I’ve said it before in print: Reno doesn’t have a music scene. It has seven or eight. Few are the bands that can gig at a smoky dive, go do an all-ages show next, and then venture off to a suburban brewhouse.
Then again, there’s Sad Giants. This Reno band has built a rep playing with anyone anywhere if they fall under the big rock umbrella. The band members—Bobby Benedict on vocals and guitar, Quentin Young on bass, and Jesse Moran on drums—agree that Reno is a little disjointed when it comes to a unified scene, but they’ve found their own niche to reach an audience. Not that it hasn’t been challenging.
“It is tough, because most bands are just sticking to who they know and the venues they know,” said Benedict. “It’s hard to go out to shows you aren’t a part of and find bands you want to play with, and hard to get shows with people you don’t know. We did play a lot with pop-punk bands at first, because, technically, we are in that vein, but now we don’t as much because we’re even in a different set of punk-pop.”
Diversity was job number one from the beginning, when Benedict was writing songs as Sad Giants as a South Dakota college student. He moved to Reno in 2016 and then recorded with Colin Christian mere months after he arrived. Those studio sessions are where Benedict met Moran and Young, ex-bandmates in The Butchers.
“Jesse told me about Bobby, and I really enjoyed Bobby’s songs from the first time I heard them,” Young said. “I really like Bobby’s voice, so I just joined up from that point.”
The result of those first sessions was Sad Giants’ self-titled EP, released last year. Their latest EP, Sunday Best, is a leap forward for the band. The debut is characteristically all over the map—from straight-ahead rock to shoegaze blur—but the three-song EP is lean and mean, amping up the punk influences but not losing Benedict’s solid, classic songwriting skills.
The band agreed that its current sound is somewhat of a throwback to the ’90s. “We’re all a product of ’90s music—everything from Weezer to Blink-182, to even newer stuff like the Menzingers,” Moran said. Benedict added the great Motion City Soundtrack as an influence.
“I love a lot of that Minneapolis and Chicago punk, especially when I was over in South Dakota, because the Midwest is the best, you know?” Benedict said. “Even Indiana punk/folk bands that no one gives a shit about—that’s what got me interested in a lot of this music.”
That’s not to say that Sad Giants are strictly Warped Tour by numbers, though. The group has a sound that lends itself to head-scratching comparisons. Benedict mentioned Bouncing Souls and Matchbox 20 as two of the most polar opposites.
“Whenever we get new stuff together, it’s even more different sounding [than Sunday Best], but it still has that same core of nostalgic feeling,” Benedict said. “People don’t say that directly to me, but when they say we sound like somebody, it’s clear they are attaching us to some nostalgia in their minds.”
These tunes stem from a chaotic process at times, but it’s clearly working.
“I’m pretty much neurotic and manic and that’s how I go through spurts of creating things,” Benedict said. “I end up demo-ing two or three songs by myself, and then I email it to them and it’s like, ’Vaguely learn these things,’ and then at practice I try to remember them. But I don’t, so we just refigure it all out.”