By Erin Jardine
VANCOUVER — Big EviL is the product of converging personalities, their minds pickled by the pressure of jazz school, seeking an answer to some of the existential questions surrounding young educated musicians in a thankless environment. Big EviL was a non-committal jam band for five minds to experiment with the exponential growth of knowledge and talent as they incubated within Capilano University for four years. The band will play just about anywhere, and despite hosting tags of “noisy” and “wacky,” their performance will win over anyone with a display of mastery over instruments. Big EviL is Mike Allen (Bari Sax), Ridley Bishop (Tenor Sax), Nikko Whitworth (Bass), Lyle Isbister (Drums), and Elliot Langford (a recent addition on guitar).
Despite functioning as a regularly gigging band since 2008, their debut album Applebine is set to be released this month. When asked about the long timeline, Allen says, “I think floating around on various people’s computers we have at least two full albums in various states of production.” With four previous guitar players, content was sparked but the momentum to follow the tendrils of creation into release-ready songs would fall by the wayside. Applebine was recorded in Langford’s home, with a collaborative effort by all members of the band. “I think between the five of us, we became one person who knew how to use Logic,” laughs Allen.
The release of Applebine will come accompanied by a book detailing all of the sheet music complete with Big EviL’s notes and a collection of artwork by Gillian Zillion. “We’re playing up the schtick that we all went to music school [by releasing] sheet music. To have sheet music with something that sounds like this is legitimizing. It sounds like weird crazy noise, but look – we notated it out. It’s supposed to sound like that. A lot of times when people hear music that sounds a little left-of-centre, it gets written off really easily,” adds Allen. Big EviL is confident in the unique idea, with the artwork and eccentric musician’s notes being easily accessible to any person with varying degrees of music experience. However, “It’s usually the musicians that tend to enjoy us the most,” remarks Ibister, “We’re up there making musician jokes and enjoying ourselves – musicians really respond to that.”
Despite all of the songs being written before the album was named, the band insists that Applebine is the essence and theme of the album. The name emerged as Bishop took his first hit of salvia, and travelled to a place called Applebine. In this place, everything is different shades of brown. “I heard people saying ‘he’ll be fine, just leave him be,’ but they had no idea what’s going on. I heard a voice whispering ‘Applebine’ which is how I knew where I was. I had this vision where I was standing on top of a shrubbery and when they put me on the couch, I fell off the shrubbery and everything exploded into pigs. Brown pigs. When I described this to Big EviL, certain sounds that we made we began to acknowledge as ‘sounding Applebinian.’” The concept gave Big EviL the drive to finish the album, laughs along the way, and a way to describe their approach to creativity that is so weird their music becomes the drug trip. “Applebine came from the same place that Big EviL comes,” states Whitworth.
Big EviL perform at 333 on July 8.333, BC, Big EviL, British Columbia