Giant Squid is a progressive metal band from San Francisco, California, currently signed to Translation Loss and Vega Vinyl. They were previously signed to The End Records.
The band was originally conceived in 2002 in Sacramento, California, after the core members, Aaron Gregory (guitar, lead vocals), Bryan Beeson (bass guitar), Bill Hughes (guitar), and Aurielle Zeitler (keyboards, vocals), had already been playing in Northern California under the monikers Koi and Namor. The band self-released its debut album 'Metridium Field' in 2004 through its own record label, Tyrannosaurus Records. Metridium Field contained re-recorded versions of the songs "Revolution in the Water" and "Ampullae of Lorenzini", two tracks originally released locally in 2001 as a two-song CD under the band's previous name, Namor, which featured Dave Reynolds on drums.
Recording of Metridium Field started in February 2003, and now included Jason Divincenzo on drums. In addition to the two aforementioned songs, the album contained the additional tracks "Neonate", "Namor Versus the Siren", "Summit", and "Metridium Field", as well as two non-musical tracks, "Megaptera in the Delta" and "Eating Machine". Giant Squid hired heavy music producer Billy Anderson (Neurosis, High on Fire, Mr. Bungle, Melvins) to record and produce Metridium Field in Sacramento at the recording studio The Hangar. AJ Welham was assistant engineer for the week long session, and Brandon Oreno later recorded much of the vocals on the record. The album was mastered by Eric Broyhill at Monster Lab Audio in Sacramento. During the middle of the recording process, Aaron Gregory's father was killed in a motorcycle accident, which delayed the eventual release until April 2004. Five months later, Gregory and Zeitler married.
In 2005, Giant Squid self-released four-hundred hand made/assembled copies of an EP entitled Monster in the Creek, also under their own label moniker, Tyrannosaurus Records. The EP was recorded mostly live and strictly analog to two-inch/sixteen track tape at the Hangar recording studio with engineer Eric Broyhill. It contained select songs about the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 (Four years before Seattle, WA band, Akimbo, would do the same) with titles such as "Monster in the Creek" and the instrumental "Lester Stillwell", named after the 11-year-old boy killed during the attacks, as well as the tracks "Dead Man's Fog", "Age of Accountability", "Throwing a Donner Party", and "Dare We Ask the Widow". Monster in the Creek featured Mike Conroy on drums and Andy Southard on keyboards and additional vocals, giving the band three lead vocalists for a short while. Relieved of her keyboard duties, Aurielle became a full-time guitar player in the band.
A copy of Metridium Field passed through the hands of members of legendary hardcore band, Crisis, ending up in the possession of employees at experimental music label The End Records. This resulted in a record deal signed with The End Records in 2005. Because of the line-up changes since the recording of Metridium Fields, and the fact that the hard drive containing the original session files for the album had locked up and thus made remixing the record impossible (which the band felt it needed before a world wide release), Giant Squid decided to rerecord the entire album to reflect their progression in sound and songwriting. This new version would have Mike Conroy on drums and Aurielle on both guitar and keyboards as well as a second vocalist. Mike Conroy's brother Tim would also play trumpet on the tracks "Versus the Siren" and the twenty-one minute final track "Metridium Field". Andy Southard, who recently departed with the band, made a guest appearance playing keyboards for "Metridium Field". The band hired Billy Anderson again to engineer all the instrumental tracks in Sacramento at The Hangar recording studio. Robert Cheek was assistant engineer and later recorded the majority of vocals on "Neonate" and "Revolution in the Water" at his private home studio. Through the recording process, the band relocated to Austin, Texas. There they finished recording vocals and minor instrumentation with Jason Rufuss Sewell at his private studio, Nebulost Productions, in Bastrop, Texas. Sewell also contributed some minor instrumentation performances on the record before mixing and producing it. Eric Broyhill mastered the record again at Monster Lab Audio. The album was released as Metridium Fields (plural) on The End Records, August 22, 2006, and found world wide critical acclaim.
The band toured the east coast and into Canada in March 2006 with label mates The Gathering and Unexpect, with Jason Rufuss Sewell playing keyboards and Tim Conroy performing his trumpet parts live. The band then toured the Midwest and West coast in July 2006 with label mates Stolen Babies, a few select dates with friends Prize Country, as well as playing the CD release of The End Records veterans Agalloch in Portland, Oregon. This time around, Tim Conroy took over keyboard duties as well as playing his trumpet parts live. Immediately following this tour, the Conroy brothers left the band and Austin.
