Big Scenic Nowhere is “Vision Beyond Horizon”

I’ve always said that music should be considered its own element. Sure maybe it’s not as vital as air or water but it is powerful and it can move someone. Any fan of music can attest to this. Certain songs or albums you can literally close your eyes and hear and travel to another moment in time or have your entire mood change.  But those certain songs or albums are in a different league than others. They have the special it and a magic that can’t be explained. For me, “Vision Beyond Horizon” by Big Scenic Nowhere has that magic. 

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Big Scenic Nowhere is truly a supergroup that includes the elite of the stoner rock scene. Built around Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) the band had automatic credibility and a buzz throughout the scene. But what caught my attention and intrigue was that even though both Fu Manchu and Yawning Man have been pioneers of the stoner and desert rock genre and are absolute legends they are drastically different in style. Balch and Fu Manchu are fuzzed out balls to the walls riff gods. Yawning Man are ambient and spacey with layers that bend time . I could not wait to hear how Balch and Arce would sound together and what they would come up with. Soon, other names surfaced on who would be involved. Legendary names like Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mondo Generator) and Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) only added to the hype.  Then you hear the road warrior and “Mos Generator” leader Tony Reed was on board. Tony’s son Kylen Reed also got in on the act contributing bass on a track.  Mix in Lisa Alley and Ian Graham from “The Well” and the intrigue and excitement only grew bigger. Balch and Acre also recruited Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) to do some work on the keys. Lastly, and for me this just put things over the top, was the announcement that the god father of the desert Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson) and musical genius Alain Johannes (QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures) were also part of this. Balch and Arce did not hold back on getting the cream of the crop. With every name that leaked as a contributor the hype only grew. 

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Let me be really clear about something! Big Scenic Nowhere is not just hype or a superband novelty act. I’m sure that no matter what Bach, Arce and this amazing list of musicians came up with would have sold and been a success just on their track record and rock god status alone. But, what makes Big Scenic Nowhere so special is that it is far from cookie cutter and the music is so free and pure. The songs are crafted beautifully  and are delivered in such an authentic vibe. I’m not just talking tones, mix or production. Either. You can literally hear and feel the chemistry that magically Balch and Arce orchestrated.  

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So let’s break down  “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Track one titled “The Glim” hits you hard right out of the gate and hooks you deep. Its built around a swanky riff that rolls you along and is trance-like. I get a taste of Pink Floyd or some of the more complex tracks from Soungarden. Dare i say I even get a Moody Blues type feeling. “The Glim” is so unique and beautifully written that is littearlly  the best description I could come up with. Written by Balch, Arce and Johannes “The Glim” sets the tone for the rest of the album.  The guitar work is masterful and the vocal performance by Johannes is Haunting and moving. “The Glim” is one hell of a way to kick of “Vision Beyond Horizon”

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Lead Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Tony Reed (Mellotron) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drum

 

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Track Two “The Paranoid” is a punch to the face old school hardcore track with face melting guitar work. Featuring Tony Reed on Vocals and a strong bass performance by his son Kylen “The Paranoid” is sure to get you going.  I hear some Bad Brains and early COC.  Also, it is actually Tony Reed beating the drums on this one and he killed it! 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Kylen Reed (Bass)

Tony Reed (Drums)

 

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Track Three  “Then I was Gone” is built on another rad riff. The vibe is dark, dissonant and a bit mysterious. Ian Graham and Lisa Alley’s vocal performance is strong and helps drive this vibe home. I love the lyrics on this one. You can hear a bit of the Fu Manchu style in the fuzzy guitar and also some Queens Of The Stone Age mixed in. Again though, Big Scenic is so unique it’s hard to pinpoint a sound. “Then I Was Gone” is very contemporary but has this shine of something very 60’s or early 70’s to it. You just don’t hear music like this anymore.  I love how the songs main riff pushes while the chorus riff pulls. 

