The Bigger Lovers Biography
The cast: Bret Tobias: Guitar/Vocals/Keys; Scott Jefferson: Bass/Vocals/Keys; Ed Hogarty: Lead Guitar/Vocals; Patrick Berkery: Drums
After false starts, several lawyers, and constantly fielding the question of, "When the hell are you guys releasing this record?," The Bigger Lovers' are FINALLY releasing their debut long-player, How I Learned to Stop Worrying, via the fine folks at Black Dog Records (who've previously brought you Marah, the Continental Drifters, and the fab Rock and Roll Summer Camp collaboration) on March 13, 2001. Some of you expected this record in March of 2000, then April, then August: no matter. It's finally got a home and it's coming your way.
Maybe you've seen The Lovers around their hometown of Philadelphia, or some other east-coast city. Maybe you've scammed one of the unmastered CDRs that have been circulating about the ether of the pop-rock stratosphere. If you're among the uninitiated, just imagine a
neighborhood bar with cheap drafts, cheaper shots, a faded pool table, a tattered poster of former Philadelphia Phillie great Lenny Dykstra, and a jukebox comprised of The Move's California Man, The Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight, Cheap Trick's In Color, The dB's Like This, Big Star's Sister Lovers, and The Beach Boys' Sunflower and you're in the ballpark.
In other words, How I Learned to Stop Worrying is a pop-rock classic in waiting, cut from the same cloth as the above-mentioned records and so many other great ones like them. It's loud; it's soft. It pops; it twangs. It tugs at heartstrings; it cops a feel with two hands. It's got hooks; and it's got more hooks. The kind of record you hear on the radio in your dreams.
Tape rolled last century (between October and December 1999) at a sprawling house-cum-studio in Wilmington, Delaware with producer Daniel Presley (Breeders, Spain, Imperial Teen) dropping names and giving sage advice, like: "You can't get played on the radio with a one minute song." So, some re-arranging took place, some wood was shed, and some pretty nifty sounds were laid down in the process.
The Lovers plucked inspiration from mid-air and a never-ending stash of Miller High Life. "I'm Here" woozily swings and bounces, while "Forever Is Not So Long" proves that power pop guitars and a four-on-the-floor disco groove can co-exist, if only for a moment. Tobias'
just-over-the-top-enough "Summer (Of Our First Hello)," is juxtaposed by Jefferson's skeletal "America Undercover," which sounds like a sing along in a methadone clinic.
Berkery's rock solid drumming keeps a tight rein on Tobias' "Steady On 3s" and "A Year Ago," while propelling Jefferson's "Catch & Release" into outer-space with fills that are akin to a pack of drunkards falling down a flight of stairs. All the while, Hogarty and Tobias spill
tasteful electric and acoustic guitar work over the proceedings, with organs, pianos, dobros, lap steel, cracked cymbals, ratty microphones, and whatever else was lying about tossed into the mix.
Sounds nice, right? Of course it does, silly. Now go write about it or tell a friend or play the damn thing on your radio station, will ya? Thanks.
Oh, and sorry to disappoint, but The Bigger Lovers' moniker is derived from the largest of Bret Tobias' three cats (Miles - easily the size of a healthy Thanksgiving turkey), who's lovingly been nicknamed "The Bigger Lover." It is not to do with any of the band members' sexual proclivities, or the size of their, um, members (sorry). So much for Behind the Music fodder...
A little background on The Lovers:
Bret Tobias and Scott Jefferson planted the Lovers' seed as members of the Philly-based Diane Linkletter Experience, who released a single and full-length on the Jersey-based Vital Cog label. While DLE was cranking, Tobias was winding down his stint as drummer/guitarist with Moped, who released an album and single for the Sub Pop imprint Summershine Records, a single on Hepcat, and a single and retrospective set for Vital Cog. Jefferson previously was a member of Gerrymander Bob, who tracked an album with the semi-legendary (and surprisingly affordable) Kramer for Shimmy Disc.
Following Moped and DLE's demise, Tobias satiated his longstanding jones of all things Big Star, Robyn Hitchcock and The Who with a little one-man-show of 8-track demos. Strumming, bashing and self-harmonizing, Tobias drew from the disappointment of Moped's business wranglings and crafted maudlin pop songs with choruses that still made you want to smile. Jefferson heard the initial batch of tunes (some of which appear on How I Learned...), and came aboard.
With their voices and songwriting styles striking off-kilter symmetry, The Bigger Lovers rounded out their line-up with local guitarist Ed Hogarty and drummer Jesse Jameson, and started gigging around Philadelphia and its surrounding regions in March 1998. Patrick Berkery replaced Jameson a year later.