While on first glance Big Scary are neither that big (they consist of only two members) or scary (they look quite friendly actually), listen to any of their EPs and the name starts to make sense. At the Mercy of the Elements released earlier this year gave us an idea of the versatility of this Australian two piece: The Led Zeppelin meets White Stripes heavy rock of “Hey Somebody” and ace Smashing Pumpkins riff thievery in “Lullabies, Lies and Goodnight” rubbed shoulders with epic piano driven pop “Falling Away” and the chilling, aptly named “Creature of the Night”.
Those tracks signposted a more a more mellow direction which was continued on the second of their Four Season EPs (no one tell Kristin Hersh, okay) Winter with its frosty title track and dark but beguiling “Thinking About You” and “You were a paperback girl back before it was cool” lyric, which is hands down of the best songs you’ll hear all year. Currently touring on the back of the folk influenced Spring (we told you these guys were versatile) with Summer just around around the corner and with a bunch of live shows in regional Australia we attempted to crack open the dynamic duo and see what makes them tick.
01. Who are Big Scary?
We are Thomas Iansek on vocals, guitar and piano; and Jo Syme on drums. We’re from Melbourne and have been playing a bit together since 2006, but it wasn’t until 2008 after some stints of travel from both of us that we formalised our arrangement into a band called Big Scary.
02. What do you sound like?
One of the most noticeable aspects of our sound is that each song sounds pretty different to the last… Depending on the song you can hear influences from Dungen, garage-punk, Bon Iver, Led Zepellin, Patrick Watson…
03. What do friends say you sound like?
04. Full-time musicians or wage slaves?
I’m definitely a wage slave. Tom gets love from the government as he’s a full time student.
05. Current band highlight?
The whole tour with The Vasco Era. They are funny dudes and it was the best introduction to touring.
06. Favourite decade for music?
Probably 2000 until 2010. I do love music from other eras, but if they’re good then current musicians can just utilise all that great stuff to create something even more interesting – I love the inter-textuality we get with each new release in light of all our heroes from the past. This decade has had people like The Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, The Flaming Lips, Eels, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Outkast, The White Stripes, The Strokes, and so many other timeless artists. I think it’s a more diverse decade than previously, whilst still providing massively influential artists.
07. Should music be free?
No. I don’t mind if people’s only means is to download for free – it’s always better that someone hears your music rather than doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean a market on music should be taken away. People often want to pay for music anyway – it’s a signal that they’re committed to a band, that they’re actual fans.
08. Which 3 musicians would you invite round for dinner?
Bob Dylan for the insight, John Bonham for the stories, and Justin Vernon just to listen to his honey voice and his great sense of humour.
09. Preferred tour reading?
I get carsick so I can’t read much on tour.
10. Best mood for songwriting?
Tom’s the songwriter in the band. I’ll write something once in a blue moon, and that’s usually when I’ve spent some time alone, and I’ll be inspired by the weather, or a mad song I’ve been listening to.
11. Last record you bought?
It’s been a while because I’m living pretty thriftily these days… I think I bought Midlake – The Courage of Others and The Veils – Nux Vomica together. But my “to-buy” list is getting pretty choccas.
12. Five favourite albums?
Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago, The Arcade Fire – Funeral, Lauren Hill – The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, and TV on the Radio – Dear Science
13. Your biggest rock and roll fantasy?
Just to tour around a lot and have people show up to the gigs.
14. Goals for the next 12 months?
Release the rest of our Four Seasons project, where we’ve been releasing a ‘mini-EP’ for each season, which we’ll compile onto one disc with all four seasons at the end of 2010. Party at all the Summer Festivals. Then write and record our debut album to be released in late 2011. I’d be stoked if we could go overseas in that time too.
15. First time listeners, where should they start?
Probably with our earlier EP At the Mercy of the Elements. It starts of seriously rocky, but mellows out. It sort of contains all our genres in a nice little nut-shell.