Spotlight: Big Something

Alex H. Krinsky on March 1, 2024
Spotlight: Big Something

photo: Rob Roane

In the heart of North Carolina, Big Something have been working on their latest full-length release and, though they have been favorites around the region since 2009, this time around, things feel a bit different. Nick MacDaniels, the heart and soul of the band, is proud to admit that their latest offering and seventh album, Headspace, is their “best sounding.” However, what he’s really proud of is the intention.

“Over all the years of touring the South and beyond, we’ve built up this really cool community,” MacDaniels says.

Big Something have long made their mark on the music scene throughout the Carolinas—collaborating with local bands, bringing in producers from the area, embarking on tours that include multiple nights in Raleigh, Asheville, Roanoke, Charleston and Charlotte, setting up their festival The Big What?—which is celebrating its 10th iteration this year—and making homes for themselves in the area. And they credit their time circling the Southeast with inspiring Headspace, a collection of 12 songs committed to nonprofit awareness and dedicated to MacDaniels’ late friend Paul Interdonato.

“He and I grew up together as kids. He was the person that convinced me to start playing music when I was a little kid,” MacDaniels shares. “We ended up hanging out and writing songs together one night, just kind of randomly on a whim. And the first song we ever wrote together was a song called ‘Amanda Lynn.’” That ended up becoming the first Big Something song, and the two continued to create music until Interdonato’s death in 2017. “When he passed away, there was a while where it was really hard to write songs, and I kind of pushed myself to get back into that frame of mind,” MacDaniels adds, before circling back to his latest recording.

“I ended up visiting with his mom, and she found all these lyrics on his computer that she wanted to share with me. There was this one line in one of his notes that I remember him singing at one point when we were hanging out. The chorus was just, ‘I’m coming up the mountain/ I can see it all again.’ It was just a really simple line.”

When asked how a single line grew into “The Mountain,” the vivid song that opens Headspace, MacDaniels nods to SUSTO’s Justin Osborne, who helped finish the tunes. “It was neat going from an old friend to a new friend and collaborator to put it all together,” he says.

Osborne serves as a featured guest on “Clouds Unplugged” as well. He originally connected with Big Something through Andy Frasco, who MacDaniels calls an “enigma.” The curly[1]haired “champion of joy” not only appears on the tune’s sister track “Clouds,” but he also made his directorial debut for the song’s music video. “He’s really impressive with just artistic stuff in general,” MacDaniels says, noting Frasco’s skill both sonically and in areas like video editing. Frasco and Big Something also used the video to highlight Lexington, N.C., while simply having a good time out and about in the city.

The free-flowing nature of the video is a solid reflection of Big Something’s resolve with their new LP. They’re comfortably rooted in their sonic space and, thanks to that foundation, are able to push their instrumentation and sound quality, showcasing a knack for improvisation that’s unfolded naturally over time, which is nearly impossible to force. And, because of that, MacDaniels’ vocals come across truer than ever.

There’s some genuine goodwill embedded in Headspace, too. Each of the singles released ahead of the album spotlighted a different nonprofit organization: “The Mountain” highlighted Sound Mind Live’s music-centered resources, “Bob and Weave” brought attention to The Last Prisoner Project’s focus on nonviolent drug crime incarceration and “Clouds Unplugged” raised awareness about SAMHSA’s National Hotline crisis support.

“Thematically, the mental health part of it had an influence on the songwriting and the album title itself. A lot of it felt like we were building up to this album,” offers MacDaniels with a sense of excitement and confidence as he gears up for Big Something’s most extensive headlining tour to date.

In total, The Headspace Tour will encompass over 50 dates across the United States, before they bring it all back home with this August’s The Big What?, which is, naturally, slated to take place in North Carolina.

“There were a lot of music lovers that were already here that have become part of the Big Something community,” he says. “And it’s grown into this really cool grassroots family vibe that we love.”