“What if?” is a question that plagues everyone at one time or another. But for musicians on the verge, it can be a particularly painful proposition. What if we hadn’t broken up when we did? What if we blew our shot?
Those questions have been haunting the members of Big Mother Gig ever since the mid ‘90s. An indie rock band formed in 1992 on the Marquette University campus, they went on to play hundreds of shows around the Midwest, released 3 cassettes of hard-hitting, alternative rock and saw themselves playing festival gigs, getting airplay on the radio and opening for touring acts. They even started an honest-to-goodness bar-room brawl in a country western bar in Northern Wisconsin – the only thing missing was the chicken wire.
Musically, they pulled from a small set of influences: Midwestern indie acts Replacements and Husker Du with a splash of classic hard rock like AC/DC or The Who. They built up a reputation for explosive performances in which the band was known to break instruments, heckle the audience and storm off in a fit of emotional breakdowns. At their final show, a showcase for record labels, Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum proclaimed them “energetic” while A&R reps expressed interest. Within 6 months, Milwaukee bands got sucked up in a signing spree as the majors exhausted Chicago and drove about an hour north.
In the years since, singer Richard Jankovich went on to modest success with his indie electronica acts Burnside Project (Bar/None, Sony) and Pocket (remixes for Radiohead, Beck) and formed his own music promotion company. Guitarist Riz Rashid returned to his homeland of Malaysia where he built a career in marketing, launched a guitar import business and led some of Malaysia’s most exciting indie rock bands. Bassist Matt Deede and Drummer Brady Roehl largely left the music scene, focusing on their careers and having families. But a funny thing happens to the past. That question of “What If?” kept sneaking up on them.
In 2013, after nearly two decades of silence, the 4 band members reconnected for an upcoming book and offers came in to reunite. After resolving logistical issues, they decided to give it another shot. On August 30th, 2016, exactly 20 years since their final show, they re-released their discography, previously only available on cassette. What’s next? Wait and see!
“Almost Primed is a six-track effort that fits into the current landscape of indie and alternative rock with a sound that could have easily been plucked right out of ’96 as the band came to a close. Picture Big Mother Gig on a bill with Jawbreaker and the Promise Ring and you’ve got the right idea.”
“These guys formed in 1992, which gives them every pass as experts and purveyors of the genre, but they’re stepping it up now and adjusting their sails in the face of progressive headwinds, ready to take on a new generation of poetic inspiration.”
““Alvarado” is a song that boasts with energy thanks to a bouncy rhythmic pattern. Big Mother Gig take the established melodies and add to them with a cacophony of vocals that stick like an ear worm, it’s damned catchy. “
– New Noise
“Frantic and yet somehow soothing even before the vocals kick in, we’ve already got “Alvarado” on our frequent playlist. Well-thought-out, highly educated lyrics…have our ears begging for more.”
– Impose Magazine, November 2016
“They have captured the ’90s-era, punk-inspired rock, and they continue to present that time period’s urgency with smartly written lyrics. Recently with the popularity of bands like American Football and Beach Slang, this might just be perfect timing for Big Mother Gig to return.”
– The Revue
Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Big Mother Gig’s first show in over 20 years. Along with some of our dearest friends from the MKE scene: SLURR, FS Camels, Pet Engine, The Probers and You’re Pretty! Most of these bands haven’t played in 10, 15 even 20 years!!