Former Godsized rhythm section, Gavin Kerrigan, and Dan Kavanagh, talk about their new band Big Mono

I'm acutely aware that the worst people to pick the singles are the band normally because you're so involved in it. Dave Grohl didn't think ‘Teen Spirit’ was a single.

Interview by Mark Lacey

With an upcoming gig in London at The Dome on May 20th, supporting Desert Storm and a debut album to follow this year as well, big things are on the horizon for Big Mono, which comprises former Godsized members, Gavin Kerrigan, and Dan Kavanagh. 

Mark Lacey spoke to the duo about life after Godsized and what to expect from their new outfit. 

MGM: How would you describe the sound for someone coming to Big Mono for the first time?

DK: Well, on hearing the recent single a DJ described it as Clutch meets Rival Sons. So that was the glorious takeaway, because that’s probably our two choice support slots. But I guess connecting to our previous bands, it leans more into the rock than the metal side of it, but bluesy rock. It’s got more of an organic sound than our previous band.

GK: Yeah, and with more of a seventies kind of twist to it, I think.

MGM: You describe yourselves on your website as having big riffs, tight grooves, and soaring vocals. Your singer Drew Davies has a notable comparison to Rob Adler from Big Linda. And you’ve certainly got a rock and roll twist to the music as well.

DK: Drew sort of came late to the project, out of the four of us. We tried a few singers and Drew absolutely knocked it out of the park. Something that wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite, but we all loved, was that Drew’s got a very distinctive voice. He’s very English sounding, which speaks to our love of Iron Maiden, and the classics, and I think he’s got some Coverdale touches to his voice that I really enjoy. I think that also helps create a bit of an identity for the band, which is cool.

GK: And it moves it away from our previous band (Godsized).

DK: I think everyone would be expecting a sort of Glenn impression.

MGM: How did you go about bringing this project together? When your former band Godsized played your last show in 2018, you guys weren’t really spending that much time together. And Neil was living in Germany too?

GK: Neil had left the previous band probably five years before, maybe. Godsized split up in 2015 and then we all went our separate ways. Me and Dan kept in contact,

DK: It’s always a bit odd at the end of a band. There were obviously some tensions and you look back and you all think you could have done it differently and better. It’s not that we weren’t close, and Gav and I always stayed in touch. With hindsight, you can easily go, oh, it was because of this, that and the other. When you’re in it, it just sometimes feels all a bit doom and gloom and it’s a bit exhausting. But no-one fell out. It wasn’t like a blood and thunder ending or anything. It just sort of fizzled out.

MGM: That last Godsized show in 2018 was really emotional. One of the best shows you’d played, and the Camden Underworld was rammed. And then it all stopped.

GK: Well, our friend Nigel, who was also our roadie … his wife was quite ill. It was terminal, so we wanted to raise some money for those guys. I thought, well, what could I do to get some money together? I reached out to the rest of the guys about doing a one-off reunion show with the two different line-ups.

DK: Obviously that was a very beautiful thing for us to be able to do for someone we love. But also selfishly from the band point of view, it gave a very unique chance to just go and end it on a great gig with no hard feelings. I would also add, if all the gigs were like that, we’d have fucking still been in the band.

GK: And that became the catalyst for this new project.

MGM: So, after that show, when did you decide you were going to do something different together, and did it start with (Neil) Fish and you both?

GK: Originally it was me and Fish. He’d not played for a long time, and that show kind of got his juices flowing a little bit, and he wanted to get back out there. He reached out to me first of all about doing a project, which I was definitely up for. And then Dan got involved.

DK: I must have been a year later, though, right?

GK: Yeah, we jammed with a few different drummers and even singers as well, but we were going nowhere fast.

DK: And all roads lead to me (ha ha). The guys gave me the call, but at the time I was still in Jamie Lenman’s band. The main reason for me to get involved was the songs, but it was also to see the guys again socially and hang out with your friends. So that was the real reason I got involved, just to connect with good pals. But that fucking riff from ‘A thousand times’ …. I heard that, and was like, yeah, I’ll do that!

