BiG MERiNO – Debut album Suburban Wildlife
Sydney based Alt-Country/ Rock/ Soul band Big Merino released their debut album Suburban Wildlife on the 13th of May 2018, all recorded and engineered by Russell Pilling over three weeks at Damian Gerard Studios.
Big Merino songwriters Alex and Stuart write socially and politically-charged song lyrics that are sometimes gentle and nostalgic and at other times nothing less than a fierce cry for revolution.
Big Merino’s music has a handmade quality to it, they try to blur the lines between Rock, Country, Blues, Roots, Soul, Funk, Grunge occasionally and make their way into lesser known genres. Stuart’s passion for New Orleans second lane and Cuban music has its influences in the bass lines and rhythms of several songs.
How did the Big Merino start Alex?
It just grew like topsy, at first it was Stuart and I we went to school together and we played in bands together for years. It was just two old friends jamming and making up tunes then suddenly there was a bass player and finally we found a drummer (We did manage to explode another drummer along the way) and my wife had a birthday coming up so we played a few songs and after that we just kept going.
What was the first record you bought? And what drove you to make music Alex?
My first record I think it was “Night at the Opera”. It was awesome but I remember ABBA being on high rotation a lot back then or it may have been something deeply uncool.
It’s hard to walk past something as beautiful as a guitar and not want to pick it up. I was your regular earnest, spotty, undateable 15 year old when I first started playing the guitar. I never lost the passion and my early influences were all those sixties and seventies bands.
What was the first record you bought? And what started your journey to make music Stuart?
My first record was The Monkees “Someday Man”. I loved that song! It was classic 60’s pop song written probably by Neil Diamond or some other great songwriter. The B side was a Mike Nesmith song called ‘Listen to The Band’.
In my early 20’s I lived in London with a friend who introduced me to the infamous 100 Club. At that stage it was a Jazz/ Blues venue and I was lucky enough to see several old Blues legends like Memphis Slim, Nina Simone and Slim Gaillard. The night I saw Memphis Slim my whole world changed and I was going to be a performer.
My other big influence is Black Gospel Music. I spent years listening to the great Gospel groups like The Soul Stirrers and The Swan Silvertones – trying to emulate that sometimes ferocious, sometimes tender vocal delivery.
What are the future plans for Big Merino?
Get our album done and out there, get some gigs at festivals and play to bigger audiences, more travelling and playing & singing!
Other cameos on the album include:
Featuring guest performances from the creme de la creme of Australia’s musical talent, including:
Musician of the Year at Tamworth Music Festival Clare O-Meara, player extraordinaire Jonathan Zwartz double bass, Johnny G from Johnny G and the E-Types on piano, organ and accordion, Australia’s most sought after percussionist Jess Ciampa, Living legend James Greening on trombone, sousaphone, euphonium, trumpet, flugelhorn and pocket cornet, the pedal steel player of choice for Australia’s leading country performers Michel Rose from the band The Catholics, a string quartet from the Sydney Chamber Orchestra. Stuart’s wife Alice is featured on 2 songs for vocals.
Beach sloth – “Big Merino goes for a powerful, heartfelt sound on the symphonic folk musings of Suburban Wildlife.”
Dancing About Architecture (by Dave Franklin) – “The art of pinning down a band in just a few generic descriptions or a handy soundbite is the stock-in-trade of the music reviewer but I have to admit that it will take a better man than me to concisely pin down Big Merino.”
Middle Tennessee Music.com (by Joshua (J.Smo) Smotherman) – “Comprising of a team of seasoned music makers, Big Merino is the culmination of various musical styles, years of various experiences and the talented personalities which have come together like Voltron to form an appealing, soul-infused rock record that can be listened to from beginning to end…multiple times…without getting old.”
Carol Albert releases her new album ‘ Fly Away Butterfly, a Jazzy, Soulful offering with some modern twists and talks to us about her early influences-
Tell us about the moment you decided to become a Songwriter and Performer?
It was never a conscious decision . I grew up with music in my church playing the Organ for Worship Services and Singing with the Oldschool southern “Singing Schools” of the South where we learned Solfege (shape-Do-Re-Mi ) notes which we sang to the music instead of lyrics to Gospel Songs. I took piano lessons as well while I was growing up. I didn’t decide to major in music/piano until my Sophomore year of College. It was after I graduated from College that I decided to play Pop Music in Clubs, Bars and Private Events as well as teaching private Piano Lessons.
How did my family feel about it?
My Dad publicly announced at a family gathering that he would give me 10 cents when I graduated from College because that is all my Degree would be worth. He always thought I should just be a school-teacher.
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
My music is a combination of Smooth Jazz, Ambient World and New Age Music. I intersperse Instrumental Piano and Vocals with other instruments like Saxophone, Guitar, Bass , Drums . With some really upbeat tunes mixed with more introspective Ballads that are Piano driven.
What is the first record you bought and why?
I bought the Album “Close To The Edge” by Yes because it was my 1st Concert to ever attend. I was blown away and listened to the record until the Grooves were worn down. Then Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. The keyboards were so over my head I just listened over and over trying to figure it all out.
You are on stage with Hans Zimmer. What do you say?
i would be awkward and speechless but, having seen him this summer in Atlanta, I think he would be very earthy and friendly. I wouldn’t know what to say except “ I’m in awe of your work! “
What is the one thing you want/need that you think will make you a successful artist? Why?
What is success? is it making enough money to retire and travel around the World or is it having the ability to create music that is so intrinsically satisfying that it doesn’t matter if you ever do anything else? Success for me is reaching as many ears as possible and have people contact me saying “Your music is beautiful . it really touched my soul. We want to hear more.” Of course , making it monetarily feasible is always a challenge and some people equate success with how much money you make/made. Recognition is always a nice validation that your work is successful with monetary rewards.
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Joel Sena is a Sydney saxophonist and producer with his debut self-titled EP expected for release 11 November, 2016. The first single off the EP, “Be With You,”Featuring Female Vocals from Phoebe will be available 7 October, 2016.
Listen to previews of the EP here: joelsena.com/music