IN CONCERT: Giuda Takes The East River

Italian garage stompers definitely didn’t sink last Friday on a boat show in NYC

Guida live on the Rocks Off cruise / October 13, 2019 / Photo by Marisa Buxbaum

If you’ve heard Giuda – and if you like boot-stomping, fist-raising, stein-breaking punk, you really should hear them, like yesterday, pal! – you imagine four buddies slurping the foam off their mugs at the bar, and the fifth member in the background at the jukebox yelling out that “There isn’t enough Slade and Sweet on this damn thing!”

But last Friday found the fivesome on a boat in the Hudson River, trying not to fall down from the waves crashing underneath them. This was one of the last “b” musical boat tours of the season. It’s a fun series of shows inside the bottom deck of rickety cruise boats of varying sizes, leaving the lower east end of Manhattan around sunset, going under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, pausing for a bit at the Statue of Liberty, then heading back – about a three-hour tour in all.

The inspiring views would be worth it alone, but the funny, incongruous part is how Rocks Off always book metal, hardcore, or garage rock acts whose trashy action and loyal, drunken fandom are more conducive to the steadying surface of a sticky dive bar floor. Watching loads of tipsy, leather coat-clad revelers constantly trying to steady themselves while their fave band flails away, the gleaming Manhattan skyline outside, is a site to behold. As is the breathtaking moment when the boat hangs out right next to Lady Liberty. I’ve seen all manner of heavy acts on these tours, and every time, no matter the crowd, once the boat stops by that Statue, everyone instinctively goes silent in awe. Just to assure everyone in these unsteady times, she is still standing tall.

But then it’s back inside, to the bathrooms with not enough handles to hold onto, the questionably sanitary buffet, and most importantly on this night, Giuda’s amazing set!

These guys never disappoint. Formed in 2007, in the wake of the sad demise of the great Italian trash-punk band, Taxi, founding members, guitarist Lorenzo Moretti and singer Ntendarere Djodi Damas, turned their fixation on “junkshop glam” into arguably the best European rock’n’roll band of the new millennium.

 

 AUDIO: Guida “Wild Tiger Woman”

Somewhere in the early aughts garage rock underground, there had been a bubbling interest in that revisionist genre of 1970s junkshop – forgotten, mostly UK bands who inadvertently straddled the gonzo-costuming of the post-T. Rex pop era with the jackbooted R&B kick of pub rock and proto-punk. Giuda though fully embraced the most fun aspects of that short-lived demi-scene as their raison d’etre. From the pre-Oi outfits, the Teen magazine back-page ad explosion of band merchandise, and ‘70s-era album graphics, Giuda arrived rarin’ to go. Most importantly, they didn’t just play Hector, Gorilla, and Kidda Band rarities in their tour van, their wrote their own super catchy, fist-pump anthems, and have since thrust out four fine albums of singalong stomps. Along the way – aided by excellent videos and frequent touring – they’ve developed a kind of devoted soccer club-like following, while retaining an endless chew of bubblegum-popping beats.  

They’ve been out on tour most of the summer, and had already played New Jersey the night before and Brooklyn a few weeks ago, which might’ve accounted for the show being a little under-attended. The chilly weather probably didn’t help. But given the smaller size of this particular love boat, and the often choppy waters, that was probably a good thing. Plus, 100 Giuda fans yell and stomp as much as 400 for any other band. And from the opening synth swirl and guitar churn of “Overdrive,” it was a fan fave set all the way.

 

VIDEO: Guida “Number 10”

“Yellow Dash,” “Wild Tiger Woman,” “Get that Goal,” “Coming Back to You,” “Number 10,” “Get It Over,” and on and on it went. Uncontrollable handclaps and boot stomps took innate precedence over, say, worries of the boat springing a leak, which seemed quite possible as a few floor tiles were loosed from the glue during the hour-long set. As Moretti said to me as we hugged goodbye, “I think we’ll remember this one!”

While checking out their latest Burger Records release, E.V.A. (Extravehicular Activity), one might wonder if Giuda was waving goodbye to their root sound. More synth whrrrrrs and slightly brighter production point to some new angles the band could turn on. But as they blasted through news ones from the new one – “Interplanetary,” “Space Walk,” and a few others – they fit right into all the chugging fun. It’s really more of a thematic question with their new album, and I asked them about that and other boot boy concerns. Being the gang they are, they insisted on listing all members as answering the questions. So:

 

Ntendarere Djodi Damas – voice

Lorenzo Moretti – guitar

Christian Tarzia – guitar

Mattia Mari – bass

Alessio Cataldo – drums

 

Check our chat below.

 

VIDEO: Guida “Space Walk”

 

So have you ever played on a boat before?

Actually, we already played a show on a boat, it was in the breathtaking Canal Grande in Venice, Italy. Unforgettable. But this one for us too, growing up in Italy and always hearing about New York, to be on this boat, and looking up and seeing the Brooklyn Bridge above us, and the Statue, it’s just unbelievable!

 

What are some other odd venues you’ve played on? 

During one of the first U.S. tours, we played in a filthy basement in Philadelphia that was infested with fleas. It was so hot down there that we had to take our clothes off onstage. 

 

It’s not a boat, but maybe a rocket ship that Giuda seems to have taken on their new album — from the cover art, to some lyrics, and more, you seem to have gone from the soccer fields and pubs to outer space. What inspired these outer space themes? I know the world is pretty fucked up right now, and maybe you were thinking about getting off this planet?

The love for the sci-fi B-movies and for outer space exploration brought us here. Lorenzo has also worked on the soundtrack of an Italian TV show, and Carpenter’s music was one of his favorite to use. We like to think that there’s that kind of atmosphere on E.V.A. too. Instead of getting off the planet we’d like to change the things that are not working at the moment. We really like to face up to adversities.

 

Will the next Giuda album sound more like Hawkwind?

This sounds interesting. Of course, there’s some common themes going on, but we still don’t know how our sound will develop in the very next future.

 

What are some bands that Giuda played in the tour van on long drives that fans would be surprised about?

Our tastes are incredibly various, actually. We can switch from NWOBHM to Lucio Battisti. One of our fave ones that is played at very high volume in our van is “Sex Dwarf” by Soft Cell. Would you believe that? 

 

VIDEO: Soft Cell “Sex Dwarf 3.0”

 

Yeah, sure! What is the planet Giuda would most like to play a show on?

Easy – we’d play on LV-426, also known as Acheron!

 

What is Giuda’s favorite really small town to play on this planet?

Being Italian, it happened to us so many times to play incredibly small villages full of history where you can find incredibly tasty food. Try and Google a place like Isola Liri where we played next to a waterfall!

 

What’s next for the band?

After we’ve done with this 27 gigs long U.S. tour, we’ll spend some time at home before getting on the road again in Europe from mid-November until Christmas. We’ll also release a new 7” for that time. 

 

AUDIO: Guida “Overdrive”

 

 

 

Eric Davidson

Eric Davidson is a freelance writer from Queens; singer of New Bomb Turks; author of We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988–2001, and former Managing Editor of CMJ. Follow him @lanceforth.

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