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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Track Four “Mirror Image” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Its heavy and dark but in such a graceful way. Tony Reed absolutely crushed it vocally on this one.  The way he harmonizes and layers the vocals paint over the songs rhythm perfectly. The guitar tones are fuzz gone wild with punch and force. First time i heard “Mirror Image” I knew that it was Nick Oliveri on bass instantlly. His style and aggressive bass playing are so recognizable and classic. I love how the bass pushes this song along driven the riff home. The break down is amazing. That guitar tone is fire and  the lead work is pure gold. It shreds but delivers with a delcious melody and structure. I hear Alice In Chains meets Ozzy  with some Mos Generator all being conducted by Bowie. 

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Nick Oliveri (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track five “Hidden Wall” is another beautiful trip back in time. It has a Floyd thing mixed with Zeppelin’s “No Quarter”  feel to it. Great work on the keys and Mellotron help paint this picture. Again, great guitar tones and riff. The lead work by Arce soars on this one. “Hidden Wall”  is one of those tracks that have so many little details and nuances to it. I suggest multiple sessions jamming this track with headphones. All the instruments works so well together and add so many layers to sink your teeth into.

Tony Reed (Vocals, Electric Piano)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Per Wiberg (Mellowtron)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track six “Shadows From The Altar”  is dark southern fried riff driven ride. The guitar tone is raunchy and huge. Arce paints some trippy guitar work on top that adds some depth and texture. It’s not just the go to southern rock solo you would expect. He gets a little exotic on the scale or mode he uses. Once again Lisa Alley and Graham vocally sound great. The lyrics are bad ass. Mario Lalli drops some killer bass lines to add more depth. It’s got a ZZ Top vibe with huge balls mixed with a little Soundgarden and Sabbath. I love the way Balch and Arce layer the guitars on this one. The difference in styles really shine and show how they work when comparing the rhythm and solo work.  

Ian Graham (Vocals)

Lisa Alley (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track Seven “En Las Sombras” is a Pink Floyd vibe with a hint of that Lenny Breau jazz genius. This track is so good it’s almost not fair. Johannes shines vocally while Mario’s bass work is tasteful and sweet. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere create a sound that brings you back in time. “En Las Sombras” reminds me of the earlier years of Fleetwood Mac before they became a mainstream pop band.   I’m talking about something of the  “The Future Game” record. One of the things that makes this song so special is the lead guitar work. Balch, Arce and Johannes trade of solos and it creates such a rad dynamic. Their styles are different and you can really hear it in this tune.  “En Las Sombras” to me is a landmark song and the fact that Big Scenic Nowhere captured this on tape is a treasure to the world. This song blew my mind!

Alain Johannes (Vocals, Fretless Guitar)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar) 

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

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Track eight “Tragic Motion Lines” is a very unique song with amazing guitar tones and a trippy guitar tuning. The song really uses the power of dynamics well and the guitar punches hard. Again great lead guitar work over another badass riff. Tony Reed delivers another strong vocal performance with great melodies and lyrics.   

Tony Reed (Vocals)

Bob Balch (Guitar)

Gary Arce (Guitar)

Bob Balch (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

Track nine “The War Years” is the perfect way to end the journey through “Vision Beyond Horizon.” It is mellow tune but dark, strong and complex. Again I hear early Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. It’s a bit of an acid trip and a beautifully written song. I dig the moog and the intricate guitar work. This is a great track to help escape the grind of reality. 

Tony Reed (Vocals, Moog)

Bob Balch (Electric Guitar, Nylon String Guitar)

Gatos Trail (Percussion)

Per Wilberg (Mellowtron)

Mario Lalli (Bass)

Bill Stinson (Drums)

 

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So….. Basically what Big Scenic Nowhere gave the world through “Vision Beyond Horizon” is a masterful musical journey. I love how real and authentic it sounds. Some supergroups or collaborations can come of so contrived and forced. Balch and Arce really orchestrated the perfect blend of everyone’s talents and styles. The band first gave us an amazing two song EP “Dying On The Mountain” that only grew the bands hype and legend.(See My Review Here) Now with “Vision Beyond Horizon” the hype and legend are only confirmed and have grown. I can only hope that we will get more releases from this group. The music world needs it! I’m also hopeful that at some point a live version of Big Scenic Nowhere will hit the road and I will get the chance to see them live. I know that they are scheduled to make an appearance at this year’s Stoned And Dusted. That promises to be amazing.  If you are a fan of stoner rock or the desert scene you need this record. If your a fan of music in general you need this record. It is hard to put in words what Big Scenic Nowhere truly sounds like other then amazing. Do yourself a favor and check them out! Big Scenic Nowhere really pushed the boundaries of musically but does not loose sight of great song craft.

