Phil, lead vocalist and one of the guitarists of LA-based Sidewave, dives into the details of the band’s epic, transporting, space-rock / post-rock sound, transfixing new album, and bright future.

Hiya Phil!  It’s so good to get the chance to touch base with you around the early-October release of your impressive space-rock / post-rock debut album titled Glass Giant.  What have the last few weeks been like for you in preparation for its release? 

Not too eventful really, but I am kinda excited that the date is drawing closer. We played a show the other night in LA with a couple A&R guys in the crowd, so that was exciting. Our work on the album has been done for a while, so now it’s really just a waiting game while the PR engine turns.

Can you please go into who is in the band and what instruments you play?

Phil Golyshko – Lead Vocals, Guitar
William Collins – Guitar, Synths
Matt Russell – Bass, Background Vocals
Brandon Dickert – Drums

I’m a big fan of the giant (Hey!), atmospheric, wall-of-guitars distortion that scorchingly radiates from all 12 tracks of Glass Giant.  What bands have influenced this particular guitar style in your sonic repertoire?  Would Swervedriver, Catherine Wheel, Smashing Pumpkins, and a bit of My Bloody Valentine be at the top of the list?

You’ve got a good ear! I love all of those bands, but I think our biggest influences are Smashing Pumpkins, Torche, Oceansize and HUM. Failure and Chavez are kind of like secondary influences for us, though one recent review said that we sound more like Failure than Failure does. I wasn’t really sure how to take that. We try really hard to make our sound our own, but sometimes these influences are quite apparent. I guess that what you get in such a small genre.

You, Bill, and Brandon were all members in a Chicago-based band called Big Bend before you became Sidewave and brought Matt on board.  Somewhere in there you also moved to Los Angeles!  I think I’m messing up the chronology on this… Can you please clarify this chain of events and what the impetus was for the band and location changes?

So I met Bill back in 2008-ish in the Chicago suburbs because he had just started dating a girl (now his wife) that I went to high school with. She introduced us since she knew we had similar tastes in music. Immediately after that Bill put out a Craigslist ad looking for a drummer. That’s how we found Brandon. The three of us jammed on 7 or 8 ideas in a studio that Bill was working at in Orland Park, IL. We never did much besides record demos of these songs before one by one we all moved out to California. All-in-all the project that we dubbed ‘Big Bend’ didn’t live much longer than one or two years and we had no plans to keep it going after our dispersal. Bill and Brandon were doing music in LA and I was in San Francisco doing design. I started recording a lot of demos and the two of them wanted to start working on them as a group. After a few rehearsals we were introduced to Matt and our group was complete. Since then I’ve moved to San Diego to be closer to the band, but that was still an annoying commute, so now I’m in Orange County. I just can’t stand the traffic of LA, so I try to keep my distance as much as possible!

I’m assuming that Los Angeles comes across as the exact opposite of Chicago as far as cities go.  How are you adapting to the L.A. climate and culture?  Are you having fun in the sun?

Ha ha, LA is very different from Chicago in countless ways. The music scene here is a bit more jaded than in Chicago. I feel a lot more love in Chicago venues and the Midwest in general. I guess people out here are busier or just too cool to care (with a few exceptions of course). Maybe they just don’t like rock music as much? I definitely can’t complain about the weather though. Chicago had both extremes, hot and cold. Here it’s either really nice out or hot. No problem adjusting to that!

From what I understand, you initially crafted the demos that were finalized with the rest of the band members for Glass Giant.  How much did those demos morph in the studio or did they mainly retain their shape through the recording process?

There were really only a few changes across all of the songs I had demoed. Brandon’s drumming is, of course, far superior to anything I could program. The song “Hearts” was not one that I had written though. Bill had the initial idea. He, Matt, and Brandon worked out the full instrumentation and structure while I was still in San Francisco. I just provided the vocal melody and lyrics. It was fun collaborating and we’ll be doing a lot more of that in the future. This will keep the newer material fresh and not all sounding like one person’s narrow vision.

You posted to Facbook that some of these demos didn’t make the cut for Glass Giant.  Will they eventually be recorded as part of a follow-up EP or at least be played live?

Definitely! I have some serious love for a lot of those songs and I think they need to be heard. They won’t get the full studio treatment that the album did, but we’ll polish them up and release a B-Side album at a later date. There should between 9 and 11 tracks on it. Really, I’m just as excited to release those as I am about Glass Giant. We have been working on playing a couple of them live, but that’s taken a back seat to some of the newer material.

Where did you record the album and who gave an assist for its production? 

