Drill Car - FlipSide (1990)
- With Frank and Bob
Al: What the fuck is a Big Drill Car?
Frank: It's a car with a drill bit on the front end of it...
Bob: That's about 8 feet in diameter, and about 15 feet long...
Frank: And it tunnels to the center of the earth...
Bob: No, actually it's bigger than that - probably 150 ft in diameter and 100 yards long.
Frank: It's from the movie "Voyage To The Center Of The Earth"...
Bob: With Peter Cushing as the pilot...
Frank: There's like this big giant car, it's the Big Drill Car...
Bob: Our friend Boris saw the movie, I don't want to go into what Boris is all about!
Frank: He thinks up rock band names, his band was called the Love Tikis Full Of Stuff. He's really into it.
Bob: Big Drill Car, was like, he said, "Wow, what a cool name for a band!" and we said, right, it is, so when we started a band we named it that.
Al: A couple of you were in other bands, where did you come from, Bob?
Bob: I just knew Frank in high school, I was in this Joy Division wannabe band. I didn't really do anything. I just played a lot. Then we just started doing this.
Frank: Danny, our drummer, did the Hollywood thing, he was in some heavy metal bands. He was in a band called Mega-Ton.
Bob: It was pronounced Mega-Tan, it has oomlots over the "o"!
Frank: They were mega, it was funny. For awhile he played in both bands at the same time. His heavy metal band was supposed to be getting signed so...
Al: Then you (Frank) and Mark were in MIA but you played bass. Now you sing. Did you always want to sing or what?
Frank: Um, not always. I was just into playing in the band. I wanted to sing but I couldn't sing and play bass at the same time, it's kinda hard to do. Bob was a better bass player than me so, here Bob plays bass. In MIA I didn't want to be a singer, I just wanted to play bass and get drunk. That was fun enough, you know!
Bob: He's always had a good voice, though. When we were in high school I told him that. I thought he should do more vocal stuff.
KRK: What did happen to you and MIA?
Frank: I don't know, we came home from that one tour, we wrote a few new songs and stuff but it just wasn't happening. It wasn't satisfying or whatever. I guess mine and Mark's heads were in a different place than the other people, maybe. I don't know. It just fell apart when we came home... I think Chris wanted to go back home to Las Vegas...
Bob: We had this thing going on a little bit before they left. We were jamming and stuff.
Frank: We were actually in both bands, if you look on the thank yous inside "After The Fact" you'll see Big Drill Car are one of the first ones. At that time we were doing Tubes covers, Magazine covers, Dead Kennedys, Weirdos...
Bob: We played a couple of parties and had a different drummer. Things just came together with it.
Al: It seems like Big Drill Car is a really loose attitude band?
Frank: It kinda is. It's not like "we're straight edge" or "we're drunk edge" or anything like that.
KRK: It seems like your first record was a lot more experimental than your second one.
Frank: Yeah, that's the way it was. We were searching; "let's see how this works, or how this works". We couldn't even say what the next record would be like. I guess it would be the same because everything would be in A, but...
Bob: Our first record was just like, Frank and Mark said, "Let's go into the studio!" I didn't think we were ready because none of us knew what we were gonna come up with. But we went into the studio and listened to what we had and said "Wow, I guess we're a band."
Frank: We went into the studio because it was just the thing to do right now. It was what we had to do. Then it was like, "Oh, this is what we sound like! This is what we do! Ok!"
KRK: Why was "Small Block" a one sided record?
Frank: Originally, we were gonna do 10 songs but we ran out of money. So we decided to do 6. We were gonna do a 12 inch like the Replacements "Stink", but then you put it on and in 10 minutes you have to get up and turn it over. That bugged me. So we put it all on one side and let the other side be shiny. We saved money on mastering...
Bob: ...And mirrors!
KRK: That was on your own label?
Frank: Yeah, Varient. Kane did the pressing and distribution.
Al: Then Cruz got onto you guys pretty fast.
Frank: We made a demo of the stuff that wasn't on "Small Block", a 4 track demo and gave it to Greg Ginn. He talked to Greg Jacobs our manager, and he said, "Yeah, we want the band on the label and since you booked the tour we want you to work at Cruz too!" They hired Greg on and signed us. He doesn't manage us anymore but he works at the label.
KRK: You guys took off really fast with the first record, the second record, the tours...
Frank: I don't know, I think a lot of the work we did touring-wise really helped us in the growth of the band. It was like 'this is what we have to do to get where we want to be' faster. It was just 'this is something that we SHOULD do'. It was just like the first record, it was time to go into the studio. I guess it was time to tour again.
Bob: We toured the first time with the Doughboys and we said, "Wow, this is really fun. Let's do it again!" Then we did our nightmare 2 month tour without too many shows. But that helped, we made a lot of new connections and stuff...
Frank: We broke a lot of ground, it was a starvation tour and we got so deep into debt it was sick. But now when we go back to those places now, it's easier.
Al: You guys didn't seem to have a very hard time getting gigs in L.A. either.
