The Giveaway
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The Giveaway

Band Alternative Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Future Stars"

Coming soon, East Lansing will be sweeping the nation. Well, not really, but The Giveaway will be, and they'll be bringing their deeply rooted East Lansing vibe with them. This now five-piece band has marked their territory in it's hometown in Michigan, and is ready to proceed onto many another cities in the US. Fully formed in late 2003, The Giveaway has just recorded an amazing self-titled EP, incredibly produced, which is sure to get many people's attention.

In the many articles written by local Lansing papers, The Giveaway has been clichéd with comparisons of components from Jimmy Eat World to Weezer, to which I say pish-posh to! The Giveaway has a sound far from those bands, nor any other band for that matter. Between their intensely truthful lyrics and enchanting yet calming piano, their electric to acoustic guitars, The Giveaway produce some of the best musical talent out of a college band since the history of college bands forming. Songs like "Bleed" and "Clouds Collide" are so involved that you can't help but have a feeling deep within your stomach while listening to them.

"We wanted to make honest, passionate, powerful music that could still be called pop but not sound like it was stamped out from music row. We are really into British bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, Doves, Elbow. So we wanted to take what they were doing and mix it with what artists like Duncan Sheik, Dashboard Confessional, Nick Drake, and other singer songwriters were doing," Travis Shaver (lead vocals.)

There are some songs that you take with you in your life that mark the memories of summertime fun, spring romances, winter depression, or the beauty of autumn, this album is a brave example of The Giveaway's ability to capture the moments - bitter and sweet - within their songs. While their EP is amazingly crafted, the members of the band highly stress seeing them live to get a better feel for how they have matured as a band since the recording of it.

"Since only August, we have developed an unprecedented fan base, we have played all over Lansing and East Lansing, and surrounding areas. We’ve played in Chicago. Played with Ryan Cabrera, Phantom Planet, Steriogram, The Thrills, and the best part - the music keeps getting better," Josh Hoisington (bass.)

Even though they have gained the recognition amongst bands aforementioned, they have yet to be signed to a record label. But, that hasn't dampened their spirits any. They still feel they are growing as a band, and are being very patient for their time to come. However, they aren't completely unseen by executive eyes.

"We just got a call... from Discmakers and Taxi Publishing informing us that we made it into the top 15 of 1000 bands in the independent music world series... We made it on the compilation disc to be sent out to a bunch of A & R people. Hopefully the song will spark interest – although we know our best work has yet to be recorded. We just confirmed a show in July opening up for Interscope Recording Artist Sleeping at Last." - Paul Krauss (keys.)

The amazing thing about The Giveaway though is that while opening for Phantom Planet and bands of the sort, each of the members is still working towards their degrees at Michigan State University. Some of them taking classes from music theory to psychology. But it's apparent that using their degrees to get 9-5 jobs is taking a back burner to taking The Giveaway as far as it can possibly go.

"I plan to play music for the rest of my life regardless of where it takes me but I feel confident in my band mates that we will go far in what we are doing now. I want to finish my bachelor's in Advertising and German but my music career holds precedence over any job in Advertising," Mark Colwell (lead guitar.)

Unlike other 'pop' bands out there, The Giveaway is very concerned with the way their music affects their fans. They blend something that people have never heard in a familiar way, which has gained them a huge fan base in and around their area. Within six months of their first two demos, they sold over a thousand copies. That sounds like a great start to getting your music out to as many people as possible. And being able to play out sold out shows wherever they are booked shows how much their fans appreciate them.

"If I had one wish for people who listen to our music, it would be that they would connect to our music in their own individual way. It would play a role in their life in whatever way they wanted which would differ from one person to another," Mark Barry (drums.)

The Giveaway will be playing gigs all through May around the East Lansing area, and are hoping to go on tour this summer to other places around the country. Be sure you check these cats out when they come to your town, and find out what their name really means.

For more information on The Giveaway visit for tons of photos, audio samples, tour dates, news, and to purchase some of their EP's that are available.

by: Chad Malone
- The Media

"They're emo. They're indie. They're taking the East Lansing club scene by storm."

Paul Krauss is banking on his band.

The busy 21-year-old Michigan State University student is majoring in English and "sometimes education" and minoring in psychology. He'll graduate in a month. He won't be teaching English or giving therapy any time soon.

"I'm sticking around when I could get a real job," he said.

Krauss and his fellow band members are ready to commit full-time to the giveaway. The band plays a self-described "fresh blend of British, American and indie rock with a hint of emo," and they're taking the East Lansing club scene by storm.

