Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with one half of Big Gigantic, the man on the drums, Mr Jeremy Salken. Jeremy! Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to talk with The Music Ninja!

Jeremy: Yeah, thank you

TMN: Let’s get right to it, Rowdytown 3 is going to go down at Red Rocks in Morrison Colorado in three days. The two night event has become quite a staple with Big G (and I hear Friday is sold out, Saturday is quickly approaching the same, congrats!). Talk to us about where the inspiration came for Rowdytown?

Jeremy: Thank you very much, that’s awesome that so many people are coming. In regards to Rowdytown, we kind of had been on tour for a few years, traveling all over the country doing festivals and playing shows and opening up for people like Pretty Lights, Bassnector, and Skrillex. We got the opportunity to play Red Rocks, which they start talking to you about playing there the year before so the summer before the first Rowdytown we began talking about it. We were like, are we really going to play Red Rocks? Yes? Ok, then we need to make it big. We need to name the show something and just try to go all out. We passed around so many different names for months, from the stupidest stuff to great stuff. Then, Dom and I were goofing off with our friends, and one of them said, ‘Why don’t you call it Row-town?’ which, we used to say, we are going to take it to Rowdytown tonight you know when it was a big show and we were going to get crazy. So while we were talking about it, it turned into Rowdytown, and we were like that’s what we should call it.

TMN: An immediate that’s it!

Jeremy: Exactly, and now we are finally getting to a point where Rowdytown is developing into what we wanted it to be, two nights and everything, where it feels more like a festival. There are five artists each night, we are getting all special stuff, we have the little G’s coming out who are the advanced volunteers that are going to be helping out with stuff. There will be a photobooth, all sorts of things. Hopefully everyone has a great time this year.

TMN: Were you and Dominic surprised about the huge success of this event? It’s no surprise to anyone how much Colorado loves you two, being your hometown and everything, but you hear about people traveling from all over the US to see this. Tell us about how Rowdytown has become a staple for the Big G family?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think it is our mecca for Big G (laughs).

TMN: I would definitely say so!

Jeremy: And now that it is two nights, it is even more of an event because you can travel and go for two nights and make a weekend out of it. We are so psyched that it has built up to where it is and we are so appreciative to everyone who comes out to see us. It wasn’t that long ago that we were practicing in our basement and didn’t know what was going to happen and we were playing in tiny rooms all over the country. We started in Boulder and it is really cool that we can come back home and do something really awesome for Colorado.

TMN: Of course you are playing at the greatest outdoor venue in the world (that’s not just me saying, it has been voted on) Red Rocks. Does the experience just keep getting better and better everytime you are at that venue and what do you love most about playing there?

Jeremy: Red Rocks is definitely my favorite venue in the world. I honestly never get tired of that place; I went to shows all summer and saw a lot of my friends play. Every time I go to a show I spend half the show looking up at the audience and half the show looking at the stage. People are always asking me what I am looking at and I just can’t get over the way the moon always comes around that one big rock at the top on any clear night. It is just awesome, I love the vibe there.

TMN: I mean, not a bad thing to claim Red Rocks as a home venue.

Jeremy: (Laughs) Yeah not a bad place to claim at all. That we can even say that is beyond amazing.

TMN: And what a way to start before you head out on your “Touch the Sky” tour which is just twelve short days away. Tour are always fun, invigorating, and a massive commitment. What are a few things your fans can look forward to on this tour?

Jeremy: We are going to have a new light rig so that will be really cool. The set right now is pretty crushing. Dom has been working a lot on the older stuff. He finally found the master files for that stuff so we are making it a little fuller sounding, will be sharing some of it at Red Rocks. This tour coming up is going to be great, it is all over the country and we will be playing at some great venues like Madison Square Garden with Bassnector to kick it off. We have a big Halloween show in Atlanta, other shows in Detroit and Philly, just a lot of great places throughout the fall.

TMN: Sounds like a great tour, I’m sure all of your fans are looking forward to it.

Jeremy: It will be, tell everyone to come out, it will be a rager.

TMN: Just tell them all they will go ‘Row-Town’ every night right?

