The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a stubborn cliché because there’s truth in it.
Nearly 45 years after assembling in San Francisco’s fertile punk underground, the Toiling Midgets have turned into — what else? — Lazy Giants. The original name, intended without malice or prejudice, hailed from a reality TV show circa 1979, in which an interviewer asked a pair of little-person tycoons about the secret to their success. The industrious twins‘ proud response became the moniker for a brooding, predominantly instrumental band uniting members of Bay Area agitators Negative Trend and the Sleepers. Lineup shuffles, drug problems, dissolutions, recoveries, reboots, deaths, and critically lauded albums for big-deal labels such as Rough Trade and Matador would follow.
But times and contexts are different now. So along with issuing an apology for any inadvertent offenses or misunderstandings, the group has officially rechristened itself the Lazy Giants. In the current semantic landscape, these words evoke something less flippant while slyly referencing the combo’s imposing legacy but low-key ambitions. Further legitimizing the decision, founding guitarist Craig Gray had briefly used the sobriquet for an abortive collaboration with his late brother, Jason, during a Toiling hiatus in the ’80s. Thus, the resurrection of the Lazy Giants’ name pays tribute to what might have been. But it ushers in a wide-open future, as well.
This future officially began in July 2023, when the Lazy Giants quietly dropped their first song: „Sticky Sun“. Today, the band is happy to present a brand new music video for the track. Watch it here: https://youtu.be/FeHFuzWWyjo
„Sticky Sun“ is merely the beginning, though. On October 13th, 2023 the Lazy Giants will release a full album, aptly titled „Toiling Days Are Over“, via Clouds Hill.
CD and vinyl versions of „Toiling Days Are Over“ will at first be available exclusively at shows during Lazy Giants‘ upcoming European Tour. So make sure to be there! Find all dates down below.
Merely two weeks after release of the album, Lazy Giants will embark on an extended European Tour in October/November 2023 with shows in Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
25.10.2023 – (DE) Leipzig, Ilse
26.10.2023 – (DE) Görlitz, Basta
27.10.2023 – (DE) Berlin, Schokoladen
28.10.2023 – (CZ) Tabor, MC Orion
29.10.2023 – (CZ) Brno, Kabinet Muz
30.10.2023 – (CZ) Praha, Meet Factory
01.11.2023 – (IT) Pordenone, tba
02.11.2023 – (IT) Roma, Fanfulla
03.11.2023 – (IT) Bologna, Freakout
05.11.2023 – (DE) Munich, Milla
07.11.2023 – (DE) Nürnberg, Heizhaus
08.11.2023 – (DE) Stuttgart, Merlin
09.11.2023 – (NL) Amsterdam, Butcher’s Tears
10.11.2023 – (BE) Gent, David Velasquez
11.11.2023 – (DE) Kassel, Karnak
12.11.2023 – (DE) Münster, Local Host
15.11.2023 – (DE) Bremen, Papp Café
16.11.2023 – (DE) Karlsruhe, Kohi
17.11.2023 – (DE) Erfurt, Museumskeller
In certain respects, the new LP, „Toiling Days Are Over“, enriches a decades-old tradition. Founding member Craig Gray fashions meaty but moody riffs from art-punk, glam, and heavy-rock materia prima. Up in the stratosphere, fellow veteran Paul Hood concocts spacey abstractions: whinnying, distorted leads and sustained vapor trails of feedback. Initially recommended by Strokes producer and Hood associate Gordon Raphael, masterful drummer (and noted solo act) Daniel Benyamin applies just enough heat and fastidiousness to the lumbering beats and loose rhythms. A second younger addition, Benyamin’s friend Daniel Cerny, weaves in stealthy filaments of synth and clarinet. At gigs, he pulls triple duty as the Giants‘ riveting singer with the keen mustache.
Speaking of which, „Toiling Days Are Over“ is the band’s first full-length since the ’90s to feature prominent vocals. Assorted incantations—by all four players plus former bassist Simon Bell, engineer Pinky B, and guest Chris Eckman (ex-Walkabouts)—suffuse the proceedings with deadpan cool, breathy yearning, flinty melodiousness, continental melancholy, or capricious eccentricity. (Dig the coughing fit that concludes „Bees of Eternity.“) The music exudes remarkable oomph and consistency despite its construction at six studios in a quartet of countries. Released by Germany’s internationally inclined Clouds Hill (The Mars Volta, Teri Gender Bender, Faust), „Toiling Days Are Over“ unsentimentally stresses the Giants‘ present without betraying their exalted past.
That said, San Francisco is but a distant, foggy memory. Gray lives in Mission, Canada; Hood resides a few hours south in Seattle; and Benyamin and Cerny dwell in Berlin, the hub of a European tour scheduled for October and November. As wildfires burn, homelessness blights, and rapacious tech moguls bulldoze California, the Giants will thrive and evolve in exile. On their own terms. As always.
On the decision to change their name, the band states: „I didn’t think about it in any other terms and neither did our fans. We have had a long career recording and releasing, rarely touring. Recently we started touring again for the first time since the 1990s. The context has changed. The name is loaded with meaning. It is hurtful. That was never our intention. We take full responsibility and apologize. So where does that leave us? Looking for a new name and that name is pretty obvious. Lazy Giants. New name, new members, new energy and a new record.“