Blufton, South Carolina
Colin Czerwinski doesn’t mind it when his band Big Awesome is described as “emo.” “There’s a lot of good things going on in that scene,” he says. Certainly, their 2012 breakout Birdfeeder feels like an emo record, with its layers of flickering, fluttering guitars and singer John Blanken’s rough-hewn roar. But there’s something in Czerwinski’s elastic strumming throughout the title track, something sweet and taffy-like. And there’s something significant in the last lines of “Living with Love,” which Blanken howls with a scorching holler: “I will waste no time / Living life and loving everything.” This record resists that sad, sappy emo stereotype; put simply, the emotion expressed is positive, not negative.
There are more ups and downs on Party On, Big Awesome’s first full-length. Maybe it’s because the band has grown tremendously in the two years, or maybe it’s because they’ve experienced more, but the record feels rawer, wilder, and dustier than their previous EPs. On “Wolf,” Czerwisnki’s guitar gallops, flush with color and flavor, as Blanken’s bass thumps in the background. “Warning” reels as well, breaking down between instrumental verses, allowing Czerwinski’s guitar skip across the stretching chords. Lyrically, these songs exhibit regret and guilt, but others display the band’s positive vibes. On “Wookie Blaylock,” Blanken’s voice matches his bass tone, full and furious; “Stay up late / Early rise,” he sings, “Seize your day / Make your life.” And the popping guitars on “Birdfeeder pt. II” chirp as playful as the birds in Blanken’s metaphoric images.
Some songs, like opener “What Grows Up Must Come Down,” confront conflict with positivity. “That song has John all over it,” Czerwinski laughs. “Where we live is not the right town for us, basically. It’s really touristy, and we really want to leave, but there are some things that sort of bind us here.” Throughout the bounding song, Blanken wrestles with this realization, concluding with lines that seem to reveal the answer within the question itself: “Sometimes I forget where I am / Sometimes I struggle to find my home.”
Czerwinski doesn’t necessarily consider Big Awesome an emo band despite their designation—not in any cliche sense, at least. But they are an emotional band. They just prefer the positive side of the spectrum. “One of my favorite bands is toe.,” he says. “That shit just makes you feel so much better. That’s what we go for. We don’t intend to write dwelling lyrics or sad, angry stuff. I guess our take is have a good time.”
John Blanken: Vocals and Bass Guitar
Colin Czerwinski: Guitars
Nathan Larson: Drums