Past Interview I did with Bob Balch

Big Scenic Nowhere on Thee Facebooks

Big Scenic Nowhere on Instagram

Big Scenic Nowhere on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

BIG SCENIC NOWHERE – CREDITS

Debut album ‘Vision Beyond Horizon’

Out 31.01.20 on Heavy Psych Sounds

 

Full lineup:

Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) – Guitar / Bass on all tracks

Gary Arce (Yawning Man) – Guitar on all tracks

Tony Reed (Mos Generator) – Vocals / Keys / Drums 

– Vocals / Guitar

Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Mondo Generator) – Bass

Bill Stinson (Fu Manchu) – Drums

Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetso) – Bass

Per Wiberg (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth) – Keys

Lisa Alley (The Well) – Vocals

Ian Graham (The Well) – Vocals

Kylen Reed – Bass

 

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Bob Balch Talks Big Scenic Nowhere & More.

WORM – First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Could you tell us a bit how Big Scenic Nowhere got started?

BALCH – Gary had the name a few years back and they did a few gigs but that’s it I think. I’ve known Gary since 1997 or so. Fu Manchu practiced in his house in the desert around then. Last year he came back from tour and posted a Del Taco pic. I commented with my usually order of a regular red burrito with sour cream. Right after that he called me and said that we should jam and call it Doom Buggy. I said sure, we jammed but then I learned that Doom Buggy was taken already so he offered up Big Scenic Nowhere.

WORM – How did the name Big Scenic Nowhere come to be?

BALCH – It’s a street in the desert. He named the band after that. I’ll include a pic

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WORM – You have contributions from so many amazing talents on “Dying On The Mountain.” How did you all decide who to get involved?

BALCH –  We just started tossing names around. I’ve known Nick Oliveri since 1997 too. Fu Manchu toured Europe with QOTSA back then. We brought him up, I offered Tony Reed. He’s super talented. Fu just got off of tour with his band Mos Generator.I’ve done interviews with THE WELL for my site PlayThisRiff.com. I thought they would be a good fit. We both know Mario Lalli. Mario and Bill Stinson play in Yawning Man with Gary. I’ve done PlayThisRiff interviews with Mario as well. Nick too now that I think of it! And Thomas from Monolord is on the site too! So is Tony Reed. I guess we can credit the site. Ha!

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WORM – What is Playthisriff.com all about?

BALCH – I started that in 2008. It’s a site that hosts videos of artists teaching their own songs. I film them, edit, make the guitar tabs and post. It’s a subscription site. Some pretty big names on there! CLUTCH, MEGADETH, MC5, QOTSA, YOB, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG. Lots of rock, metal, punk and stoner stuff

 

WORM – Do you have a wishlist of musicians you would like to work with Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  It’s giant! We are already talking about the next record and who to ask. The list keeps growing and some people have already said yes. Don’t want to jinx it but people are gonna flip out.

WORM – You and Gary have very unique and different styles. How would you describe your style and Garys style? 

BALCH –  I’m all over the place. I teach guitar for a living so I’m forced to learn a bunch of different styles. For this stuff though I wanted to be fuzzed out because I thought that would be a good juxtaposition against his dreamy delay drenched guitar and odd tunings.

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WORM – The tones you guys got going on this record are amazing. Can you tell us about what gear you used when recording?

BALCH – I used my signature Rola amp, a bunch of pedals but my main fuzz was a Regulus VIII by Creepy Fingers Effects. Nick used his QOTSA SVT which I was super stoked on! Gary had a 70s Fender combo. A 6×12 I thing. It’s was super tall!

