Big Eyes - Sound In The Signals Interview

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Your new single “Why Can't I” came out not too long ago can you tell me a little about the single and why you chose the two songs you did for the release?

Kate - "Why Can't I" and "Your Lies" were the first two songs we wrote after the four songs on our demo, and we wanted people to hear our progression as a band in the actual order we wrote the songs.
Mark - The single was recorded almost a year ago. I was the "engineer" and wanted to make it sound similar to the demo (which I also recorded) but also show a degree of progression. When recording the demo we tracked almost everything "live" and without overdubs, and this single was mostly done instrument by instrument, with the exception of the drums and one rhythm guitar tracked simultaneously.
C.J. - At the time we didn't have any specific plans. We only knew that we were slowly working on an LP and that it would probably be with Don Giovanni. Kate was moving out of her house in Brooklyn where we had recorded the demo, so we took the opportunity to record these two songs for a single before she did and the rest is history. In retrospect I'm happy we ended up recording these two songs because they don't sound like the songs of the demo (our first 7''). It will definitely ease people more into the songs on the LP, some of which are drastically different from our older stuff.

The artwork for the single is simple and in a way it reminds me of the font and color I'd see on something like a Descendents album (I don't know if that had any influence). What made you guys decide on that cover for the single?
C.J. - I never noticed, but it does have a "I Don't Want To Grow Up" feel to it! The 7'' single is one of my favorite ways to check out a new band. You get two songs and minimal artwork to distract you from figuring out if you like the music or not. If it's good, you'll know by the time you finish the b-side. We knew that we wanted something simple but was bold enough to stand out without being flashy. Kate sketched out a simple idea for the layout while we were touring home from The Fest in Gainesville. We sent it to our friend Perry Shall. He brought it all to life and I think it looks great.
Mark - We are all big Descendents fans so that could have been a subconscious influence, but that wasn't necessarily the main influence, art wise. I would say the artwork is reflective of the song structures, which lean more towards a "classic" era of rock and power pop.
Kate - We wanted the single to have a classic look. I prefer to keep things as simple as possible, and I tend to obsess over keeping things very neat and tidy, and I think that shows in the simplicity of the artwork.

You have your demo available online for free. The demo really helped Big Eyes build a lot of hype on the internet. How has the internet impacted your success as a band?
C.J. - We have a facebook, blog and twitter account but otherwise we don't try to have a big web presence. I don't think the internet has had any more of an effect on our success then any other band in 2011. As a whole I'm not interested in the hype machine or overnight success. The people who will latch on to your hype and instant popularity will be the first to turn on you when you're not "cool" anymore. I'm in it for a long ride so I want others around who won't be so quick to jump ship when you hit the eventual bumps.
Mark - The internet lets us know what fellow nerds around the world think of our band at an instantaneous rate, which is sort of a double edged sword. It also lets people know when we are coming to town to play or releasing a record, so that’s a big plus.
Kate - The internet is pretty much unavoidable at this point, haha. Having our demo available online for free makes our music more accessible to people, and if they like it, they will be likely to check out and buy our other releases that aren't available for free online.

Big Eyes have been in the studio hard at work on LP number one. Can you tell me a little about the album? Who's producing it? Do you have a confirmed tracklist? What has the songwriting process been like?
Mark - The album took about over a month to track and we just finished last night. I am the engineer on the record like our previous recordings. When tracking, we went over everything with a fine tooth comb to ensure we had everything just the way we wanted it, and I feel like we were successful because it sounds awesome. I’m just starting to mix it now and am very pleased, it was well worth the hard work and the shouting.
Kate - We actually need to decide the order of the tracklist this week, so we'll have that real soon. For the songwriting, mostly I write the songs beforehand, or at least the main parts of the songs, and then we get together and play them (over and over!) and finalize the structure. The lyrics are what tend to hold back the songs from being completely finished. I have a hard time communicating what points I want to get across in songs, so I tend to try and keep the lyrics as simple as possible, so there's always room for people to interpret the lyrics in different ways. In all of my recording experience, there's always at least a song or two that is finished being written during the actual recording session, haha. Some really cool parts are created on the spot like that.

