Bigtopp

Autumn round-up 2015

Hey Toppers.

So it’s been an age since we last updated our site.
A lot has happened in the Bigtopp camp so I thought it was time to put fingers to keys and type up the season’s minutes.

As some of you maybe aware our guitarist Charlie went into hospital a month ago after suffering two cardiac arrests. The doctors pretty much wrote him off but being the tendentious and tenacious little git that he is has defied their odds and is recovering incredibly well.

I’ve been visiting him in hospital and I can’t explain how incredibly well he is doing. From being able to say a few words to full use of speech in the space of a week has dumbfounded the medical and physio staff.
He’s still at the beginning of his recovery but he already told me he wants to get touring with the band and we can’t wait to have him back.

Whenever Charlie is ready to rejoin he will be playing alongside our newly appointed second guitarist, James Rizzi, from the locally revered funk-hip-hop act SMI. James has taken the post with unmatched energy and enthusiasm and getting heavily involved with writing the new material.

Rizzi’s style and character have synergised the band like a tea bag and hot water (no innuendo intended). He has been rocking with us over the summer after Charlie’s last show at the Isle of Wight Festival and has committed himself to the Bigtopp mission.

Speaking of festivals we’ve had an absolute blast rocking out at Boomtown Fair, Isle of Wight Festival, Secret Garden Party, Watchett Festival, Blissfields, Small World and many many more.
All of the love we have got after the shows has been humbling and we thank everyone who has said hello and bought some merch from us.

In an awesome turn of events we ended up supporting one of our childhood heroes in Southampton this summer in Southampton.

We took a key support slot for Less Than Jake at The Engine Rooms to a sold out crowd – personal highlight for me.
As we move into the autumn period we’re turning our attention to the finer details of the band, like live videos, studio work, photoshoots and all the other things that a band has to get sorted.

We have finally launched an Instagram account so check it out to see @Bigtoppband and equally come find us on Twitter with the same handle @Bigtoppband.
Ears peeled Toppers
Pm xx

Bon Voyage Dougie 5

After nearly a decade of playing in Bigtopp our bass player Doug is hanging up his axe. Since its genesis, Doug has been a driving force in the band and his departure is incredibly sad for all of us.

After hundreds of gigs, festival slots and thousands of band practices, Doug has reluctantly decided he needs to concentrate on the future.

He and the love of his life are having a baby. Yes, Daddy Doug. I know he’s going to be an incredible father and we all wish him the absolute best with parenthood.

It’s really surreal to think we were teenagers when we started Bigtopp all those years ago – such little talent but with huge ambitions to play songs. In fact it’s only because of the band that Doug and I became friends… and that stands for so many of the band, past and present. If we’d never come together to write music who knows if we’d all been friends now? AND he would never have got his band name – Dougie 5 – ask him about it – he likes telling that story.

As his band mate I’m sad he’s leaving but as one of his best friends I’m so happy that he and his lady are preparing for a little bambino.

After all these years of performing, the hardcore Toppers will know how much groove Doug gives to Bigtopp and how incredibly easy going he is to speak to at shows. His style has always helped evolve the sound of the band and this is evident in our second album Next Stage.

Doug finished his Bigtopp days on his last ever tour with us this April and his bass vibrations were second to none. We will be announcing Doug’s replacement shortly but for now, thank you for taking the time to read this post and have a great week.

PM xx

Next Stage Tour Diary Part 2.

The second leg of our Next Stage album tour recommenced at The Golden Lion, Bristol. We took the stage with confidence and delivered a strong set to a great crowd. Thanks to everyone who came down for the night and particularly we’re grateful to the members of Crinkle Cuts who put us up in their spanking new studio.

We were able to enjoy some downtime the following day before moving on to Warehouse 54, Newport. It’s not often we get to play in Wales and this was our first time in the city. We were very grateful to the team and Ben for giving us such a great gig. The dancers in the bar above were loving the vibes which flowed down to the main rockers on the dance floor by the time we took the stage just after Captain Accident.