MGM: In the beginning, you went through a couple of singers before you found Drew, so was that as a three piece, or were you still testing out drummers at that point too?

GK: It was more after Dan had joined the band. We had a couple of drummers before Dan, and then he joined and we wanted to get the rhythm section and the music side of it complete and then that’s when we started reaching out to different singers.

DK: Fuck me, it’s hard to find a singer. We were at points where it was seriously talked about that I would sing lead vocals in a three piece. And then we talked about just being music, whatever. Every possible thing was explored, just for not being able to find anyone. It’s not like we don’t know loads of people, but it’s just circumstance. They were either in bands or had just left a band and hadn’t got the energy for it. Timing is such a massive factor. So, we tried a couple of singers, all good guys, good singers in their own right, but it just wasn’t quite the right fit.

MGM: So, did you guys know Drew from the past?

GK: Yeah. Back in probably 2010, before we did the Black Label Society tour, we were gigging around London with Godsized and we would often do shows, and bump into The Mercy House, or we’d play on the same bill. That’s how we knew Drew. I’d always see him around London, or in The Big Red on a Saturday night. But it was Fish who reached out to Drew originally.

MGM: How does the band get together, given that Neil (Fish) still lives in Germany?

GK: Ha ha, it gets better. Our singer now lives in Glasgow. He’s from Sheffield.

MGM: That must make it quite difficult for you guys to get together to write, or to plan shows?

DK: Yeah, it is. We’ve dined out on that long process of finding Drew. We effectively wrote 70% of an album musically, and then when Drew came in, we reshaped it and wrote a few more. But going forward, we have to be quite organised and have zoom calls, discuss set lists and things like that, because the rehearsal time is so valuable and we have to have an agenda.

The one thing I would say is … not in an arrogant way, more of a fact …. we’re old and have been playing for twenty years. It’s like you can do that when you’re good players; not having to rehearse every week.

GK: Especially the chemistry. We’ve been playing together so long.

MGM: You mentioned that you have a whole bunch of music ready. You’ve release two singles so far ‘A Thousand Times’ and ‘Truth Be Told’, but the album’s finished already, right?

GK: Yeah, it’s recorded.

MGM: Who’s the main songwriter in the band, and given you will live so far apart, how do you go about putting the songs together?

DK: We still write in an old fashioned way, which is still in the room, pretty much, and we just work it.

GK: Or we might get a message on the phone of a guitar riff and then we go to rehearsal and then we’ll work on that.

DK: A lot happens between the first and second session on a song. We’ll hammer out an idea, and crucially, we’ll record that, and then we will send it around. Sometimes I’ll do a not necessarily very finessed job of editing that, to come up with some different structures, but we’ll just discuss the recording an awful lot before the next session and then go, let’s halve that chorus, or let’s do XYZ. There’ll be a lot of WhatsApp group chat about it. And then Drew will add vocal ideas over it. It could be a lot slicker though.

MGM: You’ve got a full album of songs already written, but you’ve decided to put a couple of singles out first. What’s the plan to put the album out?

DK: The original idea was to release three or four singles and then drop the record. The thing you’ve got to remember is that if you release lots of individual things, much as I hate it, it gives you additional opportunities to have ‘content’, so you can do the bullshit on Instagram and whatever else we’re on. I’m pretty sure I was in a band that wrote a whole fucking album just to appease Instagram. I think that whole thing has been turned on its head. That’s what’s so nice when fucking Metallica or Alice in Chains do something, because they don’t have to obey to their rules. They just have a record. They still write it like AC/DC wrote albums.

MGM: So how many songs are on the new album? And what made you choose the first two singles?

GK: There’s eight sings on the new album. I think ‘A Thousand Times’ was the first thing we wrote together in the room. So that was always going to be the first single; it’s a real rocking tune.

