Giraffes Stand Tall

Comments (1)
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Lindsey Palatino Photo
Giraffes? Giraffes!

Joe Andreoli and Ken Topham both grew up here--Agawam and Ludlow, respectively--but it wasn't until both moved to New Hampshire that they began collaborating musically. The duo now rocks as Giraffes? Giraffes! and, after a couple of years on the West Coast, are back where they began: in Western Mass.

The two joined forces in Keene in 2003. "We both had other bands, but we wanted to pursue this different sort of stuff," says Andreoli. "We really lucked out, meeting each other."

That different sort of stuff turned out to be a powerful, almost otherworldly amalgamation of sound, energy and precision.

"I think the initial concept was to start a music project that was physically and mentally challenging for us to play, but still fun and approachable," says Topham.

"Yeah, totally," Andreoli adds. "At first, it was like, 'Let's strip all of the music down to get to the core of melody and rhythm.' You know, like really boil it down. Then slowly, as years go on, we've added more and more to that original skeleton of an idea. Now, we're still a duo, but I incorporate lots of live looping, effect pedals, and a synthesizer to really thicken things up and have a lot more texture. And Ken's always bumping up his kit with more stuff too: cymbals, strange bells, shakers, and stuff like that."

Both musicians cite a particular element as key to their intricate and calibrated compositions: coffee.

"Coffee is definitely the third member of our band," explains Andreoli. "It's like our George Martin. As far as songwriting goes, I used to write most of the song at home and then we'd work on it. Now, though, I come to practice with things that are more like ideas and concepts and then we assemble them together. We actually 'jam-wrote' some of the portions of the songs that'll be on our upcoming album, which is a first for us."

Topham concurs. "The magic element for this band is and has always been coffee. Most of the time my parts are determined by Joe's parts. He comes to rehearsal with a big bag of tricks and I try to make sense of them. He brings the meat and I bring the bones. I write the drum parts, which become the skeletons for Joe to stick his meaty riffs to. From there we just guide the songs and allow them to evolve, adding a little here, shaving a little there.

"But really it's the coffee."

Andreoli and Topham list some of the benefits and challenges of a two-man band. "With there being only two of us, it is much easier to communicate and coordinate," says Topham. "We have much more freedom to experiment and improvise and play with each other. There is always a direct conversation happening between us. Either of us can play as much or as little as we choose and the effect of either choice will be immediately noticeable to the other person and to the listener."

"In a duo, making the music we like to make, you really have to work at it," Andreoli adds. "There really isn't anything to hide behind, so you have to be engaged and on your toes to play well. We like the pressure of it though, the whole multi-tasking danger of it. It's also easier to tour, because it's just the two of us and our stuff in a van."

Giraffes? Giraffes! play The Elevens in Northampton Feb. 12 with Outer Stylie, Blue Star Burns Red, and The Shape. Visit

Comments (1)
Post a Comment

Everyone whoever sees these guys play, buy their everything, or just hand them your cash or coffee directly, they've definitely earned it. Fucking geniuses. I mean, damn.

Somehow, though, guy writing this article links to zero songs of theirs, so listen up:

Posted by name on 2.11.11 at 1:47



New User/Guest?

Find it Here:
search type:
search in:

« Previous   |   Next »
Print Email RSS feed

Nightcrawler: Mane Attraction
White Lion’s Mike Tramp talks Danish folk and diehard fans.
CD Shorts: Traditions
Hanging With GWAR
Mike Tramp visits the Palace Theater; Valley bassist Nate Fay recalls the late GWAR member Dave Brockie.
Behind the Beat: Serenade to a Donkey Jawbone
David Wax Museum brings its Mexo-Americana sound back to the Valley.
Nightcrawler: New England and Overlords
Trio de Pumpkintown primes for Singapore gig at Noho’s Parlor Room; Jesse Sterling Harrison is your (Corson) Overlord.
Nightcrawler: Doctors in the House
Gone By Daylight unwittingly gives Coldplay the cold shoulder; two Saw Doctors come to town.
Behind the Beat: Signs of Intelligent Life
Peter Mulvey performs at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.A., Earth, Milky Way Galaxy.