Naked Giants: Lift off

by Kristen Stanovich

Everything Naked Giants does seems off the cuff. From their loose, wild and out stage performances to the sharp-witted banter that bounces between the trio, their lives seem like a daily improvisation tackled with a “go with the flow” mentality. But when it came to setting up a country-wide tour, Naked Giants seems to have it all planned out.

After competing in Seattle’s Sound Off! event in 2015, guitarist Grant Mullen, Gianni Aiello and Henry LaVallee placed second. From there, Mullen said, everything fell into place. A few of the people in the Sound Off! community then recommended the band to management teams and bookers, knocking the dream of becoming a touring band into a reality.

“Sound Off! is a really awesome program. I think we are realizing more now than we did then that it’s teaching you how to be a band and how to perform in front of an audience and how to make network connections,” Aiello said. “It’s really beautiful. I don’t think we were grateful enough for it until recently.”

Since then, the garage rock outfit has found themselves on festival lineups like Doe Bay Fest and SXSW next to The Dandy Warhols and Crystal Castles. The band’s booking agent has also worked with PWR BTTM and Car Seat Headrest, spurring tours with Naked Giants on bills opening for both bands. And, KEXP Staff Picks included their most recent EP, R.I.P., released in October.

“We got these two great opportunities in the past six months to go around America and play to sold out crowds which is just a dream come true,” said Mullen. “We’re just incredibly fortunate.”

The EP is a six-track collection of Aiello’s fluid bass lines, kicked out drums by LaVallee and fuzzy guitar solos from Mullen. In “Ya Ya” the trio channels a reverbed version of The Hives with harmonies and driving bass riffs while in tracks like “Surchin 4 U” the band delves deeper into simplistic Strokes-style pop rock with explosive drum solos and guitar riffs that bounce between chaotic and controlled.

The band thrives from the mixture of disorder and structure, striving to provide the audience the best show experience possible. If lengthy drum solos, stage theatrics and guitar parts made up in the moment would make for the best show ever, “Go with that,” Aiello said.

It also helps that the band has spent the last few years honing their craft and growing closer as a group.

“Our lives have been pretty much in line with each other’s so it’s more than just meeting up for practice once or twice a week,” LaVallee said. “I never tire of what Gianni or Grant musically has to say [but] there’s stuff that’s deeper than the music.”

Aiello said the band also provides an outlet to process what’s going on in the world as of late. Being college-aged and realizing that things are not what they seem in society is a powerful tool when creating art.

“I think a lot of bands our age are discovering the purpose of music again,” Aiello said. “Being on stage and playing for people and making them shake their butts off – it’s beautiful. It’s not that it makes you forget all the bad stuff that’s going on in the world. It’s just that it helps you be able to deal with it.”

After the tour, Aiello joked that the band was retiring to the San Juan Islands where they can focus on their handmade soap company. In hopes that they do continue with music, however, we should all be on the lookout for a full-length in the near future.

Catch Naked Giants at Bellingham Alternative Library on March 31 (a Planned Parenthood benefit) with Acapulco Lips, Blacktones and Beautiful Freaks. Follow them online at