Last Giant is a rock band from Portland, Oregon who began in 2014 from the ashes of former NW indie rock heavy hitters, System and Station (1998-2013). Last Giant has toured the U.S. extensively and has been featured in film and television including national podcasts, Mike Watt’s “The Watt from Pedro” show, and Allen Epley’s “Third Gear Scratch”. Last Giant’s video for “Captain my Captain” was the winner of MTV’s “Indie Video Award” with over 70,000 votes and was a featured artist on MTV2. Distributed via The Orchard and released by the indie label, Little One Ate the Big One.
This trio is composed of RFK Heise (vocals, guitar, keys), Palmer Cloud (bass), and Matt Wiles (drums). Together, they have created music that is socially/culturally poignant, but also fun to listen to. Last Giant’s style has garnered the attention of many music journalists, and has often been described as “70s heavy party metal”. But for this album’s new single, we are traveling to the poppier side.
Perseverance, integrity, commitment, and vision have given us the gem that is “Hell On Burnside”. According to the artist, the single lives somewhere in the stratosphere of ZZ Top and The Jesus Lizard (if one can imagine!). “Hell On Burnside” is Last Giant’s single from their new (unreleased) album Monuments. It is a crashingly lively rock jam that comes on fast and strong like a shot of Jameson whiskey. The density of the bass drum and the wailing, siren-like nature of the guitar immediately conjured up a picture of flames in my mind – musical imagery that is extremely fitting for the title.
But this version of ‘Hell’ has finesse to it. The clever driving-yet-clean hi-hat groove by Wiles blended with the stouthearted rock vibes make this single an immediate earworm. Not to mention that the savory, well-balanced blend of timbres indicates the fine-tuning of true professionals.
“Hell On Burnside” could easily be in a rock opera; Last Giant’s lyricism is just as strong as their musical magnetism. They speak of wasting time, disease, bleeding hands; it would’ve been so much easier to write ‘life’s hard!’, but the group throws a sharp dart at the senses.
Things get a bit fantastical, too, as the tune progresses.
“Do you believe in miracles?
That you’d try and find me in this life?
You know you’re never a unicorn
You know you could be a queen of mine”
As we move closer, treachery only comparable to the river Styx arises; the trio releases their gathered momentum in a series of hot riffs, catchy grooves, and blustering fills. As we reach the outcome, a series of questions arise. Last Giant asks us all- What will we do with this inherently brutal life? Do you have the tenacity to make it your own?
They certainly do.
“We started demoing songs for ‘Monuments’ in February of 21’ right before we filmed ‘Live at Hallowed Halls’. We didn’t know at that time we were in for a 2-year journey. After a very turbulent year, we reconnected with our longtime cohort and bass player, Palmer Cloud. I (RFK Heise) was living between 3 states, we were sending demos back and forth and were finally able to be in the same place and record in September of 22’. Our first two days of basic tracking were riddled with technical issues including a blown 1970s Trident mixing board but we ended up with enough to get the bass and drums down.
I spent the next 3 months recording between my home studio in Portland and on the road in California and Idaho. I was recording vocals in closets, garages, kitchens, basically wherever I could get privacy and a decent sound. We then sent the album to mix with our longtime collaborator, Paul Malinowski (Shiner), and he made his magic. We ended up going through 3 different masters as I was unable to capture the sound I heard in my head, 3rd time was the charm however and finally, two years to the date, we have ‘Monuments’.
Everything about this album is a stamp in time, it is about personal, social, and economic struggle as well as love and the hope needed to persevere. It is the album we are most proud of not only sonically but because of the challenges we had to overcome to complete our mission and survive. It mimics life on this planet at this time, it all feels connected.”
– Last Giant