Frank: Well, we did the Anti-Club a bunch of times. This is actually only the third club we've played in L.A. (Al's, Anti, Rajis). Oh, and we played the Country Club, I forgot about that. We try to keep busy. MIA never made it up to this end very much, we played at the Lingerie much.
Al: Who is writing your lyrics?
Frank: I write all the lyrics.
KRK: Did you write any for MIA?
Al: Did you want to?
Frank: Naw. I still don't want to. It's just the hardest thing for me to do. I feel like an idiot, like, "Oh, this looks great!". That's why there's no lyric sheets in them. It's like my feelings, you know. Like, "Hey don't be reading that, that's my feelings!".
Al: What do you find yourself writing about?
Frank: My ex-girlfriend, all the time. That's what a vast majority of the first songs were about. "That bitch, agghhh!" (laughter) But now it's not so concentrated around her so much, it's just more weird things, just scattered things. Like, for instance, "Reform, Before" is about all these people getting older, our friends that are getting married and having kids and settling down and stuff like that. It's more like "this is how I feel about this situation" than "this is how I feel about my ex-girlfriend".
Bob: I just wrote my first lyrical song called "Sorry When I'm Dead". It's about our friend Boris, who came up with the name.
Al: Do you like Frank's lyrics?
Bob: Oh, yeah. Frank does the lion's share of the lyrics and about half of the songwriting.
Al: What are some of the newer things you're writing about?
Frank: Kinda the same ideas but just different. I'll be singing about the same things but it will just be in different words so maybe it's not so obvious what I'm talking about...
Al: Not the same ex-girlfriend?
Frank: NO! Just the "what are you doing to me!", that kind of thing.
KRK: How do you feel about getting older and the family and the job?
Frank: There's a time and a place for everything. Like the people who are doing it are probably pretty stoked. It will be a cool thing when it's time to do that and say, "this is what I've done with my life, and this is where I'm at, and this is my wife and my child, my house, my car, and all the cool things that make up the world.." and it will be cool when it's time to do that. But right now this is pretty much it for me.
KRK: On the last record a lot of the songs just faded out. Couldn't you think of endings or what?
Frank: Yeah! Pretty much. There's just so many hooks... "Let's see, this one we'll do the rock build-up and end!".
Bob: We really notice that live, now. So many songs had fades that we're ending songs like "daaaaaa". Doing like the big rock ending. And we're like "where the hell is this rock ending coming in?" We're trying to come up with some creative endings.
KRK: You'll have to get the sound guy to fade you out!
Frank: That would be hot! "Hey, Danny, cool it, we ended!" (laughter)
KRK: Who does your artwork?
Bob: I do. It's fun. I do artwork for a living and I do kinda uptight mainstream stuff. I design beach towels. So this is really cool because it's the only time I can really draw what I wanna draw.
Al: When will we see Big Drill Car beach towels?
Bob: Yeah. I can't convince the company that'd they be a big seller. That would be a cool thing though. Cool merch idea. We do Thrasher towels.
Al: Your art really has a cool look to it. You seem to have a look on stage as well.
Bob: I don't know, we all just like wear any pair of shorts and a t-shirt. We got shoes from Vans so we wear those.
KRK: Vans sponsored you?
Bob: Yeah! We've been getting sponsorships off and on. Vision gave us clothes for our first tour, but it was like pulling teeth to get it. Then they didn't want anything to do with us. So we did a Dogtown thing for a while.
KRK: What are the good things about touring for you guys?
Bob: Not having to work!
Frank: Yeah, not having to work. It's the only time that the band can actually support itself. We can eat from the band, we can get places from the band. It's the only time that the band is real. It's like "we gotta get to the show, we gotta get set up". The band is the main focus and it's not hampered by anything else. We're out there playing and that's what we're gonna do.
Bob: You catch up on a lot of sleep. "Hey, what are you gonna do tonight?" "Oh, I dunno, I'll cruise up to the front seat and check out the scenery. Maybe about 10 o'clock I'll cruise back and listen to my walkman a few hours!" (laughter)
KRK: What about some of the bad things?
Frank: Some of the neighborhoods. Like if you pull up into a half decent neighborhood, then you're on the wrong side of town! You are always in the worst neighborhoods of any major city in the United States. You get homesick after a while. For us, after a month it gets pretty routine; how the van gets packed, this is when the merch comes in, this is when we do this. Then after about six weeks everyone gets bored with the routine and we're on each other's nerves. By two months everyone is like "Ok, I want to go home NOW!" After two months it's like a jail sentence.
Bob: We've been fortunate, we've been meeting really cool people on the road. They let us stay a few days at their house.
Frank: Everyone says the world is so fucked and everyone is just out for themselves, but that's not true.
Bob: You realize how much of that is true just for California. California is real cut-throat compared to a lot of other places. The people just aren't as friendly here in general. Like in Canada, people are just so cool.
Frank: I think it has something to do with their good beer!
Al: Where do you fit in when you tour because you're not really the hardcore band, but not really a college radio band either?
