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LAist Band Interview: Huge
Huge are quickly making a name for themselves in the LA music scene. They've been instrumental in sponsoring and creating the successful Cine-Space shows. Huge is also infamous for having a sound that packs a sonic punch, despite the fact that they're a trio. Continue reading to find out the band's stance on digital music, how LA music compares to New York and where to go to find a killer taco.
Can you quickly list who's who in the band?
Huge is: Jason Rabe (guitarist/vocalist), Ravi (bassist) and Clive (drums).
How long have you been performing together as Huge?
Jason: Ravi and I have known each other for quite a long time and we've played together in different groups over the years (e.g., Sound Advice and Mob Psychology). It wasn't until we moved to LA and we hooked up with Clive (the drummer)... that Huge was really started.
What prompted the move from New York City to LA?
Jason: We had a gig that we booked at the Viper Room. It was a showcase we setup with Ravi, myself and [our old drummer] Yuval. The music was kind of different then. It was a little poppier. A little less organic... After playing that gig, I met Clive. [At the time] I was looking for someone else because we weren't that happy with Yuval. He's a wonderful drummer... very similar to the drummer from Secret Machine. But our feel is not quite that heavy Zeppelin thing that they do. Yuval is a masterful, masterful drummer with those kind of pockets. But we were looking for someone that had a little more of the pocket of the Psychedelic Furs.
Also, a friend of mine was producing a television show out here at the time. He said that if I wanted to move out that he'd give me a place to stay for free. So I dropped everything I had in New York and just kind of gave it a shot, because also we were a little bit tired of the scene. It just wasn't happening in New York.
How does the LA music scene compare to New York?
Jason: I think New York is really good for a very specific genre of music right now... punk, a little bit of post-punk, and the sort of Strokes-y kind of vibe—the 70's Iggy Pop thing. In New York there's a sort of whole scene that's built around that. But for me it was very dishonest and not very inviting... I wanted to make a change. What's the biggest challenge for a new band in the LA music scene?
Jason:I think the biggest challenge that still lies ahead for us is finding the right ways to reach a wider audience. We have a really good track record with new audiences. So, [as] we get in front of fresh faces, we seem to do very, very well with recruiting the fans.
Where we haven't done so well—and we're working on right now with these parties at Cine-Space—is being part of a sort of social network, or being part of a scene. These shows at Cine-Space are really an attempt to involve ourselves in a whole artistic thing with electronic artists and other bands... We didn't have that in New York. So the music scene is much more exciting here. But, I did find that I wasn't able to plug myself into a scene here... So, instead, we kind of attacked it from the perspective of trying to build something from scratch.
What is your favorite venue here in LA and why?
Jason: What I'm looking for in the venues out here is the opposite of the Viper Room. The Viper Room is sort of the cattle call. The people that are there only sit in for their band. They're there half an hour and they're out the door walking. They're not interested in hearing anything else... I'm attracted to more venues like Spaceland where there can be a social scene [while] the bands are playing. To have Cine-Space as a venue to produce stuff at is unbelievable because of the fact that we have those screens, this great stage, this great light and it's open... and you've got this deejay room.
How did you pick the name Huge?
Jason: I was very sick and I was writing down band names. And I liked the way it looked. And that was pretty much it. I've always wanted some thing that's simple.
When people see you live, they might be surprised to see that the band is only a trio... sonically you sound like a larger group. How do you accomplish this (in layman's terms?)
Ravi: It's very basic. Its good, old-fashioned rock and roll ... trying to play with each other to fill the space in, which is really important, I think. Ultimately, we're just trying to fill all the frequencies and fill the spaces so it's that everything is in place and nothing is, you know, attacking anything else or covering anything else. Everything is very... full.
Describe your creative process for writing composing the music?
Jason: It's very collaborative now. We definitely shifted gears when we moved out to LA... Now, basically, the way we write is we come up with rifts. I'll come up with something, Ravi will come up with something. We'll bring them into rehearsal without telling the other person the key or anything. Then you just play it at them and they play something back and then the drummer plays something. And then I record everything onto my computer. And then I pretty much go home...send these long rehearsals to the guys and everyone picks the pieces they like. Then we sort of throw them together to find the song there.
Ravi: And the lyrics come last. There's usually a melody line that Jason sings ...that's a nugget in there. Somewhere way, way down the line it gets expanded. I actually rarely know what he's singing about because I actually don't hear his lyrics until we record it or something.
On your website, you've posted a song called Wolves for your fans. Who (or what) are the wolves in this song?