For us the main event of the whole weekend was our album launch show which took place in 1865. It was a big event for us, there were a lot of friends, family and loyal fans who showed up to show their love for the show. We were incredibly humbled by the awesome response we received and really pleased with how the whole show panned out. The Ohmz were in exquisite form, playing out Leo’s last show with the band with finesse. Captain Accident and The Disasters rocked their reggae vibes afterwards with spectacular elegance and so setting everything up for us.
There might have been a few unsaid nerves before we took to the stage but from start to finish we could not have been happier with the way things went, thank you once again for showing your love and support and we’re so happy we got so many people dancing, smiling and applauding us… the encore was wonderful.

The third and final leg of the tour started in Melton Mowbray, Pie County, and home to the awesome Noel Arms which took us back for a second time and second gig. The Ska rockers at this pub did not disappoint, raising the roof for our sounds and new album till the last minute of the set. This was probably our favourite of the weekend so thank you so much and we will be back in the future for a third show.

The next stage of the final tour moved us to Norwich and the Blueberry. Great little venue and intimate crowd. It was Doug’s official last gig with us and it was very sad to know that this was going to be it. I’m going to write more about Doug’s departure in the next blog post but for now I can say that it was wonderful to play in Norwich. The emotions were of course high but yet again the band were able to bounce off the audiences’ vibes and play a great set.

The Next Stage album tour has been a great success. We’ve met a lot of new people on this tour and demonstrated our passion and love for music across the UK. If you made it down to one of the shows thank you very much… supporting us at a gig is by far the most meaningful thing you can do. If you are yet to make it down, please remedy that.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post… next stop… festival season. #BuildTheScene

Next Stage Tour Diary Part 1.

So Bigtopp finished the first leg of the Next Stage album launch tour on Sunday. We played our new tunes to dazzling crowds in Brighton, London and Guildford and have just about recovered having taken a breather before the next stage of the journey.

The tour started at The Brunswick in Brighton with Tree House Fire opening the night. Their smooth and exciting Reggae Rock was incredible to listen to: their seamless transitions and catchy tunes were greatly loved and appreciated by a friendly and welcoming Brunswick crowd.

It was great to see so many familiar faces when we took to the stage, including individuals of the Browne crew, who’d made it down especially to see us. The atmosphere was great, and it was lovely to see so many people getting their dance on.

The following night we moved to The Magic Garden in Battersea, London. We like this venue a lot and after another faultless performance from Tree House Fire the bar was set high. We hit the set hard and pushed the energy levels throughout the set. The crowd were big and welcoming as always but it was particularly awesome to have members of The Pisdicables heading the dancing skank.

After a big night and Big Boy Pizzas we drove on to The Fox and Firkin in Lewisham for Loki’s London launch night. We were supported this time by Bare Jams who played their mix of percussion soul with supreme skill. Captain Hotknives raised the levels of humour to an all time high until we marched onto the stage at 1am. We smashed a great set: the dancing from all the audience was terrific and it set the mood nicely for the legendary Mike Freear, who headlined the show with his all-consuming hi-fi vibes.

The fourth and final show of the first part of tour concluded at The Star in Guildford. We were yet again joined by Bare Jams who took the stage for their home crowd. This was the first time we’ve played at The Star and we were not disappointed. The venue is absolutely incredible and the audience were ready for our music. With the best set played on tour thus far (and one of my personal favourite gigs ever) we gave everything and those on the dance floor digged it.

We’re looking forward to the next few days when we play Bristol, Newport and Southampton, 2nd/3rd/4th April. Hope to see you there.

Operation: Pledge Campaign has been completed!

Thanks to all of you for your kindness and support in helping us – your contributions to our pledge campaign are very much appreciated and will be put to good use! Now that we’ve secured the funds, 10% of any extra on top of that will go to Disability Snowsport UK, a superb charity. The rest of the additional funding will go solely towards increasing the scope of the album launch – the bigger the better!

Now all of that is said and done, we at Bigtopp can announce the release date for ‘Next Stage’! Diaries out folks…

Tuesday 24th March

We’re only a few weeks away! Exciting news for both you and us, for come this glorious date you can while away the hours listening to what we’ve been preparing since last summer. The pride we all feel at how this album has turned out has surpassed any of our expectations, and we truly cannot wait for you all to hear it. In the meantime, check our tour date list for any gigs near you, make sure to pre-book your tickets where available and come see us live! I assure you, you will not be disappointed. If you’re stuck for choice, or you’re one of the lucky souls to have bought one of the all-year gig passes from the pledge campaign, then make sure you’re at The 1865 in Southampton on April 4th! The venue is incredible, the support acts are incredible, and it’s set to be a corker of an evening.

