2019Big Business w/ Death Valley Girls, Craig Brown Band
AugustDoors 8pm, Show 9pm - $13adv/ $15
Willis comes from punk rockers The Murder City Devils. His co-conspirator, bassist/vocalist Jared Warren, spent time in noise rock weirdos Karp. Together, they formed Big Business in 2004. The LA-based outfit’s first three albums didn’t quite mesh with Hydra Head’s post-metal aesthetic, but their idiosyncrasies caught the attention of another iconoclastic outfit: The Melvins. They recorded three albums, an EP, and various songs between 2006 and 2016 with that iconic grunge/doom/experimental act, all while maintaining their own identity as Big Business. Along the way, they picked up guitarists Toshi Kasai and Scott Martin, but on 2016’s Command Your Weather, they returned to their core duo format. They remain in that lineup on their sixth full-length, The Beast You Are.
“It’s just better. We work faster, and we know what we’re both going for. It gives us more room to be weirder in certain aspects and try different things. It makes sense because that’s how we established ourselves in the beginning and how we learned to write songs together, it was just the two of us. Coming back to that lineup felt natural,” continues Willis. The two performed everything on the album, which was recorded between the early November and early December of 2018 at El Studio in San Francisco by Phil Becker (Pins of Light, Terry Gross). Willis, Warren, and Becker handled the mixing, with Carl Saff lending his mastering expertise to the final product. Once more, Warren has hacked up some construction paper for one of his unique cover art pieces.
With a new, dynamic demoing process leading to the creation of the most songs they’ve ever written for an album, The Beast You Are delivers 13 doses of uncategorizably heavy rock music. From the ominous death march of “The Moor You Know” to the soaring “Let Them Grind” to the delicate, ethereal “Under Everest,” Big Business continues to defy listener’s expectations. No matter the context of their music, however, one thing remains true: they are definitely still a band.
The group feels less like a band and more like a travelling caravan. At their core, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden and guitarist Larry Schemel channel Death Valley Girls’ modern spin on Fun House’s sonic exorcisms, early ZZ Top’s desert-blasted riffage, and Sabbath’s occult menace. Their relentless touring schedule means that the remainder of the group is rounded out by whichever like-minded compatriots can get in the van. On their third album Darkness Rains, bassist Alana Amram, drummer Laura Harris, and a rotating cast of guests like Shannon Lay, The Kid (Laura Kelsey) and members of The Make Up, The Shivas, and Moaning help elevate the band from their rogue beginnings to a communal ritualistic musical force. On the surface level, Death Valley Girls churn out the hypercharged, in the red, scuzzy rock every generation yearns for, but there is a more subversive force percolating beneath the surface that imbues the band with an exhilarating cosmic energy.
Death Valley Girls’ sophomore album Glow In The Dark was based on the concept that many of us are trying to become more enlightened, and you can tell by the way they ‘glow in the dark.’ Darkness Rains goes a step further, attempting to shift the consciousness of those that have not yet considered how we are all connected and how that relates to the way we view life beyond death. Those that ‘glow’ can use the songs on Darkness Rains as new chants—or they can be used for pure entertainment. “Songs come from beyond and other worlds, you just have to tune into the right radio wave signal to dial them in. Our signal happens to be in a 1970 Dodge Charger Spaceship,” says Schemel.
Album opener “More Dead” is a rousing wake up call, with a hypnotic pentatonic guitar riff and an intoxicating blown-out fuzz-wah solo underscoring Bloomgarden’s consciousness-rattling proclamation that you’re “more dead than alive.” The pace builds with “(One Less Thing) Before I Die”, a minute-and-a-half distillate of Detroit’s classic proto-punk sound. But at track three, Death Valley Girls hit their stride with “Disaster (Is What We’re After)”, a gritty, swaggering rager that takes the most boisterous moments off Exile On Main Street and beefs it up with Zeppelin’s devil’s-note blues. Darkness Rains retains its intoxicating convocations across ten tracks, climaxing on an astral plane with the hypnotic guitar drones and cult-like chants of “TV In Jail On Mars.”
“Learn from the stars and beyond! Be happy and thankful we got to live together on Earth at the same time! And death is just a shift—stay alive and awake,” Bloomgarden and Schemel respond when asked for a final thought on Death Valley Girls. “Embrace the darkness and don’t fear the Reaper.” Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to further the cause by releasing Darkness Rains on October 5th, 2018 on LP/CD/CS/ and digital formats. The first vinyl pressing is limited to 1,500 copies. Both the cassette and vinyl include digital downloads.
Craig Brown Band