Sunday Sep 25
Sep
16/16
The Pier: ‘Make It Better’ with G.P.G.D.S.

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The Pier: Make It Better with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is made up by James Searl (bass/vocals), Chris O’Brian (drums/vocals), Dylan Savage (guitar/vocals), Dan Keller (guitar/vocals), and Tony Gallicchio (Keys).

On the day of the group’s 6th studio album, Giant Panda members James Searl and Dylan Savage take turns sharing with The Pier a track-by-track break down of their new album, Make It Better. They give us a little perspective as to the meaning, intent and background of each song. In the past, I would ask some follow-up questions to press the members for more information but with the answers that James & Dylan were kind enough to share with us, I felt there was enough information for each track to absorb while listening to the song.

I hope you pull away from this read with a new found respect to the creative process of writing music in addition to how the songs translated into a sonic representation of it’s background. My advice with this read is to listen to each song first, then read the back-story of each track before giving the song another listen with new ears of perspective.

You can purchase Make It Better via Giant Panda’s website by clicking HERE!

1.) Make It Better

“No one is blaming anyone for the past. The present and future is on us though. Just try to be aware, and go make it better. This song was written while walking around Washington DC knowing my every move was being watched and recorded. Who, why and how does one become the enemy? Enemy of what? It also seemed to speak to the face on the cover. Who is that boy to you? What is he about to do? How can you make it better for him? How can he make it better for you? All we have is the future ahead of us. The past is past. History is always happening.” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Make It Better”



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2.) Live and Travel

“‘Live and Travel’ was a song idea that I had forgotten about but happened to stumble upon when I was searching through my voice recorder for another idea I was interested in working on. The essence of the song is of a person on a long journey making his way home to be with his loved ones. It’s essentially a love song not only for family and those close to us, but for the nature and beauty that surrounds us everyday.” – Dylan Savage

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Live and Travel”



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3.) Signs

“This melody was written in the space between being asleep and awake. It was a lucky grab. It seemed like a calming morning melody. Something that could help you remember where you were and how you got there. The song is a reflection of the good life and giving thanks. We are 90’s children and this music reflects that influence well. The Burning Spears and Lee “Scratch” Perrys live together in our heads with the Kurt Cobains and Thom Yorkes. That’s music.” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Signs”



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4.) Really True

“Musically “Really True” is another tune in the lovers rock spirit of Gregory Isaacs and Bunny Wailer. My hope was that the lyrics while initially reminiscent of a typical love song would after closer listen address in a subtle way the broader issue of love for country and what that truly means. The idea that love for your country is more than symbolic flag waving but truly addressing the real and serious issues that face our country with a sense of nuance, flexible perspective & purpose.” – Dylan Savage

Watch: G.P.G.D.S. – “Really True”



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5.) Walk Right Talk Right

“There is a certain satisfaction that comes when music in your head becomes music in your ears. The wild horn melody was difficult and almost embarrassing to aurally sound out to the incredibly educated horn players that graced this album. When they diligently transcribed the gibberish coming out of my mouth into beautiful musical script, I could have cried. It was like taking a little kid idea of a rocket ship and then building the real thing. I was so grateful that these guys, Malcolm Williamson and Devon Tramell had studied and played their asses off throughout their entire lives so that I could just sit here and mumble to them. They were like doctors, removing the confusion and laying it all out in beautiful shapes with intention. It’s a love song. It’s about meeting my wife, which was an incredibly chance encounter. Life showed me the path, but I had to walk it. If you are walking the right way, you don’t need to worry about the words. They will come even if it kills you. All love songs are political, because love is the world and the world is politics yes?” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Walk Right Talk Right”



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6.) What Kind Of World

“When I think of the inspiration behind this song, one memory that particularly sticks with me is driving on the expressway on the way to a show in New Jersey and looking to my right and seeing endless rows and rows of dilapidated buildings that more resembled a war zone then an American city, then realizing it was the city of Camden, NJ. “What Kind Of World” was a way for me to speak of the urban decay, the dangers of excessive capitalism and the widespread economic insecurity that exists in the United States and globally.” – Dylan Savage

