Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Interview - The Big Sleep - 4.17.12 - Brillobox - Show Preview - Concert Preview

The Big Sleep will be making a stop at the Brillobox opening for Fang Island next Tuesday, 4.17. The trio has just released a new album entitled Natural Experiments (Frenchkiss Records) after a 4 year hiatus. The Brooklyn based band two principal songwriters are Sonya Balchandani (SB) and Danny Barria (DB). The new album is brimming with pop shoegaze mixed with electronic effects laden sound. The two were kind enough to answer a few questions for their upcoming show at the Brillobox. Oh, yeah...we also have a pair of tickets to see them. As usual, just email your name to to enter.

Your last record came out about 4 years ago. Why such the long break? What were you doing in the interim? Other projects?

DB: We just decided to take a break. The band had been consuming our lives for a long time, so we figured we'd take a little time off. Back then, "a little time off" didn't mean four years, but that's how it worked out. Looking back on it I'm totally happy with the time we took, we devoted a lot of time to writing and we both traveled. I read a lot of my history books and Sonya went on some suicidal "24"/"X-Files" watching marathon. She also played bass for Les Savy Fav on tour, and I played guitar in Neon Indian for a while, which was really fun for both of us. Sometimes it's really awesome to not be the thinker in a band and just have fun playing.

This was obviously a longer than usual layoff. When you began recording, what was the difference? Was there a direction you wanted to go?

DB: I think the difference was more in our approach to writing. We knew we wanted everything to be concise, more of a burst and less of a slow burn.

How was the process of writing this album from your past different?

DB: In the past I'd show up with songs or most of a song and kind of present it to the band and we'd figure out what needed changing. This time around I'd have an idea or a just a fragment, and Sonya and I would work on it together, and decide if it was something we were going to turn into a song. The collaborating started a lot earlier in the process, and we kind of got in each other's business writing-wise at every level, lyric ideas and guitar lines and all that.

You have released your albums on Frenchkiss Records. What do you feel this label offers that others do not?

SB: Frenchkiss has always been supportive of us, but mainly, they are our friends. And they are accessible. There's nothing to beat that, to be able to call up the guy who runs your label and he actually answers. Plus they have great taste - we're in great company.

You appear to be a duo now compared to a trio on previous albums. Why the change? When touring/performing live, will it just be the two of you? Or?

SB: We're still a trio, but our drummer of about 5 years had twins. We have been playing with a new drummer for the last couple years, Mikey Jones, who's great and plays with lots of other projects. In the end, it's the two of us writing the stuff and being available for photo shoots (ha) so it's a duo inside a trio.

In your bio its mention you that you used GarageBand. How did this program influence your songwriting process? Did this tool allow you to become more collaborative?

SB: Sort of - I just find it easier when I can move things around quickly. Danny can remember a melody he thought of 3 weeks ago. I'm not like that. I need to hum it into something, and then to work on it, I need to have it out in the world and play with it. Garageband let's me sketch stuff and easily play with arrangement, and do it all on my couch. Danny painstakingly records things live, but then it's difficult to move stuff around, extend bits, etc. So, it did make the process more collaborative, since it gave me a tool to translate what he gave me into something I could manipulate in the way I prefer to work.

You all both graduated from Penn University (not an easy school to get into). Why take this road? Do you ever believe you will give it up for the corporate world?

SB: It's not that cut and dry. We both work on other things. In a way, it doesn't really matter what anyone does. It's kind of arbitrary, just so people can have something to do all day and accumulate things. What makes sense is to do something that makes me happy, makes other people happy, and reduces suffering in the world. So that's what I'm trying to do. Music is part of that. I try to find other things that are part of that. That said, I like a lot of the products of this arbitrary world, like Mad Men and gelato.

DB: Wow.

Your single ‘Valentine’ has been getting a lot of play around the blogosphere. The video is well done. Was there a theme behind it?

DB: It was a collaboration with the director, Matt Craig, and Keith Vogelsong, head of Goodnight Records, who pressed our vinyl. Sonya and I came up with some ideas for a video, and asked Keith for some help. He brought in Matt and they took our idea and came back with a reworked version of it that was actually filmable. The essence of the original idea is there, it's just been brought to Earth and made into an actual video by Matt and Keith.

What do you think of the current media/social music world? With albums being able to d/l for free, what changes need to be made to maintain an ‘indie’ band such as yourself? What modifications need to be made in your opinion?

SB: We make music to make music, which was enough at one point, but it's not really anymore. You have to "create content" and tweet and instagram all day everyday. Danny and I are private people, deep down. But you have to be extremely extroverted to participate these days. So we try to do it in a way that's honest (which means our tweets are usually about desserts and WWII and dogs, and other things we obsess over). And maybe that makes people feel an urge to support you, because they know who you are a little, and it doesn't feel as much like a financial transaction.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

DB: I started playing guitar when I was 15, but never thought I'd be good enough to actually be a guitarist. As soon as I started figuring out how to play Cure songs by myself, I was a lost cause. All I wanted was to be in a band and write songs. The first really transcendent show I saw was Verve at the Trocadero in Philadelphia in 95. Funnily enough, Sonya was at the same show, but we hadn't met yet.

What are your upcoming goals? What would you like to accomplish?

DB: I'm already on the next record in my head, we've started pulling together song ideas. It feels like we've had some kind of breakthrough in terms of how we work together, I'm really looking forward to getting the next batch of songs ready to go. In the meantime, Nature Experiments JUST came out and we have a good amount of touring to do, which I LOVE, so I want to stay on the road as long as possible. We also have our first UK tour down the line, so we're excited for that, too.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

SB: One of my favorite times we had on tour was Pittsburgh - we played the Brillobox and then went with some kids to an afterhours place. So much fun! Can't wait to get back.

Show begins at 9:30p with doors at 9p. Tickets are $12 and can be found here. More information about the band at these sites:

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