Sitting down for their first formal interview, Nathan Grice and Heather Jerabeck of the local band Big No were excited to discuss their ever changing band and how they took their passion for music across the county.
In 2013 the couple left San Francisco in search of more a affordable cost of living. They chose to settle in Richmond because Grice attended Virginia Commonwealth University and still had connections in the area.
“We wanted to move somewhere and Nathan still knew people here,” Jerabeck said. “He enjoyed living here, and it’s about two hours from our families.”
Big No recently released the first album they recorded in Richmond, entitled Get Over Yourself. The album features Grice on guitar and vocals, Jerabeck on the keyboard, Kyle Flanagan on drums and Leah Clancy on bass.
Get Over Yourself is a splendid mix of melodic instrumental sounds accompanied by poppy vocals. And while their Bandcamp page may have their album tagged under the dark pop genre, Grice, the primary song writer, sees the band as a blues group.
“I’ve never been able to describe what it sounds like,” Grice said. “I think it’s the blues stylistically but if it were in a CD store it wouldn’t be in the blues section.”
The track “Living in a Dream” is my personal favorite from the album. While it is one of the slower songs, it has a melodic, soothing sound and showcases Jerabeck’s talent on the piano. The album also reveals the range of Grice’s voice. The track “Angela” has slower high pitched vocals while the track “Turn it On” has spurts of low pitched vocals with heavy drums. Grice’s voice is best on tracks such as “My Mind Won’t Shut Up” and “Get Over Yourself,” which pair his poppy voice with upbeat and simple instrumentals.
Their music has an almost trance-like tone and each song is reflective of Grice’s unique writing style. His writing process starts off as a few words in a notebook that he carries with him. As they collect, a song is formed. He wrote the lyrics and music for the entire album, and while some songs were written weeks before recording, others were written years before they made it into the studio.
“It’s usually whenever something is happening, a song gets made up, at least while I’m still feeling that way,” Grice said. “It’s something I’ve always had since high school.”
The album was first recorded in 2014 at Sound of Music Studio with Alan Weatherhead, but because of the band’s ever-changing lineup, it wasn’t released until this August.
“I felt a pressure to sound like the recordings when we play live, but the people we recorded with were on to different things in their lives,” Jerabeck said.
Grice and Jerabeck are the two constants in Big No, but other artists frequently come in and out of the band. Artists such as those on Get Over Yourself, Chrissie Lozano and Tim Falen, have played with Big No in the past but are no longer part of it.
“Everyone is busy,” Jerabeck said. “People here have a life, no one here is trying to be a starving artist. People are trying to be happy and work towards goals, but while also continuing to make art.”
Despite the band’s constant lineup changes and other obstacles, Grice and Jerabeck are determined to be the “forever band.” The band’s current lineup, in addition to Grice and Jerabeck, includes Josh Small on guitar, Adam Juresko on bass and Lance Koehler (No BS! Brass Band, Minimum Wage Recording studio) on drums.
The group has another album recorded that is yet to be released, and are excited for the future. They are playing a benefit show with Majority Rule and Pg. 99, two of Grice’s favorite high school bands, in New York on Sept. 25 and 26. They are also playing a free matinee show with San Francisco band Cold Beat at Hardywood on Sunday Sep. 24 starting at 3 pm. Get more info on that show here.