Size matters. When you think back on classic, defining rock ‘n’ roll moments – from a Jimmy Page riff to a Kurt Cobain scream – virtually all of them are larger-than-life, impossible to ignore. That kind of scope is evident throughout “THE PLEASURE AND THE GREED,” the second Atlantic release from Boston’s Big Wreck-a band that’s clearly not hesitant to swing for the fences.
“Putting out an album with 16 songs gives people a lot to chew on,” says singer/guitarist Ian Thornley. “But that was the idea. I think it’s about time that people buying a CD get something for their money. Too many bands get the idea that they should focus on coming up with one really good song, and then a whole bunch of pale imitations of that.”
Big Wreck won’t have to field any such accusations in the wake of “THE PLEASURE AND THE GREED.” Zig-zagging from the grab-you-by-the-collar riffing of “Inhale” to the instantly infectious pop exultation of “Ladylike” (on which Thornley proves that his stringed prowess extends to the banjo as well), the quartet pulls off the rare trick of challenging the listener while paying close attention to the pleasure centers so much modern rock ignores.
“We like to keep things interesting for ourselves, but I hate it when people use their music to underscore a false sense of cool,” says Thornley. “There’s been enough of that over the last few years, and I think people are more interested in connecting with a band that plays hard, and plays with passion.”
For the past nine years, the members of Big Wreck have been doing just that, busting it out at clubs and theaters in the Northeast and beyond. Gigging on any stage that could contain their explosive sound honed the foursome’s powerful live show, winning them both a rabid fan following as well as a contract to record their 1997 Atlantic debut, “IN LOVING MEMORY OF…”
Featuring the rock radio favorites “That Song” and “The Oaf (My Luck Is Wasted)” – a top 10 Mainstream Rock smash – “IN LOVING MEMORY OF…” was also hailed by critics from coast to coast. The Boston Globe declared the album as “a melodic hard-rock gem,” while the New York Post raved that “Rock is back!” As the praise rolled in, Big Wreck pushed themselves even more relentlessly on the touring front, returning home only to pick up an “Outstanding Debut Band” honor at the prestigious Boston Music Awards.
“We’ve been through a lot of different learning processes,” says drummer Forrest Williams. “At one point, I bought into the idea that the more flashy you were, the better you were-but I got sick of that. Especially when you tour as much as we did after ‘IN LOVING MEMORY OF…’ you figure out that what matters is the energy, the groove.”
Those lessons are evident throughout “THE PLEASURE AND THE GREED,” which the band recorded with producer Dave Jerden, a veteran of sessions with bands as varied as Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and the Talking Heads. If Big Wreck’s debut – which largely expanded on their early demos – put fans on the ropes, this 16-song collection is sure to deliver the knockout blow.
“Recording this album was a 180-degree turn for us, going out to Los Angeles, holing up for months in a studio and working with a producer like Dave,” says Thornley, who, like most of his bandmates, moved from Boston in the late ’90s. “It took us out of our element, which was a challenge. Being in a foreign environment makes you focus on the music with no distractions, and I think that shows here.”
There’s no denying the pinpoint focus of tunes like the bone-rattling “Mistake” (which boasts some intense guitar interplay between Thornley and Brian Doherty) and the slow-burning album closer “Defined by What we Steal,” a heady gem propelled by the rhythms of Williams and bassist David Henning.
The diversity that marks “THE PLEASURE AND THE GREED” can be traced to many things-a veritable encyclopedia of musical tastes, years of swapping influences and months of hunkering down, foxhole-style to record. But the stew of emotions and riffs that bubble beneath that surface spring directly from the well of primary songwriter Ian Thornley’s psychic slipstream.
“It’s never been very hard for me to write songs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of time with a guitar in my hands, making sure the channels are clear,” says Thornley. “I’m always hoping to come up with the perfect verse, the perfect riff. I’ve always had the advantage of big ears and big hands, so I’ve got two things going for me.”
Copyright Warner Music 2001