Exposure: Big Ned
Big Ned are self-declared proponents of Doom ‘n’ Roll, responsible for one of the albums of the year, a self-titled effort released on the (relatively) new Optimo Music label in April. The List caught up with them to discuss David Lynch and cowboy hats.
How did the band originally form? What was the process of becoming a quintet, as opposed to a two-piece (as found on the album)?
Dave (Clark) and I have been brothers of the bevvy for a long time and we partied in a fantastic studio he rented out with the now Ned drummer Dev. That was our home from home, it was located above a strip joint and if we weren’t just hanging out drinking cold beer and listening to music we began recording our own stuff. To begin with it was just Dave and I fannying about, then it got a bit more serious, people pricked up their ears and Keith from Optimo was right behind us and got the album out. Dave put the band together from a selection of pals and we knuckled down for five months and worked on the live set.
Was there an original mandate for what Big Ned would be, or did it develop entirely organically?
Both and neither. We developed the Big Ned sound from an earlier album we had done for a bit of fun. I think we did 'Bad Angel' first and then 'Final Steps' and they immediately set a real blueprint and bar as to what future songs had to be like. We knew then what the Big Ned sound was, what the words should be. Everything, right down to the shoes, hat and jewellery I wear on stage, is planned. Often in practices we disregard ideas because they’re not Big Ned enough.
'Lynchian' is a word used frequently in describing the band, how important is cinema (and that of David Lynch) as an influence? How did Lynch come to have co-credit on 'Bad Angel'? Have you sent him a copy of the single/album?
Well, I’m more of a sport and porn kinda guy to be honest. Cinema does have a great influence for me though, 'Gummo' and 'Dead Man’s Shoes' especially. Telly too – that 'Red Riding Trilogy' is very Big Ned – I can draw a lot of inspiration from that – some of it wholesale but I’ll disguise it well. I’ve only seen Fire Walk with Me and Dave drew my attention to that nightclub scene with subtitles – the band that play over that are our biggest influence to date, I reckon. Lynch had to be co-credited for the obvious references to 'The Pink Room'. Don’t get Ego Bob (our bass player) started on Lynch... he’s met him and gave his son the CD recently.
What's your favourite Lynch film/soundtrack? As an aside, personally mine are Eraserhead andMulholland Drive respectively
Well, I can’t answer that, but Ego Bob says: 'It’s a toss-up between Eraserhead and Inland Empire for both film and soundtrack, although The Grandmother has to be up there. The sound design on all three is immense, but the story behind the band Tractor - who scored The Grandmother - is interesting. Tractor were signed to Gamble & Huff, recorded an album with artwork by Lynch, then it was shelved at the last minute. Do a Google search for Ronnie Culbertson. Our own guitar wizard Dougie prefers to create his own improvised soundtracks by chugging along to Jean Genet films under railway arches - he even invites his friends to watch.
The live shows are known for their intensity. Is the topless cowboy thing an act, or is it just the opposite - the realisation or expression of the true self? Or is it both - if that's even possible, a realisation of the latter through the former?
It’s both, but it would be wrong to say where the act ends and the truth begins - onstage, I don’t even know that myself. I’m a tops-off and cowboy hat guy all the way. I see some bands and they are wearing kagools and looking like they’re about to go on a school trip – not on my watch, soldier.
Where next for Big Ned? New material? Will you be heading into the studio as a two-piece or a quintet, given that Big Ned was originally a duo?
We’re strictly working as a five piece now and the sound is getting weirder and darker, whilst all the while trying to remain true to the Big Ned sound. 'Immortality' is the first result of the expanded band, written spontaneously at one rehearsal with everyone contributing their own parts. And Dougie’s got some fantastic riffs up his sleeve for newer faster material. We’ll have chance to try out other new tracks during the winter shows and think about taking those into the studio next year.
Big Ned play at The Roxy Art House, Edinburgh Sat 21 Nov; ABC, Glasgow (with Electric Six) Fri 4 Dec.