It has been a rollercoaster ride for Perth stoner-psych band Giant Dwarf following the elation of releasing their first full length album in 2019, to having COVID hit and forcing the band to cancel shows and an already booked east coast tour. Now, they are about to hit the heights again as they return to the live stage to play Return To Surface, (which they also masterminded) a massive 16 band, two stage celebration of the Perth stoner scene this Halloween, Saturday, October 31 at the Rosemount Hotel. ANTHONY JACKSON got the full picture from guitarist, Russell Crawford.
Congrats on the release of your self titled full-length last year. I gave it a good thrashing, and it made it into my top ten albums of the year. How has the reception to the album been? Have you been racking up some Spotify plays from around the globe?
It was great, mainly due to it being published to a certain channel, Stoned Meadow of Doom, with a huge international following that prompted lots of downloads and streams, and it got the digital release noticed by some notable enough labels in Europe that back the stoner/psych rock scene. The Perth, and even Oz scene, only seems to go so far. The real hub for our genre is in Europe and the Americas, and we always intended to inject our album straight towards those listeners.
This double stager show Return To The Surface this weekend looks like a monster. Obviously themed by the fact that we are slowly returning to normal after the impacts of COVID. How did you go about organising a gig of this size with government restrictions and how did the delay of Phase 5 impact the show?
The idea came pretty soon after COVID shut everything down. I knew that people would be chomping at the bit to play again, so I booked a handful of dates every couple of months apart at a few venues. Getting the bands in on it was the easy bit, in fact, there was supposed to be a second announcement of acts for Return to the Surface pending Phase 5. The delay of Phase 5 has taken a little wind out of the sails, but it just means the hungriest punters get the feed.
At the start of the year, the band put on a tour fundraiser show to take the band interstate. COVID must have happened shortly after and the tour couldn’t happen. Can you tell us about that period of preparing to tour then having it fall into jeopardy?
It was dark times. Five months of organisation flushed. We were going to play eight shows across NSW and QLD. It was weird too because between the three bands – we were heading over with The Fuzz Toads and Mage – some people were really concerned by the news and media surrounding the virus, and others were super pumped like, “Let’s do this! Who cares? Ain’t nothing gonna stop the fuzz train.”
But we were wrong. The announcement that the tour was off came literally two days before we were due to fly, and at that point venue capacities had been cut on the east coast and the festival we were also booked to play in Brisbane, Mojo Burning, had been rescheduled to 2021.
One positive of being in WA and being more isolated than we ever have, is that it will give local artists a chance to fill the void left from no international and national touring acts. Hopefully we will see more of these large scale shows showcasing local talent. Do you think we are on the verge of a golden age of local music?
Perth has great talent across many genres. The only thing holding back the success of local bands is a lack of venues and promoters who look out for the music, arts and culture. And I’m talking venues that allow live music, loud and staged, not just DJs. Nothing against that particular art form at all, it’s just harder to make concerts and rock festivals work these days. I think local, state and national government also need to lift their game in terms of funding and generating opportunities for those who work in the creative industries.
Back to the show, you’ve got some epic names on the bill. How did you go about curating the acts? Who are you most looking forward to see play this Saturday?
I just approached the bands that I know and love, and generally already had a connection with as mates. Many others were also approached but weren’t available. Halloween is already an in-demand slot. We had planned to have four more bands join the bill for the post-Phase 5 announcement but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Project Alchera and Mage are my two current faves to watch, but it’s been years since I’ve seen Injured Ninja and I can’t wait.
Have you guys been writing during lockdown? Are we going to hear any new tunes this weekend?
Absolutely. Yes and yes!
What’s next on the horizon for Giant Dwarf? More shows? Maybe a regional tour?
A single launch, probably at the start of 2021. There’s also the rebooked Fuzz Invaders tour over east on the assumption flights are back on and the borders are open. If not, we do have some other offers for the second half of 2021 to get back over to the east coast. Amidst all that, we hope to lock in and nail the recording of album number two. That baby is already gestating nicely, but we’re gonna make sure it is superior to the first in every way.