Big Ups is fighting rock music’s plague of self-seriousness with one head-spinning, fist-swinging tirade at a time. In turn, they leave you fighting for fully functioning auditory senses in the tradition of Dischord Records’ entire roster, but it’s a fair price to pay for witnessing frontman Joe Galarraga wail lines like, “TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THAT IT’S NOT OVER YET/WON’T GIVE UP ON THE DREAMS THAT WE DREAMT” over the airtight jackhammering of his band. (There’s no doubt that his lyrics are translated into all caps on paper.) They’re pouring everything they’ve got into each second, then pairing it with lovable slacker personas to hide the fact that they actually care about this stuff. Quite a bit.
Your first show in NYC as Big Ups—where’d you play? How’d it go?
Basically, we couldn’t get booked anywhere, and at the time we were in college and wanted the show to allow for all ages. So we played our first show on the roof of Joe’s building on Flushing Avenue. We ran extension cords out of the window of his apartment and onto the roof to plug in the PA, amps and lights. It was really awesome. A lot of our friends came out, and it felt good to pull it off.
What’s the biggest misconception about being a band in this city?
I think a lot of musicians come to New York because they think that it’s a great city for music. And that’s certainly true, but it also seems that this place is oversaturated with musicians at times. Everyone’s in a band, and everyone wants you to come to their show. It’s a little too overwhelming at times. As mentioned before, we couldn’t get a single venue in the city to book our first show, so we had to make it happen ourselves. I think other cities are a little more welcome to bands that are just getting their start.
On tour for a month, what three albums would get the most play in the van?
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik; Nirvana, Nevermind; Fugazi, 13 Songs. Honorable mention: Weezer, The Blue Album.
Ideal four-band bill—who’s playing with you, and where are you playing?
Flagland, Vulture Shit and Low Fat Getting High at Shea Stadium. And after all the bands are done playing, we pull down the projector screen and watch Contact until we fall asleep on the floor.
Favorite song about NYC?
The So So Glos, “Diss Town.”
If you had to relocate to another city, where would you be headed?
We just got back from tour in the middle of March, and we had the chance to play in a lot of really awesome places with some really great bands. New York rent is too damn high! Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Buffalo are awesome Rust Belt cities—beautiful in really weird ways, and they’re great places for music. But for right now, we’re staying put.