Jason: The song is really fun for me because that song came about where we had bits and pieces from our rehearsal... I went through those bits and pieces and edited it together... sort of built this odd structure. Then I picked up a microphone and I sang on top of it spontaneously... just sort of sang. And all of the lyrics just came out, like on the spot. So that song lyrically was... kind of scatted in a way.
To me I'm sort of in awe of it because it was sort of unconscious writing process... It's a song about sort of a journeying and going from a heartbroken place to even darker place. And the wolves are like where this person ends up... they are the darker elements, darker feelings of things your trying to keep at bay in your journey to go make a choice. Whether you're going to give into those things or make a choice to not do that.
A lot of your music seems to walk a line between being both gritty and inspirational. How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn't heard your music yet?
We actually kind of like your description.
Who are your biggest influences?
Jason: Elvis as a kid, in high school the Smiths, R.E.M. (up through GREEN), Talking Heads, especially Remain in Light, were really big for me. Also: Happy Mondays and Joy Division.
Ravi: Joy Division and New Order. I decided I wanted to play the bass because I liked I liked Peter Hook's bass line. It had one of these chorusy kind of cool parts...That's the genesis of why I play the bass... [those are] the sounds I like.
With whom would you most like to collaborate as a band (local or otherwise)?
Ravi: You know, our mission is to reunite the Smiths... Get them back in the studio and make a real fucking record, for god's sake. They're amazing, amazing musicians.
What was the first album you purchased?
Ravi: It was Vinyl and I bought stuff like, "Like a Virgin" and the Human League album, "Don't You Want Me Baby?"
Jason: Talking Heads was my first CD.
Name one thing your fans probably don't know about the band?
Jason: Ravi and met at a summer program at Amherst. We were both in high school. Ravi was a keyboard player and I was a drummer... we were 2 of 3 people that took a class [about how to] form a band... to play a song and then play a show. The [teacher] was a producer that worked with Squeeze and was a great guy... He made Ravi play bass for the first time... And on the first day of class, everyone had to sing. I refused, because I was not a singer. I hated the sound of my voice. He said he'd fail me unless I sang. So I started singing, and that's how Ravi and I met.
Ravi: The fact that we've been friends and played music off and on for so long is quite amazing.
What are the top songs or albums in your iPod right now?
The new Franz Ferdinand album
Andrew Tompson's Never Trust Robots
Brute Force's King of Fuh
The Fort Knox Five's Radio Free DC
How has digital music (like iTunes) affected the way you write and deliver music?
iTunes, as a service, is very functional and good. But as far as finding a new audience, being on iTunes is meaningless... As a place where people can kind of download you stuff and pay for it, it's nice. But it's not really going to do anything for us.
As far as downloading goes, we're all about that... What [we] hope happens with music technology is that a format comes out of all this that is like DVD audio quality... You've got your MP3s and the music floating around the internet, but you [need] a hard copy that just sounds better. DVD audio, when done right, is just amazing experience. It doesn't cheapen the music. It makes the music more precious.
A lot of this [evolved] because of labels making CDs that look like a piece of garbage. The LP was a beautiful thing. You could frame it... it's just a great object. It sounds totally unique. You know, CDs, the sound coming out of them is just not very special.
The great thing about rock and roll is that, as beat up as it gets, the good stuff will rise to the surface. Part of that is through the evolution of different technologies. That's what you're seeing with downloading. People aren't going to download or champion something they fucking hate... they'll only do that with something they love. Having a fan that loves something is worth more than selling a couple hundred thousand more records.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring musician, what would it be?
You gotta write from a place that's unique. Just don't listen to what everyone tells you about how to play music, because everybody has a unique voice (they just need to find it). Just find a way to make some money so you don't fucking kill yourself.
When you're not performing, what's your favorite thing to do in LA?
Eat. Los Tacos is on Santa Monica, one block West of Fairfax. It's the most incredible food. We go there, we go to Cactus, the Arclight and Bronson Bar (on the corner of Bronson and Sunset).
You currently have a self-released EP on sale on Fonogenic's website. When can fans expect another CD or EP?
January. Another 5-song EP.
Where can fans find your music?
The best bet is to see us live right now.
Where are you performing next?
October 10th and 30th at Cine-Space.
It's 10:30pm on a Thursday - where are you coming from and where are you going?
We're coming from rehearsal ... and we're going to meet our friend Michelle Martini and Clive for drinks at Bronson.
Images courtesy of Huge.