GIANT KILLERS Tell Us About Their Outstanding Album 'Songs For The Small Places' In This In-Depth Interview

Published on 23 February 2024 at 09:27


The indie-pop band are song writing duo Jamie Wortley (guitar, keys, lead vocals) and Michael Brown (bass, keys, brass, vocals).

Your debut album, 'Songs For The Small Places' is out now. How has the album been received so far?

M: We’ve been blown away by the overwhelmingly positive reception so far. There’s a lot of superlatives being bandied around that we just weren’t expecting.

J: We were apprehensive in the run up to the release date, that it might be met with either indifference or that people would think it was irrelevant. These songs are 3 decades old.

M. An exceptional debut, they don’t write them like this anymore, the world has been a much worse place this past quarter of a century with having these deftly crafted indie gems in mass circulation, their voice has aged like a fine wine…

J: This is just a small handful of quotes from some amazing corners of the music press. Louder Than War drew comparisons with Ray Davies, Damon Albarn – that’s high praise.

M: We shall try to not let it go to our heads.

J: Mike does have a natural tendency to show off a little – we must keep a tight rein on him.

M: And I you.

The album is thirty years in the making. Was it a struggle to decide which tracks from your lengthy career made the album?

M: We did this as a complete thematic works – it has a sonic identity if you like.

J: Sonic identity, I’m not sure we can use that phrase – it’s a bit, yunno…

M; You’re right, forgive me. I shall have a quite word with myself later on. Songs for the Small Places was 15 songs long – we kept 5 of those back as on reflection, even though the lyrical content was consistent, we didn’t feel they fitted in stylistically. They sounded like another production. We will find a way to bring them out into the world though - later.

J: The Bandcamp version of the album does have an 11th bonus track. We have a wide cannon of songs though, so the question might be what we do with these after Songs for the Small Places.

M: Excuse me, did you just say ‘wide cannon’?

J: I… my turn to have a quiet word with myself later.

Is there an overall theme running through the album and what can new listeners to you expect?

M: Songs for the Small Places is a celebration of how the places you come from shape your outlook – who you are, your opinions and personality – for good and for bad.

J: It’s also about loving who you are and where you’re from, but also to not be held back or be confined by those things. It’s about growing up and out, as people.

M: Which is a journey that’s universal to everyone - our message is hopefully, just as relevant whatever you do or wherever you’re from, whether that’s Grimsby, our original home-town – or Sheffield, Glasgow, New York, Rio, or Beijing. Songs for the Small Places contains a lot about the passage to adulthood and importantly for both of us, how failure is more likely than success.

Do you have a favourite song from 'Songs From The Small Places'?

J: It’s got to a song called When This Time is Over. This song had a lot of firsts for us, it was the first one we wrote together to establish ourselves, in our minds, to give us confidence as a song-writing duo. With our first major label recording contract we were musicians and performers only – we didn’t write.

M: When we got dropped from that recording contract, it was a massive blow, but we weren’t going to hit the canvas without throwing a few punches on the way down - we decided we should give it another go – but this time as writers – to have complete artistic control for the first time. When This Time is Over was essentially the birth of Giant Killers. A springboard if you like.

J: This song has an interesting side story - we wrote it using a guitar that Butch Vig had played. He was a legend to us as he produced Nevermind. And I’d like to think, even though it’s so stylistically different, that the spirit of When This Time is Over contains a little bit of Smells Like Teen Spirit in there!

M: The guitar Jamie is talking about belonged to our old mate Simon Gunning - an artist manager who looked after Butch Vig’s later incarnation as Garbage. He shared an office with our ex-manager, and he kept the guitar in a corner. We knocked around the place after office hours,

J: Well actually, we used to live in an empty office just down the corridor….

M: Ha ha yes, maybe not so much lived as existed - after we lost that first record deal, we were very skint and had nowhere to live, and our then manager gave us that empty office while we found our feet.

J: I remember it well! Anyway, we used that guitar to write, not just When This Time Over, but a few of the tunes that later became Songs for the Small Places. We’d seen Butch playing it a couple of times while visiting Simon on business and we hoped a little of his magic would rub off from his fingers and onto our artistic endeavours!

M: Maybe it did - When we played that song to A&R people, before we got our second deal with MCA, it usually precipitated some development budget for us to demo more songs.

Where was the album recorded and what was the general song writing process of the tracks?

M: The recording started with the demos first – for that we went up to an old stomping ground – Fairview Studios in Hull to work with an old friend - a quite brilliant engineer and a very talented producer too – he’s called John Spence.

J: When we brought those ideas back down to London, we worked with other musicians to convert the stuff on the demos, which was mainly programmed music, to that very analogue live sound that is getting all the good praise in the album reviews.

M: I’m not sure if our process is typical of other songwriters – Jamie does the topline melody, I do the lyrics, and we then use a guitar and a tenor sax to create a lot of, I guess you might call them musical sketches for other instrumentation to enhance the main chord progression.

J: It creates a structure and a framework for the song, and then we develop it further in the studio.

What's next for Giant Killers?

M: We must work the album first – we’re currently engaged in getting some good reviews at press, music blogs and fan sites.

J: We have two singles from the album in pipeline before the year is out, and some additional material, what used to be called B-sides, that will come along with them. We’re hopeful of leveraging the critical acclaim to maximise our potential to get on some radio playlists.

M: We have more material to bring to the world – after Songs for the Small Places, we set off on a quest to write a collection of new ways of looking at the subject of Love – which is interesting as a writer as it’s the most common thematic in popular music.

J: Which makes it ripe for a bit of shaking up. We’re looking forwards to bringing that collection out into the light in the future.

M: And we’d like to develop the label – Little Genius – as a vehicle for other artists, who we know to have been, let’s say bruised by the business of music, but whose work deserves to be heard, but may not fit with what is deemed to be fashionable.


Add comment


There are no comments yet.