Jeremy: (Laughs) Yes, it is going to be so ‘Row’.

TMN: Now this is all very exciting and cannot wait to see this show this weekend, but let’s rewind just a little bit. You sir, are an unbelievable drummer.

Jeremy: Well I really appreciate that, thank you.

TMN: Share a little bit of your music history with us, did you come from a musical household, did you play instruments and sing as a kid?

Jeremy: It’s weird, I didn’t come from a musical household. My mom used to play a lot of music around the house, mainly the Beatles, James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Hall and Oates. Apparently when I was two, I started setting up pots and pans on the kitchen floor and play on them with chopsticks. I did the same with food containers and then when I was three, my grandfather got me a Muppet baby drum set and I literally started playing on it and it just kept going from there. Once I got a little bigger, when I was five, I got a bigger one. I have some pretty funny home videos of me when I was really little putting on a show essentially. I had the drums and a couple of kid guitars, a Fraggle Rock guitar, and a keyboard and I would have a camera tripod that was my microphone stand. I would dance around from instrument to instrument while my mom played Bruce Springsteen, just hilarious videos of me singing and playing drums. So, it has been in my life as long as I can remember, I have always been into music and apparently drawn to drums.

TMN: When did you pick up your first pair of drum sticks?

Jeremy: I was probably in middle school was when I said that I wanted to play real drums. At the time, I was in beginner band playing trumpet which I played in 6th and 7th grade and I was terrible. Then I tried out for Jazz band on drums in 8th grade and beat out all the kids who had been doing it for a couple years and thought oh, maybe this is what I should be doing (laughs) not sucking it up at trumpet. From then on, I would video tape myself playing and critique myself, I was self taught.

TMN: That takes a lot of discipline.

Jeremy: I just think I liked drums a lot (laughs) I mean it does take a lot of discipline to but I was never like ok, you have to do this. When you want to do something, it’s easy. When you don’t want to do something, then it takes discipline to get through it. At that time, I wanted to practice six or seven hours a day, that’s all I wanted to do.

TMN: You and Dom have been spreading your music magic for a number of years now. Can you kind of tell us the “how we met” story? Yes I know it’s a bit of a cliché storybook question but everyone, even my mother, likes a good “how we met” story.

Jeremy: We met through the Motet who are actually going to be playing with us at Red Rocks. But Dom used to play saxophone with the Motet back in the day. And any of the guys from the group, anyone who is in that band, is a badass, it’s just a given with Motet. I first saw the Motet in Virginia before I moved out here, I’m from Virginia originally, in like 2001 or 2002. Dom wasn’t in the band yet but Garrett, who is still in the band, was in it and Jans, was in it then too, I saw those guys and I was like those guys are so badass. They were from Boulder and so I ended up weirdly moving to Boulder partially because of the Motet because I heard they lived there and the drummer gave drum lessons. So I thought it sounded like a good music community, the Motet, String Cheese Incident, they all lived there and you could see them at Whole Foods and what not. So I moved out here and started going to shows. I tried to become friends with the drummer Dave Watts but he would forget my name (laughs) but eventually I got to know him and other members of the band. Then on Jam Cruise eight years ago or so, Dom and I played together and after that we instantly became friends. It was a very random set of circumstances that brought us together. Dom ended up moving into my place and then I started working for the Motet. I would sell merch, set up the drums, drive when they were on tour. I made a bunch of posters for them over the past eight or nine years, all sorts of stuff. Then Dom got a computer when we were living together, he actually got it from the singer of the Motet, he sold him an old white Mac Book and then our lives were changed forever.

TMN: That’s a great how we met story.

Jeremy: Well and what is cool is it has a lot to do with the Motet. So at Red Rocks in a few days, we are bringing them out to play with us at Rowdytown. So there is a full circle kind of thing happening. The Motet brought Dom to Colorado and is kind of what brought me to Boulder. It is weird that the Motet family is a big reason Big G got started so it is really cool that we get to do this at Red Rocks with them. I just rehearsed with the drummer Dave for a while, it is going to be awesome.

TMN: Was Big Gigantic the first name you two came up with or were there other contenders?