Giant Squid played a handful of Austin shows with Kimberly Freeman and Scott Sutton (both from Austin band, One-Eyed Doll) on keyboards and drums respectively. One of these first gigs included opening for Isis, at the Austin venue Emo's. Giant Squid played its last show as an Austin local band with this lineup at Room 710, October 20. Aurielle and Aaron split in August 2006, the same month Metridium Fields was released worldwide. Aurielle parted ways with the band in November 2006. Kimberly Freeman left shortly after to pursue One-Eyed Doll. Aaron and Bryan, returned to California in December 2006, bringing Scott Sutton along with them.
Before leaving Austin, Giant Squid recorded 'Sutter's Fort', engineered and produced by Jason Rufuss Sewell at Nebulost Productions. Not only was it the only recording featuring Scott Sutton on drums, but it was the last collaboration between Aurielle and founding members, Aaron and Bryan. The song was released by The End Records in a limited edition (only 500 copies) vinyl 7" split with San Francisco band, Grayceon, who contributed "The West". Grayceon featured future Giant Squid member, Jackie Perez Gratz.
Jackie Perez Gratz, cello player of Amber Asylum fame, joined Giant Squid in January 2007 as both vocalist and full time cello player. As a four piece, Giant Squid embarked on its longest tour yet—thirty one days (with only three days off) across the nation and into Canada. The first week of tour included San Francisco's Ludicra and Portland Oregon's Black Elk. Then, at the Austin music festival SXSW, Giant Squid's sister band Grayceon joined the tour for the remaining three weeks, in which the band also had the opportunity to share the stage with such underground artists as Tub Ring, Two Ton Boa, Ocean, and Human Wine.
In February 2008, Giant Squid entered Shark Bite Studios in Oakland, CA and recorded their first cover song, "Octopus" by Syd Barrett, for the Dwell Records tribute compilation, Like Black Holes In The Sky: A Tribute to Syd Barrett. Since Sutton had left the band to live in Eugene, OR, Zack Farwell of Grayceon stepped in for the studio session. The track was produced by Billy Anderson with assistant engineer, Adam Myatt.
Giant Squid left The End Records after they felt the band shouldn't move on to record another album, but instead should continue to tour behind Metridium Fields. The band acquired San Francisco drummer, Christopher Melville Lyman, of local rock band, Turn Me On Dead Man (Alternative Tentacles). Giant Squid then entered Litho Room Studios in Seattle, WA, in August 2008 and Red Room Studios, also in Seattle, WA, in September 2008 to record their second album, The Ichthyologist, produced by Matt Bayles (ISIS, Mastodon, Botch, Pearl Jam), funding the entire recording process, pressing of the album, and the hiring of a PR company to promote it, by themselves. The Ichthyologist was self-released on February 3, 2009, via the band's myspace and official website, as a limited edition of only 1,000 copies, featuring exclusive packaging with imagery drawn by early century biologist, Earnst Haeckel. The Ichthyologist contained guest vocal appearances by Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering, Agua De Annique) and Karyn Crisis (Crisis), violin by Kris Force (Amber Asylum, Neurosis), and flute by Lorraine Rath (Amber Asylum, The Gault, Worm Ouroboros), as well as trumpet by Nate Perkins (The Lesdystics) and oboe by Cat Gratz (Jackie's sister). Despite the band's unsigned status at this point, national print music magazines such as Revolver, Decibel, and Terrorizer, as well as dozens of websites and regional papers, ran features and reviews of The Ichthyologist, boosting sales greatly for the band. The initial 1000 copies sold out by July 2009.
In February 2009, the band went on an eleven day West Coast tour with Los Angeles band, 16, in support of The Ichthyologist. A full national tour, with sister band Grayceon joining forces again for the first two weeks, is currently being confirmed, starting July 30th in San Francisco and ending August 22 in Austin, TX.
Giant Squid currently calls San Francisco home, though Bryan Beeson and latest member, Cory Tozer, remain in Sacramento.
Recently, the band signed to Translation Loss Records out of Philadelphia, PA who will re-release The Ichthyologist in August 18, 2009 as a digipak CD. Vega Vinyl out of Buffalo, NY will release the album on limited edition, colored/180 gram vinyl around the same time. The album has tweaked, and features new versions/mixes of "Panthalassa", "Throwing a Donner Party at Sea", "Blue Linckia", and "Emerald Bay". It will also feature all brand new artwork by legendary comic book artist, Sam Kieth (The Maxx, Batman, Sandman, Wolverine, Aliens).
On April 26, 2011, Giant Squid announced through their Facebook page that a new album, entitled "Cenotes", will be released in October. The band will play three shows in California over the summer to promote its release.
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