Here's an interview with Frank Daly of the recently reunited Big Drill Car. As you can gather from reading the interview I'm mostly unfamiliar with BDC's work but with the impending re-releases I'm going to try to fix it. Frank was super nice and we ended up chatting for another fifteen minutes about general Chicago and punk rock related things after I turned off the tape recorder. Big Drill Car have just jumped up in the ranks to be one of the bands I'm most excited about seeing. I just finished up a piece using bits and pieces of this for the site, but here's the straight Q & A transcription that has more info and obviously a conversational feel.
Bill: What prompted the reformation of Big Drill Car?
Frank: Well I don’t know if you’re familiar with… you’re calling from the Midwest? Are you in Chicago?
Bill: Yeah I’m in Chicago.
Frank: Do you remember a band called M.I.A.?
Bill: Yeah, yeah! Frank Conley
Frank: Mike Conley.
Bill: Er, yeah, Mike Conley.
Frank: Mike and I, the guitar player in Big Drill Car, we were both in M.I.A. and we were all pretty good friends with Mike, and he passed away last year. Well, this year I guess it is. There were a bunch of benefit shows for his family and we were thinking that it had been long enough and we thought that a reunion would be kind of cool, that maybe we could play one of those. But as it turned out with our scheduling we weren’t able to play at any of those scheduled events. So we weren’t able to those but it left us with a jones, you know? “Oh, we were gonna do it!” you know? We just wanted to do it! And also our back catalogue is on iTunes now and we wanted to let people know that it’s out there again, so it’s sort of promoting that. It’s not for Mike, but because of Mike we had this jones to play, we wanted to do it again.
Bill: Yeah, that’s cool, I was going to ask you if there were any re-issue plans for the stuff. Is it just through iTunes or are you going to do a physical re-release?
Frank: No, I don’t think there’s going to be any physical re-release. It is all out of print though. I don’t know, I’m not ruling it out but what I’d like to do is make a good compilation. Even if that’s just for iTunes.
Bill: That’d be cool. Are any of the singles that you put out digitally available?
Frank: No, no they’re not. That’s the next move is to get all that stuff. Like I was talking about with the compilation, maybe put some of the singles and demo versions of some of the better stuff and maybe some stuff that should’ve been singles, if people did singles back in ’91 or whatever!
Bill: I didn’t know about the iTunes thing, I’ll definitely have to check it out.
Frank: Yeah, please do.
Bill: I’d heard your name thrown around a lot but I could never find anything for the longest time. Then three or four months ago I found Small Block on cassette at a Salvation Army store for $ 0.40!
Frank: No kidding!
Bill: Yeah it was pretty awesome, I made a bunch of scores that day! I found some Down By Law, some Dag Nasty tapes and it was like “Woah, this is the coolest Salvation Army store ever!”
Frank: Hahahah, that’s really cool!
Bill: So how were the first shows? You played two shows in Long Beach?
Frank: Well the first two were in Huntington Beach and then we did two of the dates on the Warped Tour, we did San Diego and Los Angeles.
Bill: How did they go?
Frank: It was a blast, man, totally unreal! I can’t even put it into words it was so much fun again. You know, with these guys and to see all these old people, all the old faithful that used to come to the shows and stuff. It was really fun.
Bill: Did you remain friends with all the guys in the band when you were broken up? Did you stay in contact?
Frank: Yeah, none of us... (pause). Nobody ever left the band on bad terms, you know? It was more like “I think I’m going to do this now” and the rest of us were like “Ok, that’s cool, I guess we’ll see ya around!” It wasn’t a big blow out fight or anything, nobody was sleeping with anybody else’s wife, no one said anything they’d regret. We had remained friends so getting back together was as easy as making phone calls, there were no old fences to mend or anything.
Bill: Was it difficult to get practice time? You’re living in Indiana, correct, and the other guys are still in California?
Bill: Was it tough?
Frank: I practiced with the guys for probably three hours, maybe four hours total, but the guys would get together when their schedules would allow. Mark is a sound man and a tour manager and he’s always on the go so it’s pretty difficult to nail him down for practice time but he’s always real enthusiastic and real up for it. The other three guys are on pretty regular schedules so Mark was able to get together with them. I would drive around in my car and practice singing because I don’t play music at all any more. Those guys would get together when they could and fortunately it all came together.
Bill: Now there was a tribute CD that just came out; were you involved with that at all?
Frank: You know, other than knowing it was going to happen, not really. I know Bob did the cover art and Glenn, the guy that released it, Itchy Korean Records, he’s been a big fan for a long and he used to follow us around Texas when we came through; he’s from Houston. He came to some of our shows out in LA and he’s a real good guy. He used to say he was going to do it, you know? “I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it!” And he finally did!
