By Julia Furukawa
As the video chat connected, three smiling faces came into focus. Members of the Seattle-based band, Naked Giants, waved through the screen.
Gianni Aiello (vocals/bass), Grant Mullen (vocals/guitar) and Henry LaVallee (drums) sat in the lobby of a cozy lodge in Bozeman, Montana, a taxidermy bear watching over them.
At the end of their domestic tour, they’ll be circling back west and will play in Seattle on March 29 and in Bellingham on April 13.
The three 21-year-olds formed their band in 2015 right after they graduated high school. They started playing shows around Seattle and initially gained notoriety through winning the Sound Off competition that same year.
The competition brings together young musicians from the Seattle area and is hosted annually by the Experience Music Project, now called the Museum of Pop Culture.
Step Dads, a Bellingham band, will be competing this year in the same competition.
Aiello said that after their Sound Off victory, the band suddenly started to take off, playing shows all around Seattle.
Squeezed together to fit into the camera frame, the three talked about their history as a band.
“Everything good that happens to this band feels kind of like a fluke,” Aiello said, grinning.
Mullen and LaVallee nodded their heads in agreement.
LaVallee, Mullen and Aiello said that some of this disbelief comes from the fact that they never really thought they would end up pursuing music as a career.
They stuck together as a long-distance band as they parted ways for college in 2015. However, as the band gained more attention, Mullen said that they had to make a difficult decision: college or music.
Mullen said he felt as if school wasn’t taking him in the direction he wanted to go. He knew he wanted to pursue music.
“We all share one similar dream and at the end of the day, we always have each other.”
Henry LaVallee, Drummer
However, Aiello said it was a more difficult decision for him.
“It’s such a privilege to go to college,” Aiello said. “It’s even more of a privilege to decide to not go.”
Now, after a couple years of working on their music full-time, the three said they know they made the right decision.
Naked Giants signed to a Texas-based music label, New West Records, and found two managers who were ready to support them, Jessica Johnson and Shea Chappel, from Votiv Management.
Henry said their managers’ support has been unwavering. Recently, the two helped the band secure a gig as openers on tour for the well-known band, Car Seat Headrest.
“It never makes sense to me how they’re so dedicated to us. We would be nowhere without them,” Aiello said.
[caption id="attachment_23213" align="aligncenter" width="860"] Photo by Chloe Corriveau[/caption]
The three said 2018 will be a big year for them.
In addition to going on tour, their new album “SLUFF” is scheduled to be released at the end of March and was recorded with the help of well-known producer, Steve Fisk. Fisk has recorded with other prominent bands, including Nirvana and and The Screaming Trees.
In anticipation of the release of “SLUFF,” the band released a music video for their song, “TV,” which was directed by producer and musician Sean Downey, of the band The Downey Brothers.
This year, the band will broaden its reach by embarking on an international tour in May with Car Seat Headrest, which will include stops in Paris, Brussels and London, Aiello said
Despite traveling for hours on end in a cramped van while on tour - and occasionally bickering over when to stop for bathroom breaks - LaVallee said being in the band and having the same appreciation for music has made their friendship much stronger.
“We all share one similar dream,” LaVallee said. “And at the end of the day, we always have each other.”
Naked Giants will be performing in Bellingham at The Wild Buffalo on April 13. Tickets are currently sold out.
Their music is available on several music-streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music.
The new music video for the song “TV” can be found here.