Big Drill Car Interview

Originally printed in Spinal Jaundice #9 – 1989


Pure and simple hook-filled rock from California. It’s the strictly meat and potatoes route, with a slightly personal tone to the lyrics. They’re not out to make any solid political movements or show up on MacNeil/Lehrer, but they for sure provide a sound worth tapping into. They’ve got a brand new recommended LP “Album Type Thing” out and are going to be touring the U.S. and Canada in early 1990. If they’re in your hometown, you must go. I had a chance to speak with Frank Daly, vocals.

MJ: How did M.I.A. evolve into Big Drill Car?
FD: Well me and the guitar player just started jamming, messing around like a ‘party’ band. That’s how it pretty much started, we just hooked up with a couple friends of ours who played drums and bass, and I started to sing.

MJ: Is what you’re doing now at all similar to M.I.A.?
FD: Yes it’s pretty much the same, what we were doing was a lot of covers at first. But it’s basically along the same lines.

MJ: How did you select a name like Big Drill Car?
FL: For lack of a better one, actually. Our friend like made up the name before we even had a band together and we said yeah, let’s keep it.

MJ: Even the package of your album is pretty simple and straight on. What’s the image on the front – the only one really?
FD: On the front cover, what that is is a needle. Like a microscopic picture of a phonograph needle.

MJ: So how would you describe your music now if you had to? Someone down here said “R.E.M. gone mad,” or early Replacements. Would you buy that?
FD: Wow, that’s real flattering actually. That’s uh…I go for that, yeah. I would just say it’s like the first record but we’re like getting older I guess. Our first record is a 6-song EP called “The Small Block.” It’s still available but kind of hard to get a hold of. I don’t even have a personal copy of it.

MJ: So you guys are on Cruz Records, which is now linked and distributed by SST Records. How do you think BDC fits in with all the stuff on their label?
FD: Well they seem to carry everything. It’s such a broad spectrum that they have, you’d kind of figure that we’d fit in there somewhere. I mean they have everything. Stuff from like Elliot Sharp to HR. And even Overkill.

MJ: What are some of your favorites from SST and otherwise?
FD: SST bands I like the basics. I like Black Flag, The Descendents, I like Dinosaur Jr. a lot, Sonic Youth, Bad Brains. As far as things not on SST I like the Replacements, Soul Asylum. I like Voi Vod.

MJ: The last I heard, the metal thing was a big monopoly there in Southern California. Is it? Do you play live a lot?

FD: Where we are, we’re about 45 miles south of Los Angeles. If we wanted to get into say, like the Roxy or the Whiskey, chances are we’d have to do some kind of one of those pay-and-play scams. But that’s really not our scene, we don’t really have to deal with all that kind of crap. And that’s exactly what it is by the way. That pay-and-play stuff. It’s a burn.

MJ: It’s been some time since I heard M.I.A. What was your function?
FD: I played bass on the last record, “After The Fact.” That’s the only one Mark and I played on. The other ones were the older original lineup and they were more of a hardcore outfit prior to the original lineup/breakup. And then once the band reformed it became like a softer approach. Same attitude, just softer approach.

MJ: So what’s your new album all like?
FD: I wouldn’t say it’s some kind of heavy trip like, “It will take you from the 80’s to the 90’s” or something like that, you know. But it’s just a record. To listen to and enjoy.

MJ: On the album, what’s “Reform Before” about?

FD: That one is kind of about like recently a lot of people that I know and a lot of people that the band knows have been getting married, having kids, kind of like ‘getting their lives together’. And we’re all kind of like thumbs-down to the idea that…

MJ: The importance placed on ‘adulthood’ by modern standards?
FD: Yeah, exactly. Like they figure once you hit your 20’s, the fun’s over. You better get your shit together otherwise, you’re had. But…if you see our name come see us play. It’ll be spring, summer or fall but I’m sure we’ll be through.