Quite often, musicians from the Lone Star State have been known for favoring an earthy, rootsy, down-home, meat-and-potatoes sort of approach. That has been true in everything from honky tonk (Waylon Jennings) to instrumental jazz (the Crusaders, David "Fathead" Newman, James Clay) to blues (Lightnin' Hopkins, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Albert Collins) to Mexican norteño (los Tigres del Norte). Even Texas' gangsta rap groups (such as the Geto Boys and UGK) could be described as part of that tough, gritty Texas tradition. But Mission Giant is one Lone Star group that defies Texas stereotypes and will never be called roots music; their specialty is a quirky, eccentric, bizarre, high-tech combination of synth-pop and electronic experimentalism. Some of their material adheres to a conventional song structure and has a standard verse/chorus format--"Inhaler Voice" and the snappy "You're in Love," for example--but other times, Mission Giant's tunes lack a traditional song structure and are collages of strange, odd, whimsical electro-noise. One of Mission Giant's major influences is the seminal German group Kraftwerk, who were experimenting with synthesizers and drum machines as far back as the early ‘70s and influenced everything from disco to hip-hop to new wave to techno--and the Texans' work also owes a lot to various new wave and synth-pop stars who emerged in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, including Devo, Gary Numan, the Talking Heads, Thomas Dolby and the Human League. Another influence is Brian Eno, who is famous for his work with British art rockers Roxy Music as well as his solo projects. But despite having a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s influences, Mission Giant is not an exact replica of music from those decades; they also show an awareness of electronica trends of the ‘90s and 2000s.
Mission Giant was formed in Denton, TX in 1996 by five musicians who had graduated from the University of North Texas with visual arts degrees: Shane Culp, Aaron Graves, Gavin DeCuir, M and Corbett Sparks. All five of them play keyboards and synthesizers, and all five of them help with the production on Mission Giant's recordings. Some of Mission Giant's work has been self-contained; other times, they have brought in various guest musicians to play guitar and other non-programmed instruments. In the early 2000s, Mission Giant released several albums on their own label, Fellowshipwreck Music, including The Sundry Foundry, Greater Than or Equal To and Plan C in 2002 and Lights On and Grudge Match in 2003. After building a catalog on Fellowshipwreck, Mission Giant signed with the independent, San Antonio, TX-based Uncle Buzz label, which released I Scream Social and Friends of Sound before putting out Brotherhood of the Plug in late 2003. ~ Alex Henderson