Big Eyes | The Family Interviews

Meet Kait Eldridge (Big Eyes)

Not to be confused with that weird Tim Burton movie, Big Eyes is a pop-punk band thats been rocking between the lines for years. Helmed by Kait Eldridge, the group creates energetic and catchy tunes guaranteed to get you kicking and screaming. Fresh off their latest album release, Streets of The Lost, we called up Kait to chat about the current music scene in New York, as well as her affection for Canadian bagels and Todd Rudgren. 

Grab your preferred beverage and read all about it!

Where did you grow up? 

Long Island. 

Did you get involved in the local music scene? 

There was a DIY punk scene on Long Island when I was a teenager [which] was cool. I definitely got to play the occasional show with that crew…but it was never 100% like my scene.

I would come to the city a lot and go to pop punk shows, like Ramones-core kind of band shows. I feel like I just have always liked different sorts of music. 

Would you rather be able to grow your hair at will or your fingernails? What would you do?

Definitely hair. I bite my fingernails so I feel like I don't mind if they grow anyway.

How has your band Big Eyes’ dynamic and/or sound changed over the years, if at all?

Big Eyes has been going since we played our very first show, it was New Year's Eve going into 2010. I had been [in] a couple bands that had been playing since 2007, which is when I moved to the city. 

Having been around for this long, you kind of have to change your approach sometimes…in some ways, it feels hard for us to make a big splash [because] we’ve been around for so long… So that's why we'll put up music videos with [new songs] or play with new [and] different bands and stuff like that. [But] on the flip side of that, because we have been around for so long, people are always like, “Oh, I've heard of that band.”

You’ve been making music in NYC for some time. How do you think the community has changed over the years? 

[The band was] based in Seattle for three years and I [felt like] we've never really fit into any specific scene in New York [or] Seattle. We're one of those in between bands that never really found our people in our home base… we're too pop-y for the super punk shows, then we're too hard rock for the indie rock shows. So we just tour and I feel much more at home and welcomed when we're touring.

What bands have influenced you?

Top One Grade and Big Star…but then I also love Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and a lot of heavier kind of hard rock stuff. 

What are your favorite bars in the city?

There's one spot called Superpower. It's on Nostrand I think at like Park. It's a Tiki bar. [They have] $4 draft beers. They go hard with the tiki vibe and their drinks are good too.

My favorite dive bar in Brooklyn is Connie O’s. They get $2 mugs of Bud Light. I just believe that people have really big personalities in there.

Who are your favorite NYC bands from the past?

As far as classics go, the Ramones and KISS. We were lucky enough to tour with CJ Ramone like two years ago. We hit it off because we're [both] from Long Island. I've been a huge Ramones freak since I was like 14 [so it was really cool] getting to tour with one of my rock heroes.

We had gotten connected by my friend Brian who plays acoustic in a band Night Birds, and CJ was originally looking for different local musicians to play shows with him…but he became a fan of Big Eyes [so] I got to sing a song on his record and we ended up going on tour with him like two years ago.

What touring NYC bands are you really into right now?

There’s a band I’m totally obsessed with. They're not technically from New York City [but] from Long Island [and] called the Lemon Twigs and my mind is blown by them because they're super young, they're like 20 and 22 I think. And they're brothers and they've just been playing music since like they were born.

What was the best show you saw recently? 

I go to stuff here and there, but I feel like the older I get…I'm more interested in those big shows, you know? Last summer I got to see Judas Priest and Deep Purple in Long Island. 

What venues do you like in the city? 

[We’ve] played Union Pool a whole bunch of times. [My] favorite sound guy in Brooklyn, Doug [is there]. He’s the best.

What is the best cover of an original song that you have heard?

It's called “Happening 10 Years Time Ago” by the Yardbirds. Todd Rundgren covers it on his album Faithful.  The whole A side is all covers and then the B side is all his originals…I like the cover way more than the original. I feel like it's heavier [and in] a better key. I'm a Todd Rundgren Super Fan. I literally have a framed poster of him above my bed.

What is your favorite movie musical number?

I've always been a huge Grease fan… I know every word to every song and I quote that movie fairly often. Also Spinal Tap, huge Spinal Tap fan.

What was the most random source of inspiration for a piece of music you created?

There's a song on our new record called “When Midnight Comes” and I was having the hardest time writing the lyrics…but we somehow came together to write this song about the movie Gremlins. And I kept trying to make it go one way and the lyrics would sound really weird. Like it was sounding too like creepy or dark. 

And then so I was like, okay let's make this about Gremlins as much as we can without specifically… I feel like you could also read the lyrics and then like maybe not realize it. 

What is the worst trend that has ever plagued music to date?

I really only listen to like music from the 70s and 80s. [But I’ve noticed] within the music scene a lot of people are wearing like full body jumpsuits. Like every other band the singers wearing a full body jumpsuit. Like he works as a mechanic or something.

What’s next for you? 

We're going on tour to northeast Canada and then hit all the classic Midwest spots. It's going to be fun.

I absolutely love Montreal. I think Montreal bagels are where it's at. I’m a straight up New Yorker and I think that their bagels are better. I know…very spicy. I prefer them [because] they're smaller. [New York bagels] are like breakfast and lunch. It’s like I need a nap and a Kombucha or something to help break it down. It's just too much.

Sean Maldjian