This is what the Pompeo brothers, Steve and John, and new bassist, Jeremy, have been doing with their new band Giant Sequoia since last November. An outgrowth from the successful Philadelphia/New York funk-rock band Vitamin F, the Pompeo brothers emerged from the ashes to re-invent themselves and finally capture the innovative sound they’d been striving to create. After hearing Moment in the Sun, I suspect the image of the Giant Sequoia will be symbolic of the heights this band is more than capable of reaching. The name, however, came to John in a dream -- a dream in which he was walking through a forest, took root, and started growing like a tree. When he awoke, the name Giant Sequoia was written on his night table notepad.
Now the one thing definitely taking root is their music. Band members are swamping and saturating their local region with hundreds of two song demo tapes, CDs, and schedules with website information. Every night, they’re blanketing bars they usually play, such as the Grape Street Pub, North Star Bar, Pontiac Grill, and the Trocadero. As a result, Giant Sequoia has built a buzz and steadily increased their fan base.
Their reputation for being one of the most hard-working, friendly bands in Philly also helped to land them a recommendation from a local booking agent for the Lucky Strikes Fast Tracks Battle of the Bands Competition. Out of the thousands of band submissions, only nine bands from each major city/region were chosen. Audience members vote on the three bands per night with the winning bands in each city moving on to the next level. At the time this article was written, Giant Sequoia was gearing up for this competition to be held at the Troccadero on September 30th.
With influences such as Sting, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Soundgarden, and Michael Hedges, the band’s crowd-pleasing ability comes from pure intensity, energy, and musical chemistry. "We’re not a jam band that packs the clubs," clarifies Steve Pompeo, "and our intensity isn’t about jumping around like crazy people, but being at a level as a band that makes people go ‘Wow! These guys are really jamming!’"
Giant Sequoia performs both electric and acoustic shows regularly to expose the music in different atmospheres and experiment with different styles. "It’s fun to watch and see who is responding to what songs, old and young." Steve also believes his brother John’s unique writing and composing style helps set Giant Sequoia apart from other bands. "You can go see twenty bands, and out of those twenty bands, I would venture to say that all songs are played in standard tunings. John has to have ten different guitars on stage, all with different tunings. The uniqueness of writing in different tunings gives us so many more directions to go musically. We’re also all seasoned musicians, so we’re really tight with each other.
"I think, though, the way Jon writes lyrics is different than most bands because he makes sure every single word in the lyrics means exactly what he wants. He’s very critical of himself and will often sweat over two lines in a lyrics, or we’ll perform the song and if he didn’t feel it went over well, he’ll throw it away."
This dedication to developing both a sound of their own and a fan base to follow makes the band’s goal of moving to the next level a reality in the near future. Ideally, the band hopes to sign with a smaller based label that would provide the level of attention the band needs to broaden the scope of its grass roots effort. They’re currently negotiating distribution deals with some major houses (Universal and Indierecords.com).
"We want someone who will work as hard, if not harder than we do, and who has the belief that we have what it takes. More than anything, this person must believe in our music and give us the freedom to write what we write."
And what they write has some spectacular sticking power. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to Moment in the Sun and can’t wait to get back to Philly to see these guys play live. Check them out at www.giantsequoia.net. CDs are available at CDBaby.com.
Contact Greg Gaughan, No. 9 Management, 7422 Belden St. Philadelphia,
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