Bill: Have you had a chance to hear it?
Frank: Yeah yeah yeah, I’ve gone through the tracks. I like some of the tracks a lot. Caudill? Jeff Cuadill, is that how you say his name? Have you heard it at all?
Bill: No, I’ve been meaning to check it out but I have to scrounge up some more money to get it!
Frank: Well it’s the guy from Gameface, his name is Jeff Caudill is how you pronounce it, he does a version if “Swanson: that’s really good. There’s some other stuff that’s on there that’s pretty good to listen to. There are some re-interpretations. There’s one band on there that’s from Japan or something that does “Green Fields” and it’s an interpretation that I would have never sensed happening but it’s cool to hear what other people do with the stuff.
Bill: So you were saying earlier that no one ever left the band on bad terms, but what caused the initial break up?
Frank: Well let’s see. The first guy to leave was Bob. He was playing in another band at the time and he just decided to follow that, I think he was having more fun with that one because it was a newer experience so he went with that. We got a new bass player, a guy named Darrin Norris. We learned a bunch of new songs and we were getting ready to record the demos for No Worse For The Wear and Danny quit the band, so we got another drummer, a guy named Keith Faliss, played on the No Worse For the Wear record. We went on tour with Keith and then Keith quit! So we got a guy named Jamie Reidling to play drums and we recorded a couple of 7”s that were toward the end; Jamie played on those and we did a bunch of touring with him. Then at the end of that Mark and I kind of felt like we had a chemistry going among the original four guys. We felt like we kind of tinkered with the chemistry and it wasn’t like it was, you know? It was still fun; those guys were great guys to tour and write music with but it just felt different. It didn’t feel like the same old band to continue on. It just didn’t feel right any more. If we were anything, if Big Drill Car was ever anything, we were totally honest, you know? If it wasn’t fun we weren’t going to do it. What we played in was what we slept in the night before, you know! We never put on makeup or put on airs, we just were what we were; if it wasn’t fun and we weren’t going to do it any more.
Bill: You guys were one of the anchors of the old Cruz Records scene and I’ve always kind of wondered if you have any estimates on how many shows with All you’ve played over the years?
Frank: Ha, oh wow, I don’t know man! I’d say it’s gotta be (pause to think) it’s gotta be around a hundred! Ha! It has to be! We toured with them a lot. We did major tours with them, like six weekers three times at least. We did countless shows around LA and Orange County, the Bay Area, we’d go to the desert with them. I’ll bet it’s in the neighborhood of at least a hundred. I’m super looking forward to playing with those guys again; I mean those are some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
Bill: Yeah I’m looking forward to seeing how they pull it off.
Frank: Yeah with Scott Reynolds.
Bill: I guess all the reports from the past shows, even the surprise one were that they were really good.
Frank: I’m gonna YouTube that tonight. I’ve been meaning to but I’m really going to do it tonight to see what it’s all about.
Bill: There’s one really good video where the camera work is really shaky but the sound is really good. It’s from the surprise show in Fort Collins and it looked really cool. Like, Scott Reynolds, to be honest, is my least favorite All singer but even I was like “Oh shit, it’s All again!”
Frank: No kidding?
Bill: Yeah, I’m the one person that I know of likes Dave and Chad more. (laughter)
Bill: Uh huh.
Frank: Hmm. I really liked Scott’s songwriting, you know?
Bill: Yeah I can definitely see why with the songs but I don’t know, something about it. I’m still pretty excited to see it though. Maybe this will change my mind, that’s what everyone’s been telling me.
Bill: So outside of the band, what do you do as a career now?
Frank: I’m an X-ray tech. I work at Bloomington Hospital taking X-rays and in school, started about three years ago and I just graduated in May.
Frank: Thank you! I’ve been at Bloomington Hospital for about a year now.
Bill: That’s really cool, that’s not something you hear about every day.
Frank: No, it’s not. And you know what, it’s a pretty fun thing because it’s kind of creative. Sometimes you can’t do things that the book tells you and you have to think on the fly. Some of the views are kind of cool looking; you tend to take a cool picture every now and again. It’s pretty fun. You’re not going to get rich doing it but it’s kind of cheap to live here in Bloomington.
Bill: Well that’s about it, I’m out of questions. Do you have any last words or thoughts?
Frank: Just that I’m really looking forward to coming up and playing a show up in Chicago. We played Chicago twice if I remember right, well actually I don’t know, maybe more than twice. They weren’t all that we’d hoped they’d be, but hopefully these next shows will be pretty good.