Granted, it's a quiet storm. With influences like Nick Drake, Dashboard Confessional and Duncan Sheik, the giveaway isn't the second coming of Kiss. They're a little closer to a second generation U2 or a livelier version of Radiohead.

"We might not be exciting like Poison or anything, and I don't swing my piano around my neck, but we have a range of styles and change things up every song," Krauss said.

The giveaway is a band made up of five young, talented, eclectic and intelligent guys, most of them MSU students, most of them Lansing natives.

The group started with Krauss and childhood friend Travis Shaver, 22, on guitar and vocals, just playing songs for some friends in the dorm. They soon hooked up with advertising and German major Mark Colwell, 19, who brought some nice ambient guitar riffs (á la The Edge) into the mix. Punk rocker-turned-jazz drummer Mark Barry, 20, came on board next, adding all sorts of color to the back beat. Hoisington joined the band in August 2003, completing the current lineup. He had known Krauss and Shaver since high school. It was, he said, a friendly but competitive little circle.

"We'd never played music together, but we always knew each other in obscure ways," Hoisington said.

A stint as a vocal major at the University of Colorado showed Hoisington what kind of music he didn't want to pursue.

"It was all classical," he said. "The timbre of piano and voice just got old after a while."

These days, he's at MSU and "selling his soul to the devil," majoring in public policy and administration.

It took meeting Johnny Cash for Krauss to realize his true calling.

"I met him when I was a kid at Michiganfest," he said. "My dad fixed up his piano, and I was backstage talking with him, just like, wow. That was a big influence."

For Shaver, it was Duncan Sheik's 1996 album, Humming.

"It was that record that made me want to make music like I do."

Shaver writes songs about love, idealism, and perfect moments, with lyrics that are achingly sincere, and he sings them with a wispy Ben Folds air. He didn't even want to talk about the story behind "Bleed," a ballad on their four-song demo, but he was quick to defend his methods.

"I'm not trying to be pretentious or cheesy," he said. "Just honest. I want to move people, touch people."

Along with their on-the-mellow-side demo (think Coldplay), the band has put together an arsenal of more driving tunes in the vein of Jimmy Eat World and Weezer for their upcoming shows. They have a tentative summer tour scheduled with Long Since Forgotten. They say they'll play anywhere to anyone who'll listen.

"I just watched this documentary called ‘NC17', about a band trying to make it in the music industry," Hoisington said. "It was all about getting anybody to listen. People see you up there, having fun, but it's so much more than that. It's something we have to do."

Which may mean that these students are ready for a career.
- Noise Magazine LSJ

"East Lansing Band Ups the Ante for Local Scene"

One of the best parts of the college experience is the local music scene. Most of the bands that are popular today got their starts playing local university haunts.

Four MSU students and an LCC student are out to keep the tradition going. Travis Shaver, Paul Krauss, Mark Colwell, Josh Hoisington and Mark Barry want to take their band, the giveaway, to the top.

While the giveaway has been playing together with their current, full lineup since July of 2003, they’re looking to expand and reach as many audiences as possible.

“We want to go farther,” said Paul, who plays piano and organ for the band. “This is a new wave of the giveaway.”

The band has gone through a couple different lineup changes over the past two years, and has recorded one EP during that time.

“We rushed to record it, and it wasn’t produced well,” said Paul. “That following January we took a break to form a new sound.”

During the spring semester of 2003 Paul was in Europe, while Travis and Mark stayed in Michigan. The three used the time apart to do lots of songwriting and came back together that summer with fresh ideas and songs in hand. They also added Josh to play bass, and Mark B. as a drummer. Travis, Paul and Josh had all grown up together in the Lansing area.

That summer the band wrote more new songs and by August began playing coffee shops and bars in the East Lansing area. They recorded their EP in August, a collection of four songs that Josh describes as “more mellow and acoustic.” The band has since revamped all of those songs, made them “rock out” a little more and have played the newer versions of them at their approximately 15 shows around East Lansing since August.

The band has played at Espresso Royale on Grand River, which they named as their favorite open-mic place to play, Café Latte on Charles and more recently at bars like Rick’s All-American Café, Mac’s Bar and Temple Club, where they played to an audience of about 200 people.

“We’re working on making our live shows more lively,” Mark said. The band has added the use of the organ to their sound.

“We’re trying to be more appealing to the college crowd,” said Josh. “It’s hard because it seems like the indie music scene in East Lansing is stagnant.”

“We’re hoping to change that,” Paul added. “We want to be appealing to all crowds and not play to any niche audiences. We’re playing at MSU, more coffee shops, more bars – anything to keep going.”

