To the surprise of its members, local band Big Remote is a collaborative effort. As the band practices in a garage on Lander Street, each member, depending on the song, trades vocal duties, and all have a decisive hand in the structure.
Big Remote was formed as a way out of the traditional ego-pregnant power relationships that come with playing in a band—when the side-players are made small by the guiding hand of the auteur. In November 2008, guitarist Stephen Larkins and bassist Eric Foreman had just exited two different bands gone sour.
“It was kind of like a divorce situation on either end,” says Larkins. “So Eric and I got together. We’d start a fire at my house, get some beer, come up with ideas.”
“We started jamming together and coming out with really good songs,” says Foreman.
These initial ideas led to the recording of the lone song on Big Remote’s MySpace page, “Keep the Flight,” a sweet pop song recorded as a campfire ritual.
“We’ve been in groups that have been really frustrating,” says Larkins. “We wanted to have some sort of cohesion with writing. Once that came to fruition, we wanted to add a couple people that were on the same path.”
Since that November, Big Remote has taken on two new members: drummer Don Morrison and keyboardist Jon Cornell, expanding their sonic palette from its initial private atmosphere and its handclapped percussion to tight pop rock—what some might deign to call “indie rock.”
“As far as indie can be a genre of music, I think we’re tucked in there because we … don’t have a record label,” says Morrison.
“Indie” is a generic descriptor that contains manifold sounds and poses. Instead, what Big Remote plays are simple pop figures accompanied by guitar lines that drive down the center of you, like the Pixies but perhaps less incoherent and frothing. At the same time, Big Remote travels into Band and Neil Young territory, where there is mud and blood and harmonies in the water of the promised land. They do all this while remaining wholly fixated on the pop light from behind the trees.
A friend of the band “described us as ‘indie-Americana rock with a pop sensibility,’” says Larkins.
“Keep the Flight” in full-band form holds to all of these descriptors. It is no longer a campfire-bound spirit invocation, but a sweet and ringing pop song that happens to still invoke spirits. Their song “Rearrange” is when all the “Americana” and Band comparisons flood in—the song is given to short guitar breaks that recall Robbie Robertson in their country-rock abandon.
These invigorating, kinetic pop-rock songs come about through the collaborative relationships among the band members.
“Anything is up for grabs,” says Morrison. “When we first played a song, for the first time in my life, the guitar player looked at me and asked, ‘Did that sound OK?’ These songs show up, and there’s no ego attached to the songs. Yeah, they’re written, but they’re arranged here together.”
Big Remote has thus far kept to a limited show schedule.
“We really held off on playing live shows for quite some time,” says Jenkins. “I’ve seen too many bands that come out prematurely.”
Regardless, the band plans to record in January. And they’ve already received a lot of positive response to their music.
“We’re really encouraged by the feedback from people who aren’t related to us,” says Morrison. “That’s a really good feeling so early out the gate. At certain times we’ve looked at each other with a shit-eating grin on our face, because … this is just a lot of fun.”