Frederick Breedon IV, Getty Images Hank Williams Jr. has revealed his summer…
- Posted on Mar 9th 2010 11:32PM by Greg Chow
How did you form the band?
When I was a senior in high school, I played drums for the first college production of 'Hair' at Memphis St. Andy Hummel came to one of the shows. He said some friends were getting together to jam, and asked if I wanted to come along. I said sure. Over time, the group pared down to just me, Chris, and Andy. Alex was looking to return to Memphis and join a band, in the latter part of 1970. He came to see us play at some dance or something, and next thing you know, Alex was a part of the band.
How did you come up with your band name?
The studio was located across the street from a Big Star grocery store. Andy, Chris and Alex were out in the parking lot, trying to come up with a name, and there it was. Interestingly, it was a Lucky Foods prior to being a Big Star. We could have been Lucky Foods!
How did Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow join the band?
I met them through their rep at Geffen. They were playing CMJ in 1992. I was making A&R rounds for Ardent Studios. I got to see them play an acoustic set. Jon and Ken just knocked me out. They had the most angelic voices. I think they were born to sing together. That's how I was introduced to the Posies.
So in early 1993, I got a call from the University of Missouri, and they asked if Alex and I would like to get together and play some Big Star songs for their spring festival. Then they went about finding a couple of other guys to join us. I thought of [Jon and Ken] immediately, because when I met them they handed me a single of 'Feel' from '#1 Record,' and 'I Am the Cosmos,' from Chris Bell's solo record. They were so close to the original versions it was kind of spooky. It made sense to ask them to join in.
Could you describe your sound in your own words?
For me, I think it's just some great melodies, and voices that connect. Great lyrics that step outside the norm. It's a full range of dynamic human emotions, I think.
What are your musical influences?
The Beatles got me into and excited about music. The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Stax/Memphis artists -- Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Al Jackson.
Looking back at the legacy of Big Star, what are you proudest of?
I'm pretty proud of our having hung in there so long. I'm really proud of the music that we all created together, with [Ardent founder] John Fry. A lot is made of our not succeeding commercially, but at the end of the day, for me, I kind of achieved what was really exciting to me -- and that's being in a band that played music that connected pretty heavily and emotionally with me. And I still really enjoy playing it. It's amazingly satisfying to be in a band like Big Star and having such material that connects so well.
If you could change one thing from the past, what would it be?
You know, I'm pretty happy with where I am. I don't know that I would change anything, except the night that Chris Bell died. I may have come to the studio and grabbed him, put him in the car with me and said "Hey, why don't you ride home with me?" 'Cause he was in an automobile -- he ran into a telephone pole later that evening. And actually the crash didn't kill him, the pole fell on the car. That would definitely be one thing I would change.
How do you compare the two incarnations of Big Star?
I try not to compare them. They're linked by material and songs, but it's two different spaces in time. I just look at each and enjoy both. I think it's kind of dangerous to make those comparisons. It's kind of like, you lose your first wife, and then your second one comes along, and you kind of measure your second wife by your first. It's a dangerous thing to do. Each has its own personality, and each holds a pretty special place with me. The cool thing about Jon and Ken being in the band is that we have a lot more vocal power. We can do all those vocal parts that are on the record, and do them pretty easily. So that's pretty cool.
What are some differences between the first era and the current era of Big Star?
Well the cool thing now is that we get to play shows and we can have fun with it. It's a little different perspective, now that we aren't dependent on it to make a living. That, and we have an audience. We were on the 18-year marketing program -- where we release three albums and break up in '75, and you wait for an audience to develop. So by the time we got back together in '93, an audience had developed and people were familiar with our music. So it's pretty cool now going out and playing to people that are familiar with the music.
Any plans for a new Big Star record?
Not at the moment. But you know, I was surprised when Alex announced that we were going to make the last record [2005's 'In Space']. So, there's always lots of surprises.
Greg Chow is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.