Interview: Little Big League
Young blood clocking in at a mere two years together, Philadelphia’s Little Big League pedigreed lineup – reeling in members of Post Post, Titus Andronicus, and Strand Of Oaks — has already shared stages with The Early November, Restorations, and Laura Stevenson among others. Steeped in 90s indie nostalgia, throughout Tiny Engines release These Are Good People, Little Big League retains its jangle while playing with elements of fuzzed-out wall-of-sound, Midwestern emo, and shoegaze over Michelle Zauner’s riveting howl. We talk to Zauner about tales from the road and the stories behind their debut album.
Select interviews will be printed in the Premium Guide Book along with CD samplers of Brite artists given as a reward to Kickstarter backers. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte
“We’ve met a lot of great people and bands on the road. The generosity you experience from strangers is legitimately absurd.” — Michelle Zauner
Since the release of These Are Good People, you’ve played with The Early November, Restorations, and Laura Stevenson to name a few. How’s the experience been on the road?
Sharing a string of dates with another group of people is just the best thing ever. I feel so close to the people in those bands and so lucky that they’re all super talented and will someday be famous so we can ride on their coat tails. Other than that we’ve met a lot of great people and bands on the road. The generosity you experience from strangers on the road is legitimately absurd.
In an interview Ian said Michelle’s lyrics have “a lot to do with good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things” and she elaborated on drawing inspiration from being a woman coming-of-age after growing up in a small town. Has the release of the album and touring throughout cities across the country changed or influenced any of those feelings tied to your songwriting over the past year?
Being a woman definitely ties into my writing process. There’s a lot of gender role power dynamic stuff going on in These Are Good People. I had just moved to a bigger city, people kept telling me all these horror stories of women getting attacked when walking home at night. I felt really threatened by men, and also very upset that I felt this way at all. I was also dating a really possessive guy at the time who would make comments about the clothes I was wearing — like I was “asking for it” and just all around making me feel pretty worthless. I wrote a lot of songs from his perspective (“Lindsey”, “My Very Own You”), I think in attempt to understand him and why as a feminist I had allowed myself to be involved in that experience.
Your sound has only evolved for the stronger since the release of your 7”. Coming from so many different backgrounds, has playing the songs on tour and hearing them live influenced the way you’re writing and anything you’re working on now?
Definitely! Our songs usually undergo quite a few makeovers before we wind up with the final version, a lot of that happens on tour.
What’s been one or some of your most memorable gigs?
Our set at The Fest in Gainseville Florida was unreal! I’ve never even been to Florida and they set us up to play at a venue that was sort of further away from the festival at like one in the morning while all these other huge acts were performing. I just assumed that no one was going to be there, and then all of a sudden I look up and all these people are packed into the room singing along.
Playing an after-party at Macrock in Virginia was also super memorable. Some kid invited ten or more bands to play in his house. I remember falling asleep at 2 a.m. on some random mattress I found upstairs of this stranger’s house telling my band to call me when we were up, figuring we’d never play. Then at 4 a.m. I get a call to come downstairs and played to the 20 most pumped kids I have ever seen.
What’s your favorite material to play live?
Generally the newest songs we’ve written are the most fun to play. Off These Are Good People I think we all enjoy playing “Lindsey” and “Dark Matter” the most. Those songs in particular are really fun to emote.
If you could play one place – your dream gig — where would it be?
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon and have lived in Philadelphia since I was 18, so my parents and childhood friends haven’t seen me play in a band in more than six years. So I’d have to say my dream gig would be to play at the Crystal Ballroom — where I watched all my teen heroes play — on a bill with my friend’s band And And And with all my parents and friends in attendance.
Whenever the band gets together, what do you listen to that always makes its way back into rotation?
We listen to a lot of bands that we’ve played with –Porches, Krill, Gunk, LVL UP, PAWS, Laura Stevenson, Restorations. And a lot of Title Fight, Built to Spill, Rilo Kiley, Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse, Mount Eerie, Bill Callahan, The Replacements, Cass Mccombs, and Elliott Smith.
What’s your dream collaboration?
I would have sold my soul to open and do a little live collab with Yo La Tengo at one of their Eight Nights of Hanukkah shows. I really hope to convince Tim from Strand of Oaks to play keys on our next record. I’d love it if all of LVL UP was just with us all the time.
You recently played Now That’s Class. What’s your favorite thing about playing in Cleveland?
Hanging out with Cherry Cola Champions! Nicest dudes! Also Melt has really awesome grilled cheese and we’ve stayed with this girl Nina the last couple of times and she is a true babe awesome lady.
Brite takes place every winter. What’s your favorite thing about winter?
Every winter I pretty much just have a guilt-free hole up in my room. I eat a lot and hibernate because I convince myself I am too small to handle the cold. I’m in Oregon right now, avoiding the seven inches of snow in Philly, eating a lot of my mom’s Korean food, writing the rest of our second record and playing a lot of Harvest Moon on PS1.