promoting new bands is what my blog is all about, what unknown/obscure band(s)
would you like people to know about?
I'm super into the Drop Nineteens’ record 'National Coma'. Drop Nineteens are this weird shoegaze band, but in 1993 they put out this super frantic nervous record with tons of energy and creativity and it's one of the weirdest and most exciting releases I've come across. This year my favorite records are Roomrunner's 'Ideal Cities', that Speedy Ortiz 7", and I just checked out 'Deserve' by Weed and it's really fucking awesome. Our friends in MASS (Steve & Andru from Van Johnson, actually) just put out a great record called 'No One’. And finally a few months ago we played with this band out of hamilton called Wtches who had a fantastic live show and were super creepy and dark and weird. Yellow Teeth from Sackville are really good too, we caught them at Ottawa Explosion and they were amazing.
Where do you find out about new
Live shows and random message boards.
Can you describe your most recent recording
experience? How does it compare to the recording of your first 7”? How do the
releases/music differ from each other?
The 7" and the S/T are pretty similar. We have songs from the 7" session on the LP, and you can't really tell. We recorded at the Meatlocker and Yogi (engineer/owner) knows what we want to sound like. The recording experience involves us tracking everything in a few takes and then spending half a year trying to put lyrics together and praying that things will magically "work out" in studio and second guessing everything we initially thought was good.
What differences do you notice between the
first few songs you wrote in BIG DICK and the last few?
I've noticed we're focusing our sound a bit more.. our older stuff is all over the place, our latest songs are definitely a lot more coherent. There's still a ton of variety but I think after a while a band starts to develop an arsenal of these little tricks/ideas/parts/techniques that they use to build songs, and you start treating these little parts or whatever as means of attaching verses to choruses to bridges, etc. Once these start regularly showing up in songs I think that's when a 'style' is developed. It's really important to have as many of these techniques as possible, especially as a two piece, otherwise all your songs start sounding the same.
Why the name BIG DICK?
There's this amazing band in Vancouver called NOMEANSNO, they put this fantastic record called 'Wrong' in 1989 I think, and on it there's a drum & bass track called Big Dick. B for bass, D for drums? We generally regret the name.
Please talk about artwork in relation to
We work with friends for artwork. Our friend Ben Jensen did the artwork for the eponymous 7". He does a ton of amazing work under the WAYBAD moniker and you should check it out. His stuff is excellent. Ben's son Niko starred in our most recent video. The LP art is done by Mike Laderoute (in MASS), he's an old friend of ours and is an exceptionally talented individual. The art relates to the lyrics - there's about a billion hidden images in the art that all have to do with the lyrics and overall message of the LP. I'm still finding new stuff in the artwork, and I like that it gives you something to look at while you listen. I just noticed the sneezing teeth on the album, and the black cube. We work with some brilliant people.
Talk about your most recent tour.
Our last show was in San Diego. Not a tour, but more of a 5-day bender. We went with a bunch of other Canadians and it was a blast. Not much else to say!
What other bands inspire you to tour?
OXES, I guess…they had such a fun live show. I caught them in Virginia in 2003 when they were playing on giant boxes and drooling on the audience and kept leaving the venue but still sounded amazing. I saw Cave In when they were playing ‘Jupiter’, and they were the best sounding live band I've ever seen, and that was inspiring. From Fiction from Toronto were fun to see live. Any great live bands inspire me to tour. Yaphet Kotto and Rye Coalition comes to mind.
What’s the best and worst thing about
The best thing about touring would be meeting new people and seeing new things. The worst things are long drives and bad shows.
Can you reveal anything interesting about
the band members?
Johnny and I are both heavily involved in architecture.
Do you see yourselves as a positive band?
Definitely. We both love the band and have a lot of fun playing in it. It's super challenging being in this band, but we both like it.
How did you guys meet? How did you get
involved in the band together?
We met probably 10+ years ago. Ottawa's got a relatively small but really good music scene. We were in a band called Party Knives before we got BIG DICK started.
Was it ever a
focus to have only 2 people write the music for BIG DICK?
No, writing as a two piece is a lot easier in a lot of ways. We're getting to a point where we can put together a song really quickly. The nice thing about a five piece band is that you have five different ideas being contributed, but we're making it work so far.
What is the
primary reason that you create music?