I was perusing your blog and noticed the new logo you are putting on your shirts of the three eyed cat (I guess it's a cat). It's a really interesting design. Who came up with the design?
C.J. - Sheila Marcello drew us that one. She is an artist from NJ with so much raw talent it drives me nuts. My apartment has two pieces by her hanging up and she has done artwork for two of my old bands. Funny story about that particular drawing; I asked Sheila to make us a picture of a "cigarette smoking cat, with a black eye, who looks like it just had the worst day of it's life". When I saw what she gave us I was immediately so happy she didn't listen. Initially I wasn't sure if a three-eyed psychedelic cat would be right for Big Eyes but it soon became a perfect fit. If anyone wants to get in touch with her, let us know and we'll set it up. She is fantastic!

The thing I really like about the single and your music in general is it has a lot of pop sensibilities but your sound also is rough around the edges. What inspired your sound and what is the most important part of the songwriting process when writing a song?
Kate - Since I was in middle school, I always listened to and played in punk and pop-punk bands. The past couple years I've been listening to a lot more 70s and 80s rock, as well as 50s and 60s pop and rock-n-roll. Even if we wanted to have a really clean pop sound I feel like we couldn't pull it off because the three of us have always been in punk bands, haha.
Mark - Essentially we take the pop oriented song structure provided by Kate and amp it up. CJ and I have been playing in punk, hardcore and weird heavy bands for years and our dynamic remains as a rhythm section. I feel like a lot of "pop" oriented bands playing today are really wimpy sounding and I'd rather not have Big Eyes go down that tired road.
C.J. - Our music can be all over the place but at it's core we are still very much a punk band. When you come from a background where music is all about being fast and to the point, it's hard to want to listen to anything that goes over the two minute mark without getting bored. Good hooks and pop sensibility are the only things that make music over two minutes listenable! Ultimately, I wouldn't want to record and release anything that I wouldn't personally want to listen to so I'd have the say the most important songwriting element is writing what makes you happy.

As a band in 2011 what do you think the most important thing is for a band to be successful?
C.J. - There are so many bands touring and trying to "make it" that it becomes so hard to stand out and be something that people will still be thinking about the week after they see you somewhere or hear your record for the first time. I definitely don't know any tricks or have any music biz secrets but I say just try to stay relevant and give people something they can remember you by.
Kate - I think good communication between the band members helps the most. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Things need to be up front and made clear, and everyone needs to agree (for the most part!) in order to get anything done. If someone in your band is a flake, they're only going to slow you down.
Mark - I have no idea how to answer this question because there is really no telling how or why a band could attain "success", if success is measured by means of recognition or record sales or what have you. If this sort of success was garnered with hard work then there are hundreds hardcore bands who have toured their asses off for little or no recognition. If you define success, however, as having a really cool band then make yourself and your bandmates happy by doing whatever you want.

For anyone who hasn't heard Big Eyes what track would you recommend and why?
Kate - I would say "Your Lies" because it's a poppy song, but also shows that deep down we're really a punk band that's heavily influenced by rock-n-roll and pop.
C.J. - "I Prefer To Be Alone" has been my jam since the band started. It's one half FUCK YOU and one half HAVE FUN. I think it sums up everything we're about from the main riff to the chorus to the guitar solo to the lyrics.
Mark - "Prefer to Be Alone" from the demo because that track has all things Big Eyes; negativity, poppy hooks, heavy rhythm section, solos etc. Plus the lyrics are classic Eldridge.
I guess that about wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have any closing comments you'd like to make?
C.J. - Thanks for the interview! I hope everyone out there likes our new record.
Kate - Thanks for interviewing us! You can find out more information about us at bigeyesband.blogspot.com
Mark - I would love it if known satirist "Weird" Al would one day parody one of our songs with a classic food theme. For example; "I Prefer to Eat Alone" or "Your Fries".

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