Big Business develops as a band — while playing with The Melvins | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Big Business develops as a band — while playing with The Melvins

"We've learned: Be confident in your tastes and don't be afraid to try new things."

Lions and tigers and ... Big Business
Lions and tigers and ... Big Business

When The Melvins' Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover invited the members of Big Business to fill out their lineup six years ago, it could have turned into a case of the big guy (relatively speaking) buying out the little guy. But instead of absorbing the Los Angeles bass-and-drum duo, the two bands managed to make an egalitarian marriage of Melvins' huge ominous sludge and Big Business' driving weight and watertight harmonies. 

It was a characteristically novel move by The Melvins to add a second drummer, Coady Willis, along with bassist Jared Warren, but one fantastic record ((A) Senile Animal) and two pretty good records (Nude With Boots and The Bride Screamed Murder) later, the Big Business-men remain official members. "When we made our first record with them, Jared and I were both pretty nervous, but Dale and Buzz, they weren't worried about it." Willis recalls. "They totally had confidence in us, and that made us feel like maybe we shouldn't worry about it so much."

Since then, Big Business has released two records, follow-ups to the band's pre-Melvins debut, Head for the Shallow. "One of the conditions of joining was that we wouldn't have to quit our old band," Willis says. And Big Business has only gotten heavier, more idiosyncratic and funnier, thanks — at least in part — to playing with dudes who don't care much what anyone thinks of them. "We've learned: Be confident in your tastes and don't be afraid to try new things," Willis explains. "Which, of course, [Osborne and Crover] have never been afraid to do." 

For 2009's Mind the Drift, the pair enlisted guitarist Toshi Kasai, who helped make that record sound vast and menacing. "The first record is just [us] playing bass and drums and working extra hard to fill in all the space," Willis says. "We always had the idea that there would be an extra voice in there." Scott Martin, of 400 Blows, has since replaced Kasai. "The more we play with Scott, the better it gets. He's got the sensibilities for what we're doing." Plus, Willis adds, "he's a real cut-up."

Big Business had been signed to the soon-to-be-shuttered Hydra Head Records. ("It didn't come as a huge shock," Willis says of the recent announcement of the label's demise, "but it's sad. They put out a lot of really great music.") But the band recently embarked on its own risky business venture, launching Gold Metal Records last year. The members expect to begin recording a new full-length sometime this winter. 

"Hopefully, by the time we're done with the whole thing, we can look back and not have any regrets about what we did," Willis says. "We're trying to be the band that we want to be."

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