Bassist, Josh Myers, best known for being in Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, is currently working on his revived side project, Big Words. With two upcoming dates in July and potential for more in the fall, Live For Live Music chatted with Myers to find out more about what’s going on with Sister Sparrow and to learn more about what he’s been up to recently.
L4LM: Take us through your younger years. What were some of your influences? Who inspired you and how did you find your way into the music industry?
Josh Myers: I started playing music when I was about 6. I grew up outside of Boston and got into classical piano for a number of years. I never really got good at that. Right around the beginning of high school, I switched piano teachers. My new teacher was a jazz pianist. Instead of just teaching the mechanics of the piano, he was teaching the mechanics of music. That’s where I started to get really into music.
Around 16 or so, I really got into the guitar and it came very naturally to me. Then, I switched to bass about a year later, just as a hobby. This is the same story that every bass player has. There were way too many guitarists in my group of friends. I picked it up for the first time at a friend’s house, who happened to have one, and we played Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” for like six hours with one groove. When I got really into the electric bass, I went through all of my favorite music just playing along to it. It gave me a chance to learn different styles by different people.
By the time I got to college age, I was thinking I was going to be a jazz musician. I still play a little bit of jazz, but it’s been taken over more by the stuff I loved in high school, which was The Meters, Soundgarden, Tool. It swings back and forth, whether it’s the ’70’s funk, soul, and groove stuff that really moves me or that really heavy grunge that I just loved and would listen to in high school in my room on loop.
L4LM: What is currently happening with Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds? Can you bring fans up to speed on what they can expect next?
JM: The guitarist, Sasha Brown, left and began doing his own thing. Unrelated to that, Arleigh Kincheloe became pregnant. There was a long period of time when people were asking us what was going on with the band. We weren’t touring. The main thing that we did was tour. We would occasionally take a break to record. We were never the kind of band that put anything in front of touring, so it was a huge change for us. Post baby, we still have plans to be a band. We are all still in the fold. That’s what we’re all thinking.
After Sasha’s departure show in New York, we had about ten shows after that. It was mainly Northeast stuff, and we played some New Year’s shows. We played Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, which was amazing. We opened for Galactic at Playstation Theater in Times Square. Then we went on Blues Cruise in January and had four sets on that boat. After the fourth one, we were all looking around like, “Okay, that was it. We’re on break now.” It was a really strange feeling.
Break has been really good, actually. I’ve reconnected with the writing side of myself, and the freelancer side. I’ve had a ton of different gigs, going to different places, doing stuff I haven’t done in the last four years because I’ve been full time on the road. It’s been great.
JM: After the band realized that we were going to have some time off, I started doing a lot of soul-searching. I did some iTunes library searching and found this music that I had written and recorded back in 2009. The band, Big Words, was completely different. We actually had the drummer from the original line-up of Sister Sparrow, Bram Kincheloe. Basically, I just forgot about it. I remember when I stopped doing it, I made a conscious effort to tell myself that I had been leading and starting bands for my entire career. If I didn’t stop that, I would become one of those people that are control freaks.
I wanted to branch out and see what other bandleaders’ styles were. I also wanted to check out my own bass playing and give it a real chance when I wasn’t the one calling all the shots. Fast forward eight years, I’m listening to this music and thinking, “Oh man! I like this stuff. It’s so good.” I totally forgot about all of it. While listening to a few of the songs I was thinking, “I wrote that?”
I reached out to a few people that I’ve been wanting to play with, and they all said, “yes.” They are all great guys and amazing players. The goal now is to put this music in their hands and let it breathe. There’s a lot of room for stretching out, and we plan to do a lot of the ‘anything can happen’ attitude with the music. Hopefully, everything will happen.
L4LM: You have a few shows slated for July with possibly more in the fall. Is that the plan?
JM: That is the plan. We’re working on some more dates in September right now. We’re going to look at more in October. I’m hoping to do a couple weekends every month once we get going, and hopefully, record in the winter.
I have a lot going on. Basically, I’m home a lot of the time. I’m still on the road quite a bit, but it’s more of little quick runs on weekends. Being home, I’ve had a chance to really spend a lot of time working on music production, mixing, writing stuff of my own, and working with other writers. You have a lot less time to think when you’re sitting in a van.
L4LM: Do you have anything going on during festival season? Are there any projects or collaborations you are working on throughout the summer?
JM: As of now, I have one thing booked with a band called The Mammals. They’re up in Woodstock, New York. They put on a festival called The Hoot, which is at the end of August. That’s what I’ve got for festival stuff right now. Next summer, I would love to hit festivals with Big Words in between Dirty Birds dates.
The line-up for Big Words for their upcoming shows on July 14th and 15th will consist of Myers on bass, Danny Mayer of The Eric Krasno Band on guitar, Chris Bullock of Snarky Puppy on sax, and Bill Carbone of Max Creek on drums. For more information on Big Words, and how to get tickets for their upcoming shows, please visit their Facebook page. To check out their music, head over to their BandCamp page to take a listen.
Words by Sarah Bourque