Funny how it happened that I recently got to see Big Big Buildings live in Boston and I’m glad I took the opportunity. For the band is something definitely not seen before in this city. The one man (and sometimes with a band) act is quite possibly one of the brightest spots I’ve seen in Boston as of late and I got the chance a few days later to sit down with the brains behind the operation Adam McElreath.
We talked about everything from his dream tour mates to his debut full length which drops this month ‘Be Not Aglow’ and with a bang on October 13th at TT The Bear’s for the record release. It’s a huge undertaking to do a full length especially when you’re on your own but if you ever get the chance to meet Adam, you’ll realize he has plenty of drive to do so. Check out the record on the 13th when it drops and let me know what you think! For now, meet Big Big Buildings!
A little soft one to start! If you could go out on the road with any three dream bands, who do you think they would be and why as Big Big Buildings?
Okay! They have to be alive?
They have to be alive.
Okay. Probably The Appleseed Cast, The National. Let’s say The Spin Doctors.
The Spin Doctors? You can ask them, you know, at the show.
Oh yeah no I’m going to totally be in that crowd. Yeah I love this band The Appleseed Cast from Kansas.
Yeah I interviewed them this year.
They continue to impress me with every new thing they put out. I love that band and they have such a huge sound. They’re my favorite band that’s doing anything right now. Very visual music. Very ethereal. I dig it!
Perfect then how did Big Big Buildings start? Like the project itself?
Well I was in bands in high school and we played kind of like hard rock and stuff and at one point, I decided to record just an EP of acoustic stuff and that allowed me to become a better musician because it was just me focusing on whatever notes pleased me at the time. So me doing stuff solo came about in high school and I really started playing out around like eighteen, nineteen and just kind of putting out like self-released EP’s with art that I did and basically self-produced, self-over produced. It started the day that I decided to just write songs on acoustic guitar and play them for people. That’s basically it.
Then I know you talked about at the show that you have the new CD. That full length?
Yeah it’s the first full length release I’ve ever undertaken. It’s going to be kind of like a mix tape. It’s kind of me dipping my hands into every little tool that I could ever possibly utilize. I write acoustic songs but I also like to manipulate sounds and stuff. I like to take things and turn them on their ear. So I’ve got this kind of wild sound, this ebb and flowing thing that I do but I also just sit and write something on an acoustic guitar. I like to have a contrast between two things so there’s more like full band orchestral stuff that I just wrote every part to myself and there’s also just me strumming a simple song and singing. And then there’s like everything inbetween.
So that’s what the record is?
That’s what the record is.
Is that how you’ve always done it or is the first time?
It is, it is how I’ve always done it because I’ve always recorded my own stuff so I’ve always had a computer handy and that’s both a blessing and a curse because sometimes I spend too much time trying to build this giant moving object when I shouldn’t think it through so much.
Then obviously you played the other day. I don’t know how often you’re playing but do you think you’re going to be playing more shows?
I will be. I chose a very bad time to release the record because I was aiming for mid-October and CMJ is basically bringing in all these bands that are clogging up all the venues for that time. Not clogging up but they’re playing and those bands aren’t really changing or dropping off so I want to play more shows. I want to play more shows now. It’s just tough because I don’t have the means to travel and I’m totally broke. However, I always want to play more shows. Every time I play a show, I want to play more shows.
Then how do your live shows normally go about? Do you ever have like a full band?
Yeah sometimes. I basically have a band that’s made up of a bunch of other local bands. Like I’ve kind of taken, picked and chosen, from my friends and people I know who play music. People I know who would be interested in working on something that I believe in and sometimes I can get them together to play but I mostly, I’m very, lax in the way I do things. I choose last minute what I want to do in the instrumentation of a show and I usually put together a band last minute and sometimes some people can’t play and I end up with not playing with a bassist or not playing with a drummer but that just means the show is something different every time it happens. It’s everchanging. I’d like to play with a band more but I’d also like to branch out and get on stage and make weird noises. It’s something I like to do. I’m very polar in the way I approach things. Sometimes I want to make a big rock festival sound and other times I just want to write a literary song where you close your eyes and drift off too.
Then these are a little bit different and bringing it back. What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought? And first concert you went to?
The cassette? Well my mom was really into music so I really didn’t buy music on my own. I just kind of listened to what she had because she had a pretty extensive collection but I think the first cassette I ever claimed as my own was ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ by Bobby Brown which is something that I still marvel in. I feel like he’s such a disgusting character in the social eye but I think he wrote some of the greatest pop songs, in my opinion, ever. I really, I can’t explain to you how much I respect Bobby Brown. For his music, for his music! I really like Bobby Brown. I also used to sing to my bedroom wall and pretend I was in front of an audience to this cassette from another band Creation and they were affiliated with New Edition. They’re kind of like a really young New Edition. They had a song called ‘Ayeshia’ and I had the cassette single of that and that’s a song I’ll still love for the rest of my life. I think Aerosmith was the first CD that I ever really got into. It was ‘Get a Grip’. It had ‘Crazy’ and ‘Amazing’ and ‘Crying’. Yeah then Green Day at age seven. They were the first thing that I really identified with.
Yeah my mom got me ‘Dookie’ when I was seven years old and I was in second grade. I remember listening to it and thinking I’m seven years old and there’s a lot of f words in here. Somehow my mom trusted me enough to listen to this because she knows that I like it. I remember being very thankful for that. Being seven years old and listening to Green Day was kind of the way it goes. My seven year old cousins are really into Green Day right now.
It’s kind of unbelievable. They’re just still so huge. It was the first taste I got of heavier music. Heavier music that wasn’t Aerosmith.
Then maybe the first concert you ever went to?
First concert holy shit. Well I’m going to say it was Billy Joel. I think that’s the earliest concert I can remember seeing. My mom took me to see Billy Joel and I don’t know if this is something I fabricated in my imagination but I remember it was at Boston Garden and Billy Joel played on a rotating stage and we were behind him so we turned around it was this big joyful moment and he was just wailing on his piano and I looked at him and I just gave him the thumbs up and he wailed his hand along the piano keys and just shot a thumbs up right back at me. It was unbelievable. I’m still not sure if it actually really happened but I remember it being incredible.
You were like that close that he could see?
See we weren’t even really that close and that was what was so amazing about it. I was just a kid sitting maybe ten rows back and I just got the urge to go like you’re killing it Joel and he sent it right back to me. It was amazing. It was incredible. I’m pretty sure that’s the first concert I ever went to.
That’s a pretty good first concert!
Yeah then when I was a teenager I started going to shows on my own. The shows that I liked.
Do you think those influenced you? Like personally, those first musical experiences?
Oh yeah! I mean definitely. Well going to Skate Fest in Worcester and seeing just like a bunch of pop punk bands. I saw like OkGo they were just coming out at the time. They were awesome. I saw like Fairweather and Fake ID. Like Yellowcard. Just a bunch of pop punk bands but I remember being amazed at how many bands there were and how many people stuck around to see them and as much as it’s like a taboo thing for most people at this point, it was very influential for me and it made me want to play music.
Yeah that was good!
And then is the CD still aiming for next month?
It’s probably not going to happen next month to be honest. I’m trying to be professional about the whole thing and actually have like a solidified date to give people but I’m not going to lie to everyone. I’m not that professional. Since I’m doing everything myself, I’m going to make sure it’s where it needs to be and there’s a teaser video online for it right now that I just put together like a week ago. It’s a preview of one of the songs and it’s a bunch of footage I shot. It’s getting closer in that respect that I’m actually putting stuff out to draw people to it but I’d say the record is about ninety percent done and I just need to book a show. As soon as I book a show, we can throw an extravaganza.
Throw an extravaganza?
Yeah! I don’t know what will be planned for the show but the record will obviously be available. A bunch of my art will be available so we’re going to come up with some kind of maybe put a band together. Maybe not. Experiment with some stuff. See if we can get more time. Play longer so we can stretch it out and maybe do something psychadelic.
That would be good!
Jump all over the map.