It's the eleventh hour and you've got a Japanese tour on the horizon. It's your first time taking your band out of the country and you're pretty damn excited. Suddenly, everyone else in the band decides they don't want to do it and quit. Now you've got all the dates scheduled, plane ticket in hand, and no band. What do you do?
If you're Chris Gerhardt, guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist of Houston's bizarre math rockers Giant Battle Monster, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, rebuild the machine, and get ready for tour. That all happened earlier this year, and now the time has finally come to put up or shut up for the new Giant Battle Monster. They take the stage at Notsuoh on Saturday night for their tour kick-off and then it's off to Japan.
It's not an ideal situation, but Gerhardt seems ready. "Nothing is the same except that I'm playing guitar," he explains. To round out the three-piece, he grabbed Bradley Munoz to play bass and Marty Durlam to beat the drums. Munoz is a face who should be familiar to Houston locals as he's a former member of Female Demand, another math rock band we loved who unfortunately decided to disband in August last year.
These days Munoz plays in P.L.X.T.X., a one-man "digital hardcore" project, who will be opening for GBM on the Japanese tour. And even though Gerhardt admits that Munoz and Durlam's other occupations might come between a permanent future as part of Giant Battle Monster, he believes they'll make fine additions for the upcoming tour.
"Bradley and Marty want to do this," he tells us. "There's no confirmations as to who will be doing what after Japan, but they both confirmed Japan and they both are delivering excellently. ... Marty and Bradley both [have] their own lives and projects but going on tour is a pretty good test for band chemistry, especially out of the country!"
In preparation, Munoz and Durlam had a tough challenge though: learning Giant Battle Monster's music. For anyone who has heard the band before, or seen them live in their past incarnation, they make it look easy, but they're playing jagged riffs in weird timings at a ridiculous tempo. With the short notice Munoz and Durlam had to get into shape, Gerhardt admits it was a challenge.
"We decided to keep it simple by only learning 25 minutes of material, but that isn't quite as simple as it sounds. I never really had to think about it much before this, but the songs we play are kind of hard," he says with a laugh.
One can especially imagine it being tough to take on the material from GBM's newest album, Giant Battle Monster VS The Subterranean Antler Man. That record, which is a huge step up in both songwriting as well as technical difficulty, finally dropped in March after a seemingly endless delay following the release of their similarly titled first record, Giant Battle Monster VS The Man With A Gun For A Head, back in 2009.
Gerhardt says the wait wasn't due to any laborious writing though. Instead, it was due to "line-up issues."
"We took a pretty deep blow when the chemistry with [former bassist] Chris Dunaway went sour," Gerhardt laments. "There also really should've been an album there, [but] we lost 2 or 3 songs because we either forgot them or just quit writing them. In fact, tracks 1, 3, 4, and 10 are from that time period."
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Which brings them to Saturday night when those songs, which have been around for so long, will get a proper reintroduction to fans who now finally have the record and can sing along. That show, which will also feature Munoz's P.L.X.T.X., will be GBM's last before they hit Japan.
And after Japan? Gerhardt has no intention of taking time off to recover from the jet lag.
"Literally 2 days after I get back I'll probably go on tour with gWo filling in on bass to help them out. But after that we we plan on milking every drop of exposure we can get for having toured Japan for a few months while writing new material and maybe even finding a new drummer."