’t miss the chance, we aren’t often around the U.S.!
There are a couple different types of glam/rock/proto-punk bands from the original junkshop glam era. There are the ones with the crazy costumes and fancy hair—Iron Virgin—and the tough black-t-shirt-and-denim ones—Crushed Butler—and then the ones that were just studio guys that barely ever played out and probably dressed in button-up shirts and ties (Nicky Bulldog?) … where does Giuda fit in? If you were around in 1975, who would you have wanted to hang out with and why?
Giuda: We had fun wearing platform boots for ‘Roll the Balls’ video, but we perfectly know it’s not 1974, and we think of ourselves as a modern band with our own dressing and music style. Of course we’d hang out with Suzi Quatro!
How much of a role did the Internet play in bringing this style of music back to the light? I feel like it started with the Velvet Tinmine comp, but without Purepop and Crazeekid and your own Proudfoot Sound … maybe it would’ve faded. What keeps glam and protopunk so alive online? What keeps it alive for you?
Giuda: Everything has started with those compilations and blogs. They played a fundamental role on putting again the light on a certain kind of sound that the most had left behind. I think that also Giuda gave their contribution. Nowadays it’s pretty funny to listen to Alvin Stardust’s ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ in many DJs set. If it was all just about doing homework we would not spending all this time and years touring and playing and sharing our passion for this music. Rock ’n’ roll fascination has nothing to do with the past and to think how wonderful were the good old times—it’s all about the future, to listen those great albums, let them change your life and think you have to do something based on those insights. That’s why anybody in the entire world could just dig it in a question of seconds—you can’t catch most of other music styles in a matter of seconds. And that’s why we listen to these records the same way when we started to make music—it’s still exciting. And to discover new obscure bands and to bring this sound into modern times and make it fresh and new it’s even better.
Why did this sound fade away? Even now, it’s still more underground than 70s punk or 60s garage or 80s hardcore. How did something that was so internationally popular in the 70s become so obscure by the 2010s, and is it coming back?
Giuda: For many critics and people buying albums, from the late 60s to punk there was nothing significant in the music scene. In Italy for example they privileged a more ‘intellectual’ and ‘sophisticated’ music, especially prog rock bands, and bands like Slade and T. Rex have always been considered junk. The truth is that after those super bands of the 60s, these glam rock acts have been precisely those bands bringing rock ’n’ roll back to its basics. The fact is that their influence has been fundamental to the punk movement, both in the UK and in the U.S.A. I do not know why there has not been a glam revival and it is something that we do not care. As I said we have treasured that musical baggage, but we do not feel at all a revival band. Weren’t the Stones into rhythm ’n’ blues but trying to make something different and new with it? That is all true. And we like to make people discover some history of this sound, but it’s not our priority. What we really want to do is to push it into the future and play some awesome rock ’n’ roll, and those connections—being fans of those bands—really come easy to make for us.
Who would win in a no-holds-barred riff rock ‘n’ roll battle and why: Eddy Grant, Vanda/Young or Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn?
Giuda: They were all great and different between them. Eddy Grant was a great song writer and his guitar riffs sound perfect in their uniqueness, Chinn and Chapman … in addition to writing lots of hits they were also great producers. Vanda and Young wrote tons of songs for different artists, and also for their own studio projects. They were great producers—AC/DC—and also successful musicians with the Easybeats. To choose just one of them is too difficult since each one of them are so important for us.
If you could pry apart any of your favorite bands of the 70s and pick out members to make the best possible band ever, who would you get? There were so many musicians in this era who never got their due. Who would you want to have made famous?
Giuda: To build up the best band ever we’d choose these guys: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. For sure the Jook deserved much more success. They were one of the most underrated band of all time.
Saturday nights are very important in this style of music. So many bands have ‘Saturday night’ songs—even Giuda on the first album! What do you all do on Saturday nights? Is it like ‘Roll The Balls’ says: ‘They ask in interviews, if I like drugs or I like booze / but I don’t dig that scene / I’m in love with aspirin!’
Giuda: The lyrics is ‘but I’m not deep in sin / cuz I’m in love with aspirin !’ We almost spend every Saturday playing. We are constantly on tour since 2013, more or less. Sometimes we need some aspirin, even if it’s Saturday night …
What was the first Giuda tour of the U.S. like? What did you do to win people over when they’d never seen or heard you before? How long did it take them to sing along with your songs? What disgusting food or drink did Americans give you that you had to pretend to enjoy out of politeness? I assume … Taco Bell?
Giuda: First Giuda tour was in 2012 and 2013, East Coast and Midwest. Since the first gig we had great feeling with the US audience! Many people already knew our songs and it was really exciting to hear them sing along with us—we were really surprised. Everyone is so friendly everywhere here in the States and really make us feel like we are at home. And it’s not a way to be complacent and not to displease anyone, but we feel very comfortable everywhere here. It’s hard to eat something good and healthy when you are constantly on tour, especially if you want to eat something simple, with no dressing and sauces! We never tried Taco Bell, and I think we won’t.
How many times have you come to California? What records do you hope to find while you’re over here? Maybe a Berlin Brats test press in some neglected bargain bin somewhere?
Giuda: We’ve been in the West Coast back in the days with our first band, Taxi. We made few gigs around California, Arizona and Nevada. There’s tons of stuff we would like to buy, and we’ve been already lucky to find something like Canyon’s ‘Top Of The World’, Brat’s ‘Not Quite Right’ and the bubblegum gem ‘Patty Cake’ by the Yummies. For sure we will spend some of our day off for more records shopping.
What new things did you try on the Speaks Evil album? And why did you call it Speaks Evil? Is that the logical progression for a third album: sees evil, hears evil … speaks evil?
Giuda: Before entering the studio we make a lot of pre-production work with our producer Danilo Silvestri. That helps us to make the songs sound exactly how we wanted. ‘Speaks Evil’ is much more ‘no frills’ than our past releases. It’s basically ‘just two guitars playing,’ just like when we play live. You can’t find in the album a massive use of overdubs and I think it’s evident that there’s much more awareness in the songwriting, which has resulted in songs that are more flowing and compact. It’s a raw record, even if we didn’t lost the melodic vein of the past albums. I think the title really fits!
GIUDA WITH TELEPHONE LOVERS AND TOY GUITAR ON FRI., MAY 26, AT ALEX’S BAR, 2913 E. ANAHEIM ST., LONG BEACH. 8 PM / $12-$15 / 21+. GET TICKETS HERE! AND WITH THE STITCHES AND HAMMERED SATIN ON SAT., MAY 27, AT THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM, 1234 W. 7TH ST., DOWNTOWN. 8 PM / $15 / ALL AGES. GET TICKETS HERE! GIUDA’S “BAD DAYS ARE BACK” SINGLE IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM BURNING HEART. VISIT GIUDA AT GIUDA.NET.