Jeremy: Dom actually had that name in his head, I remember he told me about it and he didn’t know what it was going to be for but he had it. At the time, he was playing jazz and he made a jazz album that nobody has, well I have it, a few have it but it is badass. Anyways, he was like what do I call my band? At one point he was going to call it Dominic Lalli’s Big Gignatic, kind of like Karl Denson’s Tiny Univserse, kind of like that. And then he got the computer and started making beats and putting them on MySpace under Big Gigantic, that’s where it started. He then told me he wanted me to play drums and he was going to continue to make music, so he did the music and I said I would take care of everything else. We both learned pretty quickly it’s not about making music and playing a show, there is so much involved in it. Still to this day it is set up the same, he does the music and I run the business. I work with the accountant and run the budget, all of that stuff. We both kind of wear different hats in the group but yes, that’s how he got the band name, it just came to his head.

TMN: A few months back you released your 5th studio album ‘The Night Is Young’ which, as most of your music does, expanded your repertoire of sound to an even greater level than before. I would say honestly there is no way to put Big G’s music in any sort of genre because the two of you have mixed and created such a unique and invigorating sound all by yourselves. How would you describe your music to someone? Let’s say someone was going to listen to your music for the first time without knowing a thing about it, what would you say to them?

Jeremy: We get asked a question kind of similar a lot and we never really know how to put it into a genre like you said, we don’t have one for it. We call it electronic dance music but saying EDM can mean anything. I would just say it’s a party with saxophone and drum.

TMN: I think that’s the best description to give, simple and to the point, it is a party for your ears.

Jeremy: Yes, a party for your ears.

TMN: I actually caught your show at Coachella and have to say, it blew me away. You and Dom brought a high school marching band on stage with you to perform, which is unlike anything many of us have seen at a live show. You two really believe in the use of live instruments during a performance. Do you believe that this is happening more and more in the electronic world?

Jeremy: It is kind of funny that is has gone that way, it’s a bit backwards. Like for Dom and I, and other artists who play instruments, that is what we have always done. We were in funk bands, Jazz bands, I was in a wedding band so for me playing an instrument is natural and normal, for both of us it is. When we started doing the electronic thing, we realized how many kids have never heard live instruments before and it’s kind of like, how did you miss this? The 90’s was all alternative music and hip-hop and them sometime in the early to mid-2000’s, dance music started coming on strong. These kids have never seen people with instruments before and we are like where have you been? So we are trying to backwards teach people about music. First they get into electronic music and then they realize oh look, he’s playing drums, oh wow he’s playing saxophone. Now they are getting into it and all these producers are bringing live bands in to play their electronic music which is pretty funny that it is happening that way but it is better than people forgetting what real instruments are because we were all a little scarred that was going to happen, because it was kind of happening. We are just trying to have fun, that’s one of the reasons we are bringing Motet out to help play with us. I’m glad that kids are getting exposed to instruments and hopefully they continue to be because for a minute it was like computers were taking over and they were, it was a scary thing. Now instruments are coming back and while I don’t think computers will disappear completely, which is fine, now we are all getting along, instruments and computers.

TMN: Exactly, and it’s not just the electronic guys who are doing this. I recently saw Drake and Lil Wayne and they had a drummer and guitarist with them onstage.

Jeremy: Yeah that’s awesome, for hip-hop guys, it all depends on where they are with their music. Sometimes they just have a DJ out there with them but sometimes they have drums, a guitar, a set of keys and will be playing the track in the background. Just nice to see live instruments.

TMN: Jeremy, let’s shift over to a few fun questions before I let you go. If you could pick up tomorrow and go anywhere in the world to play, where would you go?

Jeremy: Oh my God, I don’t know. We have been to Australia before and that was awesome, I want to actually live there. Byron Bay was a place that reminded me of a Boulder but in Australia, and a little less developed. I would play in space though, on the moon.

TMN: What is the strangest thing that has ever happened at one of your shows?

