Big B is the sharp rhythmic voice attached to your favorite songs. Whether the name rings a bell or not, his voice and his musical influence has been present in collaborations with everybody from P!nk and the Dirty Heads,to Unwritten Law, Pennywise and NoFX. No genre is safe when the Vegas-based lyricist opens the door into his mind full of dope beats and a complex rhymes.
Since 2004, Big B has been a staple musician on Suburban Noize Records--both as a solo artist and a vocalist for OPM. Lately, though, he's has been driven to offer fans a different sampling of his already eclectic music with the new album Fool's Gold. It's his own anti-establishment spot that calls out the business side of the music industry while simultaneously adding a new chapter to his legacy.
"When it's done and I'm finished," says Big B, "I want people to look back at me like, 'that dude wrote good music.'"
Music is not the only realm in which Big B operates. In 2012 he won an Emmy for his voice-over work in the summer campaign commercials for Madison Square Garden. The musician can also be found inside his regular hang-out at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas; the Hart & Huntington Tattoo shop with Carey Hart, which was also the set of the A&E reality television show Inked featuring Hart and Big B.
This Tuesday, December 10, Big B brings his live act to Red Owl in Tempe. Prior to his performance, Up on the Sun spoke with Big B about the aim with his new album, not playing by the rules, his group of musical friends and how much an Emmy might fetch at a pawn shop.
Tell me about your new album Fool's Gold. I have read that it was meant to be a jab at the music industry? It's a really different record. The last few years I've been trying to go in a different direction. I think critics are surprised about the record, and some fans are too. Some people are going to love it some people are going to scratch their head over it. All in all, I think we're moving forward with the plan of changing the music up and keeping it going for a long time.
The music industry is like a giant clique and a gang. So what happens is there are guys like me who don't play by the rules and won't kiss so much ass, and it gets to be a little hard on us. The other thing is that everyone is just so fake in that industry. Don't get me wrong, you meet some great people along the way, but with the majority of them it's one of those things where they won't do anything for you unless they know you can do something for them. That's not how it should work. If you're doing something that is good music, then it should be based on the music and not relationships and profit. It's always been a weird place to me, and I never spend a lot of time in Hollywood and places like that. I know it's hurt my career over the years, because I just refuse to do it.
You're in Vegas right? Yeah, I'm in Vegas. I spend a lot of time in Irvine, too. We have a recording studio there. The reason I'm here is because, for one, my daughters are here. I've lived here a long time. This is where I started. Vegas just treats me well. It's a hub, so if I need to fly out anywhere, it's a super easy spot. We're five hours from Phoenix and four hours from L.A.
It's a 24 hour city, so if you need to get something done, you can always do it. I don't know about the glitz and the glamour of the strip and all that stuff though. Also, I work with Carey Hart. We have the Hart & Huntington tattoo shops, including one inside the Hard Rock, so you'll see me down there all the time.
I wanted to ask you about your experiences on the A&E reality show Inked. Did it propel your music career? I don't know if it propelled my music. I think a lot of old ladies knew who I was in the airport after the show [laughs]. As far as helping my music career, I'm sure everything does a little bit.
It was scripted reality. I played a shop helper on the show, which really isn't my title. I was Carey's assistant or whatever, which was cool, but it was kind of farfetched from the truth of what we do over there. It was great, even though I had to dumb down my role to make it fun and entertaining. Reality is not that exciting, but scripted reality is obviously as entertaining as you want it to be. Were there any other driving forces behind Fool's Gold? Yeah, just to show people that I could change. When I started I was in a band called OPM, which is closer to my sound now. I linked up with Suburban Noize Records and the Kottonmouth Kings and it seemed like I fell into just trying to make music that would appeal to their fanbase. At the end of the day it just kind of got me to where I wasn't happy with myself or what I was doing.
Don't get me wrong, if you look at records like White Trash Renegade, I'm happy I made them. I just don't want to leave a legacy of that's what I was. That's not my thing, and then when the Kottonmouth Kings started doing more of the ICP and Juggalo stuff I was sitting in a place like, "now what do I do?" I respect all of that, and everyone doing what they want to do, but it's just not me. That lifestyle is not my thing.