Frank: A lot of times, on the first tour we hooked up with Firehose for a few shows, then we hooked up with the Doughboys. We haven't done a lot of pick and choose. We haven't ended up on a lot of hardcore bills.
Bob: And the last tour we did was with ALL. We did a lot of all ages show with ALL.
Frank: All the shows have their good points. The college shows are good because it's like an older crowd and everyone is mellow. But at the same time the all ages shows are just so much energy, it's like the complete opposite. But it's just as cool for the complete opposite reason.
Bob: We seem to do well with just about anything we play for.
Al: What do you call yourselves when you're setting up a show?
Bob: I usually just say "kinda college rock thing", but then a lot of people thing we're REM or the Smiths. It's easy just to say it's just rock and roll, unless they know where you're coming from. Like we'll say we're like Soul Asylum and the Descendents-that was basically our starting point, it's not where we're at right now. But you can say that and get a rough idea, as far as, like, pop, whatever, punk, whatever... I always fee like I'm not doing myself justice when I have to answer that question. That's a tough one.
Al: Isn't it ultimately a good thing that you can't classify yourselves in that way?
Bob: Yeah, I think so. That pays off in the long run, for sure.
KRK: Can you think of any experience in your youth that might of caused the band to come about?
Frank: My brother and my uncles and stuff like that. They were in bands. My brother was in a KISS cover band when I was 9 years old and I'm sure that had a lot to do with it. He gave me my first bass. My uncle was in a wedding band. I'd see him do Beach Boys covers and Beatles covers. My brother is our biggest fan! He's played with us. He writes cool songs.
Bob: He did a country version of "Let Me Walk", that song off our first EP. It was really cool. Three part harmonies... What started me was pretty much the death of John Lennon. I was a big Beatles fan as a kid. When he died, I said wow, I have to get a guitar.
Frank: You had to fill John Lennon's shoes! (laughter)
Bob: But... Paul McCartney played Bass and it looked easier. My family is pretty much void of any musical sort of thing.
Submitted by Sam
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The story goes something like this. You start a band, and it's feeling great - you've got like-minded players and you actually get along. Your sound gels, you release a record, do a few tours. This band is it. You know your life would be as empty as a church on a Memorial Day Sunday if it weren't for this music. Purging your soul with sound is the only way you know how to let emotional demons loose. Right on - this fits perfectly. The band builds a head of steam; another record, a few more tours. More tours, and yet another record. Meanwhile, the genre you loosely fit into, hits. Big time. Thanks to a band on a whole different trip than you that sells five million, your buds in this sub-society are suddenly "hot property." You tour again, record again. Your band - who, it could be argued, practically invented this trademark sound - somehow falls through the cracks. You can only watch as these snot-nosed kids are swingin' on majors while you suffer through yet another tour playing to maybe a hundred people in each city - in clubs the size of your kitchen, complete with disco balls and sticky floors.
It’s a common story. Ever since Buddy Holly picked up that wooden stick with frets inside his garage there have been two kinds of bands: bands that have become household names, and bands that end up footnotes in books like the Trouser Press Record Guide. Of course these bands that labor in obscurity were doing "it" first and, often, better. We all know life isn't fair - but that doesn't stop us from sticking up for the underdog.
Frank Daly is more than familiar with this scenario. The Big Drill Car vocalist has watched bands like Flop, the Muffs and the Senseless Things get signed (and Green Day get very famous) working in the pop core genre his band perfected on its first EP, 1988's Small Block. Despite touring incessantly and releasing four albums of high-octane pop for now people, the band has always been a bridesmaid. Labels have sniffed, but none have lifted that proverbial hind leg and done their business in Big Drill Car's yard. If you think Daly is more than frustrated by now, you're only partially right. "You kinda get the leapfrog feeling, you know," the singer says. "But it’s important to remember when we got in a band and when they got in a band no one took numbers. That's just the way things work out. For every Green Day there's a Mother's Little Helper. And you go, ‘Who?’ And I say, 'Exactly.’ There are just bands that get left behind. You only hear about the successes and not the failures - and there are way more failures than successes. Now that it's post, post-Nevermind there are just so many more people that listen to this genre of music, so you can actually stay on an indie and sell more records on an indie than you ever could before. And that's kinda O.K., ya know? We're not touring on a bus or anything, but that's O.K. too."
Big Drill Car’s fifth long player, No Worse For The Wear, has just been hatched by San Diego indie Cargo/Headhunter. Daly says the foursome talked to majors, but none of the offers were quite right. Going the indie route for six years may be tough, but he points out that majors aren't always a mint on the pillow and complimentary Colombian gold in every city. "You hear about these bands that go ahead and take these huge advances and by the time it gets to the artist there’s been Uncle Sam, their manager, their lawyer, their finance accountant," says Daly. "So it gets passed down and this million dollar advance turns into maybe $14,000 for the guy. Then he's got the responsibility of selling 700,000 records before he ever sees a dime again. Who's better off in that instance? A guy that's getting two bucks a CD or a guy that's not going to see a check for six years or something?"
