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Business Casual

Metal duo Big Business are serious about not taking their job too seriously.


Big Business determine what kind of business they bring to a show by how well they play live—or at least that’s what I assume while talking to drummer Coady Willis. If they play poorly one night, I joke, then they are obviously small business that night. When they rock a sold-out amphitheater, it’s safe to say that they are very big business. And because it’s super windy on Willis’ end of the line, I have to repeat my lame observation again, only this time with a gusto that betrays attempts to buddy up.

RB: “You guys should really talk about what kind of business you bring to the show, cause it’s like, in your name!!”
Coady Willis: “Sorry, it’s windy. Could you repeat that?”
RB: (Repeat question but with 24-point font)
CW: Oh, yeah (pity laugh), we should start talking like that.

Whether or not they actually take my advice to heart, it’s indisputable that Willis and bassist/singer Jared Warren have been very involved with some … er, very big business lately. Fresh off the release of their pummeling sophomore effort Here Come the Waterworks (Hydrahead) and a successful stint opening up for metal heavyweights Tool, Big Business are only now embarking on their own headlining tour in support of Waterworks. Oh, and they’re also honorary members of Washington underground legends The Melvins.

But keeping a busy schedule isn’t anything new to Willis, who has had his fingers in a lot of musical pies for awhile now. He drummed for Seattle punks Murder City Devils and Dead Low Tide before seeking out harder, more technically challenging material with Big Business.

 “I’ve always been into heavier music, so it wasn’t that big of a jump for me,” he says. “Jared used to be in a couple different bands: Karp and The Whip. But then both of our bands became inactive, and I was bored. Our bands had played shows together, and we saw each other at parties. So I decided to give him a call. We decided we just kind of liked writing songs as a two-piece.”

Playing as a duo has definitely worked in their favor. Thanks to Willis’ complex chops and Warren’s wall-of-bass (mixed with vocals that recall Motorhead singer Lemmy’s most lecherous highs), they achieve the same thick, intense sound that most bands achieve with the help of at least four members. Of course, the whole one-plus-two-equals-rock formula has resulted in some rather undue comparisons.

“It’s easy to lump us in with Death From Above 1979 because of the whole bass/drum-thing, even though we sound nothing like them. We’ve even been compared to The White Stripes, but I really think having two people in the band is the least interesting thing about us,” Willis says.

Perhaps more noteworthy is Big Business’s lack of ego and self-importance—qualities that might be attributed to their background as sideline musicians, forever shadowed by lead singers and guitarists. And, while their music could provide the soundtrack to pagan sacrificial ceremonies, track titles “Another 4th of July … Ruined” and “White Pizzazz” indicate there’s more than a hint of underlying humor to all of their heaviness.

“We take ourselves seriously, but we’re also trying to keep our band fun—not a job, a punch-in-a-clock formula. I’ve been in bands that weren’t very much fun after a while. I wasn’t having a good time, but I did it because it’s what I wanted to do,” Willis says. “When we’re putting it out, we’re doing what we do. It’s not that hard to get.

“I look at magazines like AP and every band looks the same; every band looks so serious and severe. You have a lip ring. I don’t believe you’re that hard, I don’t believe that. It’s not that serious, your band is whatever you want to be. Music should be a fun thing—there should be something that you get out of it besides the money. If you’re not getting something out of it, you’re an idiot.”

Liquid Joe’s
1249 E. 3300 South
Wednesday, Aug. 1
9 p.m.