Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
Dave Secretary and Johnny O aren’t trying to over-promise with a band name like Big Dick, rather they’re advertising their wares, so to speak.
It’s not the message one finds in back-page classifieds, but a message about their style of bleak, challenging punk rock in the vein of the Victoria, B.C. band NoMeansNo. The Ottawa duo takes their name from NMN’s song of the same name. (We’ll link to it here to spare you the endless results one gets when Googling “big dick.”)
“It was one of NMN’s more popular songs,” bass player Johnny O says, “and it was a drum and bass song by that band, which corresponds with us being a drum and bass act.” He says the duo likes that they’re named after a Canadian punk band that tended to be musically progressive.
“I know the name is a little ridiculous, but the band itself isn’t terrible,” Secretary says. He plays drums in Big Dick, under the stage name he’s been using since the days of playing in bands such as Party Knives and hardcore act Van Johnson.
“People have been using Secretary since high school,” he says. “It’s an uneventfully long and boring story that I will explain to the masses on my deathbed. I generally try to keep my idiotic hobbies and actual real life as separate as possible.”
In “real life,” both Secretary and Johnny O study architectural technology. Johnny O played in the Million Dollar Marxists; that band toured quite a bit around the time Van Johnson was on the road. The two guys formed Big Dick in 2009.
“Being in a two-piece sounded like an easy idea at the time,” Secretary says, “but we have since realized that there can be a lot more work involved.”
“We wanted to do something a bit simpler, yet layered,” explains Johnny O, “a two-piece band where we played the instruments that we were most familiar and comfortable with seemed like a reasonable approach.”
And while they’re only using drum and bass — as opposed to the guitar-centric norm — the 10 songs on their self-titled debut don’t sound as spare and grungy as most drum-and-bass duos. The album has plenty of sludgy overtones and even a few forays into poppier punk thanks to some sweet vocal harmonies.
Big Dick will release their new 12-inch (talk about a sentence that is unsafe for work) on February 19. It’s available via Dirt Cult Records, a label based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico. You can stream the album now via this link.
Big Dick plays the Dominion Tavern with Boyhood, and Neon Windbreaker on Saturday, February 16. 33 York St., 10 p.m., $7.
On the subject of awesome twosomes, we look to the band Cousins, a guitar-and-drums duo from Halifax that plays gritty garage rock. The band has a new Ottawa connection: they’re being managed by Kelp Records. The band just finished recording a new album with Graham Walsh of the band Holy Fuck, and it will be released on the Hand Drawn Dracula label later this summer. See Cousins at Pressed Café on Friday with Grime Kings. 750 Gladstone Ave., 8 p.m., $8.
The prog-folk band formerly known as Dry River Caravan is now called Little Sun. They moved to Montreal and signed a deal with True North Records. They’re back on home turf to play a gig Friday at Irene’s Pub with Andre Bluteau. 885 Bank St., 9 p.m., $10.