The drummer of arguably Melbourne’s most exciting act, Big Scary, chats at length With Alex Gleeson about her love for music, Kanye, Triple J Unearthed and the future for Big Scary.
How did Big Scary come to be?
In 2006 Tom was looking to put together a full band. He went to school with a friend. So he heard I played drums and came over and we jammed a bit. He always wanted a bass guitarist and another guitarist, but we sorta had fun with just the two of us, so we stuck by it.
So how did you think of the name?
It’s the worst. It was pretty much the lowest common denominator of something we both didn’t hate. We texted back and forth random words, and he texted that to me and I actually really liked it. It reminds me of a children’s book by Richard Scarry. It’s sorta got that childish feel to it. It’s sorta playful – yeah I really liked it.
Who would you say are your major influences?
The first artist we both loved was Bon Iver. Then more recently TV On the Radio, Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, DJ Shadow etc. The Back Keys recently have been pretty important for us. So pretty much a real mix of influences. But Tom gets really inspired by a certain sound so all those bands have really affected our music.
What are your plans at this stage for 2012?
Really busy year. We’re recording. Tom’s music engineering skills have really improved so we’re going to go down the beach, the two of us, sorta start a new album. But there’s no deadline on this, it’s just us enjoying the process of it all, writing songs and recording them.
We flew to the US for the first time, where we did 15 shows in 20 days, across North America. Then we did our own tour, followed by the Groovin the Moo tour. That took us to around June, and then it was back to the album.
How did you decide to put your music up on JJJ unearthed?
It was 2008 when we did that. It was just a demo we decided to upload. Tom had already put some up under his own name and had been played. I didn’t know about that until the last few weeks. So I dunno, it just seemed the smartest way in – you don’t have to invest any money, you don’t have to worry about emailing a million different music industry people. It just seemed the most obvious thing. And if you strike gold and they play you and they like you then there’s no better thing. And to be a successful touring band in Australia you need that sort of support.
In Target with mum, and I bought Smashing Pumpkins Adore, and Jebediah’s Slightly Odd Way. I told my mum I had so much money at home but it turned out I only had 11 dollars, and for the two CDs it was about 60.
I think before that I was given like the 100% hits and Wannabe by Spice Girls
That was the first concert I went to as well! My sister took me to that concert. They were wasted on stage, and there were these two random chicks dancing in front of me even when the music wasn’t playing. I was pretty green back then! But it was really sweet. And Jebediah supported.
Do you have a personal favourite song right now?
I got a few, I s’pose. I keep listening to the Kavinsky song – for that Drive movie – called Nightcall. My friend described it as “sensitive new-age robot”. Also the Twerps’ Bring Me Down.
Had you always had a personal desire to join the music industry?
I had no interest in any other kinda field. I think as a secret desire not to do anything, that was kind of a hit. I never really had any illusions that I could make a living off it or anything.
What are your views on downloading music and music piracy?
I change my mind every day, but basically I think it’s fine. Well… as long as you’re the sort of person who will go and see the show. Also, I believe you just cant fight it; it’s always going to be there. I hate hearing artists from 15 years ago going on about how shit the industry is because, to be honest, the same technology is what allows bands to make music cheaply. I don’t really rue the fact that people are downloading, it’s just natural development and I’m ok with it.
Bon Iver or Blink 182?
Definitely Bon Iver.
Vinyl or MP3?
Stones or Beatles?
Beatles. I often find there’s so much filler in the Stones’ work. Like there’s a lot that I love, but their back catalogue is just so enormous that there’s a lot that doesn’t really reach me. Plus I guess it is because of what’s come since, that I’ve sort of become desensitised to them.
Who is one band, international, that you’ve always wanted to tour with?
Bon Iver or TV On The Radio. I’d just want to see them every night. It took me a while to get into TV On The Radio but when I finally got around to buying the Dear Science record I was like ‘holy shit! These guys are amazing!’
Who’s a band you’ve always wanted to tour with from Australia?
I really love Tame Impala, Cloud Control, Middle East (who are sadly not together anymore). I really wanna tour with the Vasco Era again. They’re the funnest, best people in Australia. That was the first tour we did, supporting them. Honest, like 17 show,s and I never once got sick of watching them. I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do; they’re one of the best live acts in Australia.
Where do you see Big Scary in five years time?
Tom’s probably joined some convent and like I’m still working at some café. Haha! I don’t know. I think we’ll want to have a few albums out. Tom’s pretty prolific. My one wish is that I’m not still working shitty jobs, and if not full-time band stuff I’d like to have more time to focus on it, and have the capacity to tour the world. Somewhat make a living from it. And having control over it, like not touring just when you’re told to tour but doing it when you want.
If you could do a collaboration with one person who would it be?
I reckon someone kinda hip hop, like DJ shadow, would be cool. Some sorta cool producer. The easy one to say would be Kanye (West) because he’s sorta bombastic and hilarious and does whatever he wants. But I would really not want one that sounds like Coming Home, that Chris Martin one.
I think I’d find it awkward working with another band at first and be really shy, but I think doing something totally left of centre would be awesome.
What do you think you need to achieve to make yourself believe you’ve made it in the music industry?
I think that, like I was saying earlier, having that control and feeling like we’ve really achieved what we want. I got no problems with labels but you hear stories of people being bullied into doing things you’re not all that comfortable with. There’s no benchmark. Just reaching a level where touring is viable and making records that we feel hold some integrity.
Visit www.bigscary.net for more info on the band.