All You Need is BASS

The Big Gigantic Interview from What the Festival

Coming from the hotbed of musical innovation that is Colorado, Big Gigantic has been winning over audiences with their impressive stage show and dynamic sound. Fusing together big bass, with the masterful sax playing of Dominic Lalli and the absolutely killer drumming of Jeremy Salken this duo has been turning heads in a big way. We were delighted that we were able to connect at this summer’s What the Festival.

AYNiB: So thank you for sitting down with us to do an interview. We here at All You Need is Bass are big fans, we are pretty excited to come check out your set. We came down from Canada.

J: Where in Canada are you from?

AYNiB: Vancouver BC

J: Oh nice, we were trying to get up there to do a tour but it didn’t work out, sometime in the fall.

How did you guys meet?

J: We are from Boulder Colorado; we met through the music scene out there. We both used to play in funk bands and jazz bands. We met through a band that Dom used to play in and ended up living together. Dom ended up getting a computer and started making beats.

How long ago was that?

J: We lived together 5 or 6 years ago maybe. Big Gigantic has been around for about three and a half years. So Dom has only had a computer for about 5 years. [laughter]

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”] it all kind of came out of Colorado from the real grassroots and bluegrass. In some way it all had this influence on everything, on the kids and in the music. [/quote]

There seems to be a lot of exciting sound coming out of Colorado. What would you attribute that to? The water?

D: Haha, yeah.. the dense air? Everyone gets really high up there! Haha! No, I’m kidding. It’s weird we kind of got asked that question one time and one time we were answering it, it kind of clicked. I think part of it has to do with you know… Colorado. This scene has always had some kind of influence on the touring festival circuit. I think that the jam… the whole way that the jam.. I don’t know if you are familiar with that style? But, it all kind of came out of Colorado from the real grassroots and bluegrass. In some way it all had this influence on everything, on the kids and in the music. Everyone wanted to start making beats and going to see jam bands, and we started listening to hip-hop. I don’t know it’s weird. So, it’s all drawing from something different. It’s fresh, everybody is trying do something their own.

AYNiB: With the jam bands it makes quite a bit of sense. Especially with the hybridization in music right now.

Nocturnal, that is a huge hit for you right now. How does that feel?

D: Yeah! It feels good man. You never really know, sometimes your like I feel like… and by the time you make it all, and you listen to the song like 400 times your like, “well if I can still listen to it now after so many times”. It’s hard to tell after making it and completing the whole thing. We are really excited about it. I think it came across. I made sure, I wanted to be really happy about this one. When I hear it I am like, “yeah I like this, it sounds good!”.

How long did it take you both to produce?

D: You know I was working on different songs for the better part of a year. But you know I would write one. One I wrote kind of early in the year, another one, it was like I am always writing. It’s just some of them are keepers. Some of them are gateways to something else. There is more that I am learning.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]it will have been 4 years in of constantly touring[/quote] Do you do much of your writing on tour?

D: Well, it’s hard, but I do some. It’s better when I am at home when I am in a routine, getting up writing everyday.

J: We stay on tour a lot so it’s hard to find the time.

D: But, I am actually taking about a month off to work on a new album so that’s actually really huge. I haven’t had that yet.

J: At that point in it will have been 4 years in of constantly touring. That’s the longest time! The three and a half four weeks is the most we have taken off since we started.

AYNiB: That’s crazy, that is a pretty intense schedule.

J: It’s gone really quick.

D: Then, we have a 9 week tour right after that. Like immediately! Haha. Making up for lost time. It’s good though its cool, we could not be doing well and wondering if we should even tour. So, the fact that we are like “there is not enough time in the day” is a blessing, it’s so amazing.

Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic @ What The Festival

With being so busy, what drives this passion, what is your motivation?

