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Giant Sand
an interview with Howe Gelb by Adrian Pannett / pictures by Paul Heartfield

Giant Sand by Paul Heartfield(excerpt)

So 2004 brings us an unexpected new Giant Sand album. Can we take it that at least some of the 'retirement' issues surrounding 2002's 'Cover Magazine' have been resolved?
Well sir, I wasn't sure then, how and when this band should end.  Retirement sounded convenient. Arizona is a retirement haven.  How long is a band supposed to go on working? John and Joe (the kids) went off and started their own company, so it left just me with no one to take over the family business. Reconfiguring work ethic responsibility and multiple agenda crunch during last decade's Giant Sand land got very tiring and counter productive. It made me tired.  It might wake up on occasion and then get tiring again. As in re-tired.  So 'Cover Magazine' was a happy way of saying goodbye to that decade and that Giant Sand.  Having fun with John and Joe to see how it still felt. The cover song idea didn't start out as such, for some reason new songs would not come out and play.

Given that the new record features the same, or even less, amount of personnel as your recent solo albums and no involvement from John and Joe, how do you 'define' what is a Giant Sand record now?
It lets me know.  All the things of what the band ever has been were in place - hang-time when there is no music being made is very important. Availability of spontaneous song making well tucked in an atmosphere of inspiration is way up there too. It will always depend on which decade you speak of to detail the cluster. First decade, big change all the time. Second decade, more lazy in membership drive. Third decade, so far so Scando.

Is the door still being kept open for older members to slip in and out of the band's future equations?
I always used to always say that. And after so many years, the door seems stuck open now. It would take me slamming it hard to jar it loose enough to close.  Which might make a pretty good sound in itself.


CWAS #16 - Autumn 2004