We met with the messy haired four-piece, Big Fish and grilled them on shady promoters, sleeping on pub floors and finding their “elusive” sound.
Tender, profound and loud: the sound of the Bath based new wave, post-punk band Big Fish. Fronted by Toby Ijbema (guitar, vocals), and backed by Gil Yehezkel (lead guitar), Alejandro ‘Ale’ Invernizzi (bass) and Ben ‘Bin’ Roe (drums); Big Fish deliver a dreamy fusion of pulsating psychedelia and turbulent rock that’s so thunderous you won’t know what’s hit you.
Having formed less than a year ago, Big Fish have taken their inspiration from bands such as Nirvana, Radiohead, The Pixies and Talking Heads. “There’s so many more atmospheric influences that come specifically from Toby’s songwriting,” Gil says. “Usually I’ll bring in an almost fully formed song, and they’ll just add other things into it,” says Toby.
“Us three [Gil, Ale and Bin] are kind of like the arms, the legs, the shape. Sometimes it’s not what you’re expecting at the beginning – sometimes it’s a bad thing, sometimes it’s a good thing,” Gil says.
“The songs will just hit a point when we don’t really know where to go
with them. Sometimes they’ll just write themselves,” Bin adds.
Toby, Ale and Gil, now in their third year, met at Bath Spa University on the Commercial Music course. Bin – the anomaly and the self-proclaimed “band slut” – is in his second year, studies Film and plays in a few bands on the Commercial Music course. “He gets around,” Gil says, grinning at Bin sitting beside him.
“The first time I met him [Bin] was through a window, through the door of the rehearsal room. He was playing the drums and I peaked in,” says Ale.
Over the past few months, the band have played a number of gigs around the UK, from the Bath and Bristol area, to London and Liverpool.
“It was definitely London,” says Toby, recalling the worst gig they’ve ever played.
Ale describes the run-down London venue, the shady promoter and the odd line-up that featured a pop singer and a guy who tried to sound like Bob Dylan. “It was horrible,” Ale groans, head in hands.
Big Fish were introduced as something similar to Coldplay, which was blatantly inaccurate. “By the end of it we were a bit fed up. And he,” Ale nods at Gil, “comes out with, ‘No seriously, get the fuck out!’” They laugh shakily at the memory. “At this point,” Gil expands, “anyone who loved the music of Chris Martin, in my eyes, was just not supposed to be there. It was the weirdest gig … and not the best public relations scheme.”
Big Fish are all about playing live, for them, it’s the best way to sample their music. “Being really tight is vital,” says Gil, “it gets a really smacking performance going.” The Fleece, a live music venue in Bristol, is “really nice” and captures their sound effectively as they “can go so heavy at some points.”
“I think for us, our main challenge live, is to find each other in the fray because we get so unbelievably heavy that it becomes like a storm, and you gotta find your mates in it,” says Gil.
Far from the mistaken Coldplay comparison, Big Fish sits somewhere between a dreamier, Wolf Alice and a more emotive Toy. They balance hypnotic lyrics and warping guitars over something bolder, transforming into a “grunge monstrosity” by the end.
The boys are consumed by music – they live and breathe it. “Sometimes we sleep.” Gil laughs. “Music is everything, so you’ve gotta do everything to make good music.”
Big Fish released their first single ‘Fade Away’ on 22 May and plan to put out their debut EP The Demo Tapes later this year.
Words by Annabel Miller