Jazz-Metal-Noise Trio Giardia Farms Music on Its New Album

Giardia celebrates the release of its new album at Goosetown on Friday, June 1.
Giardia celebrates the release of its new album at Goosetown on Friday, June 1. Courtesy of Giardia.

The members of the Denver jazz/metal/noise trio Giardia live together in a house in Athmar Park, not far from the Seventh Circle Music Collective, the DIY space where they recorded their new album, Farm. Many of the songs on the recording are inspired by the band's urban farming.

“We’re close to the earth,” says bassist Josh Loun, an avid crystal hunter. “So farming is kind of a utilitarian practice for humans.”

But the album — which the trio will release at Goosetown Tavern on Friday, June 1 — goes beyond just planting seeds. Loun says the trio farms music. And drummer John Willis, a mathematician, says he farms knowledge.

While one might think that a mathematician drummer would be the one who writes many of the odd-metered songs on Farm, Loun and keyboardist Cody McAndrew come up with the cuts with unusual time signatures.

Giardia, which takes a few cues from Mr. Bungle and John Zorn’s Naked City, might run through three or four genres within a song; some tunes are based around Willis’s funk and hip-hop grooves.

“The stuff I think about on the math side is how to subdivide over four,” Willis says. “There’s a lot of weird combinations playing over four.”

McAndrew has a solid grasp on jazz theory. “We kind of compose with that as a utility," says Loun. "We kind of put our emphasis on some really awesome chord movements, kind of try to make it weird and try to make it interesting for us, so it’s fun to play and also a challenge at the same time.”

The musicians spent the past seven months writing material for Farm in their basement studio, coming home from work and playing for a few hours.

“It’s very rare that somebody will write a part and then write parts to go around it,” Willis adds, noting the band's writing process is organic. “Somebody will write a part and come down and sit in the basement, where we have our studio, and say, ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ We’ll sit around together and just keep sculpting it until it becomes a part.”

Willis says the trio spent way more time writing songs and putting more effort into recording Farm than Giardia’s debut album, Structure Fire, a half-hour-long, noisy concept album made of two- or three-minute songs about a burning building.

When Willis and McAndrew originally formed Giardia after being in the gypsy jazz quintet Before the Bulb with Loun, they wanted to start a project that was, as Willis puts it, “nasty, trashy-sounding lo-fi noise crap" — basically, a joke.

“The initial intention was to make it kind of gross sounding, like kind of unappealing,” Willis says, recalling that McAndrew had long wanted to call a band Giardia, after the nasty parasitic infection. “I think we’ve kind of gotten away from that a little bit.”

Loun adds that the new music has a broad appeal.

“The music is not as sick as the name,” he says. “Not as grotesque.”

Giardia album release, with Church Fire, Sonic Vomit and Today's Frankenstein, 8:45 p.m. Friday, June 1, Goosetown Tavern, 3242 East Colfax Avenue, $10.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon