February 28, 2015 | doors at 9:00pm
Sharing is Caring
Tight Bros. Network presents:
Big Jesus | The Powder Room
  • $8
  • $8
I never had very good study habits, honestly, and I reckon thats a bit of a shame. I spent the greater part of my evenings in high school pretending to do my Algebra and Chemistry homework, all the while lost between my headphones. Digesting endless hours of Sonic Youth or Jawbox, I daydreamed of being in a rock band and getting off some imaginary jet on foreign tarmac, greeted by some fantasy press conference. Perhaps more alarming to my folks than my sour grades at the time was my lack of competitive spirit about the whole nonsense. Like generations of subversives before I was faced with calling a bluff. School was bullshit, rock and roll was awesome I guess I figured I could get by on looks and a quick witbut enough about me.

Rarely are sound study habits and scholastic drive directly responsible for the creation of a rock and roll band. But so it was when Bryant Williamson, Mike Albanese, and Andy Pruett met at Wake Forest University in 1999. As Universities go, Wake is tough to get into, even tougher to graduate from. If one is fortunate enough to make it out unscathed, they are most likely to refer to it affectionately as Work Forest. What Im trying to convey is that these were not only young men of ability, but also of sound work ethic (well, I have heard stories about Albanesebut never mind that).

Bryant was a lanky drawler of pedigree from eastern North Carolina, sharp and opinionated in the southern tradition. Mike an eternally gregarious former class president from suburban New Jersey, with an ear for sound and a knack for the art of persuasion. Finally, Andy a year younger than the others, a lovably nervous fit of mental energy that once focused could be equal parts inspiring and disturbing. These young men met in an environment of rigid academics and Southern Baptist neo-conservatism, a sheltered hamlet where people of means send their young, swaddled in polos and loafers, to attain the education and associations theyll need to succeed. And where they will not start indie-rock bands.

But, somehow, amidst this unusual backdrop, the three began the early incarnations of what would become Cinemechanica. Williamson and Albanese, once finished with their obligations in Winston-Salem, decided to relocate the project to Athens, Georgia. Andy transferred to the University of Georgia to finish school. The project was cemented upon the arrival of Joel Hatstat, Mikes childhood friend from back home, who joined them in Athens to play bass. Joel had finished his studies as a recording engineer at Bloomington, Indiana and now was building his own studio in the large house outside of town that the four shared.

I waiver on the true source of the fascination surrounding Cinemechanica. Is it the anticipation of hearing what the rock group will come up with next in their constant quest to out-do themselves? Or is it the curiosity in determining who will crack first in the face of endless miles of sixteenth notes.

Yes, yes its true: Cinemechanica are four grown men living together in the same house that doubles as a first rate recording studio. Cinemechanica have collective attention deficit disorder. Cinemechanica are good at playing video games. Cinemechanica solve problems with solder and understand electricity. They take things apart and sometimes they put them back together again. As the pace of modern media begins to crescendo, they are prepared to take in the myriad impulses and information and reconstruct them into guitar driven rock that reflects this new perceptual speed of living. People seem to want to complicate their description of Cinemechanica and talk about math and off time this or that, but I aint tryin to hear that and neither should you be. Cinemechanica are simply a very talented rock and roll band housing imaginations too hyperactive to be satisfied with playing more standard forms of rock music. They are bored to tears by half notes. They are four living beings, one analog entity, attempting to create something digitally perfect by using neurons, muscles and sinews. Now, we all know thats not a realistic goal. On some nights though, Cinemechanica come dangerously closeI think the kids call it being tight. And when it occurs, the magnitude of the effort and the energy involved is overwhelming. Inspiration or perspiration? I dont reckon its really worth discussing with regards to Cinemechanica. In just two short years they have developed and refined their own recording studio, risen to the fore in a crowded and competitive live music scene, and have begun releasing records on their own label. I have seen the writing on the dry-erase board and it says, PRACTICE TOMORROW! Cinemechanica are coming to your town soon and whether or not you are ready, they are prepared to challenge and entertain you.

As for me, I did end up joining a rock and roll band and, although the international flights and fanfare remain elusive, I have seen a lot of the United States with my best friends and have had a large time overall. I still cant make even the most basic calculations without the help of an adding machine but I guess I get by ok. And rock and roll is still awesome. Through interacting with each of them personally, and from observing their enthusiasm about Cinemechanica, Andy, Bryant, Joel and Mike have helped keep me excited about music for the past few years. For that and much more, I am thankful, and am happy to introduce anyone unfamiliar to these guys and their endeavors.

Greg Collins 12.2.04
Big Jesus
Fascinating things can happen when a hard alternative rock band explores its dreamy side. The result is BIG JESUS’ ‘Oneiric’ (pronounced ō-ˈnī-rik), which means “relating to dreams or dreaming.” BIG JESUS contrasts loud and heavy fuzz-laden tones with soft, pop-melodic vocals to create their own unique brand of music. The result is ethereal rock n’ roll that’s multi-faceted and powerful: Loud and soft; bludgeoning and dreamy; progressive and classic…all at the same time.

BIG JESUS’ eclectic sound stems from their surroundings and their upbringing in the Atlanta, GA music scene. “We grew up in the Atlanta punk/hardcore/metal scene, and that has a big influence on us, musically and philosophically,” explains guitarist C.J. Ridings. Lead singer/bassist Spencer Ussery continues, “We grew up on the popular rock music of the 90s, and we’re greatly impacted by everything from metal, psychedelic pop, shoegaze, hip hop, and even classical piano music.” Rounding out the band are guitarist Thomas Gonzalez and drummer Joe Sweat.

