Richmond’s Large Margin go beyond the obvious frustrating aspects of American society in 2019 in order to critically examine their role within that society. They also rock really hard.
Any active listener to indie rock in the last half-decade will have noticed the uptick in “angular rock,” a term partially lifted from jazz criticism used to describe odd musical phrasings (or, to use theoretical terminology, large harmonic jumps). This buzzword has been posthumously applied to such 90s-era groups as Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu, both of whom are big influences of Richmond’s own angular champions, Large Margin.
Though Large Margin only started in 2017, all of its members – singer/guitarist Chris Compton, guitarist Chris Carreon, bassist Zach Wish, and drummer James O’Neill – had known each other and appreciated each other’s music for over a decade, according to Compton. “Since these friendships were already established, we all kind of understood musically where the other was coming from,” he said.
This cohesion is evident when listening to the band’s self-titled debut album, released last fall – not only is the musicianship tight, but the songs themselves sound composed by a band of scene veterans; they’re layered and complex, but are not gaudy, or trying to prove something. That said, they clearly know what they want to sound like. “I’ve always been drawn to powerful melodic voices in aggressive music,” said Compton, crediting not only the aforementioned Drive Like Jehu and Fugazi but also less predictable groups like Nine Inch Nails and Killing Joke as core influences.
In another veteran move, the band completed a full album of original material within a year of their formation. Compton credits the band’s creative speed, in part, to a time-crunch created by Chris Carreon’s impending move to Philadelphia at the time of the band’s formation.
“I’ve always been the type to dwell on every detail, and that rush to create allowed me to not second-guess my instincts,” said Compton. “We had the music for the record written by the time Chris had left, which for me is lightspeed. It did take me awhile to finish the lyrics, but I’m very proud of what we created in such a short amount of time.”
Large Margin’s music isn’t just sonically cohesive, though; lyrically, it’s united by an intense frustration with the current social and socio-economic landscape. But for Compton, it goes beyond that.
“I felt that the frustration of a white cis-het male towards a system ultimately set up to work for them was hardly something that needed to be exclaimed,” he explained. “I instead chose to look inward and analyze my own role as an ally. A lot of the frustration and disappointment heard [in the lyrics] are more directed at my own insecurities and failures to help those that are truly marginalized by those in power. Beyond the surface aggression heard in the music, this ended up being a very personal record.”
Compton had good things to say about Richmond’s music scene and the people in it – crediting Mark Osborne of Slimehole and Shannon Cleary at WRIR as promoters who are consistently supportive. “Though we’re all still grieving the loss of Strange Matter,” Compton said, echoing a sentiment which continues to resound throughout Richmond’s music scene even eight months after the club’s closure, “it’s been great to see other venues around town pick up the slack, as well as a wealth of DIY venues putting up touring acts.”
Despite their first record having only been out for a year, and a member living multiple states away, Large Margin has begun to write new material. “Writing with a member long distance is something we’re learning to navigate,” says Compton. “I don’t imagine it being as quick to come together as our previous release, but our goal with this band is to enjoy the process of writing and playing as much as we can.”
He also says that the band doesn’t have plans to tour. “Booking tours and marketing our music is not something that brings us much joy,” he said. “We’re just trying to have a good time.”
Top Photo by Craig Zirpolo
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond