Interview ~ Jesse Hensley of BIG Something

First off, let us give you an introduction to the band BIG Something just in case some of you may not be familiar with them (shame on you if you’re not). They are a six piece powerhouse that blends together rock, pop, funk and other elements to create a very special sound that has won over critics and fans alike since their debut album Songs in the Middle of Nowhere was released in 2010. The band consists of Nick MacDaniels (guitar/vocals), Doug Marshall (bass), Josh Kagel (keys/trumpet), Casey Cranford (sax/EWI), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar) and Ben Vinograd (drums). The band has proven to be quite a deadly combination because if they don’t totally win you over with their recorded material (which we can’t understand why they wouldn’t), then their live show will definitely make you a believer. It has evolved into something of epic proportions with tales being shared by fellow music lovers like urban legend stories around a camp fire. The guys are about to unleash their fourth studio album Tumbleweed on February 24 and we sat down with guitarist Jesse Hensley who gave us some insight into the new album as well as other happenings on the BIG Something homefront.

Let’s talk a little bit about the new album Tumbleweed. You guys worked with John Custer again and there definitely seems to be a very special chemistry there. Did you ever consider working with another producer this time? Tell us a little bit about that relationship with John.

Jesse Hensley/BIG Something: There is definitely a very special chemistry with John and he has a way of pulling the best out of all of us during the recording process. We’ve always enjoyed working with him and appreciate the experience and enthusiasm he brings to the table. He can tell you a story or a joke that will influence how you play a part or line in a song in a way you never heard or thought to play it. It’s always fun and feel like we learn so much with every album we create together.

I read in one of your press releases that this was the first album that you guys recorded in a professional studio. What were some of the main differences that came out of this recording process?

Tumbleweed was recorded and mixed over a time span of 2 weeks in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Recording Studio. The first week was dedicated to set up and tracking with the second week dedicated to only editing and mixing. Having a timeline of 1 week for tacking pushed us to really focus on the most important aspects of these songs without over thinking the process too much. Also, being in a pro studio allowed access to tons of killer gear and other resources that we’ve never had to work with before. When not working in the studio, we were all able to live as a unit in the Echo band house and really enjoy our downtime together too. Having that relaxing environment to work and rest really influenced our performances in a lot of positive ways I believe.

I’m a music nerd and I love to find why a band chose a particular title for an album. In your case, it’s one of the tracks on the album. What was it about that one that made you choose it?

It’s always nice to meet a fellow music nerd. I think we felt that the song “Tumbleweed” best represents where we are as a band right now musically and just seemed fitting for the overall theme of the album. We felt that it showcases something special from each one of us.

Your second track “Passenger” was recently released; it’s such a fun song and it’s one of our favorites on the album. Any in-sight you can provide into it?

It really is such a fun song to play live! So glad to hear you guys dig it. Nick and our super talented friend Paul Interdonato tapped into something special when writing the lyrics to this tune. It’s a song that I feel is relatable to so many people in a multitude of situations. I think it’s a song about not giving up and keeping the driving wheels steady on the rails even when the pistons are smoking and the coupling rods are ready to fly off at any moment.

You guys have had a pretty impressive run since your debut album in 2010, impressing fans and critics alike along the way. How do you see yourselves on the completion of your new album as opposed to who you were going in to record your first album?

Hey thanks! We’ve certainly been on the move a lot and playing as many shows as possible. With staying that busy we’ve definitely become tighter as a band and are still constantly experimenting with new ways to fuse our favorite things about music together. Each album we’ve released is kind of like its own little snapshot in time and when looking back I think we all see growth. I think that this album in particular shows BIG steps in new directions. We are all the same dudes we’ve always been and have just as much, if not more drive than ever to continue making really cool original music. We are so excited for the future and hitting new peaks together musically!

You guys are based in North Carolina although some of you aren’t from here and are now transplants. I have no clue who will be answering, but what makes North Carolina so special to you guys?

Yeah, we have a really neat and eclectic mix of people in the band. Nick (lead singer, guitar) and Ben (drummer) who are originally from the D.C. area, and Josh (synths,keys,trumpet) who grew up in Delaware all moved here to go to college. As a native, I know North Carolina is a beautiful state with tons of verity. There is a little something here for everyone ya’ know? For example, in a single day you can travel from some really beautiful and amazing beaches to the Appalachian Mountains. The music scene here is constantly growing too. On an artistic level, it’s so easy to be influenced and inspired to create here because North Carolina has become such a melting pot of genres and personalities. I mean, historically there have been so many amazing musicians and songwriters that have come out of NC. Artist such as Earl Scruggs, Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Roberta Flack, Ben Folds, James Taylor, Maceo Parker and Ryan Adams were all from the Old North State. Hell, don’t forget about Chris Daughtry, Petey Pablo and KC & JoJo too! Basing the band here has had its touring perks as well. We live in a region where it’s fairly convenient to travel anywhere on the east coast and throughout the last several years we have been able to really work some really great markets rather frequently. Not too Frequent but, you know… just right.

You have an album release party on February 24 and 25 at The Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC. I know you’ve played there before and it may be a logistics thing, but why did you choose to do it there?

We played some of our first shows as a band there way back when it was in the old location and have continued to play shows there for years now after they’ve grown to being a larger venue. The Tiger is close to home for several of us and the logistics are great for sure but, it just kind of felt right. It’s also just a great venue on a production standpoint and really gives us space to put on two really great shows. We’ve become great friends with the staff and owners over the years as well so it has a lot of natural positive energy in the room.

I know you probably have tons of live shows and festivals lined up, but what’s on your radar that you’d like to mention in this article?

Whoa! There are so many awesome things happening right now and tour dates that are being updated almost daily at www.bigsomething.com, Facebook and even our new Big Something phone app that’s available for download. We’re super excited about our upcoming Colorado tour in March. We’ll be playing Sweetwater 420 Festival and also really pumped to have the opportunity of opening eight shows for Umphrey’s McGee in April. I know this is in the past but… We just got off of Jam Cruise 15 and had an amazing first experience. Seeing that many otherworldly musicians collaborating together and mingling around the boat amongst friends and patrons was one of the highlights of our musical lives. Not to mention we were there to play two sets while sailing somewhere off the coast of Jamaica. Hahaha! Just wow!

Any closing message for the readers and fans?

Um, be careful drinking milk these days; it has lots of hormones in it. Also, pay attention to your sugar intake and try to drink lots and lots of water.

Order your copy of Tumbleweed HERE

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