Photo by David Gross
You bill yourselves as “America’s favorite two-man power trio”…how does that work?!? Additionally, and probably more germane to our readers, how did you come together and decide upon such a minimalist set-up?
That description, “America’s favorite two-man power trio” was given to us by a local radio DJ Big Dave on KRUSH 95.9 where we live in Sonoma County. It came about because when we would play a show, people would always say that it sounded like there were more than two people on stage. I use a small amp and Matt plays just one drum standing up. We have a small set up on stage yet we still achieve a big sound. Added to this, we do have an honorary third member in longtime friend and engineer Karl Derfler who has done all of our recordings and many live gigs - so because of him, we really are a two man power trio!
Matt and I had played music together in the nineties in a band called Pawpawblowtorch. After that band broke up, we continued as friends but we were not hanging out so much since he lived a half hour’s drive further up north. We both live in Sonoma County about 50 miles north of San Francisco. I had the idea to start playing music again just to give us a reason to hang out. I hadn’t been a guitar player in a band - I had always been a bass player, but i had found an old guitar amp at a garage sale so I went ahead and bought a beater guitar and called him up. Matt didn’t want to haul around his drums anymore and we thought maybe he might play a cocktail drum kit. We got together and while he was busy figuring out how to rock out on one drum while standing up, I was messing around with different tunings to find a way to get a bigger sound for our simple set up. While we were doing this we sort of developed our sound.
Your debut record covers quite the gamut of covers, ranging from Lieber and Stoller to the Stooges and T-Rex and displays not only great taste but also a very solid map of rock’s “back alleys”. What makes a song stand out as something that would benefit from the “HUGElarge” treatment?
Thanks, we have a pretty broad and diverse taste in music. Because we were getting together just to have fun, it was just easier to start playing covers of songs we really enjoyed listening to when we were first getting into music. I guess the “back alleys” you mentioned have always been appealing to us. We have played together for quite a while now and have played lots of songs that sometimes, for one reason or another, we are not able to make work for our style - because we felt something was missing, or something more was needed to pull it off. One exception to that was when we tried 96 Tears - the Farfisa organ intro has such a big impact on the overall sound that it was a challenge for us to get it to work. We gave it a bit of a psycho edge because the lyrics sort of beg for it, and found that audiences dug it.
You’ve joined the illustrious ranks of bands like Iron Maiden and Guided By Voices by having a craft beer named after you (the HUGElarge Sound Czech Pilsner from Russian River Brewing Company) – how did that come about?
I’m going to let Vinnie Cilurzo the brewer himself answer that if that’s okay? Vinnie: “The first time I saw HUGElarge was at our pub for a multi band show we did early on. Instantly they became one of my favorite bands and still are to this day. Shortly after that show they played again at our brewpub and as I was watching them I thought to myself that I should make a beer in their honor. I immediately thought of a classic Pilsner. My thinking was that a Pilsner can be every bit as hoppy and flavorful as an IPA if done right. Additionally watching Bob and Matt play I thought how can two guys make so much great sound. This is why I compared them to a Pilsner. When a Pilsner is done right you think the same thing, you look at this light straw colored beer and say there is no way this beer is full of flavor. But when done right a Pilsner is every bit as flavorful and thus HUGElarge Sound Czech Pils was born. We've made it a few times, all in conjunction with shows at the pub."
To show our gratitude, we wrote a song for him appropriately called, “Vinnie’s Beer”. It is our new single and is available as a download only.
You are both longtime session players – what is your most memorable recording session or touring experience?
It’s true that we have been in tons of recording sessions with various bands over many years, but we are not session players (hired guns) so to speak. And to be honest, recording sessions are not exactly an exciting thing to talk about, well, maybe Michael Bloomfield talking about sneaking into a session and ending up playing on Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”. But for most, sessions usually start enthusiastically but can quickly become tedious affairs, depending how many players are involved. We really enjoyed the sessions for this album. Karl and I have been close friends for many years and so I am extremely comfortable working with him. These sessions were quick and not overthought. We always have a great time working together. Matt and I have rarely had to do more than a couple of takes of anything that was recorded.
Touring is a different story and I’m sorry that Matt isn’t around to chime in because he was a founding member of San Francisco’s American Music Club who were considered an early influence on post-rock. He quit the band in the middle of one of their tours in Europe! For me, picking one most memorable touring experience is difficult because it will usually about the different people I have met and remained friends with along the way. I do remember playing The Troubadour in L.A. and sitting on the sofa in the private room upstairs and reflecting on all the great artists who sat on that sofa - Nina Simone, Richard Pryor, Elton John, who made his U.S. debut there, Joni Mitchell made her debut there, Neil Young… Tom Waits was discovered there during the amateur nights and Lenny Bruce was arrested there!
You leave a very distant sonic stamp on the songs you cover. Let’s say you’ve been given the opportunity to have one of your own compositions covered by an artist you admire – who and why?
Ty Segall is one such artist. We dig his albums and think he has an amazing ability to capture the sound and vibe of bands from the original garage era.
Boxers, briefs, or balls-out?
Wait, you didn’t ask Henry Rollins that.
What’s on tap for the band next?
We just played a show at the Russian River Brewing Co. to celebrate the newest release of HUGElarge Sound Czech Pilsner. And we will soon be joining Karl to record a track for a compilation record to be released later in 2016. And we will continue getting together to play and just to hang out. Thanks!