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Big Ups
more satisfying than therapy
by: John McGovern - February 11, 2014

 



Big Ups are a versatile band. Sometimes their lyrics are delivered in a deadpan, monotone way. Other times they're delivered with madness, loudly. Similarly, their content is not limited to a stale laundry list of themes (growing up, love, what it's like being a Millennial). A wide range of emotions are trampled upon: anger, apathy, drunken conversations, ontological inquiries, relationships gone to hell, and more. And just when you're getting tired of the talking, the pondering, the action returns: There's as much chaos as there is navel-gazing. Their live shows are equally cathartic, with the same purging, purifying quality to them as the recorded music. In fact, in ancient Greek, catharsis had connotations to that cleansing feeling that comes after dropping the kids off at the pool. The pleasure derived from listening to music, it seems, is of a different kind. But only the best bands are capable of producing catharsis (whether or not that is equivalent to the pleasure that comes from taking a shit, I'll let you decide), that "ah, yes" feeling.

There are some slight funk and reggae influences in your music, I think. Any music you’re into that people might not expect?

I think it's fair to say that we all are fans of music. That may sound simplistic, but music is a miracle! It's all just different timbres, frequencies, etc. tied up in one big ball of sound that our brains translate into emotions. That's crazy! I try to remember that whenever I find a song or musician I don't like. I find if you listen hard enough and pay attention, there's always something interesting going on.

There’s a sense of humor in your music that makes it more tolerable than a lot of the no nonsense straight edge kind of hardcore. In other interviews, you’ve said that you don’t see the comparisons to bands like Black Flag. Are you into any old British punk (which usually has a more ironic sound to it)?

The Fall

A lot of the lyrics, like the ones from ‘Atheist Self Help,’ play around with that voice in everyone’s head that tries to guide you through life with clichés. It almost seems like a parody of those people who say, “I have crazy thoughts, I’m a crazy person,” even though everyone seems to have those crazy thoughts. What’s your approach to writing lyrics, and is there that effort to channel the voice in your head?

Specifically, that song is talking about a failing relationship using various religious imagery and terminology, perhaps drawing parallels between someone trying to hold on to another person as they would hold on to religious rituals that seem outdated. I wrote the entire song on a bus back in 2011. More broadly, I try to write lyrics that are cathartic writing is an outlet for venting. But also, especially more recently, I have been trying to use words more effectively in order to bring to mind imagery, feelings, etc. David Berman (of Silver Jews) has been a big inspiration for that.

Patti Smith said recently that aspiring musicians and artists should find another city. What do you think about this? Is it as bad as she says?

New York City is a very expensive city to inhabit. There are great music hubs in many different places across the world. It can be hard to pay the rent and still find time to work on music, but we're making it work for now. But why would she say that? Sure it is becoming very financially prohibitive, but does Patti Smith really want to have a New York City without art and music?

Your first full-length album comes out in January. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions (go to the gym every day, spend more time with the children, etc.)?

Teach my cat to play a seven-string guitar. I want my cat to be able to play Korn covers. I will reward him with tuna. I also should eat less tuna in 2014 (because of overfishing, mercury levels, etc.), so this works out quite well.



 
 
It's all just different timbres, frequencies, etc. tied up in one big ball of sound that our brains translate into emotions. That's crazy! I try to remember that whenever I find a song or musician I don't like. I find if you listen hard enough and pay attention, there's always something interesting going on.




Big Ups
"Eighteen Hours of Static"




what it is

post-punk, nerdcore, punctual punk



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