The Giraffes berate today’s image of rock and roll with no apologies

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:: The Giraffes :: Larimer Lounge :: February 18 :: 
 

By Cornelia Kane 

At 28, most people have yet to suffer one heart attack, let alone two, and most certainly aren’t walking around with a pacemaker already installed. But for The Giraffes vocalist Aaron Lazar, it’s just par for the course.

Apparently, one day last January, he was walking around New York City’s Chinatown when he blacked out. He regained consciousness later in an emergency room and learned that he had suffered two heart attacks and was now outfitted with a device that sends electric shocks to his most vital organs when his blood pressure is sufficiently elevated. Being the singer for Brooklyn’s premier up-and-coming “sexy rock” combo, this development hasn’t caused him to ease up a bit and as a result, he sometimes pays the price onstage, when his life-saving device gives him a life-affirming shock in the middle of a particularly rockin’ set. That’s hard-core.

But that is not even close to the real reason that this band rocks so hard. To fully comprehend it, one has to listen to The Giraffes latest album or go see their live show and bear witness to some of the most interesting facial hair since the inception of the November Beard Club (Lazar, for his part, sports a spiffy handlebar). But watch out for split lips and shattered eardrums.

The band came together in 1996 when original members guitarist Damien Paris, bassist John Rosenthal, and drummer Andrew Totolos were playing a bar gig and singer Lazar happened to stumble in with a friend of his, named Tim, who Lazar affectionately refers to as a “total miscreant and general dirt-bag.”

“I really liked what they were doing with just instrumentals, like surf metal stuff, and then I heard they were looking for a singer,” said Lazar in a recent interview with The Marquee. “So, of course I got drunk and acted like a buffoon, but somehow I still got the gig.”

Now, Lazar’s Thin Lizzy-meets-Urge Overkill vocals and punch-drunk attitude seem an integral part of the four-piece’s hard rocking, yet strangely danceable style that seems heavily influenced by Seventies rock bands like MC5 or Thin Lizzy.

The band released two albums on their own before getting signed to hot indie label Razor & Tie last year, almost by accident. Once again, the right person happened to be in the right place at the right time, as a friend of Paris’s brought a friend who used to work for MTV along to a gig one night, and from there everything seemed to fall into place. The Giraffes’ newest album is their third, a self-titled, self-produced piece released in July 2005 on Razor & Tie. The band spent some time sleeping and recording by themselves in a converted barn in the Hudson Valley to make The Giraffes, and the resulting album is arguably their most polished to date.

The band writes together, but Lazar is chiefly responsible for the lyrics. Or, as he puts it, “they’re my fault. You don’t have to be a poet to be a good lyricist … poetry can suck a dick.”

The Giraffes flows song to song with intensity and tons of balls, and the band makes no apologies for it. “If you hate it, then go enjoy John Mayer and make sure to give him a reach around,” said Lazar. “This is a rock album, a well executed, no bullshit piece of rock music to be blasted as loud as possible.”

The band’s raucous live shows are things of legend, with passion, fighting and complete mayhem as the only rule. The Giraffes recent New Year’s Eve show at the Ace of Clubs in N.Y.C. was one of the best in Lazar’s recent memory. “We were all expecting to get hurt. It was relatively violent, I’d say, but not too crazy. My girlfriend got her head cut,” he said.

The title of their second album, Helping You Help Yourself, released on the independent Apesauce Records, was taken from a pair of machetes that hang crossed on the wall in Lazar’s apartment, the blades of which read, “Helping You” on one, and on the other, “Help Yourself.” Another of Lazar’s interesting hobbies, after music and hurting himself, is collecting knives, swords, machetes and bayonets. Now that’s rock and roll.

And this band is all about rock and roll. They claim on their website that “somewhere along the way, rock and roll lost its edge and humor to a tawdry compromise with commercial success and the tired hackery that goes along with the trumping of ‘the next big thing.’ Ever since, the world has bathed in the hyperbole of bad promotion when a bucket of shit to the face would’ve been just as sufficient. Rock is dead and (N.Y. rock critic) Chuck Eddy killed it.”

 

:: The Giraffes ::

:: Larimer Lounge :: February 18 ::

 

Spectate if you Gravitate:

• MC5

• Thin Lizzy

• Danko Jones

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