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Big Joan

Bristol’s Big Joan have some unique advantages – a human drum machine called Keith who can belt out 160bpm drum ‘n’ bass rhythms without breaking sweat; a guitarist called Adam who throws beer cans, pieces of metal and anything else he can find at his instrument; a bassist called Simon who chucks out some of the filthiest bass sounds this side of the dancehall massive; and a German vocalist called Annette who’s half enchanting siren, half terrifying harpy on stage. All of which combines to make their Gang-of-Four-meets-the-Slits-at-a-DJ Hype-gig one of the most intense and refreshing sounds smashing its way out of the West Country at the moment.

Annette – vocals
Adam – guitar
Keith – drums
Simon – bass
Steve – drums

Location: Bristol, UK
Formed: Southampton, UK in 1999

What do you think you sound like, and how different is that from what other people have said or written about you?

We all share a love of music that’s extreme, especially energetic, noisy and emotionally intense music, and that’s where our sound comes from. We like heavy, warped basslines, dirty guitars, hectic beats. We’ve been compared to everyone from The Pop Group to Neu! so make of that what you will!

What great new bands are there in your locality, or that you’ve played with, that you’d urge the curious music fan to check out?

There are loads of great bands and artists in Bristol. That’s one reason we moved there. Ivory Springer, Chikinki, Mooz (recently RIP) and Gravenhurst are all fantastic, and there’s a really healthy electronica scene as well. Geisha are our favourite new band in Bristol. They’re the dirtiest little f*ckers around. There’s also a really great scene of ‘filthy’ rock noise in Manchester, with amazing bands like Tsuji Giri and The
Sonar Yen.

Do you feel much affiliation with any community with regards to the music that you create/release?

We feel a kinship with anyone who plays music for the hell of it, does it with passion and looks like they’re enjoying themselves doing it! Also, anyone who works hard to promote themselves or to help other bands out. There are too many lazy people around so when you meet people who have some motivation its refreshing!

Where did you get your band name from? Do you like it?

Big Joan is what Billy Idol has written on the back of his jacket in the film Re-Possessed. It’s a shit name. We’d change it but we’ve kind of got used to it now!

Which is your favourite of your own tracks and why?

Generally whichever one is the newest in the set. When they’re new the songs are still developing and have a real life of their own.

What would you be willing to sacrifice for success in your band?

Music is about having fun and letting off steam, not about sacrifice. We’d willingly sacrifice our day jobs though if we really had to…

What does your family think of your music?

Do bands’ families usually like their music? Our families have been really supportive and one or two people are fans. In general they probably tolerate it and are glad we’re not robbing houses or making porno films.

You’ve been asked to contribute to a charity covers album. Which song(s) would you most likely cover?

We always disagree about what covers to do. Would have to be something German, maybe an Einstürzende Neubauten or Kraftwerk song, or ‘Wind of Change’ by The Scorpions. Classic German rock, that.

What’s your favourite bit of band kit? If diskant could buy one thing for your band for Christmas, what would it be?

Our favourite bit of kit is our drummer, Keith. If you could buy us something for Christmas it would be a spare Keith for when ours wears out.

What are the last couple of albums you bought and are they any good?

Adult – Anxiety Always and Black Eyes – Black Eyes. Dark-edged Detroit electropop and Ian MacKaye-produc ed DC post-hardcore respectively. Both very good indeed. Oh, and the latest Venetian Snares, which rules!

Choose between:

(a) Indie label or major label deal?

Whatever gets our music to people who want to hear it without us having to do anything we don’t feel comfortable with. Probably indie!

(b) CD or vinyl?

Vinyl in an ideal world, but as loads of people don’t have record players and vinyl is expensive, we generally make CDs!

(c) Records or live music?

Both. A great live performance is what it’s all about but getting it right in the studio is very difficult and to be respected.

Sing us a song to send us on our way…

‘Das macht die Berliner Luft Luft Luft

So mit ihrem holden Duft Duft Duft

Wo nur selten was verpufft pufftpufft

In dem Duft Duft Duft
Dieser Luft Luft Luft.
Ja ja ja …

Berlin! Hör’ ich den Namen bloß

da muß vergnügt ich lachen!
Wie kann man da für wenig Moos den dicken Wilhelm machen!
Warum läßt man auf märk’schem Sand gern alle Puppen tanzen?
Warum ist dort das Heimatland der echte Berliner Pflanzen?

Ich frug ein Kind mit jelbe Schuh:
Wie alt bist du denn, Kleene?
Da sagt sie schnippisch: “Du? Nanu ick werd’ schon nächstens zehne?”
Doch fährt nach Britz sie mit Mama’n da sagt die kleine Hexe
Zum Schaffner von der Straßenbahn: Ick werd’ erscht nächstens sechse!
Ja ja!
Ja ja!
Ja ja ja ja!

Der richtige Berliner gibt sich gastfrei und bescheiden.
Drum ist er überall beliebt und jeder mag ihn leiden.
Wenn sonst man “Mir kann keener”
Sagt so sagt in jedem Falle

Wenn’s dem Berliner nicht behagt er sanft: “Mir könn’se alle.”
Ja ja!
Ja ja!
Ja ja ja!’

It’s a traditional German song about how polluted and stinky the air is.

Website: www.bigjoan.com

Records we can buy:
‘Tiger’/’Vostok’ 7″ single (2003, self-released)
‘Other People’s Fights’ EP (2001, Sink and Stove Records)