Not knowing anyone upon arrival at UC Santa Barbara is a pretty average experience. Forming friendships while learning to balance school, newfound independence and starting a band is not, and that’s why the members of Big Hungry are no average freshmen. The freshmen band has made its way onto the Isla Vista music scene with two shows under their belt and more to come. The bandmates have only known each other for five months, but they have written six original songs (and more in the works) that are en route to the recording studio. Meanwhile, they play “everything under the rock umbrella,” said Avery Lindsey, the bassist of Big Hungry.
Out of the five-member band, also including Curran Hoxie (drums) and Moe Stoked (rhythm guitar), the Daily Nexus talked with Lindsey, Nolan Guss (vocals) and Stiles White (electric guitar) about their experiences diving into the I.V. music scene so early into their college careers.
“Make as many friends as you possibly can. That’s how this happened. We talked about how much we liked music. The friends did the rest,” said Guss, inspired by Mick Jagger’s ability to combine his guttural voice and flair for on-stage performance.
White, whose favorite guitar players include Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin and Joey Santiago from the Pixies, jumped in next. “I was doing the Isla Vista walking tour with my mom and I heard from behind me, ‘Yeah man, I really want to form a band’ and I turned around and said, ‘I want to form a band, too’ and we started talking and I got his number and the second day we were here we jammed for a little bit,” White said.
Lindsey, who draws inspiration from Paul McCartney (his bass fills in the space without sounding too low or heavy), also shared a suggestion. “Don’t be shy … This girl I barely knew at the time, I saw her randomly one day and she was like, ‘Oh hey, these two people want to jam, let me know if you want their number,’ and I didn’t know, they were complete strangers. Put yourself out there,” Lindsey said.
As the bandmates live in the freshman dorms and don’t have a house of their own, lounges and any open piano quickly became Big Hungry’s makeshift studio — a space to sit together to listen and play music without the nerves and pressure that come with live performances. A jam, if you will.
“The art of the jam. The jam is no stakes,” said Guss.
The nerves kick in once show night rolls around, although the bandmates agreed that they only feel nerves before, not during, a show. Once they get on stage everything and everyone goes dark, and it’s them and their instruments.
“It’s weird being the only girl [in the band]. But as soon as you’re up there it all goes away,” Lindsey shared.
White even has his own good-luck charm that he wears on stage. His look definitely sets himself apart from the typical UCSB student; he sports a pair of cowboy boots instead of the typical flip-flops or beat-up Vans.
“These boots are my great-grandfather’s. My great-grandfather can see Isla Vista whenever I wear them,” White said.
On the topic of performing, the band suggested making friends with older students who live in I.V. and have houses that make it easier to perform. But then again, “Everybody wants to party, everybody will be like ‘Oh yeah, you can play here,’” said Guss.
The I.V. music scene is an integral part of UCSB. Everyone likes music, so everyone shows up — a collective experience that feels unique to our school, spreading happiness and elevating the mood effortlessly. It’s special. And from the eyes of the performer, it’s even better.
“I.V. is such a unique place. It’s very free. You can do whatever you want up there. It’s a good place to be creative because you are surrounded by people who want to support you,” Lindsey said.
“It’s just a lot of free-spirited beach bums listening to a lot of different music,” added Guss.
Even in bad weather, this same aura is there. Big Hungry’s I.V. debut show featured a guest star: the rain. The band embraced the rock-and-roll mentality of “rain or shine, the show must go on,” and they felt the electricity that comes with performing live. Big Hungry took the stage and attracted a large crowd, playing a mix of originals and covers. Their favorite tracks performed were the Frank Sinatra version of “My Way” (Guss), “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath (White) and “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers (Lindsey).
“The rain made it unique. Everybody who came really wanted to be there. They wanted to be there in the rain. It made it more special,” Guss said.
When asked where the name “Big Hungry” came from, the bandmates all started laughing.
“Our friend Moe was like ‘I think Big Hungry would be a dope name.’ [Avery] told me ‘I am not Big Hungry,’” said Guss.
What started as a seemingly unmeaningful name turned into a central part of their performance. Their friends chant “hungry” at the shows and their Instagram comment section is spilling with friends and fans asking who’s hungry.
“We just embraced it … We feel like Big Hungry now,” said Guss.
To finish, Lindsey, Guss and White advised anyone who wants to get involved in the music scene to make friends with the other bands. If not to share musical ideas, to share equipment. Some of their favorite fellow I.V. bands include French Cinema, Dead Set, The Doors Experience and Nos Algos (especially when they play country songs, according to Lindsey).
And if you are in need of any new songs or bands to listen to, the band recommends their current favorites: “Roadrunner” by The Modern Lovers, “Little Pad” by The Beach Boys, “Ball of the Dead Rat” by The Teeth, Pixies, The Velvet Underground and Babe Rainbow.
Follow their Instagram @bighungryband for show announcements and highlights.
This appeared in the February 16th Daily Nexus printed edition.