Josh explained that local musicians tend to band together to avert the dormant feeling in East Lansing. the giveaway has played with The Hush and Black Tea along with Ettison Clio and hopes to continue playing with them into the spring.
“We’re being patient, but we’re growing exponentially,” he said. “In the spring we hope to break out even further.”
The band members cite many different influences over their music. Travis named Coldplay, Duncan Sheik, Radiohead and Nick Drake as his muses, while Paul said Deathcab for Cutie and Jimmy Eat World are his.

Their new EP is still in process of being recorded but should be available by the beginning of the spring semester in January, which is when the band will start running on all cylinders.

While hoping that music will be their future as well as their present, most of the guys are enrolled in school to obtain a degree from Michigan State. Josh studied music for two years in New York and transferred to MSU to major in political science/pre-law. Travis is a former film student, but is now taking time off of school to put more effort into songwriting. Paul is majoring in English and has a minor in psychology in the College of Education. Mark is an advertising major while Mark B. is a student in the Jazz School at MSU.

“[Balancing the band and] school isn’t making me insane,” said Josh. “[The band] gives you something to look forward to and makes time move faster.”

“School isn’t so fatalistic,” said Paul. “We have more outlets for creativity.

“None of us really want to wind up with traditional jobs,” he said. “We just want to survive doing what we love.”

“What’s really important to all of us are two things: relationships, and music,” Josh said.

“Music means a lot to all of us,” Paul added. “If it inspires someone, or just gives you something to do on a Friday night… That’s why we wanna keep playing.”

the giveaway will be playing a show for the Ryan Cabrera charity on December 2 at the MSU Auditorium. As of now it doesn’t appear that they will have their new EP at that show, but in January they hope to have a CD release show.
- The Big Green

"the giveaway - E.P. Review"

Here we have sweet, sensitive white-boy rock shooting finger-pistols in the general direction of Travis, Jimmy Eat World and Coldplay. So it’s not at all surprising to learn that the band first came together in a dorm room at Michigan State, then worked their songs in the rather fruitful singer/songwriter scene of East LAnsing’s open-mic nights and coffee shops. After a few lineup changes, the band (Travis Shaver, Paul Krauss, Mark Colwell, Josh Hoisington and Mark Barry) is now solidified. On this, the Giveaway’s third done-on-a-shoestring release, there is, at first, nothing at all imposing or challenging. But who cares? The songs — driven by languorous swirls of understated acoustic and electric guitars, keys and bass — are meant to work the lower levels, the gut, with tunes that could easily be the backing track to classroom crushes, to hazy days spent leafing through yellowy photos of times past. And while some moments on this four-song EP might occasionally summon a yawn, not all is lost. The disc is completely redeemed by opener “Undeveloped,” a whimsical nod to the self-hatred that creeps in after a love spoils. And “Bleed” is an odd processional involving a lover whose insecurities lead to the death of her daughter; the song’s sorrowful subject matter works in the band’s light-handed grip.

Singer Shaver has the kind of voice that moves like a lazy river, delicate without being insubstantial; he’s able to use images like “April,” “snow” and “rain” in a single verse without coming off like some teary-eyed, wistful sack who thinks he’s Paul Simon, or that feline-boned singer in Travis. When Shaver sings a line about smoking cigarettes you hardly believe he’s a smoker. It’s like that. File under ashen skies and skeleton trees.
- Metro Times


the giveaway E.P. (2003) Spun on East Lansing's 88.9 FM The Impact
the giveaway - Wake Up E.P. (2002)
the giveaway - Left to Write L.P. (2001)


Feeling a bit camera shy


For only being a band since August 2003, the giveaway have accomplished a great deal. As a result of mature songwriting, energetic live shows, and a relentless work ethic, they have conquered the local music scene and earned gigs opening for Major label acts: Phantom Planet (Epic), The Thrills (Virgin), Ryan Cabrera (Atlantic), and Steriogram (Capitol), Sleeping at Last (Interscope) without the support of management or a label. The band recorded a four-song demo during three weeks in November, and one of those initial songs was chosen for Discmakers Independent Music World Series "Heavy Hitters" CD ROM Compilation (as one of 15 out of 1000 Midwest bands). Despite the mellow sound of the demo, the giveaway can also rock. They have an entire arsenal of heavier and more intense material.
The members have an all-inclusive musical taste that allows room for diversity when it comes to style. This is due to a long list of influences, the most prominent being: Coldplay, Jimmy Eat World, Duncan Sheik, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, and U2. The band is completely independent and is gaining momentum with every show. They will be playing throughout the Midwest all summer. The guys will also be writing and recording on their time off during the summer.