(Editor's note: Brett Alderman takes local musicians out for local beer and talks about their gear. Sometimes, they get coffee instead. Welcome to Gear and Beer.)
I first encountered the music of Big Colour last September when the band was on the bill for KO’s EP release at Radio Radio. The Indy band’s sound was enormous and the catchy hooks had me bobbing my head. Recently, I sat down with Brian Brissart — the bandleader and founder (who moved back to Indy from Chicago and brought his tunes with him), Frankie Dean and Dimitri Morris in Fountain Square over coffee at Calvin Fletcher’s to discuss what’s up with the trio ahead of the physical cassette release of Booty Patrol, which includes standout track “Manifest Ecstasy.”
NUVO: Your voice sounds huge. I need to know how you get that sound.
Brian Brissart: I don’t know, I guess I just really push my vocal cords. It’s mostly [analog] effects. For the first three Big Colour records, it was a shitty fucking PA system. The speaker was blown, but I liked the way it sounded, so I always recorded my vocals through that speaker with DSP reverb. I wish I still had it.
NUVO: What’s 2015 been like for Big Colour?
Brissart: We kinda took a hiatus for like four, five months. We weren’t doing too much live stuff. The cassette is like, six or seven songs that were recorded over the span of a year and a half, in various locations. We were toying around with that and working on new material.
Dimitri Morris:There was always that vibe like, “Yeah, we’re still gonna do stuff” but when it happens it happens. It was never forced.
Frankie Dean: Just to stay fresh, Brian and I would jam once a weekend. A lot of it was because we lost Donny [Musselman] as a second guitar player, he moved to Florida, and our bass player Jake [gandner]. We got Dimitri for that.
NUVO: Is it exciting to play out again as a three piece?
Brissart: Trying to keep it pretty sparse and really minimal live.
Morris: We’ve all played together before. It’s really natural. There’s nothing forced. We’ve played this music enough with each other that it feels comfortable.
Brissart: Yeah, we’re really excited about it. This line-up, as Dimitri said, is probably the most solid, the one I feel the most comfortable with and makes the most sense to us. Everything feels right. Ever since I moved back to Indianapolis [from Chicago], it was always a struggle to make ends meet to play a show. Now I don’t think there’s that pressure. We can have fun and write new tunes together.
Dean: Plus, if one of us breaks a hand we can just switch instruments. We all know the parts.
Morris: At this point I’ve played guitar, bass, drums. I’m super comfortable with these tunes.
NUVO: Has the sound changed with this current line-up?
Brissart: What do you guys think? Big Colour has been a project of mine for like eight years. The sound is evolving, always changing. But it’s a steady evolution. Not like, “a different person is in the band now, so we’re going to do something completely different.”
Dean: No. If anything, what changes is how solid we sound. I think right now it’s more solid with a three piece. Plus with teaching other people the songs… Dimitri knows all the songs.
Brissart: That’s been the constant struggle. When people think of Big Colour they think of a recording project and not necessarily a live project, which is cool. That’s what it was. We’re trying to develop the live side.
NUVO: Can you describe the songwriting process?
Brissart: The writing and recording process is simple. Just come up with a verse and a chorus, like pop structure and think of a melody on top. Generally build on that, like I would with a loop station.
Dean: Most of the time what happens is Brian will have a riff and an idea for a beat. Then we’ll come to an agreement on the two styles mixing. He’ll show bass Dimitri a bass line, or Dimitri will have a new [part] that sounds awesome.
Brissart: It’s much more collaborative. I trust everyone that I play with.
Dean: A lot of people can do the one-man band. There’s a whole slew of them that one person writes everything.
Brissart: There’s this band called The Beach Boys…
NUVO: Are the live performances much different from the recordings?
Brissart: No, not necessarily.
Morris: I mean, we’re not super cut and dry, where we’re going from song to song. We have fun up there. Each performance is not vastly different than the one you saw before.
Brissart: The only thing planned is the set list. We like to be goofy and have a lot of fun. I don’t know what it is about being silly in front of a group of people, but I feel like I’m being true to myself…
Morris: People see that and it makes you more accessible. You can put yourself out there and not be so damn serious about it.
Brissart: Don’t take yourself too seriously.
NUVO: With this cassette about to be released are you looking at the next project?
Brissart: There’s this weird neurosis, where now that it’s fucking done I just want to move past it.
Dean: Like a release of pressure.
Brissart: Being in this process for a year and half, recording everything myself, with borrowed [equipment]. I used Frankie’s, Jacob [Gardner]’s and other people’s stuff. I couldn’t work at it when I was drunk at 3 o’clock in the morning, which is when all the best shit happens. You have an allotted time when you’re using other people’s gear. I just want to press on as a band. Collaborate with Dimitri more…
Morris: We’ve both been in solo projects where it’s a full band, but you’re recording everything two or three times. It’s nice to be able to see the end of it.
Brissart: Dimitri gets me.
Morris: Now we’re going to have our own studio and practice space in the same confines, so if we can come up with an idea, like, “We need to record this,” we can.
Brissart: It’s going to make any and all creativity that much easier to foster. ν