Today Is the Day That Big Business Made, an Interview With Coady From Big Business
The day has finally come, ‘Mind the Drift’, the new record, from Big Business is out. Good day to shoot a shotgun in the air. Buy the record before or after that. It’s your choice. ‘Mind the Drift” is the third installment from the band, but the first to have a guitarist as a member of the band.
The band tried to stop the album from leaking early doing one of the greatest worst ideas ever. Inspired by great film commentaries the band made one for ‘Mind the Drift’ (you can listen to it online). The commentary turns into a drinking bet gone very wrong. Coady Willis, the man behind the drums, caught up with Noisecreep and told us about it and ‘Mind the Drift’. And Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course.
I know you guys have been tight lipped about Mind The Drift LP, why is that?
There has been a lot going on I guess. We’ve been futility attempting to do some stuff so it wouldn’t get leaked months and months before hand. Whatever. We have kind of stopped worrying about that now. There is nothing you can do about it.
Of course that stuff is the commentary. How did you guys come up with that idea for that?
We were talking about ways for reviewers to hear the music without the actual album itself being able to be downloaded. It bit us in the ass just a little bit because it became really hard for our PR guy to actually get people the real record. We ended up having to give people the real record anyway. It ended up being a stupid funny thing we did.
We were like, “This is genius. This is a great idea.” Well not really because no one is going to want to review the record.
Do you guys watch movie commentaries?
Oh, defiantly. If you ever get a chance you should watch ‘Conan The Barbarian’. Arnold Schwarzenegger doing commentary over it is aammmazing. It’s a totally different movie. It’s two hours of Arnold saying what he sees on the screen. “Here I am doing this,” and “I got laid a lot in this movie.” Great stuff like that.
Have you ever seen the ‘Total Recall’ one?
Same thing. When the horse jumps the logo before the film starts Arnold says, “That’s me.“
I need to check that out.
Now ‘Mind The Drift’ is the first full length with Toshi, how did he end up in the band. Was there always a goal to have a guitarist?
Yeah, well we were never opposed to the idea. We kind of just hit the ground running with this band. We just got a practice space and started jamming and writing songs. That first record it’s kind of the first batch of songs we came up with. We were like, “Oh we have nine songs now. We should totally record these.”
But we never made a rule that we had to be a two-piece and Jarrod defiantly wanted to do some other stuff that would let him sing more I guess, like do more complicated things and not have to hold down all these crazy bass lines and then sing melodies at the same time. Just free him up vocally. Just add a new dimension to it.
We tried out a couple different people. Dave Hernandez, our friend. I used to be in a band with him. He’s in The Shins now. But he used to be in that band Scared of Chaka and he played on a couple of tracks on the first record. Our friend John Devoy, then we got David Scott Stone, which was working out great but he had other touring conflicts so he couldn’t really go out on tour with us. We tried out a couple of other people too but Toshi was the first person where he had actually come out on tour with us before he was in the band. We were like, “He could help.” He was hoping he could do sound, he’s a recording engineer and record producer. We asked him, “You wanna play some weird key boards and add some effects from the sound booth?” He did that for a tour. It just worked out.
He was a really good guy to have around. He’s always really positive. He’s always on top of whatever crisis might come our way; he’s just generally a good dude to have around. He defiantly did the time so we were like, “He should defiantly be in the band. That’s it.”
It worked out great so far. I’m really excited he just got a whole new amp rig set up that sounds fucking awesome. I’m really excited to hit the road with that. For the last few tours we were borrowing Dale Crover’s (The Melvins) little combo amp. It’s good now that he’s been in the band a couple of years that he has his own amps. Kind of a milestone for us. It sounds really really good.
Each Big Business records feels like a building off of the previous one, but ‘Mind The Drift’ feels like you’ve skipped some steps with the keyboard addition. How has the dynamic of the songwriting changed with Toshi?
