“I know loads of people that like The Grateful Dead, there’s a good following of ‘Deadheads’ here,” Paul Molloy states. It’s reassuring to hear Liverpool’s fondness for vintage psychedelia, (Floyd, Zappa, The ‘Dead) still burns bright. In the present day, THE BIG HOUSE have songs that already sound like potential classics. Their noted sartorial elegance extends to their music, a mixture of melancholy country, chiming folk, and evocative close harmony singing. Vocalist Candie Payne is complemented by her boyfriend, singer-guitarist Paul, veteran of several Liverpool bands including The Zutons.
Inspired by New Orleans, in both their name (slang for party) and elements of their sound – Dr. John and Australian bandleader CW Stoneking feature prominently: “He has this otherworldly quality,” Paul marvels – the harmonies of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris are also a massive in uence on the duo. The group’s other musical heroes dig deeper than many, with The Everleys and The Louvin Brothers, as well as The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clarke and The Byrd’s’ groundbreaking Sweetheart Of The Rodeo albums featuring prominently. While fans of the overlooked Gene Clark’s songwriting, other Bryds are also appreciated: “I like (Roger) McGuinn too,” Paul nods. “More for his playing, the raga guitar stu .”
Singing between the duo is “split y- y”, with the tone and style of the track determining lead vocalist. “When either of us sing lead, the other one always puts harmonies in somewhere so we’re evident on each song,” Candie states. “We try and divide it equally and some songs we’ll sing close harmonies together all the way through.”
The theory that all the best bands inhabit their own universe (think The White Stripes) is seemingly echoed by the duo: “We’ve got a radio, but we can’t get many stations on it,” Candie says. “To be honest it’s pretty abysmal really,” Paul grimaces. “We end up turning it o .” “We don’t really follow current stu ,” Candie concurs. The lack of a television doesn’t faze them much either. “We’ve got an aerial but we haven’t stuck it in the back of the telly. We haven’t experimented!” Paul laughs. “We’re just busy doing what we’re doing really,” explains Candie. “We read and listen to records, talk and sing and play songs.”
As many of their in uences predate the Beatles era, the duo don’t care for the tag of ‘60s revivalists. “I think it’s become a cliché and it’s not necessarily true, it goes so much futher back than that,” says Candie. “Fashion-wise I’m more into the 1930s.” The gigs they have performed so far have been just the two of them. “It’s been the best thing, it’s really solidi ed us as a unit and given us con dence that we can put on a good show with just the two of us,” Candie explains. Oli and Ryan of Dead Cities are soon to make their live debut with the duo. “They’re a great rhythm section,” Paul says. “They’re sympathetic to what we do.” The pair admit to being apprehensive before making their debut gig back in May. “It’s like presenting your babies to the world isn’t it? Do you think they’re pretty?” laughs Paul.
As their musical o spring have received much cooing around the pram and compliments to the parents, the group have quickly become Liverpool’s best kept secret. The international success of Mumford And Sons and Laura Marling has opened the ears of sceptical record companies. “I think in the past if you took something to a major label that had a ddle or a lap steel or anything like that, they would be, ‘We’re not even listening to that,’” Candie says. “Now I think people’s ears are a little bit more open to it.”
Their wide-ranging taste in instrumentation means that their musical ambitions hold no bounds. “We’ve got huge ideas for what we could do with horns, strings, and everything like that, if we ever get the opportunity,” declares Candie. Local acts the duo are fond of include bluegrass group The Loose Moose String Band and Dead Cities, bands that are poles apart sonically. “It’s a totally di erent thing to what we’re doing,” Paul nods. “Right at the other end of the spectrum.”
The couple don’t attend many gigs presently as they are concentrating on their own songs, with a stack of unread material and unplayed records at home providing inspiration. Events in their everyday lives also provide ideas. “Everything you read and everything you do nds its way into songs,” Paul states. “Being a musician and a writer isn’t just about listening to loads of other music.”