Big White recently spent some time in the USA for SXSW and to play some shows in support of their sophomore album, Street Talk. Here's a little interview our pal Cody from the band conducted with his friend Noah from Navy Gangs of NYC whose record is coming out in Australia through the label he co-runs Dinosaur City Records.
Interview by Cody Munro Moore
BIG WHITE INTERVIEWS:
Navy Gangs are a band I was lucky enough to meet in New York a couple of years back. We became friends and ended up spending a few nights trumping around under the J-line, played a show at Aviv (R.I.P) in Brooklyn, and drank Modello's while eating multiple sandwiches from the Bodegas at every corner. After returning from America again this year I couldn't get their songs out of my head, I talked to Jordanne Chant who had also come and asked if she had the same problem, she said yes. So I couldn't help but ask if Dinosaur City could release their debut album Poach here in Australia and New Zealand. They said yes.
I can’t remember the night I met you, Noah, but I do remember your first single, ‘Special Glands’, which was a big favourite of mine. I think we were in Brooklyn and you’d just moved their from Omaha, Nebraska. What effect did the crossover from Mid-Western Nebraska to New York City have for you on those early songs?
Noah: Special Glands was a song that basically represents the Mid-western Nebraska to New York City crossover. It was conceived in the outskirts of Omaha Nebraska at my fathers house. The song was originally written for Matt and I’s band Coaxed and that song carried over into Navy Gangs. We felt like we wanted to continue playing that song in Navy Gangs because of the locality of its origins, how it felt and sounded like home, and the idea to share the sounds of home to unaware people on the east coast.
Is there anything you both hold onto from Omaha that you conceived as being wholly your own, something that a New Yorker couldn’t take away from you?
Noah: I feel extremely proud to come from Omaha. There is this mystical energy that takes place in the prairies of Nebraska, and specifically within the music community of Omaha, that energy is fully exemplified from such acts as David Nance, Bib, Simon Joyner, Anna McClellan and so on…the list could seriously go on. There is some sort of understanding in one another, that is shared within just the act of creating. Since the community is so small, there is room for people that come from different artistic and musical backgrounds to band together and create something that is wildly familiar but, at the same time, their own.
I feel it has been a long Winter for North America, and I felt the cold more than ever this year. There was snow on the sidewalks from weeks before, the whole damn city is a living fridge and the only respite is a diner or your living room. Does being cooped inside help with creativity, or is Summer more your thing?
Noah: There are ups and downs to these cycles that we are exposed to within our environment, the bleak mundaneness of the winter in New York was heavy this year, but It did give a lot of room for contemplation and creating. On the other-side, the feeling of being free in the summer, going on hikes, spending time with friends, and feeling the sun shine down on your back is an uplifting high that can also inspire a lot of sonic vibrations.
In Austin at SXSW, Big White got up and sang the chorus with you for your new single ‘Housekeeping’ and it was a heap of fun. As two bands on either side of the world I’d like to say we have a kindred spirit but without being too melancholy what do you think Big White and Navy Gangs share in common?
Noah: There is this quiet underlying understanding of what we believe in, I feel like it doesn’t have to be communicated too, which is completely mind-blowing if you ask me! We both seem to know what we are into, and that we know how to turn what we like into our own thing. Its like a positive feedback loop of reinforcing love for art, music and the act creating. There is a sense of humbleness I feel within the interactions we share together, that everyone is on the same page, knowing and feeling a common spirit, its extremely psychedelic…..
Grain Mag is based in Brisbane, Queensland. It is not quite the Nebraska of Australia, probably closer to the Miami of Florida. There’s talk of Navy Gangs making it to Australia this year. Brisbane is the sunny city, but they also built The Go Between Bridge. Is there any Australian songwriters that you grew up listening to that you’d love to run into at Southgate Mall?
Noah: I would love to see The Scientists play a swamp rock catastrophe of a set, followed by an even more cacophonous set by The Birthday Party.