O Giant Man looks for breakthrough

Indie band O Giant Man will play Feb. 19 at The Blue Fugue.

By Pierce Courchaine | Feb. 18, 2011

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There is a certain moment in a band’s life that signifies its big break. For the Kansas City indie rock band O Giant Man, that moment might be its recent stop at Rock Island, Ill.’s legendary Daytrotter studios.

“It was awesome,” bassist Jake Schulenberg said. “It was the coolest experience we have had so far as a band. We were in the same studio as these huge bands we look up to."

Daytrotter, which distributes all its music for free on its website, has recorded songs for indie heavyweights, such as Vampire Weekend, Rogue Wave and Bon Iver. But, unlike those bands, O Giant Man is more like David than Goliath.

The group began while the members were in high school and lead singer and guitarist Christopher Robbins was playing with drummer Andy Wendling as an acoustic guitarist and drummer duet. The next piece was added during college.

“I transferred schools to Northwest Missouri State and I was asked to play a little gathering,” Robbins said. “It was kind of odd to just play acoustic guitar and drums.”

They solved that problem when the group added Jake Schulenber, who was playing in a metal band at the time, on bass. The group experienced a couple more line-up changes before finding Jake’s brother, multi-instrumentalist Rick Schulenberg, to complete the quartet.

Even in its short life, O Giant Man’s sound has changed dramatically.

“For the first seven or eight months we played together, I only played acoustic guitar, so we had a loungey feel,” Robbins said.

But as the group added more members, the influences of all the members mixed and molded.

“One of the things we prided ourselves on was that we don’t sound like anyone else,” Robbins said. “Something that people have trouble with is pegging our influences.”

The band does have a sound, of course. Its single “Decisions” starts off with harmonized singing, reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, and their song “Wait, Wait” is a poppy indie rock hit that deserves a music video and heavy air play. But Robbins will be the first to ward off comparisons.

“We really don’t want to sound like anybody,” Robbins said.

The group said its first album, Everybody Knows I’m Just an Animal, sounds a lot different than its new singles.

“I’m proud we did (Everybody Knows I’m Just an Animal), and it was almost premature, but it’s good to know where we were,” Wendling said. “That let us know that we weren’t ready”

The group’s new producer Michael Stout helped the group narrow its sound down for its new singles. The singles are available for free download through its Bandcamp page.

The sky is the limit for the group, and although it doesn’t seem to have any intentions of becoming the next U2, it does have goals.

“My biggest goal, what I would love to see happen, is to go Europe,” Schulenberg said.

Wendling wants to feed the addiction of music more than anything.
“I’m just looking for anyway to make money to support this habit,” he said, with a laugh. “I don’t care about getting huge, I just want to play and have it mean something to people and have it grow. I want to mean something.”

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