BC & The Big Rig: Oklahoma Rock and Roll
Tulsa, Okla. – BC & the Big Rig are celebrating their one year anniversary this month, and things are looking good for the Okie rockers.We caught up with them before their show at Cain’s Ballroom on January 27th, where they opened for Old Dominion to a sold out crowd. I got the pleasure of hearing their latest two songs, “The River” and “Opinions”, during both sound check and the show. They are both excellent songs that I think will go over well with fans. One thing is for sure about the band, they are definitely a hard hitting rock and roll band.
The members of the band are Brandon Clark on guitars and lead vocal, Sam Naifeh on guitar and vocal, Ryan McCall on lead guitar and vocal, Chris Bell on bass guitar and vocal, and James Purdy on drums and vocal. That’s right, they all sing. This gives the band an extra layer of depth in harmonies on each song, which makes them stand out in a big way. I was lucky enough to have been at the very first show for the band back in January 2015 at The Mercury Lounge, as well as at many of them along the way, and I can definitely see the evolution and transitions that they have made throughout the year. They have only gotten bigger and better, in sound as well as performance. The current album Day Late Dollar Short was released in September 2015 and was packed with 12 songs full of punch.
“The current release is going well. It’s taken people a little bit to warm up to the fact that it’s a rock band I think, but everyone who’s listened has really received it well. I think that the people that still come out really like it. They really like the band because it’s different and has big kick ass guitars and it’s loud and rocking. It’s a rock band,” said Clark.
They are definitely a rock band; their sound is loud with heavy handed screaming guitars and fast paced drum beats. Their live shows are so full of energy and attitude that it’s damn near impossible to just stand still and listen. It’s a show that requires you to jump in and get moving.
“We don’t conform to the norms or standards of the music scene. As musicians, we play what we want to play. As listeners, we play what we want to hear. It’s very special to have that freedom in a band,” Said McCall.
All five of the guys readily agree that this band has been one of the most enjoyable experiences that they have had as musicians. Each member of the band has been playing for many years with other bands and projects, but they all believe that they have found something special in this particular combination of musicians. After you watch a live performance, you will no doubt agree with that. I know I do.
“I haven’t had this much fun in a band since high school. Back then it was fun because it was new and cool. Playing with BC and the Big Rig is fun because it is effortless. Every member in the band comes with the understanding that music is a universal language and should above all else generate a sense of excitement in the listener,” said Bell.
There is definitely a current of excitement coursing through the crowd during their shows. Not only are the songs energizing and fun, but their stage presence and interactions with one another during the shows make it all that more enjoyable. They all definitely know what they are doing, and they do it well. You can also tell just by watching them that they really enjoy what they are doing and as well as just enjoy working with one another, which shines through in a big way on the quality of their music and performances.
“One thing that’s been surprising for me because of my luck with bands in the last 10 years is just how well we get along, even being a group of five guys which is a big band. We do really truly enjoy getting into a van and driving somewhere and hanging out with each other. We genuinely like each other and that comes across in the way we play and the way we sound,” said Clark.
The guys all agreed with that sentiment, they each had something to say about the dynamics of the relationships within the band.
“What I love about the Big Rig is the camaraderie we share. We are like a family. We appreciate and support all that we do both musically and at our homes. Whether it’s taking shifts to drive eight hours after a gig to see our families, or borrowing each other’s guitars during a gig. It’s a good feeling knowing I am sharing the stage with such gifted and talented musicians and even better friends,” said McCall.
“What I love about this band, is that we all are very family oriented. We all kind of agree that we love this band but family comes first and we’re going to do that and we’re going to rock while we can do it. That’s what I love; I love the accountability we have with each other, with our family life and everything,” said Naifeh.
“I think the coolest moment for me was when the five of us finally got together in a room, when we were in Hank’s studio and we were working on “Flag”. The album was done and Brandon brings us this song and we’re like yeah that song has got to be on the album. So we all five went into the studio, that was the first time all five of us were in a room together giving input and doing all of this stuff, and we have just taken off since then with each other,” said Purdy.
“There is a great amount of mutual respect in this band; a lot of humbleness, which is important. That makes the creative process so easy and it makes the shows really fun,” said Bell.
The guys obviously enjoy one another both on stage and off, which is definitely important to achieving longevity in a band. I think the friendships they have will only make it that much easier for this band to continue on an upward trajectory.
“I like the looseness of the band. Like when we are on stage we can totally be goofing off but totally be killing it at the same time, it’s just a real loose confidence. Everyone in the band is really good at what they do, so you know nothing is going to fall out or get lost. It really kind of lets up every body’s guard to just have fun and its different every night so you can always catch different licks every night. I guess we kind of impress each other, especially Ryan. Ryan is the one that impresses us all,” said Clark.
