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By Dusty Ray
Finding your niche as a young, up-and-coming band can be tough, but Denver-based trio The Big Motif has been navigating the waters of promotion and exposure with a positive attitude and a strong do-it-yourself work ethic. The Big Motif consists of Tony Pacello (guitar vocals), Hunter Roberts (Bass) and Jeff Jani (drums). The band met in their early teens through a radio contest built around forming a young band, and out of the seven finalists, Pacello, Roberts, and Jani (now 18-21 years old) stuck together and continued writing music.
Inventiveness is what the band strives for, picking and choosing from a wide palette of influences and genres to create a unique sound.
“Musically, we draw from any genre we like,” says guitarist Tony Pacello, “but we are moving towards a more raw, rock/blues influenced sound. Hunter (drums) is a huge jazz guy, and gains some of his ideas from jazz, but we get influence from the bands we listen to; everything from jazz to blues to bands like Primus.”
Pacello says that their songwriting is informed by these different influences, not dominated by them, lending The Big Motif their own original resonance. The band writes the instrumentals first, and the lyrics come later. Each member brings his own ideas to the table, so the songwriting process is very mutual.
“I don’t think any of us has come up with a song in its entirety, it just works better when we are in the same room and our ideas start to bounce off of each other,” says Pacello.
After a musical idea is in place, the lyrics are written to fit the mood, melody and theme of the song. This focus on balance between lyricism and instrumentals reveals the musical maturity of the band, and their talent comes from experience: Pacello has been playing guitar for fourteen years, Jani has been playing since the tender age of three, and Roberts has been playing since his early teens. The Big Motif’s abilities are showcased on their latest EP Does It Weigh Heavy, a mix of alt-blues and rock with powerful guitar lines, punching bass, and a keen rhythmic and lyrical diversity.
The band’s manager, Morris Beegle, teamed up with The Big Motif two years ago and has helped significantly with their promotion and booking. (His booking agency is called MoBee Music.) Beegle says that social networking through Facebook has helped draw people into the music, as well as brought them to shows.
Beegle also produced Does It Weigh Heavy, stating that he wanted to catch the live, unpolished sound of the band. In striving for this musical honesty, Beegle believes that the band has found their identity with Does It Weigh Heavy; they have come into their own as musicians, and have been able to focus more on bringing energy to the stage.
The band has been quite busy in the past six months, playing eight to ten shows per month at venues across the Front Range, including the Westword Showcase, FoCoMX, The Denver People’s Fair and the Blues and BBQ festival in Boulder. On September 11, the band will be playing a benefit for the fallen firefighters of 9/11 at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Beegle stresses that the band is always willing to play benefits and fundraisers for causes they believe in.
Though all of the members are in school and have part-time jobs, they still find time to record, play gigs, and promote their project. The Big Motif hopes to have another EP released by next spring, and hopefully a tour is in their future.
“We wanted to tour this summer,” says Beegle, “but with high gas prices and work it was just not feasible. We hope that through positive radio play and exposure we can build towards a tour. It’s not a marathon, but we want to keep moving forward. We aren’t pushing towards a big record deal; we want to keep playing shows and building our fanbase, and if there is a label out there that thinks we are a good fit, maybe we could get a deal.”
For now, The Big Motif wants to continue writing new material, playing shows for dedicated fans, and moving forward with the promotion of their projects.
“We want to start writing more original music; we have a few EPs that are in the works, and we want to bring our sound to the table. It’s about having fun doing what you love, and not letting it turn into a job,” says Pacello.
The Big Motif will be in Fort Collins for Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest and will be playing the morning of Sunday, August 14 on the Mountain Avenue Stage. They will also be playing on Friday, August 26 at Hodi’s Half Note with Gooding – doors are at 8pm.
For more information on The Big Motif, visit thebigmotif.com and mobeemusic.com. Catch them live on August 26 at Hodi’s Half Note (167 North College Avenue) with Gooding, which you can see, watch and listen to at goodingmusic.com. Tickets for the Hodi’s show are available at hodishalfnote.com. For more information about their Bohemian Nights set, visit bohemiannights.org.