I go to open mike night at the Bucket Shop. I don’t like the music, they know I don’t, and I usually just walk in, go through the motions of complaining and the bartender serves me up a watered down Presbyterian on the house -- I drink it and leave a quarter as a tip. I know a quarter ain’t what it used to be but I like the ritual of putting it flat on the counter, tails up, and put my empty glass down on top of it. I stand up, look at the quarter through the bottom of the glass, and leave. I figure you can forgive an old man for not knowing the value of a quarter, and you can forgive an old man for willingly cheating a working woman out of a fair tip to do a meaningless ritual one more time. Maybe I think as long as I leave that quarter under that glass it’ll be like it was back then and the so-called Good Lord will pass me over one more day. Funny thing is, maybe I really do it because the last time I felt alive was when a quarter actually was a fair tip and Presbyterian was still a drink.
I don’t like the music: it’s always people playing other people’s songs on an acoustic guitar, not one of ‘em can pick a guitar worth a darn; these days they just strum all the strings at once until you can’t even tell what chord they’re playing. Maybe they do it to cover up how flat or sharp they are. That’s every singer with an acoustic guitar -- flat or sharp. There used to be baritone and tenor, now there’s flat and sharp.
Tonight’s different, as I start my slow and careful procession down the steps, two hands on the railing, knees shaking -- imagine that, ain’t a man alive ever made my knees shake -- only to be bested by stairs. My pride ain’t the point though. I can’t quite make out what it sounds like yet but I can feel it. The hard pack of smokes and lighter in my breast pocket are vibrating into each other, buzzing like a bee. Bass frequency. We used to just play bass in between the snare hits to keep the guitars together, real quiet. Everything just keeps getting louder, nobody listens, so things just keep getting louder, but what the hell, every once in a while a full band comes through and I’ll listen, at least for the time it takes to finish my drink. Of course, the time it takes to finish my drink does sometimes depend on whether I feel like listening.
Sit down, a nod and a drink. Take out one of my shaken up smokes and light it, sit it and just let it burn down. I can’t enjoy them no more, but I like the smell and the feel. I turn my stool, focus in on the young boys playing and start hearing.
Now I wouldn’t exactly say I liked it, but I was listening and I was looking. Chalk board said “Big Attack! from Philadelphia,” well ok boys, you got my attention for one drink. They all dressed the same, rather like musicians in my day, all in jeans and jean jackets a bit too tight, not like my day. Kinda looked like what I guess they would call a cowboy look in New York City.
Now I ain’t gonna try to describe the sound or any of that, I don’t even know what they call the music these days and I ain’t much interested. There was something about that boy singing, or screaming or both. He strummed on chords I remembered from my day but he played so hard the sound came out wrong, and he held that neck so hard that he bent all of them strings too much. He was strangling the life out of those chords and asking questions with his eyes. If you’ve ever listened to Sam Cooke’s “ Havin’ a Party” you understand what I was watching. You see Sam, you write his words down on paper and read ‘em and you ain’t gonna see through the silly lyrics. Listen to the song and that voice and them chords just might make you feel something. Something that ain’t got to do with having a party; a sadness. Now those boys that night, that’s the reverse, see, if you write their music down on paper and you tell somebody to pick it you’ll hear just another little rock and roll song. Now those boys wasn’t playing a little rock and roll song, and they weren’t singing about having a party. I couldn’t make out every word but I think they might’ve been saying there ain’t no party and maybe now’s the time to stop them knees from shaking. Maybe answer some questions. I walked up to the stage when I finished my Presbyterian and I put the quarter down by their singer’s feet, put my glass over it, and I left, I didn’t think that bartender would miss it. I thought about Sam Cooke that night, and my day, when music meant more, and you wouldn\'t know it from just hearin\' it.
August 21st 2007
Charlotte, North Carolina
We address social and political problems in our lyrics such as responsible consumerism, globalization and vegetarianism without trying to emphasize people’s differences or claim a monopoly on truth. We have spent time and effort developing a unique sound, a style of artwork and image.
BIG Attack! : Socio-Politcal Guitar & Drum Music
Russell Golden, 27, has been writing and playing social and political music for 14 years. He draws from his adoption, expulsion from schools, institutionalisation, and vagabond lifestyle to write to the inside from an outsider\'s perspective, trying to reach through to \"us\" while also clawing his own way in. No longer satisfied with what he calls \"preaching to the maladjusted choir\", BIG Attack! attempts to bring the punk rock\'s original\"spirit\" of raw energy and musical inventiveness to new audiences without falling into it\'s pitfalls of musical stagnation and exclusivity.
Christopher Pothier, 29, was born in Montreal, QC, moved to New Jersey, and co-founded the punk band Dread Fabrik with Russell Golden in 1994, until 2001, when the left-wing activism backlash from the 9/11 attacks became to much to bear. After playing in NYC bands Morning Glory and Planned Collapse, he joined BIG Attack! when the opportunity arose to once again collaborate with Russell.
Mike Master Volume, 19, and Matt The Baptist, 18, both from broken homes in Northeast Philly, formed BA!\'s rhythm section in 2005. They were taught to play their instruments by Russell over the course of the year, \'til they we\'re able to start playing out in October 2006. Their youth and enthusiasm is vital to the BIG Attack! sound and experience.