-Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been
Josh: I’ve been well, thanks! I just got home and ate some Thai leftovers. Red Curry w/ Steak. Thai Hot. The spicy level was legit.
-You just announced your new album Tumbleweed – what’s the story behind the title?
Nick: The album is named after the first track, Tumbleweed, which takes place in a post apocalyptic desert setting where the character in the song is wandering aimlessly across a million miles of sand trying to survive.
-What was the recording and writing process like?
Doug: The recording process was awesome. It was the most relaxed we have ever been in the studio which made the whole process easier. Tracking together all at once as a group was essential. That way it truly captures what we sound like live.
Nick: Our writing process in general is very gradual and always different with each song. Some songs come together fast and others we develop and tweak over longer periods of time. We have been playing most of the songs from this album in a live setting for a couple years so they have all had time to grow and we knew exactly what we wanted when it came time to record them. The last song on the album, “In the Middle” is actually one of the oldest songs in our catalogue. It was on our first album “Stories from the Middle of Nowhere” and we decided to re-record it six or seven years later. We thought it was a cool way to show the musical growth of the band plus the message of the song is even more relevant now than ever. And the middle of nowhere concept really ties in with the apocalyptic desert theme of “Tumbleweed” too.
Paul our lyricist does not actually play in the band, but he does play a huge role in crafting the ideas, concepts and imagery for most of the lyrics and artwork. There are a few different approaches he and I have to writing songs in general. First we will either start with a lyrical idea and try to fit music to it OR we will start with a rough musical groove or chord progression and try to fit lyrics / vocal melodies to that. We sing lines outloud a lot in a very freeform, almost stream of consciousness type way. We record everything using very basic technology and then transcribe those sessions and then we will edit and organize our favorite lines and parts into more of a song structure. We’ll give the idea a little time to marinate and then come back to it a couple weeks later. And it will gradually develop over time like that.
The music in general comes from different sources in the band too. I like to write a lot of interlocking parts using a loop pedal. Josh composes a lot parts on his keyboards as well. He wrote the main progression in “Waves” from this album. Casey and Jesse write a lot of the instrumental hooks and melodies and riffs within the songs themselves. Ben and Doug usually help craft and edit the song structure and add their own flavors to the groove. “UFOs are Real” came from a groove they were jamming on one day at practice.
-How did working in a professional studio influence the album?
Josh: We didn’t have a Wendy’s close by, so everyone had a little bit of JBC (Junior Bacon Cheeseburger) withdrawal. It’s always the first week that’s the hardest, but we overcame it easily with the help of pastries, charcuterie and a few home cooked family style meals.
Jesse: It was pretty great to just get in there and go hard for a week straight. You know, to track and knock everything out so quickly helped us not overthink things too much. Also we got to enjoy the evenings together while at the Echo House and have some nice band bonding time.
Casey: Exploring different sounds and their significance to what song they pertain to is important when recording an album. The studio we were recording in helped make that process fun and easy, and the staff were the nicest people ever.
-What was it like to work with John Custer for a fourth time?
Jesse: Rad! Getting to be in an actual studio setting for a full week with separate dedicated mixing engineer (Jim Georgeson) in addition to John was pretty amazing. Having Jim there to turn knobs and focus on running the studio seemed to allow Custer to be more creative and add more of his own input during tracking days.
Nick: Working on albums with Custer is always so fun. He has a great way of keeping the mood light. Since he’s most well known for his work with a heavier band (Corrosion of Conformity), I’m not sure if he ever really gets enough credit for his sense of humor. He’s hilarious, always making us laugh with jokes, stories and ridiculous photoshop skills. Recording this particular project with him was especially cool because we all stayed in a house together for a couple weeks taking in the sights and sounds of Asheville. It was an adventure and I think that came out in the recording.
-How much did he influence Tumbleweed?
Jesse: A lot on the actual Tumbleweed track. He had some awesome suggestions for the rhythm section that changed the overall feel of the song and really made the track more accessible for the listener.
Nick: He has the best ear for complementary parts and vocal harmonies. I was so happy with the way “Passenger” came out because of the vocal parts and guitar licks he suggested. The metal-breakdown in “Waves” is monstrous now because of how he had us approach it. He thought of some really cool ways to end “Waves” and “The Flood” too – making it more of a production.
-What made you head in a darker direction with this material?
Nick: I’m not sure it was really a conscious decision. It kind of just happened as these songs all got released and performed live over the past 2-3 years. I think it might just be a reflection of the times we’re living in and our lyricist Paul and myself pulling from different personal experiences. I think “Waves” is a good thesis statement for the album. It’s both dark and light. Triumphant and sorrowful. It’s kind of a ying yang thing – “the brightest light comes from the darkest places.”
-What are you most excited about on your upcoming tour?
Casey: having the opportunity to play music on Jam Cruise and spend time in The Florida Keys during the winter.
Josh: Lime-a-Ritas on the boat! Jam Cruise is gonna start our year off right! I’m looking forward to returning to Telluride in March, and seeing all the friends we’ve made throughout Colorado.
Ben: Definitely excited to take the step up to playing some theaters on the Colorado leg of our tour. We’ve loved playing in CO from our first time out there and people have been so welcoming and responsive so it’s really exciting to get the opportunity to play places like The Fox Theater and The Bluebird Theater.
-What else is happening next in BIG Something’s world?
Ben: Well we are definitely trying to work on new original material now that our album is finally finished and we also will be traveling further west then we ever have, including our first time in CA.
Nick: There are a lot more exciting tour dates and festival announcements coming soon. New music for sure. I’m sure Cam will probably want to add some more more lights to the light rig at some point soon. New merch. Tumbleweed Vinyl will be coming out for Record Store day in April. The 2 night run in Greensboro for our CD Release party will be really fun too. Really just trying to take everything to new heights in 2017.
Hi Frida, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? I’m good, thank you. Can you …