On BIG JESUS’ upcoming Mascot Label Group debut, Oneiric, the band showcases six brand new songs and four previously self-released tunes, which have been remixed and rerecorded. The result is a trippy group of lush, accessible songs with the surreal feel of a Fellini film.

Oneiric was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Matt Hyde (Deftones, Slayer, Monster Magnet, Sum 41, Alkaline Trio, etc.). Of the recording, Ridings says, “Working with Matt was fun and amazing. It was an experience I never would have dreamed I'd get to do. Matt totally understood our band and what we wanted to create.” Ussery continues, “Working with Matt in Los Angeles was incredible. He knew exactly what was needed from us in order to make the best of the songs in the end, and the final product is something that we are all extremely proud of.”

BIG JESUS originally formed in 2009 through Atlanta’s alternative rock music scene. Ridings explains, ”I had the idea to create a band with some friends in my spare time, just for fun. The idea was to just record a few songs and put them online for free. So I made this demo of a song one day where I played all the instruments and then sent it to a few people. I'm a terrible singer, so finding that was my first priority, and Spencer was my immediate thought of who to ask. We ended up getting together with a drummer friend of ours and re-recorded the demo with Spencer singing, got a couple other friends involved, and eventually made a little 4 song EP to put up online in 2011. From there, it just kind of snowballed to taking it more and more seriously. From the EP, people wanted us to play some small local shows, then we got asked to open some bigger shows, then that drove us to make an album of new songs, then that got us a record deal, bigger shows, etc. Now, in 2016, this band has become my absolute top priority and through the process, Spencer has become one of my closest friends and an amazing person to collaborate with.” Ussery adds, “CJ and I had met several years prior, playing shows together with our different Atlanta bands. Over the course of writing and recording a few demos for fun, we started to flesh out a solid lineup of talented guys to play with us. Through several lineup changes, and CJ and I switching guitar and bass duty, we landed on our current lineup with Tommy on lead guitar and Joe on the drums.”

The band is somewhat cryptic when asked to explain meanings behind their songs, instead preferring their audience to form its own opinions of what each song is about. Blending yin with yang, heavy with soft, can produce the most alluring results. Such is the music of BIG JESUS.

The first cut on the album, “SP,” starts off right away energetically, with big guitars. Its heavy beat with melodic vocals sweeping over it gives it an almost psychedelic feel. “Time bends away/It’s such a shame to hear you say/Leave your thoughts at the door/Don’t think, put your mind away/Let it all fade.”

The next track, “Always,” is heavy and anthemic, with crunchy guitars and a strong rhythm section driving the tune throughout. “Some sleight of hand lights up your eyes/Some treaded thought to lay beside/Always sleepless thinking of it/Always.”

“Lock & Key” is reminiscent of some of the biggest hits in ‘90s alternative rock, with its soft beginning, which crescendos into fuzzy guitar tricks and bombastic, harmonious vocals. “Don’t leave me loveless/Your lock hangs there looming/Don’t leave me loveless.”

Anthemic power ballad “Fader” draws us in with trippy, deft guitar and bass work, a steady, rolling drumbeat, and alluring, sweeping vocals that suck you into a dreamscape. “Oneiric undertones to what I know is real/Dream-like, there in the light/It’s hard believing still/I don’t want to go back/I don’t want to go back to knowing what it’s like on my own.”

BIG JESUS believes this new album shows how their song craft has matured. “Oneiric sees us as more mature songwriters overall,” Ussery reveals. “After years of playing together, we’ve gotten to be quite effective in communicating our ideas to each other. It takes less time for us to compile the arrangements of our material into something we’re proud of. We’ve also had several years of new experiences to pull influence from both sonically and lyrically and conceptually. We’re just smarter musicians than we were in 2013 when we self-released our first record.”

The BIG JESUS live show experience is one not to be missed. Ridings promises, “We’re four guys on a stage, playing music as loud and as crushing as possible. We want you to feel the riffs in your gut.”

BIG JESUS isn’t flashy, and they aren't trying to be overnight rock stars. They simply are who they are, and they want you to take a ride with them on their heavy, dreamy musical journey… and maybe lose your hearing at the same time.
The Powder Room
The Powder Room The long, low rumble of “Disappointment” is as good a place to start as any. The lead track from The Powder Room's debut albumCurtains functions as both calling card and warning sign. There's nothing lighthearted about them. There's also nothing extraneous. Each piece is necessary.

And the truth is there's not very many pieces. The three-piece of Gene Wolfolk (guitar/vocals), Bubba McDonald (bass guitar) and Patrick Ferguson (drums) provide everything needed. The past three years have fostered the initial growth spurt for The Powder Room and it's completion of its debut signals the group's next era. Recorded with the estimable Kyle Spence (Harvey Milk) in the band's hometown of Athens, GA the record is a gut punch of noisy sludge that declares its malaise and disgust immediately. Just dig the song titles: “Alcoholics and Meth Addicts”, “Frayed”, “Dead Pet”, et al.
The Powder Room wasn't built for speed and most of its repertoire occupies the mid-tempo, bass heavy area just above doom but well below the goof troop cliché that grunge eventually became. Even so, the band can twist a melody at just the right moment (“Waltz Liquor”) and offer a propulsive, addictive repetition when they really feel like it (“Earthworm”).

They were described in the summer of 2014 as a "Powerhouse trio made up of three rock veterans capable of ripping the throat out of every talking head giving lip service to 1990's nostalgia. The real deal birthed through the triple liquid stew of hardcore punk, hard rock riffage and shoegaze menace; stewed in a brine of nihilism and strained through the grind of the day to day."

-Gabe Vokicka

"Recorded by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, it’s nine tracks deep of menacing hardcore and metal that occasionally splinters into a kind of abrasive shoegaze that’s somehow both ambient and aggressive."

Moe Castro- Latest Disgrace