So, for the last three years I've been trying to make a clean break from the Kottonmouth Kings and stuff. I was doing it pretty well, and then the Kottonmouth Kings had a falling out and it got really weird for me. I had one foot forward already so it was a little easier to make the transition. I think everyone thought I was going to fail on my own, but that's not the case. I'm doing better than I ever have.
What Big B album would you recommend to a first time listener? It's hard to say, because I like to move backwards. So, Fool's Gold all the way down to High Class White Trash, and then you'll kind of get it. And that way you can see who I was, and stop at any time. Good Times and Bad Advice was a great record.
I've just been lucky, man. I've worked with Scott Russo from Unwritten Law on the "Sinner" song, and Everlast with "Before I Leave This Place". We've never been super mainstream, but I'm very fortunate to write some good songs with great people.
I liked all the collaborations that are on Fool's Gold. You had everything from the Dirty Heads and Slightly Stoopid to Colt Ford and P!nk. What's it like working with such a diverse group? I love it, man. I'm addicted to it. It's kind of like with you being a writer, and being influenced by tons of different things. If you sit in a room with four different people and you're all coming up with some topics, it's a lot easier than when it's just you. It's all about creative input. Its super flattering, because all the people that I work with, they don't have to work with me. I'm not a huge star or and anything, and they've never taken money from me or anything like that. I'm just so blessed to have those people work with me over the years.
Everything, even including Pennywise and NoFX, and those are just the names of the people on the record, not including guys that come by and hang out and stuff. I feel like I've created something where as a person I've found my niche of doing something and people kind of respect it. What's your favorite track on Fool's Gold? I love "Just around Midnight". I think that's a great song. I don't know if you like that? "One Day, Someday" and "Diamond in the Sun" is an awesome song too.
"Hangover with You" is doing so well on the radio right now. Everyone told me it was a weird time to release that song, and that nobody would want it right now, but it's on the alternative charts and just broke into the 50's.
I just want feel-good music. When it's done and I'm finished, I want people to look back at me like, "that dude wrote good music," instead of thinking, "that dude was a character," or whatever else. I just want to know that I tried my hardest, because I could easily put a record out every six months of just music, but I don't want to do that.
You've toured with a diverse group of musicians in different genres. What makes your music so versatile? It's real, and people can relate. The other day I went to a Pennywise show with a few friends and they had were like "I had no idea that all these punk rock kids know who you are." They're starting to buy the records and get it. Generations are different and people will say "I'm a punker," or "I'm a rapper." That would be the same thing as eating the same food. You're not just going to eat pizza every day; you'd go nuts. It's the same thing with the brain and needing something a little different. I love country music; I love reggae, rap, and rock. I'm influenced by all of it so I think people hear that in the music these days.
So, you won an Emmy in 2012 for a Madison Square Garden commercial? Yeah. I do voiceover work, and I did all the Madison Square Garden commercials for their summer campaign. [The Emmy] is actually sitting here right now, I'm looking at it. I wonder how much it would be worth at a pawn shop? [Laughs] I'm just kidding [laughs]. Take it to Pawn Stars and say, "you guys wanna buy an Emmy?"
What can the audience expect in Tempe on the 10th? Just a good time. Phoenix can be hit or miss. Some days there is a huge crowd; it depends on what day it's on. We're going to have a good time and come up and play some music. I have never played at this venue, but I know we're going to have a great time. Come in and here some good songs, and leave with a smile.
Do you still have any affiliation with OPM? I sure do. As a matter of fact my current drummer Los was in OPM and so was Johnathan my keyboard player who goes out with me. He won't be on this run because of the holidays. We're all still friends. I never really left OPM. I just stopped showing up is what I tell people. That's the running joke. Anytime they ask me to record something I definitely do. We haven't done anything for a while. We're all friends and family.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.