Guitarist, songwriter, and singer Kate Eldridge is probably one of the hardest working musicians in the punk scene right now. Big Eyes started in Brooklyn, NY (although they’ve relocated to Seattle, WA), and has been releasing LPs, EPs, split 7 inches, and touring left and right since 2009. Kate shreds on guitar and writes some catchy-ass lyrics (see “Back From the Moon”). Big Eyes is like rock ’n’ roll but a little heavier. The band has cited a lot of great classic rock acts as influences (Fleetwood Mac, The Ramones, Tom Petty) but I wouldn’t say “sound like” those artists. Elements of their sound are present, but I’ve basically never heard another band like Big Eyes, and that’s a good thing. They’ve got a lot in store for 2013 so I talked with Kate about their new LP, her old band Cheeky, and sexist douchebags.
How was your recent tour with Audacity?
Kate: My favorite thing about touring with Audacity was knowing that whatever random city we ended up in, at least we were guaranteed to see one really great band every night. It was really awesome to tour and put out a split with them (out now on Volar Records). We got to play with a bunch of other really awesome bands as well. We played with Post Teens, Natural Child, The Flesh Lights, Wet Nurse, Treasure Fleet, Toys That Kill, Mike Watt and the Missingmen, Frozen Teens, the list goes on! We didn't have to cancel any shows, we only had very minor van problems. We even got to celebrate Thanksgiving at my mom's house in New York. All in all, I'd say it was a good tour.
Tell me about the other band members and how they got involved with Big Eyes.
K: When Big Eyes relocated to Seattle in September 2011 our friend Chris Costalupes (from Reno) moved here to play bass for us. I originally met Chris in the spring of 2010. He came on our first tour that summer as a roadie for a few days, booked us our first Reno show, he was just super interested and involved with the band from the get-go. When we needed a new bass player to move to Seattle with us, I knew he was the one. This past summer our original drummer, CJ, started having some health issues and he was unable to continue to play with us, so we got our friend Dillan Lazzareschi from Tacoma to start playing drums. We met Dillan when he was filling in on drums for our buds Criminal Code from Tacoma.
How does being in Big Eyes compare to when you were in Cheeky?
K: Cheeky was more of a group effort. In Big Eyes, I write all the songs. Sometimes they're already completely finished when I show them to the boys, other times they're in bits and pieces and they help me iron them out. In Cheeky, everybody wrote songs/parts, everybody helped write lyrics, everybody had to agree on everything. I was a bit younger in Cheeky, and wasn't quite sure exactly what I wanted out of playing in a band. Two very different approaches, but overall I am happier writing songs by myself. Cheeky was an awesome band to play in and I'm glad we are still somewhat relevant!
How has your songwriting for Big Eyes evolved over the years?
K: I think most of the newer Big Eyes material is a bit more thought out than the older stuff. The songs have more parts, more complex chord changes, the lyrics are a little more in depth. But I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything, I just love rock and roll, punk and pop music, so I try to incorporate all of my influences while still making something creative and catchy.
As a female musician in the punk music scene, do you ever feel that you’re still treated differently?
K: Unfortunately, yes. There's still always some nitwit who thinks it's really thoughtful of him to tell me that I'm "the best chick guitar player" he's seen all year. I didn't choose to be female, I just am. I was never trying to prove anything by playing the guitar. I love playing music, and I happen to be a woman. The two things are not related in any way. Just a couple nights ago, a friend was introducing me to someone and mentioned that I have a band. The guy responded like it was a novelty. He seemed to find it surprising/humorous that I played the guitar, and in a rude tone asked for specifics about my music and my influences. I felt like I was getting interrogated. It was totally obnoxious. Like I have something to prove to that idiot.
What can we expect from the new LP? Any idea when it’ll be released?
K: Grave Mistake Records is putting out our new LP, which will be released sometime in March. I am super excited for it to come out, I think it really shows that we have grown as a band. It sounds very full - I'd even say it sounds heavy. I've also been told that it has a darker tone than our earlier releases. We recorded the LP in October 2012 with our friend Adam Becker in Portland, OR at Red Lantern Studios. We got everything tracked in 4 days, and mixed it for another 2 days. It was nice to have a few solid days in a row to record, compared to our first LP "Hard Life" which got pretty drawn out. When we recorded Hard Life we had more time constraints, which meant short sessions (many late at night) over the course of a few weeks. I think it's clear on the new LP that we were a bit more focused.
Catch one of Big Eyes' upcoming shows!:
Sat Jan 26 - Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Sat Feb 16 - Portland, OR @ Blackwater Records
Sun Feb 17 - Seattle, WA @ El Corazon Lounge
Sat Feb 23 - Portland, OR @ TBA
Fri Mar 1 - Seattle, WA @ Rendezvous
Sat Mar 9 - Seattle, WA @ Rendezvous
Fri Mar 22 - Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi
Photos by Monica Martinez