Loud As Giants: “It has taken a long time to release this project but, when we hit this sound, we both knew this was it.”
Justin K. Broadrick and Dirk Serries talk to us about how their experimental musical minds came together for their crushing new project, Loud As Giants.
If you’re a fan of really experimental, niche extreme music, then the names Justin K. Broadrick and Dirk Serries should be very familiar. The former has a musical CV which includes industrial heavyweights Godflesh along with Jesu and Final, while Serries can be heard on Fear Falls Burning and Vidna Obmana.
It was inevitable that these two musical minds would cross paths at some point throughout their careers. Finally, after multiple delays, scheduling and COVID, the pair have dropped the crushing Empty Homes EP (out via Consouling Sounds) under the moniker Loud As Giants.
In our latest Cover Story, we speak with both Justin and Dirk to find out about the project, the inspiration behind the music and what their future plans are for the heavy beast that is, Loud As Giants.
Thanks for your time; let’s get talking about Loud As Giants, then. Justin said now is the right time for the project. Can you expand on why you think that is?
Dirk Serries: “If you look at both our busy work schedules, it’s never the right time, but for us both, it was though the best moment in our extensive careers to work on this one. Like I said many times before, we both are musical chameleons with several different projects under our wings, so most essential was to finally come up with a consensus in which direction we would focus. From there on, it went fast and smooth.”
Justin K. Broadrick: “It was really the right time to finally release it. It has taken a long time to release this project, and it went through a number of different concepts over the years, but when we hit this sound, we both knew this was it.”
“It has taken a long time to release this project, and it went through a number of different concepts over the years, but when we hit this sound we both knew this was it.”
Loud As Giants has been on the backburner for a while. How much did COVID and the lockdown affect the timelines you had for releasing Empty Homes?
Dirk: “Absolutely. Despite Justin and I still had quite a lot of work on our hands during the two years COVID took over, but it definitely gave us both some extra space to finally start working on our duo collaboration.”
Justin: “Yes, the lockdowns actually made this happen. Fortunately for us; I personally was able to focus on the beat and bass aspect, which we agreed could centre the project, so to speak, without having to perform this gave me the time to work this without the draining performance aspect obstructing me. Of course, the pandemic was entirely destructive, so there wasn’t much to be gleaned that was positive from that whole experience.”
Musically, the EP fits with the isolation of the past few years. Did your feelings and experiences of the past few years inspire the four tracks?
Dirk: “I think every bit that happens in your life triggers the music you want to make or are creating. While it definitely refers as well to the era of music in the early eighties we both like so much, somehow the current predicament the world is in is quite similar and strangely inspires. It’s like Winter vs Summer.”
Justin: “I agree, and I feel like this album will remind me of the emptiness and sadness of that universal isolation, but regardless of that of that being enforced, I was happy to not engage with the outside world nor travel it suited the fact that I am autistic perfectly.”
You both obviously have a very strong creative connection but has Dirk shared similar feelings of isolation with Justin during the pandemic?
Dirk: “Oh yes, like I said before, I think both are very passionate musicians who get influenced, inspired and motivated by the circumstances around us. Not per sé that our music is politically or socially motivated, but surely it all gets in there, and that level, we both are quite alike. And also, we walked almost the same trajectory, so that makes us more alike than with most collaborators.”
Justin: “Yeah, we are both very much aware of our environments and reflect and express this through our art; we create environments for people to inhabit.”
Justin talked about his love of the night, empty streets, the quiet. What is that puts you at your happiest in those settings, and do you share those feelings, Dirk?
Dirk: “Oh absolutely, maybe strange to write here, but I like the secluded and abandoned, less people, the better J and nights trigger that even more while it also changes your senses too. Everything gets accentuated.”
Justin: “It has been a thing for me since I was a child, but it also is common among many autistic people, which I found out once diagnosed; being so attuned to our immediate environments mostly means overload, and being constantly overwhelmed on the day time, the night affords me this space – I am very aware of the streets being empty and people being in their homes asleep, I love this feeling and feel more undisturbed – I am completely aware of this emptiness and revel in it.”
“For Empty Homes we really wanted to pay tribute to the old school industrial and electronic albums with blurred black & white pictures and a sort of vintage character in the printing.”