Daly concurs with me that the post-Nevermind honeymoon should be over by now, but the majors are still huddled like roaches on a bread crumb in many U.S. cities, ready to lay a six figure advance on some pimply 20-year-olds wearing chain wallets and attitudes. Yep, they're doing just fine co-opting the "scene" for themselves, so the old standard question is back: Is punk dead?
"I don't know," replies Daly. "You would have to ask Rancid or somebody like that. I never considered us a punk band, anyway. We are just a pop band that plays really fast. No matter how shiny it gets, there's always going to be an underground. There always has been, there always will be. There's always going to be free thinkers. Its true, though - the contamination by the majors. When you go see a good band that used to be an indie band and there is someone walking around passing out free stickers, you just go, ‘Aw... the infiltration has begun!' Or you walk into a club and there are posters hanging up everywhere and the T-shirts are 24 bucks. You know, the punk band that stays in hotel rooms."
The members of Big Drill Car are still sleeping on friends' floors. Daly admits that throwing in the flannel and Vans has come up more than once. But too many tours in a rickety Econoline wasn't the culprit - it was the classic case of personnel problems. Only Daly and guitarist Mark Arnold remain from the original lineup; bassist Bob Thompson and drummer Danny Marcroft left the roost during different periods in 1992. Darrin Morris replaced Thompson, and ex-Camival Art drummer Keith Fallis took Marcroft’s spot. Fallis quit after about a year and was recently replaced by Jamie Reidling, who Daly says is perfect because they've been friends for a long time and "he's been in punk bands since he was like 12 or something." The new Big Drill Car gelled quickly. "We can still write pretty good songs," claims Daly. I can't keep swallowing that back down, I gotta let it out. It’s like purging. I'd be really unhappy if I didn't play in a band. I think Mark feels the same way, but I'm sure there will be a day when getting into a van, summer tour and no AC really doesn't do it for me. But as it is, I guess we kind of enjoy the abuse."
The pilot light is still lit on No Worse For The Wear. Its dozen, three-minute bursts of piss and vinegar pumping through punk rock arteries. No Worse continues with the same production team the band has used since the beginning - All's Stephen Egerton and Bill Stevenson. Daly says simply, "They've got really good ideas and non-stop ears.” The band also benefited from ALL's former home base of Brookfield, MO. (the band has since picked up again and settled in Fort Collins, CO). "We stayed in Brookfield for a week and rehearsed in their two spare practice rooms,” says Daly. “They pretty much employ half the town. All there was to do was practice, so Brookfield is awesome to be in a band that needed to work on stuff."
The isolation not only tightened Arnold's fretwork, but also cleared principal songwriter Daly's head. Like all great pop core, his palette includes the banality of daily life. Snippets of personal experiences are filtered through his uncanny ability to see beyond the obvious, write about the picture behind the picture. Other songs work on simpler levels. At this stage in the game, Daly has trouble picking out influences - six years is plenty of time to hone your own sound - but he concedes that current spins can often worm their way into Big Drill Car's stir fry. This week’s list includes Fluf, Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver, Sebadoh and Further. “Even when I go see a good live band I still go, ‘Wow!'” says Daly. "I need to do that more. I need to rock like this!
The members of Big Drill Car are an honest bunch who've crafted the art of harvesting sweet ears of the punk-rock corn known as pop core. It’s simple aural food, but it’s also nourishing and healthy. This unit will carry on, despite or in spite of the majors canning the genre and slapping a generic grocery store brand label on it. They've no doubt influenced scads of lil' baby core poppers, and with Daly’s assurance that the band will press on, it looks as though they’ll continue helping model generations to come. Catch this pop core original. They’ll be coming to a dive - most likely in a smashed van with no AC - near you soon.
By Jamie Kemsey
Submitted by Paul
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- With Frank
Southern California pop-punk legends Big Drill Car have returned once more to entice and entrance with twelve new catchy pop gems. Although remaining true to their trademarked, energized pop sound, Big Drill Car have undergone some drastic changes since their last record, Batch. First of all, they have switched record labels from Cruz to Headhunter, and second, they now have two new band members. Darren and Jamie taking over on bass and drums, respectively. Apparently, these changes have not had a severe effect on the band because this is by far their most consistent release to date. While Batch was a good album, it seemed to be a rather hit and miss affair. This time, No Worse For the Wear is a solid release that shows Big Drill Car to have only gotten better at the pop-punk game.
ASOM: Why has it taken nearly three years to release No Worse for the Wear?
Frank: Mainly because we've gone through so many member changes in that period of time. When we got home from the Batch World Tour in early 1992, Bob quit to join Extra Large, a band signed to a major label, but was later dropped. It took us a while to find Darren to play bass. Then we played for a year with Darren, and then our old drummer, Danny, quit! When Danny quit, I personally had my doubts whether or not we were going to continue. It took me a while to get over that blow. Then finally, we got Keith, the drummer who played on the record. We did some tours and recorded the live record, Toured, to get the band in shape. And then Keith left, and now we have Jamie. It also took us a while to find out who was going to put out the record and where it was going to be recorded.
