Beyond Budokan

Big Business look a tiny little like the Melvins—at a recent show in LA, the Melvins' Buzz and Big bassist Jared Warren potted down at opposite corners of the stage like matching topiary—and they also share similar geographic origin (Bigfoot country) and personal disposition (funny) and certain stylistic predilection (loud) with the Melvins, and then the Melvins actually pulled them in as new Melvins rhythm section—annexment by mutual adoration—and now sloppy shorthand has Big Business as Baby Melvins. Says Jared: "I guess people ask them, 'How'd you hook up with these nobodies?' And then people ask us, 'How'd you hook up with these legends? Who the fuck do you think you are?' Not in so many words but . . . "

But only because interviews that pay by the word don't wanna pay out any more quarters than they absolutely have to—other than that, people unfamiliar with the Business would be happy to slot this band as hard-rock budget fudge and then slime on off to the next review. "'Vaguely reminiscent of Sabbath'" is the go-to cop-out, says Jared, and because we're living in a time where everything between accepted foreign policy doctrine and most late-night cable programming is vaguely reminiscent of Sabbath, the words deplete all meaning. In real life, Big Jared and Big drummer Coady Willis are taking a dare few care to touch—they're playing classic guitar rock without the guitars, like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden and Queen, but with everything but the rhythm section erased so adroitly that a thousand Fender Squiers droop their headstocks in shame.

There's guitar on the records (most recently by LA's David Scott Stone, the Tommy Tedesco of the heavy set) but there's nothing live but two guys doing the work of 20—bass and drums expanded to handle every gradation of a full band. High end on the drum set—Coady remembering his favorite recorded drums, where someone "hits a cymbal and it's like steam exploding out a boiler!"—hangs on to mids on bass and Jared's top-register opera/arena voice—more Freddie Mercury than Ozzy when he finds a long phrase to hold on to for awhile—and that's the only reason I can think of to talk about a rainbow when I talk about Big Business because here are two guys who cover every color a band has to have. It comes through real loud but it's power-pop with much more power, like Cheap Trick beyond Budokan. "Auf Weidersehen" could easily retrofit back to Big Business: boiler-blown-up cymbal flanged into low-to-the-ground drum intro and Zander's long leering verses, and then that final climax—"Farewell, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhwoooooooooooo!"—and then suicide-suicide-suicide! over Bun E. perforating a once perfect drum kit. That's about a Big Business blueprint.

Hooks, they call those things—parts that play around in your head for days, instead of the slow-mo tone porn other heavy bands make—and volume and intensity to wake you up enough to note every single thing. "Grounds For Divorce" is the first open track out from the just-about-out new one (Here Come The Waterworks, on Hydra Head) and it's epic like 1976—little suites all stacked together to make one song do the work of 20, little nips of rocker metal and heavy pop and headbanger headphone chow and Blue Cheer and "Bohemian Rhapsody," and when it finishes up it feels like a punch just pulled out of your stomach. What an exhale! I like Melvins, too, but Big Business is classic rock in the most respectable (and efficient) sense—when the sad day comes that they're too tired to tour in these two separate monster projects, they can sell these songs back to some chubby-cheek little kids and stick in the words "baby" and "love" a lot more and then people will finally make the connection to Phil Spector, another guy who liked a pop song too loud.


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