Interview with Matt Garfield - Mastermind behind Mose Giganticus

This is a band that you need to check out, read on and discover a really killer band!

Whats Up Matt, introduce yourself to the good people at
Well hello there BRUTALISM! I'm Matt from the band Mose Giganticus. We're a synth/rock/doom/sludge band recently signed to Relapse Records with the release of our new album "Gift Horse." The band is primarily a solo project of mine that I get a lot of help with from friends as both contributors in the studio and as touring members.

Your latest epic - Gift Horse whilst is not a departure from your earlier releases The Invisible Hand and Commander!, it is a different animal, how did it come about? I believe there is a concept behind it? would you elaborate on that?
You're absolutely correct in both statements- it is a bit of a new direction for the band and there is a concept behind it (as there was for both The Invisible Hand and Commander!). Although Mose Giganticus has existed in some form or another since 1999, the band has really only be active since 2007. The records that have come out of Mose Giganticus have been direct reflections of my interests in both musical and conceptual content. As you might imagine, my interests change and evolve over time, so the output of Mose Giganticus acts as a sort of time capsule. "The Invisible Hand" is about humanity's relationship with technology, "Commander!" is about the life and work of Nikola Tesla, and "Gift Horse" deals with the mythological battle between the Old Testament Christian god and his opposer, Lucifer. It's worth noting that "Gift Horse" is not a religious album, but approached as a fictional exploration of the relationship between these two characters as they approach the Battle of Armageddon. The lyrical concept for this album came about during the writing process of the music. For "Gift Horse" I wanted to explore a darker, doomy sound with Mose Giganticus. Mose has always incorporated synthesizers as an integral part of the music, but I've never explored keyboard as a "heavy" instrument until the track "Days of Yore" on the "Commander!" EP. When I finished that track, I thought a lot about the synth's capacity to make heavy music. It's an incredibly versatile instrument and yet, I haven't heard many bands utilizing it to push heavy, growling low end. So I decided to write a record based off of the sound of "Days of Yore" and came out the other end with what you hear on "Gift Horse."

You are effectively a one man operation with the exception of the guitars which you still write the music for but have friends contribute. Was this a conscious decision or was it a case that Mose Giganticus is your vision and only you can give the music what it needs to bring your vision alive?
I've been in quite a few bands over the years (12 to be exact) and one element that comes along with any multi-member band is compromise. Compromising on ideas, riffs, lyrics, tour schedules, practice times, etc... what you end up settling with is the lowest common denominator- whatever everyone can agree on. Sometimes it works out that everyone is on the same page and wants the same things out of the band, so no one has to give anything up, but in my case, the 'team work' involved in being in bands always meant we had to do less than what I wanted. With Mose Giganticus, I never have to compromise. I started this band so I could make music that appealed to me, write and structure the songs they way I felt works best, and most importantly, tour as much as I want. It may sound self-absorbed or egotistical, but I enjoy running this band as a sort of "sensitive dictatorship." By that I mean, I enjoy creative input, suggestions, and constructive criticism from others, but with the understanding that I'm under no obligation to compromise my vision to appease a potential contributor. I've been in many consensus based artistic endeavors that became both logistically and creatively frustrating and suffocating. So, for now, I'm enjoying my artistic dictatorship with the help of other willing, voluntary contributors. I suppose a more palatable analogy would be the captain of a ship. The captain wants and needs all crew on board to trust him/her and contribute their skills to the common cause, but at the end of the day, the captain is in charge and makes the final call.

How do you record, do you record at home or in a studio?
I do a little of both. With the advances in home and computer based recording technology, I can get a lot of the "grunt work" done at home. I spend a lot of time in my home studio preparing so as to not be wasting any pro-studio time. When I get to the studio, I'm usually able to dump tempo maps, keyboards, and vocoders straight into the studio computer. That lays down the skeleton of the songs and makes it very easy to track guitars, vocals, and drums on top of them in any order that is convenient. As a matter of fact, we recorded the drums for "Gift Horse" last, which was the first time I've ever done that. Once we had the keyboards and tempo maps in the studio computer, we were able to easily track guitars over that and scheduling-wise, it was best for me to track drums last. I usually span vocal tracking over the duration of the recording schedule because my voice blows out after tracking half a song sometimes. As you can probably tell, I like to have a thickly layered and multi-tracked vocal blend, so I may do 10 takes to nail 1 pass through the song, then I have to double that, and sometimes add melodic overtones... it adds up to hours and hours of screaming in the studio.

Relapse records, to me, seems like a home that you would always have been gravitating towards, I assume you feel the same about them?
I'm very happy to be working with Relapse. I feel like Relapse is the ideal label to release "Gift Horse." But with previous Mose Giganticus records, Relapse may have made less sense. I suppose if you look at the whole picture now, in hindsight, one might say The Invisible Hand or Commander! could have worked on Relapse, but "past-Matt" standing in 2006 would not have pursued Relapse for the release of the Invisible Hand. The sound of the band had to mature and evolve a little more to make everything work together well. That being said, I've always respected Relapse as a heavy label and other bands I've been in have wanted to partner with them. I'm fortunate to have been able to see Mose Giganticus make it into the Relapse ranks!

Speaking of Relapse, I would love to see you tour with fellow Relapse artists Baroness and Genghis Tron!
Ha, you and me both! Folks often draw comparisons between Mose and Gengis Tron due to the electronic elements in both, and I'd certainly love to tour with those guys. They used to live in Philadelphia as well, but unfortunately, I don't think I've ever met any of them. I've played with Baroness a couple times in the past down in Savannah with a past band of mine (Hulk Smash) and one of my guitarists (Brooks Wilson) is friends with some of them from living down in Savannah for a few years. I'm a fan of Baroness and was really blown away when I got the Blue Album, but those guys are busy opening for Metallica these days, so their dance card is pretty full!

Following on from my touring wishes, are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
It's been a dream of mine to have Mose open for Mastodon or Baroness, but it may be a while before we can operate on that level. I'm happy to partner up with any other like-minded bands with similar work ethics. We recently had the pleasure of touring with City of Ships , Constants, and even Tub Ring. I'd love to be able to hook up with Battlefields and possibly even Sleepytime Gorilla Museum ? I hear they're touring in 2011, so I'm going to look into that!

Who are you listening to at the moment?
Actually at this very moment, I'm listening to Dinosaur Jr's "Green Mind." I have a soft spot for early 90's music. That's the time in my life when my love for music blossomed from a passing interest into passion, so everything I was listening to from 1991-1996 is deeply ingrained in my psyche. I'm on tour right now, so I've been listening to a lot of different music driving for 4-6 hours a day. I prefer to listen to more laid back music while on tour as a reprieve from the intensity we're involved in nightly. Some of the artists I've been listening to in the past month include Hum, Karate, Neil Young, Lungfish, NoMeansNo, Pixies, Soundgarden, Aphex Twin, Thrones, in addition to periodic doses of Mastodon, Baroness, Metallica, and Megadeth. I'm lining up a Deep Purple marathon for the end of tour - 24 Deep Purple records in a row! We'll see how that goes...

Thats it from me, thanks to all of you for your time!
Anytime! Thank YOU for a great interview!!
Interviewer: twansibon
Nov 3, 2010

Share this: