Big On Tangents aren’t that big on tradition. Emerging from a cul de sac in 80’s Charlestown, Ivan, Splash, and Scoob have jammed and gigged their way through Newcastle’s finest years of live music. In between recordings at S&M’s studio, Scoob helps himself to a beer out of a mini eski as Ivan leans over a bass guitar, thinking back. Splash is in WA.
“Obviously we just started out like everyone else, just, you know, jamming out of our parent’s garage. It was a really tight knit community, too, but cul de sacs usually are. We didn’t hold ourselves back from playing different styles of music, as long as it was interesting to play. We were more about playing around with new sounds, new directions, than actually performing.” says Ivan.
“We still are.” Scoob adds.
Formerly known as The Natural Mystics, the then eight-piece band brought reggae and Santana influenced soul music to 90’s Newcastle’s well developed live scene.
“There were people everywhere.” Ivan recalls. “As many people as you could fit into every possible venue, with the sound of live bands pouring out into the streets and carrying down to the next place. It was huge. We used to play up to six nights a week then, and we had a residency up at The Beaches as well- every Thursday. The atmosphere in there was great; it was a great time.”
The Natural Mystics went on hiatus in 2002, during which Ivan’s brother and The Mystic’s drummer, Splash, moved to the west coast.
“We all took a bit of a break for a while. It became common for people to buy houses next to venues, and then complain about the noise,” Ivan explained, as Scoob shook his head disbelievingly. “Pubs installed sound pressure meters, which would cut the power to the stage if they exceeded a certain decibel level. Barbaric stuff, man.”
With Splash out of the picture, Ivan and Scoob began experimenting with new sounds and Big On Tangents was born. With an even more diverse stylistic range, Tangent’s predominantly instrumental music was quick to catch the attention of people across the globe, from the Middle East to a French DJ hoping to feature them on their local radio.
Meeting up late last year for a packed out Natural Mystics reunion at the Wicko, Splash was keen to contribute to Big On Tangents’ sound and was brought on as a session drummer for their upcoming album ‘Wondering’.
An amalgamation of music put together over twenty years, Wondering is an exercise in variety: Ivan and Scoob take turns leading vocals, and some don’t have vocals at all. “If it’s good, it’s good.” Scoob explained. “I remember writing Lacerations about nearly cutting off my hand with a circular saw, and the effects that had on being able to work and play guitar. They put me to sleep to put it all back together, and I really put the story and how I felt into the track. So yeah, we weren’t just trying to write something catchy for radio, it’s important that our stuff is real.”
“Yeah,” Ivan agreed. “Putting together Next Of Kin was like that for me. It never had lyrics, it was a jam song and I’d played it as a piece of music at a couple of wakes before, in remembrance of a couple of lost friends. I never stopped jamming it because it was a good way to remember them, and so it was kind of fitting when a couple of my musical friends who had never met Matt or Splash just dove in and played on the track: It became so much more again.”
Back in the studio, Matt’s putting the finishing touches on ‘Wondering’ which releases on popular streaming services November 1st, with pre-orders opening October 15th. Listen on Spotify.