ASOM: What happened with Cruz Records? Why did you switch to Headhunter?
Frank: We didn't get dropped, and it wasn't like they wouldn't pay us-we just decided to go someplace else. We decided that an indie is an indie, right? So we figured that we'd go where our friends were, maybe get a better rate or publishing deal.
ASOM: So how would you describe the band's new sounds?
Frank: I think it went from a more aggressive bass approach to a more aggressive drum approach. Bob, our old bass player, was definitely the initiator of our old funky bass sound.
ASOM: This time out, are you finding the old fans returning to your shows or is it an entirely new crowd?
Frank: There's lots of old fans returning because you can tell by their requests, like Surrender and Mag Wheel. I actually think it's a pretty good mix of old and new. Since Nevermind came out and the post-Nirvana age, there's just tons of people opened up to this genre. And now they're listening to Big Drill Car.
ASOM: But, are you getting the same response as you were three years ago?
Frank: I think so. I hope so. We definitely didn't pick up where we left off. We did lose some ground in our three years of inactivity, and some people did put us in the, "Where are they now?" file.
ASOM: I've noticed that you've stuck with the ALL production team of Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton.
Frank: Those guys are just so good. They can get really amazing performances out of us, and they have an unbeatable ear for tone.
ASOM: What was it like recording in Tennessee?
Frank: Recording in Tennessee was awesome. The studio was totally cool, and the people really knew their shit. It was relaxed, no pressure at all. We did the record in seven days, and it was a seven day party. And, at the end of the party, the record was done.
ASOM: What happened when you played in Vancouver in July? I heard that there was a near riot!
Frank: Well, the show was co-presented by one of the local skate shops, and they had a complete deck for us to give away. We were trying to think of a clever thing for someone to do for it, but we kept coming up blank. So I said that the first person to punch themselves in the face and give themselves a bloody nose could have it. But, no one did-this one guy made his lip bleed, but that didn't count. So 10-12 songs into the set, I just threw the fucking thing into the pit. All of a sudden, it was as if the floor fell out. Everyone was on the floor scrambling to get the skateboard for like 15 minutes. It was like dogs fighting over meat, it was crazy!
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The day after Big Drill Car's fifth anniversary, lead singer Frank Daly plops down on a couch and sighs. "We played our first show yesterday five years ago, with Corrosion of Conformity," he says matter-of-factly. "I haven't done anything for five years straight, not even high school," he pauses. "We didn't even celebrate."
Big Drill Car doesn't have much to celebrate nowadays, not even with what most would consider a happy occasion. An anniversary of the Costa Mesa band's lineup doesn't make much sense anymore, considering former bass player Bob Thomson left recently to join Xtra Large and has since been replaced by Darrin Morris. Although guitarist Mark Arnold and drummer Danny Marcroft remain, there's something missing - like a sense of unity. This, coupled with the recent loss of label support as well as a booking agent, leaves Big Drill Car in one sense back where they started five years ago.
There are rumors throughout the music scene that Big Drill Car got kicked off Cruz Records, The Long Beach-based indie label run by former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn that released Big Drill Car's two full-length LPs (1990's Album/Tape/CD Type Thing and 1991's Batch), along with a six song EP entitled Small Block and a split seven inch, a cover of the Cheap Trick classic "Surrender."
Formerly an integral part of the Cruz family, Big Drill Car used to be featured in drawn character depictions in the Cruz catalog, which included not only cartoon versions of the band members, but also their so called mascots and Cruz label owners. Big Drill Car played at Viva Cruz, a semi-regular show with three top Cruz acts performing, including ALL and Chemical People. Few indie labels have enough focus to establish their own signature sound, but Cruz has done just that, and Big Drill Car was part of that sound - an integration of catchy, pop-guitar hooks with the opposing sound of intense, raw, energetic punk power, resulting in a wonderfully hard-edged, punk-pop sound. Orange County is home to a number of bands who try to master the sound, but only a few can pull it off as well as Big Drill Car.
While Big Drill Car denies that they were "kicked off," they do acknowledge that they are looking for a new label. "It's time to move on," Daly says. "There's no hard feelings either way. It's not like we got kicked off. We're looking around, that's all."
Since Cruz had initially contacted Big Drill Car, the band has never really shopped around for a label before, and consequently does not know what it will end up with. "Maybe an indie, maybe a major, maybe just release things," Daly says, "We're just exercising our options."
Big Drill Car recently recorded a track for the soon-to-be-released Harbor Blvd. compilation called "Trash the House," a song Arnold penned fifteen years ago in another band. The track sounds like retro, mid-80s punk, which Arnold admits is not the typical Cruz sound. But that's okay - for Big Drill Car, this time of transition is to adjust, to change and experiment. Practicing five days a week, the band is expanding its repertoire, Daly says, "learning weird cover songs" from Big Star to Kiss. We're just doing our thing.
