If the kids are united
There was a time when Edinburgh’s music scene seemed to consist of little more than two old men with a fiddle and a skiffleboard. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for that kind of thing, but it’s great to now see bands like Next Big Nothing, an Edinburgh-based group of enthusiastic and ambitious pop punksters, take to the city’s stage and make it their own.
I met 4/5ths of NBN in the Filmhouse Café bar, mainly because we were looking for somewhere that 17-year old singer and rhythm guitarist Amanda could get served.
Joining Amanda were Allan, their laid-back lead guitarist; Ali, Next Big Nothing’s sparky bassist & backing singer; and Lee, their level-headed and pragmatic drummer. Pete, the absent member, plays guitar and has been recruited to let Amanda concentrate on vocals and fronting the band.
Formed in April 2009, Next Big Nothing have 3 gigs under their belt, a couple more on the horizon, and a self-produced demo they’re shoving under the noses of anyone who’ll listen. “Maybe we should post them through people’s letterboxes”, wonders Ali.
Have a good time, all the time
Next Big Nothing aren’t short on ambition. All living in and around Edinburgh, they’ve been in and out of bands since they could pick up their instruments and have no fear of getting up on stage and making themselves heard.
“We just like being ourselves when we’re up there”, says Ali, when I ask about their onstage image. “We love playing live.”
“Yeah, the best gigs are when you’re just having a laugh”, adds Allan. “Some bands get up there and pretend to be something they’re not – and we’re definitely no fakes.”
The chilled-out guitarist seems to be a musical driving force behind NBN. When I ask them about their ‘pop punk’ label, he quickly leaps in to clarify their direction.
“Nah, we’ve moved on from that. Still pop, yeah, but epic pop – dreamy, theatrical stuff.”
That’s kind of hinted at by the third number on their demo / EP, a nicely-polished selection of spiky tunes, catchy choruses and guitar hooks. Whilst ‘Ready for the Rain’ and ‘If you want fire…you’ve met your match’ do indeed have that pop-punk drive behind them, ‘The Cheat’ is wider in scope, giving the music and vocals more space to move – touching on epic, indeed.
Are you ready for the rain?
“We’ve still got a lot of improving to do”, thinks Lee. “But this is the last band I want to be in.”
That’s a thought echoed by his fellow band members.
“We’re a lucky band”, says Ali, nodding her head. “Even with the recession affecting audiences and the industry, we’re still getting interest; still getting noticed.”
Listening to them joke, banter and argue about who wrote what and what happened when, it’s obvious Next Big Nothing have a bond and sense of enthusiasm about their music that goes beyond mere luck.
Amanda hints at the possibility of management lurking in the background, but for now, NBN are maintaining creative control and promoting themselves by any means possible.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to play, however. “It doesn’t seem to be about the music any more, it’s about getting punters through the door” says Lee. “Some venues won’t let you play unless you get fifty-plus people in – we don’t even have fifty close mates to bring along.”
Though their next gig – on the 16th December – is in Rockers in Glasgow, the band love Edinburgh and relish every opportunity they can get to play their home city.
Perhaps venues and promoters need to sit up and take notice and examine their policies a little. With their energy, enthusiasm and talent, it would be criminal if Next Big Nothing ended up as little more than a flash in the pan, when they deserve to burn much more brightly and longer than that.
Check out Next Big Nothing on MySpace.