Mysterious prog-or “Wonka-metal”-band Bigelf rises
from the depths of obscurity.
BY RANDY HARWARD
Bigelf has been
rocking Europe for a decade and they just barely started getting a foothold in
the States with last year’s Hex (on
Linda Perry’s Custard label), despite being something of a local legend in L.A. One might speculate
that the quartet’s seamless tapestry of Floydian space rock, Beatles melodies
and stonernaut muscle was too esoteric-or, say, good-to do anything more than
confuse label execs and the Nickelback Appreciation Society (Wassup, Lefsetz?
That band blows chimps from any serious perspective and you know it) but that’d
just invoke a complaint that can’t fade into obsolescence fast enough.
Fact is, there’s
just so much good stuff out there trying to punch a hole in the fabric of our
speakers that sometimes shit gets lost. Thank Pazuzu or Quetzalcoatl or
whatever winged demon you hold in high esteem that Bigelf has followed up Hex so soon with Cheat the Gallows. This album (their fourth, overall) shows they
aim to claim their rightful place in America’s-nay, the world’s-rock consciousness.
For a taste, visit www.myspace.com/bigelf to check out the single, “Money, It’s Pure Evil,” then hit YouTube to descend
into a swirling vortex of insanity on “Painkillers” and “Madhatter.” Or just
buy the records. All of ‘em. They’re a feast for anyone starved of good rock n’
The band: Damon
Fox, vocals, keyboards; Ace Mark, guitars; Duffy Snowhill, bass; Froth (just
BLURT: You’ve been around for how long? What kept you from a US
deal? Where have you been all of my life?
DAMON FOX: The origins of Bigelf go back a
while, kinda like Jimmy spiraling back in H.R.
Pufnstuf. 1988 to be precise. Songs like “Falling Bombs” and “Change” were
written then, blue prints of things to come if you will. As a matter of fact,
March 17th, 1992 marks the first live gig for the elves. How
fitting? On St Patty’s Day nonetheless. I guess people weren’t
ready for majestic Mellotron mushroom clouds, satanic riffs from hell all
dressed up with glitter and Rasputin beards? In the 90’s the industry was
focused on signing bands that had plaid shirts and that, “Yeaheeeeeh!” vocal
sound…you know the one I’m talking about. We almost had a deal with EMI and
we did end up recording our first album Closer
to Doom with Sylvia Massy (great lady) in 1995. Though nothing substantial
at the time came out of it. It did later lead us to our beloved Sweden
though, so go figure.
Seems like Hex just barely came out, and now here’s Cheat the Gallows. There’s more to the story, though…
Yes, yes, how long do you have? Hex was recorded in the summer 2002,
released in Scandinavia
in the fall 2003. We were dropped in the winter of 2004. Oh, how I love the
seasons. Long story short, no one would release it outside of Scandinavia after that. Seriously,
I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t until Linda Perry and I sat down to discuss a
new album that we decided Hex would
be re-released on Custard in the US. It finally saw the light of day
in the fall of 2007, almost four years after it was originally released. I
guess there are worse stories.
What’s with you guys and pop artists? Keys,
Aguilera? OPRAH? Ain’t that like
Strawberry Shortcake endorsing Leatherface?
What about Charles Manson covering a Carrie
Underwood song? Hey man, pop stars need to get the Led out too? Here’s the
quick: Christina Aguilera was doing a song for the Lennon/Darfur benefit, she
asked Linda Perry to produce it. Being a John Lennon track Linda thought of me
and the elves laid down the music for Xtina’s cover of “Mother.” It’s really
good actually, a very hard song to cover. Kudos to her for having the balls to
try it. AK? I passed her a CD one day at a recording session and she really dug
it, mentioned us in O (Oprah’s rag).
Soccer moms and Bigelf? Hell, yeah. Hey, I can’t control the universe, people
need prog rock.
Where did Keys get the Stevie Wonder
comparison? Is the problem that people don’t get you? Why wouldn’t they?
Stevie Wonder? Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe she’s
saying we got soul? She’s pretty badass so I don’t care. To get a shout out
from her is really something special; love to do a song with her. And yes,
sometimes people definitely don’t get the Elf! Do I know why? No, but I’ll take
a stab at it. There’s too much going on for most folk inside Bigelf. Times have
changed; mass consumption of music is pretty basic these days. One or two
chords, some trite lyric, all pre-packaged and sugar coated. The poor kids
today. Fortunately, more tweens are getting into metal again, so that’s
encouraging. Maybe people just don’t like my top hat? Something about the Slash
club and they won’t let me in?
She did say you walked out of a picture
book from the 1970s, which is kinda true. And it would explain why
you guys are just magically appearing. Unless, you know, you’re tight with
Never met Criss Angel but I do
have séances with Carter the Great! I have to say there’s something
very Paul Stanley about Criss Angel, right?
You’re also one of the few bands who’ve hit
upon a seamless and awesome hybrid of Sabbath, Floyd, Beatles and KISS. What’s
Thanks. The only secret is that we are a real
band. We live and breathe this music and take it all the way, not like some posers
I won’t mention.
Bigelf might draw from familiar sources, but
your sound is still original, and you have a stage vibe that’s all your own.
Maybe it’s close to Hawkwind, but you really do have this Mad
Hatter-meets-Dr. Satan thing happenin’, a brooding, sinister, somehow playful
Thank you sir. It’s not that thought out
really. Every artist is inspired by something whether you’re Alice Cooper,
Madonna or Radiohead. I’m fond of vaudeville imagery, yesteryear
magicians and haunted carnivals. Arthur Brown, Willy Wonka, T.Rex, and Adam Ant
have all touched me somehow (not literally, get your mind out of the gutter). I
want to be a pirate, a Viking, a vampire and a priest all at once. Anything
that is aesthetic can be an influence. For me, everyday is Halloween.
Wait, isn’t that a song?
Speaking of: You look absolutely
evil-definitely not pop friendly. Are you some kinda demon, Damon? Is that why
“God gave [you] the blackball?” And if so, can you hook a brutha up with
eternal life and some magic powers?
God gave me the blackball? Sounds like a twisted Argent song, funny how everyone thinks
Kiss wrote that? Anyway, I broke the curse, that’s what Cheat the Gallows is about. I guess Bigelf does have eternal life.
We’re like Aerosmith, we’re never going away. I mean we survived post-grunge
syndrome in the 90’s and just managed to escape the clutches of emo after the
millennium. By the way, I want a sub-genre. Doom-pop, Beatle-prog, Wonka-metal,
Glam-hobbit? Can you hook a brutha up? I don’t have magic powers but I did
score a Mellotron for $80 bucks? And you know what? I made it disappear right
into the back of my Chevy van!
Hold on a sec-all this talk about demons and
commercial music, and you have a KISS-style poppy, caveman anthem like
“Superstar” on the record. Have you sold your soul for rock ‘n’ roll stardom?
If so, can you hook a brutha up with some groupies and eternal stamina?
Selling your soul to achieve fame and fortune
doesn’t work or I would have done it already. And groupies? I saw you at SXSW
and you wanted me to sign some Garbage Pail/Wacky Pack trading cards, right? We’ll
have to work on that next time we hang. I could hook you up with the Cliff’s
Notes to the elfin bestseller 1100 Years
in the Tantric Hall: Rivendell Edition…
[Photo Credit: Randy Harward]