.Big, Big Business

Heavy metal duo returns to celebrate 20 years

When Big Business–the sludge metal duo of Jared Warren (bass, lead vocals and synthesizer) and Coady Willis (drums, backing vocals)–started in 2004, they weren’t necessarily planning for the future. Both musicians had played in pretty prominent bands from Washington that already made their marks in the national underground music scene but were looking for something fresh (Willis with The Murder City Devils and Warren with KARP, The Whip and Tight Bros From Way Back When) .

Twenty years later, the two are still pushing Big Business forward with heavy riffs and sonic builds and thunderous drops. This Wednesday, Feb 21 they return to Santa Cruz with power trio, Terry Gross, to blow out Moe’s Alley for one of their eight tour dates in the Pacific Northwest and West Coast.

So, is Big Business doing anything special to celebrate two decades of sludginess?

“Yeah,” exclaims Willis. “We’re doing an eight day, West Coast tour in our 20th anniversary as a band!”

He laughs before adding,

secure document shredding

“We’re going to try for a new record. But as far as definite windows to make that happen, it will probably be later in the second half of this year.”

Believe it or not, it’s this type of humor that Big Business is known for.

Sure, they’re a massively heavy band with seriously precise musicianship that Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne–of sludge godfathers The Melvins–asked them to join his band between 2006 and 2016. But they also have a sense of humor with song titles like “Diagnostic Front” [a pun on the punk band, Agnostic Front],” “Another Fourth of July. . .Ruined” and “The Moor You Know” the last of which is off their last full-length, 2019’s The Beast You Are.

Besides, what other metal group would do promo photos of getting haircuts?

After forming in 2004 Big Business released their debut full-length, Head For The Shallow the following year. In 2006 they moved to Los Angeles to work with the Melvins. Between 2007 and 2019 they cut five albums and eight additional EPs or singles as Big Business while still working on their other projects.

While it’s not an expansive body of work, what they lack in quantity they definitely make up for in quality. Some–like 2016’s Command Your Weather–are much darker than others with chest rattling beats and greasy chords underlying vocals that flow from solo screams to clean harmonies.

Yet that raises the question: if Big Business is only just now starting on a new record, what were they doing during the 2020 lockdowns?

“Uuuuuh, crying,” Willis says.

 “I set up my own recording studio. I already had some of the stuff, so I built it out. I also did a bunch of remote sessions playing drums on other people’s music.”

He says when things reopened in the later part of 2021 he toured as much as possible with bands like the Murder City Devils (who reformed in 2006) and the Melvins once again (Willis filled in on drums for them on last year’s tour with Japan’s Boris because the Melvins’ regular drummer, Dale Crover, underwent emergency spinal surgery).

Willis has also been busy with his other, other band–the esteemed High On Fire–with stoner metal high priest, Matt Pike. Willis joined the illustrious doom trio in 2021 after their founding drummer decided it was time to step down. 

Then there’s the matter of life’s obligations and distance. Willis stayed in Los Angeles but Warren eventually moved back to Olympia to raise his family.

So what does it all mean? Go see Big Business this Wednesday at Moe’s Alley because not even they know when the band will have the next chance.

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