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WORM – Speaking of  your signature amp, you recently announced you have your own Rola model. What is that thing all about?

BALCH –  It’s like an 80s Marshall 800 but with KT88s and an extra master volume. I love Rola. They are killing it!

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WORM – I also saw recently that your Fu Manchu band mate Brad Davis, who also is the mastermind of Creepy Finger Effects, made a Balch Fuzz pedal. How did that happen come about?

BALCH – I do a strange thing in the studio with FU. Two fuzz pedals at once. One has the bias control choked to act as a gate and the other fuzz is super blown out. The combo sounds insane. Davis found a way to make that sound with one pedal.

WORM – Is your live setup usually different than what you use in the studio? How do you get that Fuzz tone live?

BALCH –  I use a Creepy Fingers Regulus VIII which kicks major ass. But now that Brad Davis built “The Balch” I’m good to go! That’s pretty much my studio sound.

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WORM – How did the writing process for Big Scenic Nowhere go?

BALCH –  Gary and I jammed for 5 hours. I recorded it. I went home and arranged the riffs into songs. Then I brought those demos into a real studio to have musicians play over them to get actual takes. After that we emailed stems to singers/synth players. Per from Opeth played Synth on the long jam. Tony Reed did too.

WORM – What is next for Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  Full length comes out early January named “Vision Beyond Horizon.” Alain Johannes is on that one. We are also going to do a three day jam session with a bunch of musicians in November that should be released summer 2020.

WORM –  Did Alain Johannes produce the full length as well as perform on it?

BALCH –  No, he offered up killer vocals and guitars but I guess we all produced it. I oversaw everything but everybody contributed a ton.

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WORM – How would you describe the vibe of “Vision Beyond Horizon?”

BALCH –  Songs. Lots of influences but Pink Floyd shines through. Soundgarden too. It’s all over the place really.

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WORM – Anything in the future from Fu Manchu or Sun and Sail Club?

BALCH –  Fu Manchu is going to be really busy 2020. 30th anniversary! We will be touring a bunch and playing songs from our entire catalogue! We are also working on an EP now too! Sun And Sail is always on my mind. I have like two records ready to go! Just trying to find the right time to get that going again. Those dudes rule!

 

WORM – Anything else you would like us to know?

BALCH –  Eddie and the Cruise 2 (not one) and Shock Em Dead are the two best movies ever made

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I wanted to thank Bob Balch for taking the time to do this interview. Be sure to keep an eye out for the release of “Vision Beyond Horizon” from Big Scenic Nowhere in 2020. In the meantime you can head over to bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp to get “Dying On The Mountain.” Or, you can purchase the vinyl here.  Mr. Balch as some big things coming in the future. New Big Scenic Record, New Fu Manchu and possibly a new Sun And Sail Record as well.

*** BIG SCENIC NOWHERE ***

Sitting under the sun swaying with the waves. The oceans mountains begin to move. With the force under your feet floating you escape. If just for a moment you are free becoming part of the sea. This feeling. This magic. Is surfing. The debut EP of super group Big Scenic Nowhere gave me a similar feeling as soon as the first note from the opening track  “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” hit me hard. The twenty minute Saga consisting of three parts rolls in like a wave. It moves you with power and beauty. This should not be a surprise though considering who is involved in Big Scenic Nowhere. Founded by desert guitar legends Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) and Gary Acre (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST)  you know the bands riffs will be be next level. Joining Balch and Acre is a list of all star talent. Both Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) and Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) contribute on bass. I probably do not have to tell you that these dudes are legends! Rounding out the rhythm section is Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) on drums. Many other amzing talents also made contributions.(Full list Below) Big Scenic Nowhere lays down such a solid foundation and captures that certain “feel” that can’t really be explained. But if you are like me and love music you know what I’m talking about. 