Jeremy: Something just happened and I was like, never seen that before but I cannot remember it. We have seen everything though, people getting into fights to dudes creeping on girls. I’ve seen people have sex…the funniest thing, also scariest, is when people go to stage dive and hope that people will catch them and not fall flat on their face. When we were just in San Fransisco, there was this kid who was about ten, was at the show with a Big G shirt on hanging out in the pit upfront. I pointed at him and we met him after, he saw us at Coachella and has been obsessed with us ever since, it was pretty cool. I like when people do the triple-decker, when one person gets on a person’s shoulders, than another person on top of their shoulders, that is pretty amazing. Girls flash us sometimes, that is always fun.

TMN: Your typical and necessary show outfit includes…

Jeremy: Well we always wear white, I have a white v-neck and my white Levi 5-11 jeans.

TMN: That’s what you wear every single time?

Jeremy: Yeah I mean we wear white every show, kind of boring.

TMN: What would you like to wear?

Jeremy: Sweatpants (laughs) I’ve been looking for these Nike sweatpants, I have like three colors of them but I really want to find a white pair. At one point this winter we decided to play in all black and it just didn’t have the same affect but I had these black sweatpants that I was going to wear if we ever did all black again.

TMN: We will see if we can find these white sweatpants for you, the search is on.

Jeremy: Well they have to be tapered.

TMN: Of course they do. We will look specifically for those.

Jeremy: Thanks.

TMN: Let’s say you and Dom were put on a tv show much like ‘Naked and Afraid’ where you get dumped in the woods, no clothes, no food, and just your mental skills to survive…who would most likely make it out in the end in one piece?

Jeremy: I think we would both make it we are both really resourceful. I don’t know I mean I wouldn’t say he isn’t going to make it, I think he would but I also think I would. I will make it through the freakin apocalypse if I have to, which is why our band has lasted as long as it has (laughs).

TMN: So if the zombie apocalypse happens, you are saying you will be a survivor?

Jeremy: I was a kid in the 90’s, I had tons of fake guns, I could definitely make it through the zombie apocalypse. I am also a good climber so I could just climb up into trees.

TMN: If you could have one superhero power, what would it be?

Jeremy: Probably the ability to fly, that is the one thing I am always like, that is so awesome. Every time I watch ‘Smallville’ with Superman, high school throwback right there. Did you watch that show?

TMN: I will openly admit that yes I did.

Jeremy: It was a great show! The whole time you are just waiting for him to fly and then he finally learns the move, game changer. I was hooked on that show for a very long time, I will admit it. I really liked that show ‘Heroes’, I was so disappointed when it ended, that show was the best show on television.

TMN: It was just a badass show, every single character was cool.

Jeremy: They were, the way the plot developed with the evil dude who could absorb power and there was a chance he could be good. I just wish they had kept that show going, I always wanted to be like the guy who flied.

TMN: What is one piece of advice that you carry with you every single day?

Jeremy: I’ve got so much random stuff floating around in my head…don’t be stupid (laughs). My dad told me when I graduated high school don’t pick up any wooden nickels. I was like dad, what does that even mean? But essentially what it means is don’t be stupid, what can you do with a wooden nickel, nothing. My mom always said when I was younger, it’s very cliché, but you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. And that more than anything, more than don’t be stupid, has stuck with me because a lot of people when we started questioned why we were doing music and making a life out of it. Dom and I are certain living proof of that statement, putting our minds to something, working hard, and believing in it. We both come from nothing, Dom worked at a coffee shop before Big G and I worked at Domino’s, so we literally started from the bottom and now we are here. It can happen, I’m all about installing positivity and inspiration in the children.

TMN: And finally, if Big G’s music were an animal, what type of animal would it be and why (and yes, fictional animals are included).

Jeremy: You know what’s crazy? Our first poster ever was a monster drawn by a dude I met in a bar. We were wondering what Big Gigantic should be like a huge gorilla or a T-rex or a Godzilla type thing because it always had the feeling of being this huge thing. So, I would say, we are a big two-headed monster because there are two of us.

TMN: Jeremy, thanks so much for your time today. Here’s to an amazing Rowdytown this weekend and best of luck with your upcoming tour!

Jeremy: Thank you!

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