Big love!

Jacob

Ska Reggae heads out there!

please read the next few paragraphs to get a full brief about the live music we’ve been playing and the people we’ve been meeting this autumn. The abstract reads something like a short epic: Bigtopp spews Ska Reggae at concerts in London, Brighton, Cardiff and European shows in Ghent, Namur and Luxembourg City, with more shows to play out until the New Year.

In amongst the madness of performing our début album Mischief, a very upbeat mixture of Ska and Pop, we’ve been testing our new material for release next spring 2015. Some of the songs with a more Reggae feel, have been received with great success and the feedback we’ve been given fills us with the confidence that our next album is going to be bigger and better.

Pledge Campaign

We have now launched our pledge campaign and it’s made a promising start. We’ve reached 10% of our target in the opening week. The campaign is set to run for 90 days, so there’s still a way to go. Check out the exclusive and limited offers we have for our contributors.

It’s an opportunity for everyone who’s enjoyed our music over the years to actively contribute to the band and help get the new album on the road. I’m talking about mixing and mastering, press reviews, production and distribution, album artwork, vehicle hire and crew support. We really hope to step up our game with the new album, and you can help us do this by supporting us and pre ordering it!
Van lol's at Ska Reggae Show
Before we reach that point we still have some shows to play out this Christmas: London twice, Southampton, Bishop’s Castle, Salisbury and our lovely tiny town of Petersfield. All the shows are going to be special, not only because it’s a chance to listen to some of the new material before its release in 2015 but it’ll be the last time you’ll be able to catch us until March 2015.

At the beginning of the New Year we’ve made the decision to take 3 months away from performing live in order to practice, work on the delivery of the content and structure some of the ways in which we perform. This means that come the album launch at the end of March the set will be a flaming inferno of professional Ska Reggae madness.

This season has been a big deal for us: recording the latest record its culmination. We hope that everyone who has heard us has enjoyed it and those who are yet to hear our audio delights, you couldn’t have picked a better time to start listening.

Ska Reggae and Peace

With all our musical love.
Bigtopp

See you at a show
‪#‎buildthescene‬

# buildthescene for Ska, Reggae & Punk

As you may have noticed on our Facebook account, this week we’ve been plugging some of the superb acts out there on the scene doing their thing. Supporting bands in less represented genres like Ska, Reggae and Punk, music full of life and soul and integrity is different from the mainstream music out there. We have to buildthescene and help this stuff find its audience and flourish. Join the conversation and show us more great music with the twitter hash tag #buildthescene

From personal experience we know that doing what you love with this music is challenging and there’s not necessarily a point where the challenge is alleviated. Since starting Bigtopp all those years ago back at school it’s given us the opportunity to play some far out places, meet some superb people and expand out horizons and outlook on life.

In Ghent to buildthescene

It’s only through supporting music, going down to a gig, buying a t-shirt, a CD, going to the smaller, cooler festivals and seeing the emerging acts in the off-beat kingdom that bands can continue putting out the music we love to hear. Because of all the above we’ve tried to circulate this as an algorithm that these social media websites like. If you care about a musician or band out there doing something in the scene and you’re putting it out there on the web, we ask you to ‪#‎buildthescene‬!

While you’re at it, visit the Bigtopp Shop for our t-shirts, CDs and gig tickets.

Huge love. x PM

#BUILDTHESCENE A New Hashtag from Bigtopp

This week we’ve started showing our love for all the bands out there making noise and we encourage any of you who support a Ska/Reggae/Punk/Soul/Carnival/Mad act to big them up with a #buildthescene. This hashtag is something we’ll be working with to try and trend an algorithm of total offbeat vigour and audio madness and we hope you can help us by using it anytime you plug the above.

That’s all Toppers.

For tonight’s post head over to the Bigtopp Social Media outlets FB & Twitter for the next pick #buildthescene.

Southsea, our love, adieu for this year… American Pie goodbye.