Stinson plays with a special grace on “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” while a killer bass line is sweeps in and out. The drums and Bass lay down that solid and magical foundation The guitar work of both Acre and Balch shines on this track. The melodies they use playing off each other are masterful. The songs breakdown about six minutes in puts you in a trance. The synth work and guitar line work so well together. It slowly builds up while the vocals build. The line “Where do I come From” echos in a haunting manner. Hitting back into a big riff the band hits you with so many textures. There is so much to grasp and take in. But yet, all the parts work so well together. The spacey style of Acre and the ferocious style of Balch work like thunder and lighting. Together they take the song to another level with amazing leads and rhythms. The twenty minute song slowly winds down like a wave returning to its home in the sea.   

The second track “Towards The Sun” hits hard with a killer riff that is heavy with a little bit of a spooky feel to it. The track features vocals from Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD). The lyrics are great and fit the vibe of the song perfectly.  The song reminds me of a black sabbath style song but with more colors in it. (No pun intended) “Towards The Sun” has that beautiful atmospheric feel that Acre is known for but with a monster pushing it. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere delivers that special feel. They just have that magic.  “Towards The Sun” also features a badass raunchy guitar solo that is delivered with great taste. The tones on this are just amazing. The guitars sound big and warm but with grit and power. I love the mix and the use of synth on both tracks.

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Big Scenic Nowhere had a lot of hype since the project was announced. I can tell you that for me it has lived up to the hype and far beyond. What a freaking debut!! I can only hope that we will get music from Big Scenic Nowhere for years to come and have a chance to see this beautiful monster live. You all better head over to https://bigscenicnowherestore.bigcartel.com to buy your vinyl and CDs fast. The band has both Red and Blue vinyl available but very few of the red. So, if you are a collector you best get that RED one fast.  Also get yourself ready for Big Scenic Nowhere to put out a full length record courtesy of Heavy Psych Sounds Records sometime in 2020. Pre sale will start October 3rd. Head over to www.heavypsychsounds.com to get in on that.

Big Scenic Nowhere is 

 Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) guitars 

Gary Arce (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST) guitars 

Tony Reed (MOS GENERATOR) vocals, synth 

Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) bass 

Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) bass 

Bill Stinson (YAWNING MAN) drums 

Per Wiberg (SPIRITUAL BEGGERS, CANDLEMASS, OPETH) synth 

Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD) vocals 

Ian Graham (THE WELL) vocals 

Lisa Alley (THE WELL) vocals 

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Tony Reed of Mos Generator

If you don’t know who Tony Reed is you better do your homework and found out! You can thanks us later! Mr. Reed is the leader of rock giants Mos Generator and his a beast on the guitar! Tony was kind enough to be our first ever installment of our random Q’s segment!

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WH-  What is your go to guilty pleasure band/artist? 

REED – Gino Vanelli

WH- If you could make an album with one band/artist dead or alive who is it and why?

REED-  David Bowie. He was not afraid to try anything musically and I admire that very much. He pulled off completely changing his sound many times in his career. Not many artists can say that.

WH- Favorite genre of music besides your own?

REED-  70’s Soft Rock

WH- Favorite tour food/snack?

REED- Mr Toms peanut bars

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WH-Besides music name one hobby you enjoy?

REED- I have no hobbies

WH-What was the last gift you gave someone?

REED- Some cassettes I recorded for someone because they only have a tape player in their car

WH- If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

REED- 2112 overture by RUSH

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WH- What song best describes you?

REED- You’re so vain

WH- What nickname would you give yourself?

REED- Bonehenge

WH- If you could steal one song from anyone which one would it be and why?

REED- “Killing Yourself to Live” by Black Sabbath. Because it’s the best heavy rock song ever written.

WH- Give your bandmates nicknames?  

REED- The Bear and Conway

WH- What is one band you suggest people checkout?

REED- Golden Pig Electric Blues Band

 

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THANKS AGAIN TO TONY REED! BE SURE TO BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR NEW MOS GENERATOR SOON!! THEY NEVER DISAPPOINT! IN THE MEANTIME ENJOY THE TRACK “LONELY ONE KENOBI” BELOW. ALSO MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW MOS GENERATOR ON FACEBOOK HERE!