We had some budget limitations being 4 young adults supporting ourselves in Southern California with no label or crowd funding. So we set off to record this in the most cost-effective way possible. We knew our money would be best spent on mixing and PR. So we called in a bunch of favors and borrowed all the quality recording gear that we could so we could track everything ourselves. We did this in our rehearsal space downtown. Being unhappy with the tone I was getting, I had my guitars re-amped at a studio in San Diego call Back to Bassics. I couldn’t be more pleased with my experience there. It was the owner of that studio that connected us with Aaron Harris. We were thrilled to be working with someone who really understood our music and had a portfolio of rock-solid work. He’s been a great advocate for us ever since. We couldn’t be happier with how that played out.

The dynamic drum rhythms that run throughout the album create a propulsive drive that enlivens the massiveness of the guitar distortion.   What kinds of guitars and drums do you use and how do you achieve your fuzzed-up guitar sound?

Brandon has a Gretch kit that he’s been pounding the hell out of for almost a year now. I couldn’t tell you the exact measurements, but his kick drum is the biggest I’ve seen. It sounds so perfect for this music. For guitars, it’s a bit of a blend. Bill doesn’t get too fuzzed out, so he maintains a bit of clarity and crunch with his Line 6 Vetta. However, his effects arsenal seems limitless. I, on the other hand, tend to see fuzz as a way of life. I have clean and heavy, nothing really in between. My sound comes mostly from my Wren and Cuff Tall Front Russian pedal and my Ampeg V4. It’s a combination that leads to some really beefy tones. Sebastian Rizo at Back to Bassics was able to capture its essence almost instantly, and I was totally blown away. Matt’s bass tone isn’t just low-end. He has a few distortions and effects that really add to the heaviness of our sound. We made sure the album was mixed with these 3 sounds in balance and I think it worked out really well. The only other thing is layering guitar tracks. Most of the time I would have anywhere from 2 to 6 guitars doing the same thing, even on clean parts.

Will you be touring in support of Glass Giant?  If so, will it be a West Coast only or cross-country tour?

We’re itching to get out of LA. We’ll definitely be doing a West Coast thing. Gotta learn to walk before you can run. We’ll need a bit more financial support and a bigger fan base before journeying too far from home at this point.

You shot a video in July, but I’m not sure for which song off Glass Giant.  When will that drop?

I was actually told that we’d get the video today (9/30/15), but still no word. We worked with a great group of guys on a video for Pines. We were expecting to have it ready to go a while ago to help with promotion, but unfortunately some things are just out of your control.  (Editor’s Note: The video for “Pines” off Glass Giant is out now.)

What’s the story behind the album’s title?  Why Glass Giant and not Storm Giant (or Giant Storm) or something similar?

Over the years I’ve been keeping a list of odd titles like Blood Rainbow, Nuzzle Cut, Hair Bomb, Black Milk, etc… just in case I wanted to pursue my instrumental work (which I haven’t). Glass Giant was one of forty entries on the list. So when the time came to pick an album title, Glass Giant stood out over the others. We were also considering calling it Echo Harmonica, but it was too close to Electro-Harmonix, who makes the mighty Big Muff fuzz pedal.

Who designed the album artwork for Glass Giant?  It looks really rad!!

Thanks! I’ve been the designer for all of our art to date. This was the fourth album cover idea that I pitched to the guys and it was really well received.

It looks like two years ago you put out 2 EPs, Blood Rainbow and Weightless, at the same time!  Why did that occur and are the tunes on those EPs similar to what’s on Glass Giant?

I was recording a lot of demos during my time in San Francisco. This was when Sidewave was a solo project. The songs I had accumulated were of two different styles though. So rather than trying to force them to fit together, I decided to make two separate releases for them under the same name. Blood Rainbow is an epic / beautiful instrumental EP and Weightless is an album much more like Glass Giant, though we don’t perform any songs from it because it’s in an entirely different tuning. I’m really proud of both of them, but people seem to have a lot more love for Weightless.

How did the split EP with Anakin from last year come about?  What made you decide to do a languorous, yet still amped-up cover of Air’s “Playground Love”?

Brad Chancellor from Anakin reached out to us in December of 2013 with compliments and a suggestion of doing a split EP with them. We took them up on the offer and we agreed to each do an original song and a cover. We tossed a few ideas around, but a lot of the songs were either too similar to our style or had already been covered by countless bands. I was scrolling through my iTunes library and was listening to Playground Love. I thought of how cool this song would sound as a heavy drop-tuned Sidewave song. The feeling was mutual so we went to work on it. First I had to learn how to play it, and then I had to transpose it into our open-B tuning. The real magic happened with Bill started adding his signature spacey layers to the recording. We even made a version with some really heavy saxophone throughout.  Maybe someday we’ll share that with everyone.

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) where we can find out more about you and your music? 

Official Site