Louie – Halvy (Matt) and I played by ourselves; then we played with Nathan; then we played with Bubba; then we played with Kari and Gabe; now we don’t play with Bubba.
Matt – Originally, the band was just a big scheme that had no basis in reality. It was just a Myspace page and a picture of Captain Planet, and that’s it. But then Louie and I moved to Portland and actually followed through on an idea for once, and the band became real. It was just the two of us for several months until we roped everyone else into joining us.
Nathan – I entered the story when my roommate and co-teacher from Fossil, OR, invited me to hang out with his buddies in Portland. This was the infamous Bubba, and he brought me to Halvy and Louie. They invited me to play, which mostly consisted of “solo here in this key” [on the French horn]. I wasn’t and still am not particularly good at that, but it was a heck of a lot of fun.
Kari – Gabe and I moved to Portland in 2008 and were instructed by Matt that we wouldn’t be allowed into the city if we didn’t bring our violins, which neither of us had touched much for the past five years. Needless to say, it was a wise instruction, and we’re happy to have been able to be a part of the band these past few years.
Gabe – What Kari said, only in a deeper voice.
TBL: Where did you get your name?
Louie – Halvy sent me an email of prospective band names long before either of us could play any type of instrument, and it was the one that stood out as being cool to me—and him, it turned out. So, we made a Myspace page about a year before we could play anything, and that was that (after we learned to play instruments, wrote songs, recorded them, and booked shows, of course).
Nathan – The Big Ideas refers to our plans to get famous and use our huge fan base and influence to end the eating of Guinea pigs in certain places.
Matt – No it doesn’t.
Gabe – Yes it does.
TBL: How long have you been playing?
Louie – In our various guises, since ’07, I guess. Halvy and I played a Jon Brion song at a bar in Atlanta in April of ’07, which is when we both knew we needed to start practicing.
Nathan – My pop music experience is limited to “The Big Ideas” and certain side projects (The Mighty Mates, Halvy and the Halvorsons, NB); however, I am a classically trained musician and have been playing since I was little.
Kari – I was involved in music all through school and sang in choir and took private voice lessons in high school and college. I’ve been playing violin off and on since I was 10.
Gabe – I started playing violin a long time ago. I have been playing with The Big Ideas for about three years.
Matt – I have been in the Big Ideas since the very beginning, and I am definitely the worst musician in the band.
TBL: What is your favorite thing about Portland?
Kari – Brunch at Jam! And all the other great, cheap food and drink that you can find on every corner.
Gabe – That good food, good beer and good music are all readily available for very little cost to consumers. I also like having a few options for buying vinyl records pretty inexpensively. Also roses. And beer.
Nathan – The Waffle Window is a metaphor for everything I like about Portland. I also just really like the Waffle Window.
Louie – I love being able to bike everywhere. I also love Plaid Pantry.
TBL: What would you do with $1,000,000?
Louie – Become a janitor.
Nathan – I could buy a lot of waffles, and Patron.
Matt – I’d buy a DeLorean and a nicer guitar, then pay off some debts. Also, this is not a joke: I dreamed last night that Louie bought a Segway for $110 and was riding it around as his primary means of transportation. So, I guess we can assume that’s what Louie would do if he had $110.
Gabe – Buy an electric guitar and an electric violin. Then I would buy a bunch of vinyls from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Then a house. Then some food. Then world peace.
Kari – I’d probably be doing about what I’m doing now, but with a lot more traveling to see family and friends and the rest of the world.
TBL: Can you tell me about your upcoming live album?
Nathan – If you were there, then you know we had a complimentary cooler of beverages. The recording is good, but you have to buy your own beverages. I think the album is pretty good, and it’s fun to have such a great quality recording of our stuff.
Louie – At the beginning of the song “Song For Myself,” I interrupt Nathan’s intro to ask where my bourbon is.
Matt – There are definitely some mistakes, but I think it’s authentic. We didn’t clean things up. And more than anything, I’m proud of the songs we’ve written and the sounds we’ve made, and it’s nice to finally have something out there in the world for people to hear.
Gabe – The whole thing was a blast. I had a great time. It’s really cool recording a live album. You practice and prepare and mostly just try not to screw up and then out comes this album that actually sounds pretty awesome. It’s pretty neat.
TBL: What are the future plans of The Big Ideas?
Gabe – Try to take over the world!
Louie – We hope to practice, write, and play more starting very soon.
Nathan – We are hoping to play more shows both in Portland and in Seattle. I know Halvy and Louie have been writing some during our hiatus, and I’ve liked what I’ve heard and want to hear the rest of it.
Matt – I’m almost done with another song about baseball. This one’s called “Kevin Elster.” Although I’ve been a handful of lines away from finishing it for a couple months now, so maybe I’m not necessarily all that close.
TBL: Where do you gain your inspiration?
Louie – The Old Testament.
Gabe – The Cosby Show. Oh, you mean music? The Cosby Show.
Nathan – In terms of the music we play, I am most inspired by my bandmates. I am also inspired by other music that I listen to, but for the most part I don’t get to play music with those people.
Matt – I guess it’s mainly from the music I listen to. I hadn’t written much in a while, and then I heard the new Bon Iver album and just felt like I needed to try to write something. Obviously I’m never going to write anything like it, but it at least makes me want to try to write in general. For the lyrics, I guess I just pick something that I want to talk about, and then I write about it.
TBL: And last but not least, what do you feel is the biggest problem with the music industry today?
Louie – That I’ve only made $1.50 from it thus far.
Nathan – While making lots of money playing music would be nice, I’m not a good business person. What I like about Portland is that I don’t feel like we are in or trying to get into an industry. We are in (and sometimes just getting into) a culture and community.
Gabe – I actually like what’s going on right now. The resurgence of vinyls as a format for albums (along with the fact that many come with digital download codes) is pretty awesome, and the Indie scene seems to be pumping out some solid music. I don’t love most mainstream music right now, but it’s still pretty easy to find really good artists putting out new material.†
UPDATE: The Big Ideas new album is available for download HERE