Big Business: Interview with Coady Willis

Big BusinessI won’t even attempt to throw Big Business in a category because chances are, you won’t understand the words I would have to make up to do so. Incorporating sounds from a plethora of influences all over the broad spectrum of music (from rock to metal to psychedelic to indie, punk, sludge, doom, stoner and so on…), the duo that is Big Business—drummer Coady Willis and bassist/vocalist Jared Warren—have certainly garnered some attention for their diversity. Recently transferring from Seattle, Washington, and joining California-based sludge masters the Melvins, Willis and Warren now pull double duty as experimental virtuosos making waves in a scene they have been playing in since they were teenagers.

We caught up with Willis while “sitting in the parking lot of The Galleria Mall in Glendale, California,” taking a quick break from touring to welcome the release of Big Business’ new record Here Come The Waterworks before embarking on a short stint to support it (via SXSW in Austin, TX).

How long has Here Come The Waterworks been in the works?

After we recorded our first record and touring, it had been two years, and we had been writing new songs and working on stuff. We recorded a bunch of riffs and a bunch of parts on four-track before we moved, and maybe two of the songs we wrote right before we went into the studio. But it’s been done since August.

Why the March release date then?

Because of the schedule that Hydra Head has…

Did you write songs for the Melvins’ latest record, (A) Senile Animal? And in turn, did playing with the Melvins influence Here Come The Waterworks?

Buzz [Osborne, singer of The Melvins] had a lot of songs done for a long time, but we did write a couple with them. Then as far as the Big Business record, we had at least half of those songs finished before we moved to Los Angeles. David Scott Stone who sometimes plays in the Melvins played guitar and keyboards and made a bunch of noise on this record, so before we went into the studio we were working with him pretty intensely, trying to get him up to speed on the songs, and spent a lot of time trying to get guitar sounds and guitar tones that fit in with what Jared and I were doing.

We wanted something more than just a couple guitar lines here and there riding over the top, we wanted it to be a real voice within the band. We really practiced a lot with those guys— it’s been kind of non-stop. So hopefully that had some effect on the record and made us sound like we knew what we were doing.

I know you guys are always somewhat on the lookout to find a permanent guitarist, could he be it?

I don’t think so, he definitely has a lot of his own projects that he does here in town. He might play a couple shows here and there. It has always been Jared’s idea that we would have kind of a revolving door of third members of Big Business. We always talk about having a [permanent] third, but we need a super well-adjusted person who doesn’t have a life and doesn’t like to get paid that much. It’s pretty hard to find.

Did you move from Seattle to Los Angeles just to join the Melvins?

No, Jared and I were out on tour, I think in Milwaukee? And within a month of each other, for different circumstances, we had just broken up with our respective girlfriends. So we’re getting ready to play and having a beer, and [we realized] we didn’t have any ties to Seattle anymore, we could find a bartending job somewhere and be a band—you can pretty much do that anywhere. So, we decided that when we got home we would put the wheels in motion. We figured if we’re gonna be fuck-up musicians, and crash and burn and fail horribly, it might as well be somewhere warm. (Laughs) It was time for a change, like: fresh start, try something new, take some steps to make your life better. I just didn’t want to end up holed up in a bar somewhere drinking myself silly, which is easy to do in a town like Seattle.