“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 albums 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.
After a 21-year hiatus, Big Mother Gig returned by releasing “Almost Primed”, an EP of 6 hard-hitting alternative rock songs has been praised by Alternative Press, PASTE, New Noise, Impose, AllThingsGo, PlayTooMuch, Substream, PureGrainAudio and more. “Almost Primed” features lead single “Alvarado”, a punchy, punk-tinged indie rock banger with flippant social commentary infused in the lyrics and a huge hook that makes the song accessible in spite of it’s outsider message. Second single “Just Fly By” features a video that pays homage to The Replacements.
The band played their first show since 1996 in their hometown on 3/18 and appeared on 4 local radio stations promoting it. They followed up with a Live EP from that night on 4/28. What’s next? Wait and see…
“Although it’s been years since the band has released music together, the song feels as if they never missed a beat. Full bodied bass and drums fill out the sonic-sphere while crunchy guitars and hooky melodies make “Just Fly By” a total ear worm for fans of classic post-punk.”
““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
“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.”
“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
7/14/17 – The Hi Hat, Los Angeles (w/ Alvarez Kings)
7/28/17 – Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco (w/ Sleeper Hold)
3/18/17 – Turner Hall, Milwaukee