Artist Interview: Big Eyes

Kaitlyn Eldridge is the ultimate momma bear to the music she’s created her whole teenage and adult life. She was always that cool girl (although she might not think so) that played in adolescent bands, while the rest of us expressed our teenage angst with black jelly bracelets and charcoal eyeliner. After relocating between coasts and changing up band members, Big Eyes is now past the toddler stage and will be releasing its third full-length, Stake My Claim tomorrow, via Don Giovanni Records. Current members include Malcolm Donaldson, Paul Ridenour, and Griffin Harrison.  They’ve also got quite a bit on their plate for these upcoming months. In the meantime, check out Kait’s interview with Audiofemme below. Not only did she tour with Against Me!, but (dare I say it) she hasn’t bought into the PokemonGo hype.
 Audiofemme: What I personally like about you guys (and gal), is that your sound is very punk-y, powerful driven, cool, & unique. The new album IS totally that. I know the fans can’t wait for it’s release on August 19th. “Stake My Claim” is kickass, and rockin’ as usual. What would you say is different on this third album than say… Hard Life?
Kaitlyn Eldridge: On Stake My Claim, I think I’ve grown a lot more confident in my singing and guitar playing. I’ve always been the sole songwriter in Big Eyes, so on our third album I’m finally embracing the fact that the band is and always has been based around been me, instead of continuing to hide behind the dudes in the band. The lyrics are a lot more self reflective. I think the production on each album has been getting better and better as well!
When you relocated to Seattle in those past years, what did you learn about the music culture over there that’s different from here NYC?
KE: The cost of living is more affordable out in Seattle (compared to NYC), so people can work on their bands more full time. That’s why I moved there for a few years. Everyone’s rent in NYC is so damn expensive that sometimes you don’t get to put in as much time as you’d like into your band, since everybody has to work so much! There are also a lot less people in Seattle than in NYC, so you have a lot less options for “scenes.” I felt like we had a harder time finding similar bands to play with, which was both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it helped us stand out, but most of the time it left me feeling like an outsider.
You’ve had some lineup changes. How did Big Eyes become a 4-piece band?
KE: When I relocated back to NYC, I had to completely start from scratch. I had seen Paul playing bass in a band called Lilith Velkor, and I thought he was a great bass player and had a musical style that would fit well with mine. I met Griffin and Malcolm, who now play drums and bass, respectively, through their previous band Past Life. Their band coincidentally broke up at the same time we were looking for a drummer, and Paul had shown interest in switching over to guitar, so we combined forces, and now I am happier than I have ever been with the sound and “vibe” of Big Eyes!
Tell us about Don Giovanni Records & how it is working with them.
KE: Don Giovanni Records put out our first album Hard Life back in 2011, and very shortly after, we relocated to Seattle. At that point, DG was more of northeast based label, so it didn’t seem like the greatest fit for our second album, Almost Famous (which was released on Grave Mistake Records in May 2013). I moved back to NYC in 2014, and Don Giovanni had expanded so much in the years I was gone, so it really felt like the right move joining back up with them. What I’ve always really liked about Don Giovanni Records, is that they’re a label for “misfit” bands. There aren’t any trend-hopping, flavor of the week, niche bands on this label. It’s all bands that don’t really fit into any other scene, so they somehow all fit together on Don Giovanni. I think there’s a lot of unique personality and sincerity coming from the bands on DG!
 It’s no secret that you’ve opened up for Against Me!. Any awesome memories you can share?
KE: We played at The Rave in Milwaukee, and they have this closed off abandoned swimming pool in the basement that is apparently “haunted.” We went down to check it out with the other opening band, Tony Molina Band, and our friend Shelby (who was Against Me!’s roadie)… I didn’t see anything myself, but a couple people in our group swore they saw a ghost while we were down there!
Kait- tell us about your sweet tattoos! 
KE: My first tattoo was on my right wrist when I was 17. It’s the Descendents Milo drawing. I got Allroy, the ALL cartoon logo, on my other wrist a couple of years after that. I have my high school band’s logo, which is a cartoonish drawing of the world looking sad with a bandage on it’s head, along with “FTW” written above it on the back of my left arm. I have “HARD LIFE,” the title of our first album, written on my right arm. And my last and most recent tattoo is the Ramones pinhead skull on my upper left arm which I got in early 2013. All of my tattoos are black, no colors. 
Does anyone in the band play PokemonGo? If so, what is your strongest Pokemon & are you thrilled to be travelling over the next month… and hopefully catch them all?
KE: I’ve tried it out but it drains my battery too much! We will be playing a lot of Magic The Gathering though.
The band’s Twitter page has a couple published concerns surrounding insects. Who is scared of ants?
KE: I’m not scared of them, I’m just startled very easily!
You play your fair share of shows in Brooklyn. Is the dynamic of the audience different from when you played in Canada?
KE: People seem to let loose a bit more in Canada! Folks in Canada just seem happier…I wish I could move there!
There’s a lot going on for you guys right now. In the upcoming weeks, you’ll be touring while the new record drops. Then you’re off to play NAMF with a bunch of awesome bands. Any plans for the fall & the new year?
KE: We’re playing The Fest in Gainesville, Florida in late October. We’re doing a short tour around it, hitting some east coast cities on the way down and the way back up. I’m really looking forward to spending Halloween in Athens, Georgia with some buddies! Hoping to hit the west coast and Europe sometime next year as well.

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