D: It’s all of it, we just love playing music. You do all the work to get to the show and then the show goes off and its like… [whooshing sounds]

J: Its cool, its crazy because the work you’re doing is anywhere from a year to six months to three months out. From like plotting the tour dates that you are going to do, to making the album, plotting the tour. All that is done so far in advance, and then you are pumped about it coming up. Then, you finally get to live out this thing that you have been planning forever. Putting all your blood sweat and tears in, then you are still hustling that whole time. Because, then you end up having to play every night. All the shit leading up to it you are stressing about and that has nothing to even do with playing music. It’s all from the preparing.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]We sold out over 88% of our shows in our 5 week tour. Which is huge![/quote] D: It’s crazy because the last tour that we did in late January/February was our most successful tour yet. It was that same thing where we spent a ton of time doing this city, this city, this city, then this city, we need to go here. It’s like chess, plotting the tour out. And then when it starts working and we ended up selling out 3 or 4 shows. We sold out over 88% of our shows in our 5 week tour. Which is huge! The coolest part was just that we had a plan, we put it to action, everyone did their thing and it fucking worked. Haha! It was like “Dude it fucking worked!”.  You know that was the most exciting part, and after every show we had a new production.

J: We had a bus for the first time so that was a celebration.

AYNiB: See that’s how you know you’ve made it! 

J: Yeah it is expensive. We are really interactive with everything. I have been doing our books, our accounting, all that stuff for the last three and a half years. Doms making all the music. We are the ones that are building the street team. Now we have a guy that’s helping to run the street team. We are a part of every little piece of the puzzle. Very hands on. So, its cool to see it succeed because we want it to work and we are thinking it out as much as we can. But, we are just two dudes trying to figure all this shit out.

So, are you guys relying on promoters to set things up or are you also doing that yourself?

J: We are working with a lot of promoters in each city, and some of the deals we do are like a door deal. Them betting on us and us betting on ourselves. Not asking for a ton of money upfront and having us to both trust each other. It kind of makes you work harder to want to succeed. Because, if the show flops then you both lose money. That way it makes us work 20 times as hard to make people come out. We want for all of us to succeed and not just monetarily but we want the whole thing to just pop off.

D: We want to throw good parties.

J: Yeah, we just want to throw parties

D: Haha! Raging ass parties, and just sneak some music in there.

How are you guys enjoying What The Festival right now?

BOTH: It’s great so far, we just got in today.

D: We have seen a few things and love the area, it’s really nice.

AYNiB: Yeah, it’s beautiful here.

Big Gigantic will be the first band ever to use projection mapping on the Red Rocks, September 29th, 2012.

What’s your next tour date after this?

D: After this we play Lollapalooza next weekend and then Outside Lands after that. So, its two very big weekends coming up. That’s kind of the end of summer madness a little bit.

Is that when your vacation starts?

D: Kind of. We have these couple shows at the end of August, this big festival Summerset, outside of Wisconsin. I think we are opening for Pretty Lights in Iowa and then it’s kind of like mellow through September. We get downtime. We are literally on the road for a nine week tour. Then we will be playing Red Rocks, which is going to be a whole week of madness in of itself of just getting ready.

Dom, you have a masters in music. What did you do your masters thesis on?

D: It is basically music performance. So, it wasn’t quite a thesis it was more like a playing performance. When I was doing my masters I was going to the Manhattan School of Music in New York, it was pretty intense. What the masters program was like was basically playing, and writing for big bands and string orchestras and teaching. There were pretty much three components that you were doing. There would be times of intensive playing but, then you would be taking courses in reading big band charts or you would be going out around New York and teaching as well.

Jeremy, how about yourself?

J: I am self-taught, I have been playing drums since I was a kid, school of hard knocks, school of rock. I studied with some guys growing up, some local people where I lived. Nothing intense, I just tried to focus on getting better at playing. I almost went to music school, there was actually a point when Dom and me lived together and I was going to go back to school. It was between going back to school for a design degree, web design and graphic design or going to Berkley to Music School and leaving Colorado. I ended up just staying and telling myself that if I stay I am just going to work as hard as I can to get better at the music that I am playing. That’s when we started playing together and things evolved from that. So it’s good I didn’t leave.

Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic @ What The Festival

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I feel like every new genre of music you get into is like a lifetime.[/quote] What kind of music did you guys grow up listening too?

J: Everything from jazz, to funk. I was really into to punk rock.

