California-based folk revival power pop trio Magic Giant got as close to nature as possible when it came to recording their aptly-titled debut album, In the Wind.
Thanks to the engineering know-how of guitarist Brian Zaghi, the group outfitted a shuttle bus with solar panels to power recording equipment so the members could go into nature and capture the planet's nature ambiance, they tell Q104.3's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke.
"The shuttle bus is like the generator and then we brought the microphones out into nature," says fiddle and banjo player Zambricki Li. "So, like, we recorded inside a redwood tree in Humboldt, California...a landing strip in Colorado...a tunnel in Washington State."
Li described the redwood tree as like a giant isolation booth.
Magic Giant employs a lot of unique instrumentation, including banjo, cello, fiddle and a variety of percussion instruments, as well as more traditional rock/pop instruments like keyboards, guitars, bass and drums.
The band's lead single, "Set On Fire," is driven by a banjo riff that Li says was originally meant for a guitar.
"As soon as we made the leap and translated it from guitar to banjo, all of the sudden there was more space," he says. "It felt different."
Zaghi adds, "[The banjo} catches your attention more than just a guy playing a guitar. It's like, 'Something's happening with an instrument I've never really heard.'"
Leveraging the unique tones of acoustic instruments and combining them with electronic textures is something Magic Giant does exceptionally well.
But it's not just musical instruments that Magic Giant put to use on In the Wind. It seems the band members hear music everywhere they go. If recording violins in a redwood tree and drums in a bomb shelter weren't enough, they also recorded the steady chugging sound of an espresso machine at their L.A. studio.
"An intern was making coffee in the studio and it was [making a rhythmic sound]," recalls singer Austin Bis. "We recorded him. He's on the record [credited with] coffee machine."
Check out the full interview and live in-studio performance of the song "Window" above.
Here's the official video for Magic Giant's first single "Set On Fire":