Hey Big Aki – “To Be Honest We’re No Alcohol Experts!”

Hey Big Aki are about to unleash a new EP and hit the stage at World Bar on the 29th. Dilhan from the band filled us in on all that is Hey Big Aki and why he’d be happy if you just bought him a coke at the gig.

Music Feeds: Give the readers a history lesson on Hey Big Aki?

Hey Big Aki: The origins of Hey Big Aki can be traced back to when Adam (bass), Maggy (ex-keys) and I (guitar) decided to play music together at our nerdy high school in northwest Sydney. We didn’t let the fact we didn’t have a singer or drummer stop us and instead we made cheesy instrumental rock with drums blaring out of the keyboard speakers. Five years later I met Rizwan (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, ukulele) at Sydney Uni and we started to take things a bit more seriously. I switched over to drums and we then spent a long time trying to find singers and guitarists to play the songs we’d write (always with more parts than there were people in the band). Eventually we discovered we had everything we needed close to us – we realised that Rizwan was a great singer and that his brother Rubi (vocals, guitar) could write and play wonderful harmonies and guitar parts. Sadly Maggy had to leave town to pursue her dreams in another state, but we roped in Angela (keys, vocals), another one of my high school friends, to fill her spot. After a couple of years of gigging all around Sydney (including to an amazingly supportive Hopetoun crowd at our second show), we decided to pool together a good chunk of our savings and produce our debut EP. Soon after that I realised I was a much better guitarist than drummer, so I switched back and convinced Sam, who has been drumming for a number of Sydney bands we’ve loved over the years, to round our current six-piece line up.

MF: The EP is being launched, tell us a bit about it?

HBA: Our EP contains five tracks written over a number of years (the oldest track being Moustache, which in fact was played on Triple J in demo form back in 2008). It was hard narrowing down a big set of very different songs but we felt that the five we chose best represented the spirit of the band. We were very lucky to have a couple of talented people help us with the recording process. We approached Jordy Lane (from Richard in Your Mind and Shady Lane), whose own music I had heard and loved, and he very graciously agreed to record us and spent lots of very late nights helping us get down sounds we were happy with. On top of this, via a chance encounter we managed to get our demos heard by Tim Powles (of The Church fame), and he approached us about recording a couple of songs. You can hear his production talent on ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Kid’.

MF: How was it working with The Church’s Tim Powles and Jordy from Richard In Your Mind?

HBA: To be honest the recording process was a bit of a challenge for us. The band all had very strong (but not always very clear) production ideas and sometimes Jordy and Tim would have different ideas. Often my job was to convince the rest of the band that Jordy and Tim knew what they were talking about. But I think in the end, they both helped us achieve an admirable sound, even if it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting going into the process. It was also interesting working with two different people — Jordy was super laid back and tried to capture us as naturally and neutrally as possible. Tim had a more of a hands-on approach and really helped shape the performances and the production on the songs he worked on. Kid especially benefited from a number of Tim’s ideas about arrangement and instrumentation.

MF: Where does the name Hey Big Aki come from?

HBA: Somewhere from the depth’s of Rizwan’s subconscious. I think we settled on it because it sounded a bit quirky. ‘Aki’ (pronounced ‘ah-ki’) is apparently a Nordic first name and means ‘Autumn’ in Japanese, but Rizwan definitely didn’t have these in mind when he came up with the idea.

MF: Why should we come and check you guys out at MUM @ World Bar on the 29th?

HBA: You should come to hear a show filled with songs that are distinctive and indulgently arranged but at the same time are always based on strong melodies and rhythms — the things which give music universal appeal and we feel make our songs accessible to a lot of people. Our strength lies in writing rather than performing (even Rizwan, who is normally the most outgoing guy, used to become a nervous crab onstage) but we’ve always been aware of this and have worked super hard over the past year to make our live show pretty damn exciting as well as musically engaging.

MF: If punters want to buy you a drink, what should they order you?

HBA: I know Adam likes a good cider but maybe a gin and tonic is something none of us would refuse. Beer is a bit divisive. To be honest we’re no alcohol experts. I’d even be grateful for someone buying me a Coke.

MF: What’s the first track you’d put onto a mix tape?

HBA: I love good pop music, and I think Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Canadian band Stars is one of the best songs ever written, so that’d be my pick. I think Adam may agree. But Rizwan and Rubi like to think they have much more sophisticated taste, so they’d probably choose something by Grizzly Bear or Radiohead or Elliott Smith. Our tastes are pretty different and I think this contributes to our sort of hard-to-place sound.

If the idea of watching a Royal wedding bores you to tears, why not go check them at MUM @ World Bar Friday 29th. Buy the boys a drink!

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