McCall is really an amazing guitar player, and watching him do his thing on stage is impressive. I would venture to say that he’s one of the very top guitar players in Oklahoma, which is just another reason to come see this band. Just watching the passion and creativity he has for guitar playing, which shines through on the smile on his face while he plays, is a sight to see. And that’s just one member of the band, each of them bring something phenomenal to the mix. The hard part is figuring out which member to pay attention to during the shows, it’s a constant battle of switching around and watching them all do their thing.
“Since we all come from different backgrounds, we each bring a unique sound to the band. It’s nice as a guitar player to have the freedom to be creative and play whatever I’m feeling in the moment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s rock and roll. We are constantly evolving and fine tuning our sound. At our core, there is no mistake we are a rock and roll band,” said McCall.
“We say it to each other all the time, every night there’s something that happens on stage and we’re all just like,’ Wow… Yeah… Alright… That’s it’. At some point every night that’s going to happen,” added Purdy.
The band has another great year already getting lined up for 2016. They will be playing the Axis stage at Rocklahoma on Thursday May 26 which will no doubt be an amazing festival. Other great rock names sharing billing that weekend include Rob Zombie, The Scorpions and Megadeth just to name a few. The Big Rig will also be participating in the inaugural G Fest in Muskogee on Friday June 17. That festival also sports some great names in music including Merle Haggard, Turnpike Troubadours, John Fullbright and many more. Things are also lining up for the Big Rig to join in at Sturgis in August again this year, which will be the third time they have gotten to be a part of it if so. Not only do they have some great gigs lining up for the year, but the guys are about to get back into the studio and start working on another new album.
“The songwriting has just kind of continued through everything and now we actually have time to sit down and write parts to the new songs, and the whole process is full steam ahead really. We hope to have it out this summer; boat season. I call it boat season because so many people in Oklahoma spend so much time out on the lake, and that’s where people listen to a lot of music. That way when everyone is out partying on the lake they have a new record. Oklahoma terms: ‘When’s your record coming out?’ Boat season,” said Clark with a chuckle.
“On the record that’s out right now, we all came in at different points. I joined halfway through it and then we brought Ryan on, so with this one this is really the first time we’re all sitting in the same room writing songs together. Brandon’s bringing ideas and we’re all saying “Well what if we try this? What if we do this?” We all have input so it really truly is a band effort,” said Naifeh.
“I think it’s going to be more rock. Of course it’s going to have big drums and bass but so far the songs that we have written have been really guitar oriented due to the fact that Sam and Ryan are doing a bunch of double leads; guitar harmonies. It’s kind of like a modern southern rock sound. But that’s really what we want to focus on because we have three guitars in the band, and besides also being able to sing harmonies we have some of the best guitar players around here, and let’s utilize it and make it work,” said Clark.
“We have the ‘guitarmonies’. We can make it pretty, but we sure do like to make it dirty too. You’re going to get loud guitars, loud bass, loud drums and lots of vocals. And it’s been a lot of fun getting to hear each other’s input,” said Purdy.
Having already heard the new songs “The River” and “Opinions”, I would venture to say that this next album will be even better than the last one, and I am looking forward to it. Even with only a year under their belt for this band so far, they are definitely progressing forward.
“It’s different enough that I think that people need to see it and its good enough that I think people need to see it. We just gotta get onto bigger and better things. We’re getting a good year lined up, the gigs we have coming up are better and getting better. It just takes time. Even though we’ve all been around different bands forever, once you just start a band it literally takes a couple years before anybody realizes who you are,” said Clark.
I think this band is resurrecting the good old rock and roll shows from days past. In a music world that is constantly evolving and striving to create something completely new, I think that this band is sticking with something that is tried and true and works; rock music. But they are also doing it in a way that keeps it fresh and interesting. By focusing on in-your-face guitar riffs and layers of guitar sounds, as well as layers of vocal harmonies, it keeps it creative. I think that their Twitter bio says it all: “Americana Rock N Roll from Tulsa, Ok. We’ll melt your face… better bring extra make up and a helmet.”
If you haven’t checked them out then now is definitely a great time to do so. They have plenty of shows in February; Feb. 13 at Pickle’s Pub in Tulsa, Feb. 19 at PJ’s in Tulsa, Feb. 20 at Max’s Garage in Muskogee, Feb. 26 at Buck’s in Omaha Ne., and Feb 27 at The Wormy Dog in Oklahoma City. You can find more information on them at www.brandonclarktulsa.com as well as on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Listen to their music on Spotify or Itunes.