Gentle Giant's next release was 1976's Interview - another concept album, this time based around an imaginary interview with the band. The music pointedly poked fun at the state of the music industry and at the silly questions that rock stars are repeatedly asked in order to construct an image for marketing. Ironically, this more satirical and subversive approach ultimately proved to be a symptom of the undermining of the band's work and artistic integrity. Derek Shulman later admitted "I think Interview was the start of the erosion. I think the creative juices were starting to wane a little bit... I think Interview was the start of the slide towards the realization that this is a business now, and that's also a part of what the business had become. I was managing the band at the time and music business became a major business." Despite this approach, the album did not repeat its predecessor's American chart success, peaking at No. 137.
By this time, Gentle Giant had become a well-established live act in America and Europe, touring persistently and sharing stages with anyone from Sha Na Na to progressive rock contemporaries such as Jethro Tull and Yes. The band's notoriously virtuosic live act (featuring rapid-fire instrument swapping and equally demanding rearrangements of the already complex studio pieces) made a powerful impression on audiences, meaning that Gentle Giant could equal almost any act on the bill. One 1975 show (at Detroit's Cobo Hall) saw them steal the show from both Gary Wright (debuting his Dream Weaver album) and Rick Wakeman (headlining with the touring version of The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table). In 1976, this side of the band was captured on the live album Playing the Fool, recorded during the European tour for Interview.
The Chrysalis years, part 2: The Missing Piece and Giant for a Day!
While Gentle Giant's skill as performers remained undiminished, their creative peak was now behind them. Affected by changes in popular style (including the growth of punk rock), the band made a mutual decision to refine their writing and performance style in pursuit of a broader market, particularly in America. Over the next two years, the band gradually jettisoned many of their complicated stylings in order to attempt to write simpler pop music and attempt to create hit singles.