DK: It always felt like the calling card of the band. It’s a big riff, but they’re all rocking songs. I think we all wanted those two songs. But also, I’m acutely aware that the worst people to pick the singles are the band normally because you’re so involved in it. Dave Grohl didn’t think ‘Teen Spirit’ was a single.

MGM: You did a little teaser campaign in August last year. Then you put the first single out and you got quite a lot of airplay on Total Rock and Planet Rock, but it’s hard for independent bands to get that traction. It all seems to be about using socials these days, right?

DK: No-one touched Godsized’s last record. You can orchestrate a press campaign as best you can, but you just don’t know what else is getting sent to them for that schedule. And we’re terrible at socials. We do have to accept we have limited bandwidth and limited budgets. It’s all coming out of our pocket. We’ve all got jobs etc. It’s not a bottomless pit of resources. You have to sort of spread it here and there.

MGM: A lot of emerging groups used to come out of London. Now they’re coming from places like Wolverhampton, Manchester, Swansea, and they’re getting traction through festivals like Call of the Wild, HRH etc. Those cities also seem to have retained their local music venues.

GK: London has less and less places to play. There’s definitely not a scene there anymore.

DK: Yeah. The Astoria, the Borderline, the LA2 have all gone. That was a key point for bands to get on those slots .. they were always the calling card venues that you play on your route.

GK: We definitely want to get out of London. I think there’s more of a scene in different areas, and there’s places that are really hungry for our sort of music.

DK: Also, in a world of social media and likes and fucking press campaigns, we really just want to play shows. It was really interesting playing our first gig at Leo’s (Gravesend) and getting back into the scene. That place absolutely blew my mind.

GK: It’s a brilliant venue and it’s funny; it’s the only thing standing there. Everything else has been developed.

DK: It’s like a Costco on a Barratt Homes estate, it’s so opposite. And it’s like this place is going to have to fight hard to stay. The build up to releasing this band has been delayed by years because of COVID, so just to get out and play felt like a weight off. It feels like we survived; we’ve got a recording out; we’ve got singles coming and everything’s in the can. We’ve played a show and we’ve got another one booked. But now we really want to start getting out and getting some miles on the clock.

MGM: Your show at Leo’s, and the next show at the Dome, Tufnell Park are both playing alongside Blind River, with your old Godsized band-mate Chris. Good times?

DK: I’ll just say Blind River are fucking wicked and they’re our mates.

MGM: You started promoting Big Mono in August last year, and we’re almost in April. You (Dan) had to take time out for hospital treatment in September, which meant postponing plans. Does it feel like the band has lost a bit of momentum, and need to re-energise?

DK: I said to Neil, we’re operating on a World Cup schedule at the moment because the band’s been going four years and we’ve done one gig. And it was a good one. I don’t know that we’ve lost momentum. It’s just getting going.

MGM: Looking forward for the rest of the year, you’ve got more singles and an album launch to come. But what does success look like for the band?

GK: I think getting on some sort of main support for a bigger type band.

DK: I have a slightly different view of that. Thinking back to the Godsized days, which was all about the fans, it never ceased to amaze me how into that band people were. And if we had ….. and I’ll be humble and say 100 fans that were willing to buy our record, or who would come watch us play and would connect with us …. I would call that cool, given how difficult it is.

GK: The key to this band is getting out playing live, getting around the country and getting people to hear the band. That’s where we want to be.

DK: I think all the time we’re having a great time making good music, everything will fall into place.

Big Mono are:

Drew Davies: vocals

Neil Fish: guitar

Dan Kavanagh: drums

Gav Kerrigan: bass guitar

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/BigMonoBand

https://linktr.ee/bigmonoband

Big Mono will be supporting Desert Storm, and Blind River at the Dome Tufnell Park on 20th May.

For tickets: https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/desert-storm-the-dome-tickets/12849245

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