The Big Boss – On the road to a new sound

Written by on September 8, 2021

Martin Byrne has been playing and recording since the 1980s with bands including Thule from 1989-96. he started recording again as The Big Boss in 2014 and the fourth album In Transit came out on 3rd September.

One of the lead tracks on In Transit is 4.02 to Destination. Am I right in thinking that was written on a plane?

It was. I went to back to New Zealand for the first time in 14 years in January 2020 just before Covid hit. It was 30 hours each way. So, I had this idea that I was going to make good use of the time and try and write an album on the way. And it was actually the very first flight from Manchester to New York, I I’d done the usual stuff settled in, had some food, watched a movie. And I looked at the time and it said 4.02 to destination. So, I just got the laptop up put the headphones on and just started kind of writing away and the whole thing was done in 58 minutes because I looked up at the end of it and it was, it was. I can’t do that calculation backwards 4.02 minus 58 minutes, it was that that left yeah so that was the very first thing that I started off with. I think that there’s a level of excitement in the journey that’s in that track as well.

How do you think the Big Boss sound has evolved since the last album Kiss the Machine? Which is a couple of years ago now?

Yeah, that was 2019 and I did the iWitness album with Jason Smith in between. There’s been a constant evolution, you know. The first album came out and in 2013 but really was written in between 1998 and 2000. And that’s what really got me writing again. I think there’s a constant evolution. It’s a bit slicker, it’s a bit more polished, I mixed Kiss the Machine myself and then got someone else master it. But I still felt the sound could be better, the sound could be more professional, so I found this great guy in Sweden, Anton Wickstrom, who’s a mix engineer, and so I decided to actually get him to mix In Transit and so I think that’s evolved the sound into being the best that can be really.

You’re actually getting out and playing live for the first time in a while as well. Where’s your first gig?

First gig’s in a pub in Salford, it’s part of this festival called Langworthy Live, with lots of different bands playing in lots of different venues around Langworthy in Salford. So, there’s all sorts going on. You basically get a wristband for the weekend and there’s about 50 different acts, playing. So, I’m, I’m on early, 6pm on a Friday night. Man, I can’t wait to play. I can’t wait.

What are you most looking forward to about getting from back in front of an audience?

Volume. The album is made to be listened to on headphones, certainly in a home stereo but, you know, when I close my eyes and dream, I’m not in a Pub in Salford, but on Main Stage at Beatherder in front of 10,000 people, you know, I really want to hear it through a nice system. That’s what I’m looking for and hopefully playing some people that don’t know anything about me, and actually, you know, entertaining them and hope you know that that’s what I’m really looking forward to someone else hearing what I’m doing.

The Big Boss for me is all about sort of some of those little sounds and little bits that pop up out of the mix up, and they’re always different, they’re always original. What is your favourite new sound you used on this album?

Oh, good question. It’s got to be it’s got to be the bing bong, bing bong. Because actually, when I was sitting there waiting to start 4.02, the first thing that happened when I started was the aeroplane announcement came on. I take inspiration of anything, you know, that’s why I like collecting original sounds. Like, my back door’s got this really weird and squeak on it. I recorded it and I like recording stuff and turning it into synth sounds. So yeah, I think my favourite sound is that bing bong from the from the aeroplane,

One of one of my favourite bits of the album is on the last piece Over and Out where it just fades down to the drum and the bass sound. I think you’ve got a really strong bass sound on this album

I think that is that you know the benefit of using a top class mix engineer. My skills are creative, yes, I can programme yes, I can, I can use Logic Pro and I can do stuff but when it gets to a certain technical level, there’s kind of an academic level to it that I can’t, or my ears can’t hear. So, handing it over to someone else who can just make it better. I think that’s resulted in better bass sounds better overall sound.

So, live gigs coming up, hopefully a few more. What are you planning next?

I really kind of forced myself into a live gig when an opportunity came up, I just accepted it and it was only two weeks away when I accepted it and it’s forced me to get the live set together, so I really want to do more live gigs. I’m too late for festival season this year, but hopefully next year. I’ve got another three albums planned. I’ve written a lot of stuff that, that is for female vocals, so there’s, the big boss meetings the ladies or something like that. I’ve got a really good friend of mine that I was with, in a band with a guy called Liam McKahey, he’s in a band called Cousteaux, who have just released their fourth album which is absolutely amazing. I want to do a kind of a synth croon album and try and invent a new genre. And then I’ve always kept a list of covers so, I’ve got an album plan called the Big Boss In Exile, which is just going to be all my favourite covers it’s going to have stuff like the Doctor Who theme which is one I have wanted to do that my whole life. I want to do things like weird stuff like Psycho Killer by Talking Heads, so lots of plans.

So, finally, then where can we buy In Transit, where should we be listening out for it.

Well, I think the best place to get it is to go into band camp. I really like Bandcamp they just do such a good share of the revenue directly to the artists. I’m realistic I’m not in it to make money. I’m in it to make music. But if I can cover my costs along the way, then that’s a bonus. Of course, it’s out now on Apple Music or Spotify but with Bandcamp, you get the full frequency audio is not mp3 is, so the sound quality is much better as well. And all the rest of the Big Boss catalogue is there as well now If I was going to have a box set of the four albums, I would probably call it Evolution because it is it is a definite evolution, I mean, the first album was more like a band really well. We used to play live as a band. I think the last gig was in 2000.

That’s great, thanks very much for your time, Martin greatly appreciate it. And we’ll be looking forward to some more live shows.

Catch The Big Boss at The Ashley Brook pub, 517 Liverpool St, Salford, M6 5UQ Friday 10th September 18:00 and get In Transit here.


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