I don't know. I'd probably kill myself if i couldn't write or play music, though. music is the best thing in the world.
Please talk, in micro and/or macro
detail, about your lyrics.
I might pass on this one. Writing lyrics is impossible and neither Johnny nor myself are particularly adept at it. Some bands seem to naturally have amazing lyrics, we mostly just search for words that fit the melodies we have in mind, which is likely a backwards way of doing this. We're working on it.
anything that you try to avoid when writing a new song?
We try not to write songs that sound like other songs we've written. Which is getting harder and harder to do. We both have conventions (all musicians do) that we tend to naturally employ when there's open space in a song.
vocals vary: yelling, screaming, crooning, singing, etc. How do you choose
which style to go with?
The song kind of dictates this. You can just kind of tell what's needed. Johnny and I usually get together and compare our vocal ideas from time to time, and we're never too far off from each other. I'm sure little things like the amount of distortion and what key or notation we're in helps push us in the right direction.
Do you think
that your musical direction may take an unexpected and major shift in the near
future? Do you feel like you are open to all possibilities?
Probably. We're open to pretty much anything. If Johnny told me tomorrow he wants to write a record with a full band and tons of strings and brass I would be up for it. You can move a lot faster as a two piece.
have any names for particular passages in songs? (my band used to have things
like “Slayer rip-off” and “South Park” riff, we didn’t write anything original,
Yeah, same thing... "[band]-part" (i don't want to say what bands) is a pretty common term for certain things. Van Johnson had the term "shots" for 8 staccato notes in a row, which I always thought was kind of endearing.
Can you talk about
layering of the vocals in some of your songs? How do you write them? Who
decides who screams what part? How do you choose where they fit in relation to
Now we base vocal decisions on whether or not we can do it live. If you can't do it live, don't do it on the record.
How in hell
do you do vocals and instrumentals at the same time?
It's really hard. Playing some pretty complicated drum parts (for me, at least) and singing at the same time is hard and exhausting. Like anything else, it just requires a lot of practice. Luckily we've both noticed progress in our abilities, so that encourages us to improve.
How has your hometown/upbringing
influenced your music?
Ottawa is the best. We've always had great bands and an excellent scene full of dedicated people. I think ottawa has the best scene in North America.
What is the most positive and negative influence in music? Your local scene?
Who were your primary influences when you
started playing music and who are they now?
90s Canadian alternative rock was what I grew up with, and is still my favorite genre of music. My favorite bands are mostly the more aggressive 90s alt bands, like The Pixies (and nomeansno, and Drop Nineteens, and Beastie Boys) and that kind of thing.
If you could
choose to do a cover album for a band (whether your band covers the songs, or
other bands cover the songs), which band would it be?
I guess nomeansno? I don't know, I think I'd rather curate a dozen songs from a dozen different bands.
had to slap a genre label on BIG DICK so potential new listeners could get a
good idea of your sound without hearing you, what would you label yourselves
I don't know! Kind of fast/poppy/90s stuff now? We seem to be moving in that direction at the moment. We get compared to a lot of different bands, my favorite review was from MRR, who referred to us as "90s indie punk shoved through a weird San Diego filter". That's arguably the nicest thing anyone's ever said about a band that I've been in.
your favourite song to play live? Any particular reason?
Favorite live songs are all the new ones we've written recently. They're all still unnamed.
What are you
anticipating in 2014?
I imagine a whole lot of disappointment. Hopefully I don't die.
Do you find it hard to balance objectivity
with emotion when listening to/playing/talking about music? Can you keep
emotion out of music when listening, playing and talking about it, or is
emotion inherent in music?
I guess so? I never really think about it. Tough question!
What music that you used to love do you
look back on and shake your head at, now?
Not much, actually. A lot of stuff I listened to on the radio, I guess, but really I don't really care. I like a ton of terrible songs for nostalgic reasons, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
Besides music, what do you spend your time
doing? What are your hobbies?
What are your thoughts on the young
generation? Your generation? The older generation?
Love the young generation. I live vicariously through young people. I'm 31 so I think I'm part of the 'older generation', I'm still having a lot of fun and enjoying life. A lot of that is because of music, I owe a lot to it.
thing in your life at the current moment is bringing you the most joy?
I have no idea. I'm really fortunate, everything's pretty good.