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “What Kind Of World”



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7.) Gotta Make A Living

“A few years ago I was sitting on my couch watching a youtube documentary on Wu-Tang. I have always loved the Wu and found their inspiration to be long lasting, however I knew very little about their actual story beyond myth and lore. This doc was interesting because it was made by one of their closest friends. The footage was so raw and real. Whoever made it was deep in the Wu DNA and it reminded me of all of our friends who have been around watching us grow, snapping footage here and there, and where these stories might end up some day. At the same time, I read an article about a band in Brooklyn who had been shot to death by an ex-member. They were called Yellow Dog. They were from Iran and had moved to Brooklyn to pursue their artistic dreams. They were younger than me and it saddened me greatly. I know what it is like to be in band with your brothers and friends. You have to be a bit crazy to dive deep into the pursuit of art as a living lifestyle. Artists make all kinds of sacrifices with friends, time, money, family, and distance but often it feels like it is not a choice. You just have to do it. I get that, and I was really heartbroken to think of these kids who had travelled all the way from Iran, and had sacrificed so much, only to be brought to their end by band chemistry and mental illness that is so often what brings bands together in the first place. So I went downstairs and recorded this Wu inspired beat and called the song “3 Yellow Dog”. The lyrics are a whole other trip. Why can’t we stand up against obvious wrongs? How has the excessive gotten so extreme? How alienated can our hearts become? Well, you gotta make a living. Most of us have our minds on that. And when you die your sins are forgiven anyways right? Well for some of us I guess. Gotta Make a Livin.” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Gotta Make A Living”



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8.) Greatest of Days

“We were off on tour and my wife was pregnant. We kept going to the doctor together when I was home and getting the ultrasound pictures and hearing the heartbeat. It was our first child. Dylan and Chris both have two kids each, and I have been vicariously living through their experience being a band uncle, but there is nothing like when it happens to you. One day my wife called early while I was still asleep and I picked up. She told me that our daughter was 6 months old in utero. It all the sudden started to feel very real. A melody came to me, and that is her melody. I got out of bed and wrote the tune in its entirety. I played it to her in the delivery room ten minutes after she was born. (after we sang her “Everyday” by Buddy Holly). It was unplanned, all of it, and it happened and it was one of our proudest moments. One of the greatest of days. Ironically, it was me who was trying to lift his head off of the bed, in an effort to get it together to be a father. Now she is almost two and we are off and running. It feels like I wrote this song yesterday and the days are just moving by like the breeze.” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Greatest of Days”



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9.) Trouble Deep

“This is an older one that I’ve always hoped to record. It’s a song that expresses my gratitude to the countless people who have had a positive impact on me throughout my lifetime.” – Dylan Savage

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Trouble Deep”



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10.) Gone

“This album in so many ways is about right now. What are we going to do? How can we make it better? For you, for us, for our children and yours. How can we make better food? Have better conversations? Play better music? How can we continue to improve together? We are always asking that to ourselves as a band and individuals. It seems impossible to improve without reflecting. That is what this song is about: reflection. No matter how much you think you’ve got, the time will run out. Certain truths are constant. We are always changing, we are always learning, we are always loving. As we all move forward together, whenever the path or the past may haunt you, we are here with you. We are on your side. That is the power of music and that is our intention. To be with you.” – James Searl

Listen: G.P.G.D.S. – “Gone”



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There you have it. Now try listening to all of the music again. Whether you hear it differently or not, this discussion gives us a small glimpse into the artist’s mind, and further displays that inspiration can come from anywhere and anything.

You can purchase Make It Better via Giant Panda’s website by clicking HERE!


Related Links:
G.P.G.D.S. Website
G.P.G.D.S. Facebook
G.P.G.D.S. Twitter


Article By: Mike Patti


Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Make It Better Track Listing:
GiantPandaCover1.) Make It Better
2.) Live and Travel
3.) Signs
4.) Really True
5.) Walk Right Talk Right
6.) What Kind of World
7.) Gotta Make a Living
8.) Greatest of Days
9.) Trouble Deep
10.) Gone









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