By Jennifer Vineyard
Submitted by Waleed Rashidi
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- With Bob, Danny and Mark
Big Drill Car is the '90s answer to punk rock. I forgot what that means, but what the hell, I just remembered, it means that they have the energy of punk, the style and attitude of punks, yet they actually know how to play their instruments, and the songwriting is, well... damn good! Mean Street had a little chat with the band after a show and here's how it went... You're gonna have to guess who's who. Their names are Frank, Bob, Danny, and Mark.
M.S.: Well, first where did the name Big Drill Car come from?Bob: It came from out fat friend named Boris, who eats a lot of food and sits on the couch and doesn't do anything but get fat and pissed off. It was from a movie called Journey to the Center of the Earth. No, it was called At the Earth's Core.
M.S.: When did you guys first play, all four of you?Bob: Halloween, 1987.
M.S.: What other bands had you been in?Bob: Well, Frank and Mark were in MIA, on the last record.
M.S.: Did you guys get together, come up with the name, and play, you four?Bob: The name was around for a while, and we got Danny as our drummer because Danny was rooming with me, and he has a good hairdo. And I really liked his Stryper uniforms (laughter). Fabian our drummer was a loader, on crack, and Danny was better. We had trouble with Fabian and Danny said let me do it. Danny's heavy metal band was going to get signed to Capitol, but he said, "No, I'd rather be in Big Drill Car."
M.S.: The first record was called...?Bob: It was called Small Block. It was on Varient, in '88. It was a label we made up. We made about 1200 or 2000, and then it was released on Cruz.
M.S.: How's Cruz Records?Mark: They're rad, good so far. They're really good to us. They've given us... a couple million. No, good money to tour and record, and they've given us pretty much the upper hand in it.
M.S.: What was next? Have you guys been on any compilations?Bob: Album Type Thing was next. We got something on a Flipside compilation out next month. We start recording soon for an album to be released in June. Oh, and we did that half Chemical People, half Big Drill Car single, out soon.
M.S.: Have you heard a lot of comparisons to the Descendents and ALL? Are you sick of it?Bob: No way, we've never heard that, who said that? (laughter) Say it more. Mark: It's actually kind of a cool thing, I guess, as long as they aren't saying we are those guys. We like the band. It's kind of a compliment.
M.S.: Do you get stereotyped as teeny-bopper punk?Danny: We don't get laid, if that's what you mean. All those teeny-boppers are scared of us. We're all old.
M.S.: What was your most memorable show?Danny: Tonight, here tonight. No, it was rad, though. Green Bay, Bucktussle, Rhode Hampshire, Bucktussle rocks. And Arkatana.
M.S.: You guys did a summer tour of '90?Danny: Spring '90, and we got home in June. That was across the United States and Canada.
M.S.: On the first record you guys thanked Dogtown Skateboards, what was that for?Danny: They gave us clothes. Bob: I shred the pipe. No, none of us skate. He (Danny) worked at Vision, and he knew one of the sales managers at Dogtown, and Vision was too CHEAP to give us clothes, and then Dogtown gave us clothes. Danny: Vans got us shoes for a long time, and now they don't. Everett, no actually it was Beatle. Now we've got the best deal ever from Jordache Jeans, and British Knights. We're working on a deal with British Knights and going on tour with M.C. Hammer.
M.S.: Do you guys have any stories from the road?Mark: Well, we flipped a van. We flipped a car. Oh, we played in a car showroom. Oh, that's right, in Madison, Wisconsin. Our van broke down, so we went to this car dealership, and they said it was going to take a certain amount of time, so we could make it to our show. But it ended up taking longer, so we cancelled our show in St. Louis and we played at this car dealership for about four salesman. It was raining out. They paid us and we paid for our van repair. We played it for free, and they fixed our van. It was really cool. Dwight Perry was the guy who owned it. Defensive back for the Miami Dolphins. Capitol Dodge, Madison, Wisconsin. If you're ever there, they're righteous guys.
By Mark O. Waters
Submitted by Waleed Rashidi
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Playing in the band with Big Drill Car is not just a job. It's an adventure. And these days they're playing to a new rhythm. Before we learn about their adventures, let's get acquainted with the band, shall we? First of all, they've got really cool garage shirts for sale at their shows displaying their moniker and the name of their new album, No Worse For The Wear, now available on Headhunter/Cargo records. Be the first one to get one and all your friends will be envious.
If you haven't heard of Big Drill Car, crawl out from under your CD player and plug in for a great collection of songs with the best pop/punk/rock attitudes.
BDC've been around since 1988 with an EP called Small Block on their homegrown Varient label. They switched to Cruz records and produced three albums through friends they met while promoting and distributing their first project. The Headhunter/Cargo connection was natural, because some of same people got involved under a different business umbrella.
They had a big tour last year, and fighting over the toothpaste (or something like that) in Europe lead to the dismantling of their rhythm section. The new guys in the back seat are bassist Darrin Morris and drummer Jamie Reidling.