I think it’s a whole other dimension. The guitar lines working with the vocals, were actually like a four-piece now I guess with the bass, my drums, the vocals that are actually pretty melodic and thought out parts that interact with the guitars as well. There is a lot more going on. Writing songs I think with Toshi has added another voice to bounce things off of. It’s defiantly the most ambitious thing we have tried yet. I don’t know. It’s crazy.
When I played the first song from Mark Thompson from Hydrahead he said, “This is not the same thing you guys were doing before. This is crazy.” That was nice to hear. We’re not trying to make the same record over and over again. I felt the ‘Here Comes The Waterworks’ turned out great. We defiantly tried to do more ambitious things that we didn’t even think of on the first record.
It’s one of those things were I always feel like we are reaching for new stuff and trying new things. I’m sure were going to stumble a long the way here and there but I defiantly feel good about moving forward. I don’t think we have ever written a song and been like, “Okay that’s done. Let’s just crank that out, it’s pretty much like that other song.” It’s good. It’s challenging. He (Toshi) is a thoughtful songwriter. He defiantly keeps me on my toes as far as keeping up with what he’s trying to do and thinking about.
The song ‘Gold and Final’ sounds like nothing Big Business has done before. It took me bit to get used to but after a while it became my favorite song on the record.
Great. That’s awesome.
I have a feeling that this is going to be…. when I sat down and listened to the whole thing it just made me very proud that it isn’t like anything we have done before but I’m sure there is going to be people who aren’t going to like it. I’m sure there will be people who are going to be like, “This isn’t what I signed on for.”
Where did the artwork come from?
The artwork is all Jarod’s idea actually. He collects these linen postcards. When we go on tour he’ll go to these swap meets and weird junk shops and there will be these really old silk-screened-I don’t know if they’re lithographs or silk screened-they’re printed actually on linen cloth, and there is all these, well some are really creepy, they have this saturated color. It’s almost like colorized photographs printed on cloth. So he has stacks and stack of them and he had this idea to put them together and making composites of them to where its different skies over different landscapes. It’s a totally different effect.
James Amera over at Hydrahead got together with Jarrod and they put some different postcards together for maximum creep effects. It kind of developed a theme that runs through the whole thing. It’s really cool. I’m excited to see it, I haven’t held a finished LP in my hand yet but I know it’s going to look really really cool. It’s going to be a gate fold and everything.
In what format does ‘Mind The Drift’ sound best?
I like the vinyl. There is nothing like it. Because of the digital age, across the board, everything has changed in the way people make records. A record is mixed and mastered now with the fact people are going to be listening to digital copies on teeny tiny speakers so people are boosting low end and doing all these other things with that in mind. It’s kind of crazy; people don’t make records to be on vinyl anymore. You have to assume that who ever is going to be listening to this it is on their iPod and tiny computer speakers.
I’ve kind of been getting back into vinyl lately, just collecting more records. There is no comparison in hearing the sound. You’re so used to hearing mp3s all the time through your ipod-you just can’t beat the convince of it-but when you actually sit down and put on a record and hear it’s so noticeably fuller sounding and different it adds a whole other life to it.
Phil Ek has produced every Big Business record right?
Yeah, all three of them.
Does he feel like a studio member of the band at this point?
Yeah. Defiantly. You familiar with the other records he makes right?
Band of Horses, The Shins. I think we’re his fun band that he can totally record loud rock with. He’s used to making theses really pretty records, which is kind of what attracted us to him in the first place. We wanted to do something a little more orchestrated and grand. Something that sounded full and Phil’s pop sensibilities were something we wanted to put in our band. Toward the end of recording the first record, I remember, him being like, (grunting) “You need to turn it up louder! You need it to be a meaner sound. You need everything to be aggressive!” and then it clicked. He said “I haven’t put compression on the toms in fifteen years.” I think he gets to do stuff with us that he normally doesn’t get to do. It makes the record and it’s fun for him. We all get a long. He’s a diamond… a dirty diamond.