Do you feel those are the best settings for someone to fully appreciate the experience of listening to Loud As Giants?
Dirk: “Loud (laughs).”
Justin: “(laughs) Yes! I agree with Dirk, but a dark, dimly lit space, very little distractions, would be best, I feel for total immersion…”
Going back to the start of the project, how did those initial conversations between you both come about, and what was the early vision for Loud As Giants?
Dirk: “Of course, we worked together before so no surprises there, but I think the complexity of starting with a brand-new project is to decide whether this is a genre-based project or just a collaboration that can go into multiple directions. We first talked about an industrial project, and while I still think you can hear a bit of that still in our first outing, Empty Homes is a culmination of many impulses. And in the end, we didn’t talk about the style after all and just recorded the music.”
Justin: “Yes, as Dirk says, we discussed many options instead of working through them; eventually, Dirk sent me such beautiful guitar work that it inspired a whole ’other’ direction, so to speak; setting this to rhythm and bass was a not-so-obvious route we felt, usually guitar drones of this calibre will exist in an beatless and bassless state, we wanted to turn that stereotype on its head.”
You say that Loud As Giants doesn’t want to reinvent music but is more like a trip down memory lane. What memories did working on this project conjure up for you both?
Dirk: “For me, definitely the philosophy and character of the eighties and the cassette network Justin and I played an active part in. The no-nonsense character, everything goes, and the pure DIY style of releasing music. It was just a very inspirational period, and I think our duo just somehow reminds me of that. I mean the respect between us is a vital part of what our collaboration is about. Just passion to share sounds and create something together we both can be proud of. Exactly like it was back then. The rest was and is all incidental.”
Justin: “Yes, we’re tapping into all our resources, but it naturally moved into a timeless area of the 80s somehow, when music felt really creative and moved in many ways without the conventional trappings; less formulated and conservative, free.”
Do you remember the albums and bands that brought you both together creatively?
Dirk: “On a personal level, Justin’s FINAL has been the first project I got introduced to back then and through what he released on Post Mortem. It was only later on I found out that Justin was behind Godflesh, etc.”
Justin: “I purchased an album that I’ve loved ever since by Dirk, in 1992 – Vidna Obmana, revealed by composed nature – I was thrilled to meet him and work with him many years later! We share many of the same tastes – Industrial music of the ’80s, free jazz, ambient, and so on…”
Throughout your career, your music has always carried an equally harsh visual element – is this something that you will bring into Loud As Giants?
Dirk: “Also, here, I think this can really vary from album to album. For Empty Homes, we really wanted to pay tribute to the old-school industrial and electronic albums with blurred black & white pictures and a sort of vintage character in the printing. Who knows what the next one will be about?”
Justin: “Somewhat, whereas the beautiful visuals that Dirk’s partner supplied for this debut album are far from harsh and more representative of the neighbourhoods we inhabit, but without us/humans.”
What about a live show? Do you see Loud As Giants touring, and if so, how do you visualise that live show?
Dirk: “Personally I don’t see Loud As Giants as a touring band. I think it’s vital for us both to keep the music fresh and something that sits and breathes next to our other projects, without any kind of pressure. However, we’re playing DUNK! Festival (in Gent, Belgium) next month, so pretty excited about that, and we’ll see how that one goes.”
Justin: “We will play one-off performances; I particularly cannot tour; it doesn’t work for me, I can do small strings of dates but never a full tour, thankfully those days are gone for me due to it causing me such huge personal problems associated with my autism, but we will perform if the offer and setting is right for us, selectively.”
As two people who have many musical projects on the go, have you talked about future LAG releases?
Dirk: “No, absolutely not. Let us first enjoy this one, but I’m sure we’ll grab the chance of a follow-up when we’ve free time. There’s a lot of musical ground to cover.”
Justin: “For sure, as Dirk says, this took so long. I think we’re surprised we even got this out in the end! But we have no immediate plans, but we both love this trajectory and feel we can explore it much further.”
Thanks for your time; I appreciate you talking to us and want to leave it up to you to wrap up this conversation…
Dirk: “Thank you for the opportunity and for sharing Loud As Giants.”
Justin: “Thank you very much for the interest.”
Read the interview on V13.