Front guy Frank Daly and guitarist Mark Arnold are connected at the hip 'cause they grew up together and have a working chemistry that's better than the stuff you mixed up in the flask in eighth grade science class. They'll probably stay together just to share their stories with impressionable fans.
Wanna hear some cool road tales? Arnold seems to tell them the best. First off, once upon a time, Big Drill Car pulled into a car dealership in Wisconsin to take care of a mechanical problem on their tour van. Lo and behold, there was a famous guy just standing there looking at them. It was destiny. Take it away, Arnold. "It turned out to be Dwight Perry, the defensive back for the Miami Dolphins (Can you imagine the dismay?). He was really cool and started talking to us about our problems," says Arnold. "He started calling around and got us a P.A. and pulled the cars out of the showroom (he's a strong guy) so we could set up and play. He paid us a hundred dollars that we needed to fix our van. We got to play right there under a picture of Lee Iacoca."
Here's another provocative story about coincidental meetings with famous guys on the road. Arnold tells us about a show in Montana where there were no football uniforms, but a lot of leather and chains at a Harley bar. "This guy comes up to us. He bought us alcohol and started talknig about selling drugs and stuff like that," says Arnold. "The next thing I knew, I looked at him and said, 'This is going to sound stupid, but you look really familar.' He told me he was a writer." It turns out he was James Burroughs, author of the trashy book, The Last Good Kiss, which Arnold had read in high school. "He told us to keep him advised of what we're doing 'cause we may make it into his new book. He might breakaway somehow about a rock band," says Arnold.
These kinds of coincidental happenings and more might be seen in a new tour stories book called Hell On Wheels, written by their manager friend, Greg Jacobs. If the book becomes a best seller, then you can say you knew Big Drill Car when...
In the meantime, introduce yourself to the band next time you go to their concert. They're really friendly guy and extra energetic on stage, so it's worth it even if you can't get through the thick crowds for an autograph.
Maybe you will get lucky and Daly will stage dive on you in the audience. Then you will have stories to tell your buddies who were lame enough to stay home that night. No matter what, you'll what to follow Big Drill Car. They're a real joyride. Chances are, you'll be no worse for the wear.
By Daryl Searle
Submitted by Waleed Rashidi
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Ask any of the guys in Big Drill Car - it was meant to happen. "From when we first started playing, things happened so easily," says singer Frank Daly. "Songs would just kinda spill out, you know what I mean? It was like, almost, too easy. It definitely felt like this was supposed to be."
Blaring with precision and clear tunefulness, Orange County's Big Drill Car's debut LP, Album (or Cassette or CD) Type Thing, runs right over rock's formulaic guidelines. It's powerful without being grungy and hummable even without the Pirate Radio gloss. But Big Drill Car are afflicted with non-commercial status, meaning you'll see more kids wearing Guns N' Roses tour shirts then theirs. Why no commercial radio station in LA plays adventurous rock is another story. But hey, Big Drill Car are already locking their sights on Europe anyway. "We want to get to Europe before the first of the year," guitarist Mark Arnold says. Daly agrees: "That's our new goal; we gotta get over the Atlantic," Indeed, aiming for Europe isn't such an unfathomable concept, considering the success of many American indie bands there over the years. Big Drill Car's first EP, Small Block, found acclaim on John Peel's radio show in Britain last year and ALL, who recently headlined with them, flew to Europe shortly before the CMJ convention in New York City, the locale of this interview. It was blatant that Big Drill Car was feeling the intense pressure of competing in the alternative marketplace. "We kinda just lurked around all the booths and scooped up we could for free," remarks Daly. Drummer Danny Marcroft also appears to be a bit jaded. "We're not looking to be big rock stars or anything," he admits, adding "although that would be kinda neat." Big Drill Car were conceived on Halloween, 1987, after uninspiring stints in other bands - Arnold and Daly are formerly of MIA. "We were all kind of disappointed with the bands we were playing with at the time so [we] decided to put a band together just to relieve some tension and it seemed to work out good," bassist Bob Thomson explains. "So we decided to do the real rock bang thing."
By Ara Corbett
Submitted by Tom Daly
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It's like the Beach Boys had never died. Brian and Dennis Wilson's ideal world of surfer boy teen angst just got nuked into "me generation" oblivion, Less Than Zero substituted perfectly for Beach Blanket Bingo. The classic souped-up hot rod Lincoln has been replaced by a Big Drill Car.
"There's this company out here called the Irvine Company which owns most of Southern California and they're destroying this wildlife preserve - this totally untouched area - by building a freeway right through it," says bassist Bob Thomson. "It's all beach front property and all they want to do is clutter it up with shopping malls and condos, with little regard for the consequences."
Sorry Frankie. Sorry Annette. Here comes Big Drill Car barreling down the 408, fueled by idealism and hopefulness. With vocalist Frank Daly, guitarist Mark Arnold (both of criminally underrated SoCal punk vehicle MIA), Thomson and drummer Danny Marcroft, they're also serious contenders to the title of Heaviest Pop Band on Earth. Dig their alternately titled Album/Tape/CD Type Thing (Cruz Record). Awash with exuberant bursts of string-bending power and Daly's smooth, plaintive vocals, they straddle hardcore harmony and Rriffage Inc. power rock to big, fat perfection. The name? Just something their pizza-gobbling pal Boris came up with while watching that horrendous early '70s sci-fi flick At The Earth's Core.