D: I was really into hip-hop growing up, then into rock and into jazz.

J: Yeah, I was into punk rock and Wu Tang. Haha! That was the thing, and Rage Against the Machine. Then I started smoking pot and started listening to Fish and The Grateful Dead. There have been so many sections of my life that I have been into different music.

D: I feel like every new genre of music you get into is like a lifetime. It’s like you have lived a life and then it has passed and you go and you do your new thing.

J: Especially if you absorb that style and the culture. I used to be in a hard-core band and would play that shit, and the Jazz and Fish and playing those styles. Then I learnt about funk and have been trying to absorb as much as I can of everything. It’s interesting seeing it come back in the music we are doing. Some of the harder dubstep stuff reminds me of the hardcore shit that we used to play back in the day. Cool I got those chops to do that stuff.

For your new album are you doing any new collaborations with anybody?

D: You know we are working on it. It would be great to ideally get a couple collabs with some original stuff as well on the new album.

Who would you love to work with?

D: You know I don’t know quite yet, but I do have a couple of people in mind. I would like to work with some sort of MC. I have a few of those in mind. Also, just work with a singer, just write a nice song that could be big. You know? Like big sound, but a nice song. I feel like we have that coming – that song that just everyone wants to sing but it is still down our road, but not some left turn.

AYNiB: So, you are working towards it but you’re not going to force it.

D: Ya, it would sound like our sound but still get a different colour in there.

So, you are on tonight. How do you normally prep for a show?

D: I play my horn, I am probably going to go do that after this. Look through stuff, figure out all the factors of us playing. What we are playing. How long we are playing for, what kind of crowd are we going into.

credit: jas_on & misterjt

Anything crazy in your guy’s rider?

J: We need to get something crazier in our rider. We have been doing ice cream sandwiches and peanut butter pretzels, that’s about it. We don’t have any random crazy things like a piñatas or blow up dolls.

AYNiB: We have been hearing a lot that there are socks on a lot of artists riders.

D: Socks… I hear that when you are on the road for some reason, I don’t know why… ‘there is nothing like getting fresh socks on the road’

J: I just do my laundry every week. So, they seem fresh! Haha.

D: I didn’t think about that during the nine week tour . We are going to have to try to squeeze our laundry in. “ Does this bus come with a laundry room, a washer and dryer on it?”  That would be sick.

J: I am just going to throw clothes out half way through and buy some more.

D: I will just buy the biggest suitcase I have ever had in my life.

J: You can’t we don’t have room, you need to get a smaller one. We have maxed the bus out.

D: I am just going to wear the same clothing everyday.

J: With all our production shit with us, we have about a foot of space left before we are going to have to bring a tractor-trailer with us. A huge thing, instead of a trailer attached to a bus. We are trying to keep it simple as long as possible. So, suitcase size is limited.

How many guys do you tour with?

J: We have four crew, I think we are bringing a fifth. We also sometimes have support that we bring to help out. It’s not too crazy by any means but our lights take up so much room. We will make it work.

AYNiB: Yeah because you have a pretty big stage show.

D: Yeah. We don’t have any of the lights with us tonight, but if you look at it online. Big Gigantic New Years 2012, that is a good shot of our stage show. (shown below)

Finally, do you have any advice for up and coming artists?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]If you care and you work hard, good shit will happen! [/quote]

D: Yeah I would say, you just have to work at it super hard at it every day, unless you are like the one special fucking genius. Maybe, you get lucky, but even then, the harder you work the more benefits you see from whatever it is. If you care and you work hard, good shit will happen! Really, how could it not? Shit will go up and down. Even after a year if things go up and down you have to keep going. Once things start turning, things start happening, it’s hard to stop it.

AYNiB: Then you only get three-week vacations.

D: Yeah then you’re like “damn remember when I had all that time back in the day” not any more!

AYNiB: Thanks for sitting down with us.

Catch Big Gigantic this fall and winter during their Uprising Tour across USA.


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Alex is the Editor in Chief and one the founders at All You Need is Bass, and is one of the primary contributors. He is a man of many different hats and musical tastes - plus he looks just smashing in a vest!

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