Last Sunday we played our last show in Portsmouth for this year. It was a pleasure to be playing down at The Drift Bar, the 200 cap. indie venue with a character that screams, “get noisy.” It was an unexpected surprise to be supporting the American Pie acting star Thomas Ian Nicholas for the last of the Portsmouth Fresher’s events. I envisaged his serene acoustic vibes gliding around a square foot space whilst the audience recounted the scenes from his cult film days. But no, “Kevin Myers”, his teenage-angst character in American Pie was gone, and a melodious gruff voice was left in its place.

We enjoyed skanking with everyone who came down for the night and give much respect to Sam for putting on the night. We’ve got a lot going on at the moment including rehearsal for our live-set with the new album. We’re all very keen to unify this CD with a bigger and fuller live-show and that’s going to take practice.

There’s plenty of Bigtopp gigs on this Autumn including a short spree in Europe, a couple of big London shows, an intimate and emotional shindig in Liphook, the bright lights of Brighton and Cardiff are drawing closer too!

We’re also getting our act together for next year’s festivals. If anyone has any places they’d like to see us at, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: all thoughts of all shapes from all minds are welcome here…

For now, adieu x
JFP

We’ve only gone and recorded a second album!

To all our fans, friends and family the big news is we’re on our way to pushing out our as yet untitled second album . Perhaps it would have been smarter to have tracked the process as we went along, but if you pledge to the campaign you’ll be seeing the photos and video clips in the fullness of time.

For a brief and flavoursome account of what happened please read on.

We travelled down to Middle Farm Studios in the beginning week of September, laid down some stonking guide tracks with the inestimable James Bragg. The takes were so big that Stefan’s bang-drums and Doug’s bass-thumps are to be used as the actual takes. The sound is full of energy, essentially it is live and when you hear it I hope you’ll be able to agree. We’ll be launching a Pledgemusic campaign very soon whereby you will be able to directly help us launch the album.

There wasn’t a huge amount of time to contemplate on how good we were as the Bigtopp meta-body powered it through the night from Devon to Bestival to rendez-vous with our horn section. Big up to Brother Harvs from The Ohmz who helped us onto the bandstand and all the Bestival adventurers who watched our set. It was an awesome gig, although the vibes of the new album were coursing through our minds we smashed out a strong Mischief heavy set. Thanks to Kate and all the team at the bandstand who helped us out, and Guy who always has our backs.

However, there wasn’t a vast amount of time to feel good about ourselves as we had to power back to Devon, my Mum as Jeeves, racing through the night to reach Devon to move onto some percussion and rhythm. Percussion!? Yes percussion, the melodious cousin to the beef-bap drum kit. On this album we’ve added a lot more percussion than on our previous disc. It’s helped add the cream to what is a wonderful Victoria spunge delight: bongos, congas, egg-shakers, tambourines! You’ll have to wait and hear it for yourself to fully appreciate the musical sugar that I’m trying to portray.

The guitars went down strong, Sam stepped up his game as did Martin who powered through a day of keyboard medleys and Hammond organ chops at the weekend! As he slipped away in the poor-man’s version of the car from Knight Rider the rest of us settled in the idyllic backdrop of Middle Farm outside Newton Abbott, Devon.

There’s a tree, a prophetic tree abreast a small ruin I clambered to each day near the studio. It was here that I finished fine-tuning some of the lyrics for this album. It was a central concern to all of us that the lyrics stood out in this album and we feel they do. Throughout the week I screamed, whispered and caressed the lyrics into place like a yoyo as the horns arrived to complete the sound.

The sound booth awaited the instructions of James Bragg as Jacob deftly put the alto saxophone in place, skilfully followed in turn by Amy and Luke who have collectively created a horn sound unique on the Ska scene (wait until you get a load of the bass trombone!) Amy has taken on the task of beefing up our horn section and depping with us for the foreseeable future.

Although there’s a lot of work to be done, and truly we need as much help as we can get to finance the launch, we are happy and confident that the sound we will convey to you will be the biggest yet!

Thank you for reading my first blog following Ben’s departure. As we move into the future with this second album, please keep with us, your support enables us to carry on.
More news soon!

x

JFP