"That's what it was," states Thomson, "A big car that could drill to the center of the earth - Big Drill Car! It stuck. I think we're abandoning a lot of real 'out for blood' attitudes that you see out here - especially in the music scene. You see a million bands that look and sound like Pretty Boy Floyd: the same sound, same hair, same lipstick, same shit. We're trying to do something more real."
By Mike Gitter
Submitted by Tom Daly
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M.I.A. bassist Frank Daly just bought a new VW van. It's a red and white beast in good condition. He pushes it in and out of traffic quickly. It's raining like a mo-fo. The damn rain screws up one's disposition, especially on Sundays. "I love Sundays," a friend tells me a few hours later, "but this shitty rain hurts."
Frank is telling me about his girlfriend. "I turn on the radio to like K-LITE or something, and there is this Canadian guy singing. He's married, has a couple kids and is generally happy with his life. But in the back of his mind he is thinking about that one chick he let go. I just think that she (his girlfriend) is that one girl that I don't want to let go.
And as adolescent as it sounds, driving down Newport Boulevard, to London Exchange, sharing woeful stories and a Big Gulp, at age 18, Daly's mannerisms, concentration, and commitment are more then merely commendable.
He darted his eyes from side to side feeling perhaps the strains of a late night, the black and white conclusions that go hand and hand with responsibility, or just wild impatience. For even though at his infant age, the youngest and newest member of O.C.'s veteran outfit, M.I.A. he recognizes the craft of commitment, persistence and professionalism... a quality lacking in many bands, a quality characteristic of M.I.A.
"We did start out as a punk band," vocalist/guitarist and chief penman Mike Conely said quietly while sitting on the edge of his bed. "But you can't stop yourself from progressing," added former Shattered Faith drummer Chris Moon. "We just didn't want to be like every other band on the block," continues Conely.
Confronted with O.C.'s growing need for more alternative bands Conely and Moon formed the original unit in 1980 and released their debut album, "Last Rights" in 1981. Since those turbulent times, when "punk," or "alternative" music was labeled by members of the press as violent, and confused, and equally inaccurate radio programmers were calling everyone from Pat Benatar to the Cars to Spandau Ballet punk. M.I.A. remained top contenders in SoCal's underground, while building an impressive following.
In addition to releasing two more albums, "Murder in a Foreign Place," their latest, "Notes From the Underground," the band has toured the U.S. twice to enthusiastic response. But as confirmed on "Voices in the Dark," a track featured on the band's third full length LP, the once juvenile and angered approach of Conely's penmanship has changed from the years of playing around town and watching over other bands.
"It's ("Voices in the Dark") about the underground. All they have to do is scream out and scream out doing the same thing. I try to appeal to a wider variety." "Yeah," continued Moon, "we want to attract people just like us. People that have changed just like we did." The kids respect us," Conely says modestly, quickly defending the idea of changing ("progressing," Moon insists) to conform to bonehead radio playists and major label expectations. "We are on a one to one basis with our crowd. It's very personal. They are always happy to see us and that's a good feeling."
Naming the Damned, New Model Army, Flesh For Lu Lu, the Replacements, Marginal Man and Pink Floyd as fave bands, Conely denies any accusation pointing to Orange County as a place about to explore from all the local talent. "I think that a lot of them are following each other. It's all blah, blah, blah. I'm burnt on Bauhaus. That was four years ago. I was never really into bats and spiders."
On the contrary, though, Conely embraces the El Gruppo Sexo for their original approach. "They have come a long way in just eight months. They do something completely different." And M.I.A. has come a long way in eight months. The band has reformed since releasing "Notes From the Underground," and features Conely, Moon, Daly, and lead guitarist Danny Magahey. Filling large arenas, opening for old timers like the Dickies and the Weirdos at Fender's a couple of weeks ago to selling out a 800 seat club in Las Vegas, the band seems headed in a Positive direction.
Although Conely insists that there are no major themes in his music, the darker side of life, and perhaps the disillusionment that faces a lot of young artists are intertwined into his personal observations of everyday encounters. The music seems more moody, and textural now then on previous recordings, although the anthemish ringing of guitar on "Shadows of My Life," insist that Conely's early root: The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers are still prominent. Touches of T.S.O.L. and murky British landscapes fill the sound out, making it full and forceful, but without the pathetic fashion show of recent local and British contingents.
"Right now," Conely said as he walked through downtown HB, "I just want to concentrate on putting out a really great new record." "I feel really confident," Moon said privately, "It's like everything is going really great. I'm content. Like before, it seemed like one thing after another. Things just piled up. Now, the band is doing good, and I feel content. Like it's the best feeling to see kids crammed up in front of the stage singing our songs."
By Josh Kramer
Submitted by Tom Daly
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