The rock, soul, funk and disco-dancing flurry that Under The Influence of Giants stirs up with their self-titled debut album is vast. These L.A. hipsters -- comprised of vocalist and lyricist Aaron Bruno, guitarist Drew Stewart, drummer and keyboardist Jamin Wilcox and bassist David Amezcua -- are popping out songs that resemble a variety of techniques and styles from musical elders such as Scissor Sisters, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Michael, Prince and Michael Jackson, among many others.
Despite an array of music from various genres that has influenced the sound of UTIOG, nothing has been replicated. "Who are you really going to say we sound like? There is no one we sound like," Bruno says. Though he's currently pleased with his band's sound, this wasn't always the case. Before the genesis of UTIOG, Bruno and Stewart played in the band Home Town Hero, releasing an album on Maverick records.
Unsatisfied with that conglomerate, Bruno and Stewart wanted more out of their musical careers. "Playing the best music we could possibly play and being satisfied meant more to us than any sort of business decision. So, we kind of took a leap of faith," Bruno says. After leaving Home Town Hero, they sought to complete the band by finding creative musicians with a like-minded purpose. Wilcox, who had previously been in the rock band Audiovent, joined the band. Wilcox's father, Willie Wilcox, was drummer for Hall and Oates and Utopia. Lastly, Amezcua joined up.
This leap of faith turned out to give birth to Under The Influence of Giants, a band name that was produced as Wilcox watched a Charles Manson documentary and heard a judge spouting off things such as "under the influence marijuana, under the influence of alcohol ..." Of course, there was no "Giants." This became a reflection of the gigantic sound the band was aiming to produce. The name also "pays homage to all the great influences before us that have paved the way for us and ended up making us sound the way we do," Bruno says.
In order to create their debut, self-titled album, UTIOG worked with producers Brad Smith and Christopher Thorne, who in a musical past life were members of Blind Melon. With the final production, UTIOG spouts out singles such as "Mama's Room," a raunch-sounding song on first listen because of its reference to "making love in mama's room." "It is not literally about that. It is a sarcastic way about talking about something you're not supposed to be doing and that sort of exciting, youthful spirit and feeling you get from doing something you are not supposed to be doing," Bruno says.
In addition to all the danceable beats on the album, UTIOG does take the time to slow down on tunes like "Stay Illogical," "Lay Me Down," "I Love You" and "Meaningless Love." These slower tunes might slow some of the intensity in the crowd, but they won't cause any straying.
Under The Influence of Giants recently played a variety of sold-out shows across Europe with The Sounds. They are now embarking on their tour as headliners across the United States, where they will be playing a variety of shows with bands such as Young Love, Play Radio Play and Liam and Me. What can concert goers expect at an UTIOG gig?
"Our live show is definitely one of the best around," Bruno says. "As you tour for a year, of course you are going to get better at playing your songs. At this point we're at the top of our game. I recommend getting ready to dance and sweat a little bit and just feeling like you really got something out of the show instead of just seeing a band play their songs."
Under the Influence of Giants will perform with Young Love, Play Radio Play and Liam and Me at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Tremont Music Hall, 400 West Tremont Ave. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For more information, visit www.tremontmusichall.com or www.utiog.com