A record of radiant light, captivating charm, unbridled warmth, and unfiltered passion, The Big Drink’s self-titled debut EP shines with the heat of life itself.
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Like the bright glow of the sun’s rays at the start of the morning, The Big Drink’s debut EP is something to bask in: A record of radiant light and warmth, captivating charm and passion, The Big Drink comes to life with alluring psych-tinged folk rock ready to shine on our days and nights. It’s a collection of songs made with tender love and care; an intimate and expansive outpouring of sweet sounds ready to soundtrack the long summer ahead.
Released June 17, 2022 via Ninja Tune, The Big Drink is an exciting introduction to a band we hope to hear much more from over the years to come. Comprised of Michael Baker, Tom Anderson, Oli Hinkins, Andrew Stuart-Buttle, Ed Martin, and Fred Hills, The Big Drink came together by happenstance, as something of a cohesive smorgasbord of talent. So the story goes, “when two Brighton and London based bands bumped into each other when touring around Germany, Michael Baker and members of Common Tongues (Tom Anderson, Oli Hinkins and Andrew Stuart-Buttle) were playing in each other’s backing bands within a couple of shows. Finding a bond of brotherhood in their songwriting, they locked themselves away with Brighton musicians Ed Martin and Fred Hills for nine days in a remote Limoges orchard to create.”
Thus, The Big Drink was born. Atwood Magazine has covered burgeoning indie folk singer/songwriter Michael Baker‘s music throughout the past several years (and several albums), and as he explains, this endeavor was unlike anything he had experienced before in his career. “We recorded it in the middle of the French countryside in an old tumbled down French orchard with no internet,” Baker says, “trading screen time for the neighbours’ homegrown vegetables and jamming ideas round a fire pit with a box of wine. We used to use it as a stop off on our European tours back when our bands used to tour together, somewhere for a bit of downtime, to tighten up live sets and try out new ideas. It was the birthplace of “The Big Drink”: A space where we all got to know how to play on each other’s songs.”
That time in remote France resulted in music that, for lack of a better term, feels free of, and untainted by the outside world.
“We went away so we could make music in the most organic way possible,” Baker says. “We really wanted to remove ourselves from all distractions that come with modern life, that way we could focus purely on the music and nothing but the music. It was important we could all be recording in the same room at the same time. Although it can be a logistical nightmare the beauty is that we were able to capture the energy & rawness of the songs without relying on overdubs or studio gear, it was all really natural. We didn’t even envision releasing them originally, instead we just wanted to play together for the joy of it and curiosity at what we would come up with. We had no deadlines, so we sat on the tracks for a long time, but upon returning to the tracks it was like discovering them all over again.”
The band’s name evokes fun images of roaring waterfalls and oversized coffee mugs. It’s also a unifying, if not tongue-in-cheek descriptor for the band’s six members.
“A friend of ours was looking for a band name for his own project and his mum suggested different synonyms for the sea as we all live on the South Coast,” The Big Drink’s Tom Anderson recalls. “He read them out to us one night in a pub and we were chuckling at a few… (i think one of the suggestions was ‘Gushing Water’ …) then The Big Drink came up and for some reason it just stuck with us. Plus we were locked away in central France we consumed a ridiculous amount of wine so it all seemed to fit nicely,” he laughs.
From the moment opening track “Universe” begins with its free-spirited rhythm and sweet vocal harmonies, The Big Drink transports listeners to another world: One free of distraction and stress, much like the band’s birthplace. “I think the track ‘Universe’ is the highlight for us,” Oli Hinkins says. “It kind of sums up what we are about, the harmonies are so rich they are a pleasure to sing. We found a little church in the French countryside, it was totally empty so we all gathered round and sang the vocals for the track. Something about the acoustics of that building were just unreal and our voices all glued together. I think lyrically the track is our favourite too.”
The EP sweeps low and soars high for 22 enchanting minutes, with the moody, groovy “Moonlight” and the smoldering, stirring “Golden” captivating the ears while feeding the soul. Farther in, the intimate “Kickin’ Round” showcases the band’s musical expertise as they craft a finely balanced soundscape in the grey space between charged tension and cathartic release. Equally compelling is the heartwarming finale “A Part of It,” an achingly emotional exploration of mental health filled with moments of vulnerability and sincere reflection.
Something about making music together in an organic, natural space resulted in an uncompromisingly raw and honest record that radiates with the visceral heat of life itself.
The Big Drink is an unfiltered record of life, light, and love. Its songs foster a space of real connection both to oneself, and to one’s surroundings. Made in the middle of nowhere (as Baker says), “with bits and bobs of analogue gear,” this EP is more human – and more grounded – than most records this side of the 21st Century divide. The Big Drink’s psychedelic spin on the folk rock sound inevitably feels like a throwback to the 1970s, but their music isn’t a relic; it’s fresh and it’s now.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Big Drink’s self-titled EP with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut!
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:: Inside The Big Drink ::
The opening single really captures the vibe of ‘The Big Drink’ & forms the centrepiece of the E.P. Layered harmonies in the verse were inspired by listening to barbershop quartets at the time such as ‘The Four Freshmen’. The opening lyrics are the band’s favourite on record. “Dark, like the furthest of stars, when the only lens you see it through is your favourite glass. Storm, when the comfort you once knew is done and dusted.” The track features choral harmony verses, crooner choruses, ‘Fleetwood Mac’ esque guitar breaks and synth like distorted violins.
The grooviest track, driven by bubbling synths from Andrew Stuart-Buttle and Ed Martins muted bass playing. A track you can really hear the band playing live in the room and really get a sense of them moving together without relying on a click track. We all knew it was the take as soon as we’d finished, very satisfying to nail. Features John Moody (Franc Moody) on Hammond Organ.
Shifts feel from straight to swung at the end, upping the intensity for the climax of the track. Andrew Stuart-Buttle from the band composed a soaring string arrangement which formed the basis for the interlude track Limoges, achieved by re sampling and re harmonising the strings (named after the place we recorded the E.P. in.) This is the first track we wrote together. The 3 guitars weaving in and out of each other after the choruses (Oli, Tom and Michael from the band) and the vocal arrangement at the end are great examples of us experimenting and meshing our styles together.
Fred Hills (drums) wanted to replicate a drum machine with the intro’s skittering drum pattern. Oliver Baldwin really made the mix, we as the band never really got to the core of the track but by morphing the track toward a lo-fi electronic feel it really gave the track it’s identity. We used tape delay on the vocals to create haunting call backs before breaking into psychedelic guitar hooks while shifting into double time, further heightening the tracks intensity. The track ramps up at the end and you can really hear us thrashing out on our instruments.
A PART OF IT
We pulled it away from its original “musical vagabond” structure (verse verse verse) and ended up with something that married the different electronic sounds we discovered in writing with more organic instruments. Oli, Tom and Michael all wrote separate verses around the theme of mental health. Having lost a couple of friends to mental health struggles over the last few years, it was a way of saying we were there for each other when times get tough. The track features Marcus Hamblett (Villagers, Staves, Laundromat) on glitched out horns & Emma Gatrill on Clarinet. The track was written by jamming on some acoustics with the Volca Beats drum machine. This was then taken to Andrew Stuart-Buttle for further synth and drum design.
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