Los Angeles duo Giant Drag are only halfway through shooting the video for their forthcoming single, the droning, lyrically baffling "Kevin Is Gay," and frontwoman Annie Hardy has already been drenched in faux rainwater, flattened by a clumsy fatso in fetish gear, and -- in effigy at least -- thrown off a cliff. "If this video doesn't come out well," she says, "I'm going to fucking kill everybody here."
Other than that, things are going remarkably well for the 24-year-old singer/guitarist and her one-man rhythm section, 27-year-old Micah Calabrese. The pair are preparing for the release of their fuzzy rock album Hearts and Unicorns, just two years after their first gig at L.A. hipster hotspot Silverlake Lounge. While gentler tracks like "Blunt Picket Fence" may evoke a younger Juliana Hatfield, the record is bursting with enough growling riffs and lyrical invective to have critics in Britain -- where the band's 2004 EP, Lemona, was an underground favorite -- hailing the advent of a new grunge movement, with Giant Drag at its core.
Despite Hardy's recent emergence as the seeming love child of Kurt Cobain and PJ Harvey, the new album was almost stillborn. Though she long ago shortened the name of the jagged, slow-propulsion rocker "You Fuck Like My Dad" to "YFLMD" to avoid her parents" indignation ("My mom stalks Giant Drag on the Internet"), two other song titles remained potentially troubling for Giant Drag's label, the Interscope-funded Kickball Records, whose executives wanted to avoid a sales-sapping parental-advisory sticker. "They want it to be sold at the Wal-Marts of the world," she explains. "So we had to asterisk out "You're Full of Shit" and "My Dick Sux.""
Asterisks aside, Hearts and Unicorns is quite an achievement for Hardy, who moved to one SoCal school after another ("I would always fall in with the "bad" crowd who did drugs and got in trouble") and seemed to frighten off even the most sympathetic adults ("I told my guitar teacher that I was God.... That really freaked him out"). And with plans to tour both the U.S. and U.K., things are definitely starting to go her way: "I just got my first royalty check, for 197 bucks. It's the sweetest thing I've ever seen."