Long Beach, California based band Big Sun recently released their debut album Spacelift. The album really showcases the band’s range and depth and leaves a great first impression. From punk to classic rock, the band shifts genres seamlessly. From the Offspring reminiscent Honey in My Arms to the classical piano of Touch Me Right, from the Pink Floyd style vibes of Trouble to the hardcore punk style of X, the band hits the nail on the head with each endeavor.
I had the chance to speak with lead singer of Big Sun, Peter Fraszczynski, about the album, his inspiration, and what he loves about music. Check it out below.
Kunal: So what got you into music?
Peter: Music has always been the biggest part of my entire life. Both my dad and uncle were song writers and performers. My Grandma and uncle taught me songs ( I knew about 72 songs in different kinds of languages before I was 3 yrs old!). I grew up with a piano in the house and also my parents played a lot of music (tapes and radio). I loved Oldies, church songs, campfire songs, folk songs, musicals like Mary Poppins and other Disney films, and whatever my parents listened to as well as my family’s music. I started playing piano at 5, guitar at 11, was a ballroom dancer for about 6 years, and was involved in musical theatre. I got into music mostly because my whole life I seemed to be good at it and when I’d play and sing for family friends and such everyone really enjoyed it. It made me feel significant and empowered.
Kunal: When did you know you would take your talents to Long Beach from your home in Chicago?
Peter: I didn’t know that I’d end up in Long Beach. I moved from Chicago to New Orleans, from New Orleans to New Haven, CT following a girl, and then finally drove from New Haven to Long Beach because I wanted to go to California next. It just seemed like the next step for me for some reason. Long Beach has a flourishing artistic community so here I was able to start Big Sun.
Kunal: I know you sing, play guitar, and play classical piano, do you play any other instruments?
Peter: Those, along with songwriting/composition and arrangement, are my foremost musical strengths. I did play trumpet in school for about 5 years. I also do play the bass guitar, harmonica, electric organ and i have been honored as an exceptionally talented rock tambourinist… I’m serious though..
Kunal: How did Big Sun get started?
Peter: I’ve been writing music for a while and wanted to form a band based around the same musical and tonal principals Big Sun is built on. I was working with countless musicians here in Southern California under the band name ‘Coyote’ until I finally got the current setup together. When it was apparent that we had finally all found the band we all wanted to be a part of we changed the name to Big Sun
Kunal: I felt you guys went in a lot of different directions with this album, changing genres almost every other song. What was the thought behind an album like this?
Peter: This album is a collection of songs that I had that we all liked the most. It has most of the elements of music which we wanted to feed into the band. Variety within one band is very important to us. Music can do SO many things and too many bands put out music where the songs sound a little too much like each other. Our point was to explore all the things that we can do while still sounding like the same band. Big Sun was created to be able to do a lot of things and allow a more varied experience of expression for us and our audiences alike! Over time all of these elements have been cooking together and you will see evidence of that in our next album.
Kunal: One of my favorite songs from the album was Trouble, and I got a pretty heavy Pink Floyd vibe from it. What was your inspiration for this song?
Peter: The goal of Trouble was to draw out the musical build as much as we could so you get super lost in the song. We wanted to use a lot of really sweet and glowing tones in the lead guitar and keyboards. The idea behind the drums was to be completely anti-repetitive meaning that the drums keep on rolling forward like a free-form monologue, doing different accents and syncopations at will. The bass gives the long warm notes keeping all of the different musical characters grounded and the rhythm guitar has a hypnotic melody that serves as the skeleton for the piece. The vocals are whispery and very intimate and the words come in the form of a self-reflective prayer to the Universe but being weighed down by, well, trouble. “oh, my trouble is going to take me on” (no chorus but a refrain at the end of every stanza). The song moves forward ever so gradually until it eventually climaxes in the bridges. In the end you simmer down and when the last note ends you feel delivered back to earth and you realize how far away the song really took you! For me it’s like laying on the beach and closing your eyes for about ten minutes and then opening them and getting reacclimated to the environment around you.
Kunal: If you had any advice for a kid from Chicago trying to start a band and make a career in music, what would it be?
Peter: My advice to any kid trying be in a successful band with hopes of it becoming a career would be to work hard! You always have to feel that you are working harder than everyone else and you have to find band members who are dedicated and responsible. Music is a craft that has been being developed for centuries, so get to know it! Learn and play as much music as you can and build your arsenal and your style and when you start either learning or writing a song make sure you finish it! Don’t be the guy who says “I can play this or that song” and you give him the guitar and he cant get more than the first three chords out. Everything you start don’t give up on until it’s presentable and play it! When you play for people make sure you forget you are the musician and be a part of the audience. Over time you will learn how to make music that makes people respond and react. If you’re playing music for people then you are obligated to them and to the craft to give your audience an experience instead of just “presenting” them or “showing” them something that you put together. It’s like telling a joke. You can’t just present them with the words of the joke, word after word after word, and expect them to laugh or even pay attention to you babbling on. You want to deliver the joke to them, keeping your hand on their pulse, so you can guide them to the climax of laughing. Imagine talking to someone and you want to make them cry. Now you want to make them laugh. Now you want them to get angry at you.. Music is not there to be presented. It’s a tool to make people feel great emotions and leave them feeling a sense of personal significance after experiencing your song or your show. If you are able to get a group of people together who are dedicated and driven, but also are able to not over play/under play and be humble, and write material that matters to people, you will get recognized. Stay true to yourself, work harder than everybody else, and don’t ever give up. Don’t sell yourself short and stay active. Record your music, make videos, and stay visible so everyone always knows that you are there and active. This is all easier said than done, but everyone has the ability to be great and to touch people in great numbers. If you don’t let yourself get lazy and always keep your sights on the next step you will succeed.
Thank you Peter for the great responses!