June 24 marks the return to Brisbane for Big Scary and not only have they evolved from the two- piece of yonder, they’ve too morphed into a set of epic transitions, tasteful percussion and subtle hip shakes. The release of 'Animal' has settled, and the fans have continued to grow for Jo and Tom, earning themselves a place in Triple J’s Hottest 100 earlier in the year and a retinue of new found fandom to support their upcoming shows and Splendour appearance.
The continuity of the Big Scary sound is ever prevalent, and maintaining theme consistency has been a core tool to express their music. However, as a reaction to 'Not Art', Jo and Tom agreed that the tunes of 'Animal' needed to stand up on their own. “We really felt we needed that idea to pull it together as an album,” Jo says. “This idea that we could just write the songs again and they could stand up as a two-piece, rather than the extra parts being the song.” If that ain’t getting you to fizz then maybe this will.
Smooth rhythmic pulses and a sassy sax, humble bass tap and a tasteful beat to the drums, all to complement an emotion driven belt of the vocal strings. A few words used to describe a modern-day Big Scary set. With this in mind, I dove in and asked the questions that lead to the only answers anyone could care about: the ones that leave the mouth watering, the toes tapping and calendar scratching as the days number down to 24.
The first time I saw you guys live was Groovin’ the Moo 2012, since then - with the release of numerous records each with their own added musical elements - how has your live performances changed from the two-piece I last saw?
JO: A great deal. Back then it feels like we’re a completely different band. There was a lot of loose energy between Tom and I.
JO: But I guess the biggest change is that we started with a bass player, then we got a sample guy and now we’ve got a sax guy, so now there’s five of us on stage.
Can’t go wrong with a sax.
JO: Oh, it’s so good. The sax always gets people stoked.
How does theming your albums affect your live shows? Is it more of a set-list based on what your audience want to hear most? Or do you theme your set-lists similar to how you would an album?
JO: Probably more how we would an album. We’ll have a really good one and then think oh, we’ve got to change it - LAUGHS. We haven’t written the set-list order, for the next tour we’ve got coming up, but we’ve got a broad idea of the tracks we want to play. There are definitely some songs that I’m sure the audience would want but we leave out and then there are ones that we wouldn’t not play. I know that, even though we still love it, we wouldn’t not play The Opposite of Us because we’re sure there are a lot of people that discovered us because of that song. I wouldn’t be a jerk and leave that our - LAUGHS.
Do you still play for your old fan base?
JO: The are certain ones (songs). Tom especially likes to not dwell on the past. But there’s definitely been times when I kind of put my foot down and demand a few old ones each tour. I think, Not Art and Animal are probably the heaviest represented, but there will be some stuff. Oh, actually I think there is one we haven’t played in really long time - I can’t even remember the last time we played this song we’re gonna do.
Next show, June 24th at Brisbane. What can Brisbane expect for the Big Scary return?
JO: Oh, we’ve got new lighting and a new stage set up, and stuff like that. We’ve had a bit more time to think about cool transitions.
JO: And even, we’ve got Cub Sport supporting us - they’re amazing - and we just hit them up and we asked “do you guys want to do something together” and they were like “yeah”. So we don’t know what it is yet but we might be able to do something with those incredible people.
JO: There’s also a couple of new songs we’ve never played off Animal. And there’s also that exciting moment -because the songs, people have had a bit of time to know them better - when you get that kind of energy from the crowd it makes your heart swell a bit.
JO: And we’ve got this new set up where Tom can stand up the head of the stage where all he does is sing, and ever since we did the Organism video clip he likes to have a little boogey. Little subtle Tom style.
Catch Big Scary at The Tivoli, Brisbane June 24th
Interviewer - Jake Sandtner