Big Business: Interview with Coady Willis

You guys are pretty eclectic, but what were your influences specifically on this record?

On tour, we’ve definitely been listening to a lot more psychedelic stuff. One of the records we listen to in the van probably more than any other is The Zombies’ Odyssey And Oracle. I think melody’s become a bigger deal to us, and we’ve had some time to think about what kind of stuff we want to do, and we got a lot more ambitious about songwriting and just trying to write good songs. In addition to a lot of hard stuff, we’ve been listening to a lot of quiet, mellow things as well. Just all over the place.

Are those your overall influences?

We have tons and tons, I think people might be surprised about what we actually spend our time listening to and thinking about, having heard what our band sounds like. I think people—even from just reading weird message boards—think that we’re these weird metalheads or indie rock weirdoes trying to be metal, and it’s like, no—we just try to make music that we like. We try not to restrict ourselves. Like, I don’t see us as a metal band, but we are heavy. We’re trying to work with just how we see music. We’re trying to make awesome songs out of minimal ingredients.

Do you then set out to inspire your fans to be more open-minded?

Yeah, definitely. I would like it if people were actually getting what we’re doing, if we’re successfully communicating. You can’t control how your music is gonna be perceived. You’ve gotta make it the best you can. You make your choices and once it’s out there, it’s out there, and you can’t control how people see it or think about it. There’s so much music and so many different kinds of bands, and so many people that listen to music as part of their fashion identity, and I see a lot of that. It takes a lot for someone to actually sit and listen to it, and I hope people can see beyond what might appear at the surface. I hope it isn’t just background music, but there’s nothing we can do about any of that.

How did you and Jared meet?

I used to be in a band called Murder City Devils and he was in a band, Tight Bros From Waaaay Back When, and our bands would play shows together and stuff. Seattle is a pretty small town when you get down to it, and I would see him at shows and parties and we’d hang out. He’s a fun guy. His band ended up breaking up, my band ended up breaking up, and I just took the initiative to call him one day to see if he wanted to make some songs, and he was into it!

What made you guys choose producer Phil Ek?

I’ve known Phil for a long time, I’ve worked with him a bunch with my former bands. He has a real pop music sensibility. He’s worked with Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band Of Horses, but for Big Business, we wanted our recording to have more of a layered sound—big and dramatic, how we imagine them sounding when we’re playing.

I read that on your last tour with the Melvins you were opening for them and playing with them. How did that work?

We arranged it in a way that it was all one set, so Dale and Buzz played with Jared and me on the last Big Business song, and then we went right into Melvins songs. From the beginning of the Big Business set to the end of the Melvins set it was about an hour and 40 minutes. It wasn’t that bad, we got used to it. Usually by the end of the Big Business set we kind of warmed up.

Jeez, do you guys drink a lot of coffee?

Actually, we’re addicted to Diet Coke—it has more caffeine than regular Coke.

Your press release boasts ‘better hair’ with this record. Can you elaborate on that?

(Laughs) Jared really let his hair go on this last tour— it’s a lot bigger than it used to be, so I guess that’s better?

So what’s the significance of your album’s artwork?

Probably about 90 percent of the stuff Jared and I do is a weird ‘in joke’—I’ll tell you, but you’re not gonna think it’s funny. The scene of the artwork is just about the concept of awards ceremonies and people patting each other on the back, like ‘50 years at the company, here’s a watch.’ And people crying when they get a trophy…

Ah, hence the title Here Comes The Waterworks.

You got it! We think it’s funny. We figured we probably won’t be getting any awards any time soon, so it’s us giving each other awards on the cover.

Here Comes The Waterworks is available now. For more information, visit