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The Big Sleep

A few years ago, Big Sleep drummer Gabe Rhodes bought a dodgy little cabin for a song. Two hours north of New York City, the thing teeters on pillars of rock and cement that appear to have been poured by a junior-high shop class or maybe drunk trappers circa 1780. Inside, three small cozy rooms with beautiful exposed rafters, fireplaces, hanging lanterns and more candles than you can count. No plumbing. No electricity. And The Big Sleep needs electricity like Prince needs purple. So, how to make one of the loudest live bands in New York City come alive? Behind the cabin, there’s a gasoline-powered generator that Gabe uses for power tools. The band had never plugged its amps into a gas-generator. After five minutes of sound-checking, the amps started warbling and guitarist Danny Barria was worried: “I think this amp is melting down,” he said. “Let’s kill the power for a minute and then let’s do this take.” The result is a thunderous and intimate misfit moment: The Big Sleep – darkness, long-hair, provisioners of noise – pulverizing the stunning serenity like a bully does to the good student. The cabin stood.

Portraying The Big Sleep as an acoustic act is a little like asking Dylan to play electric. But then, he did. On “Chorus of Guitars,” bassist Sonya Balchandani delivers a Nico-gone-dark vocal over the acoustic guitars of Danny and Gabe. Daylight is almost completely gone so the band has pulled all candles and lanterns to the porch. It’s a pretty and crisp song, beautiful on a porch on a cold night in the Catskills. Watch this one to the end. After the end of the song, Gabe belts out a cartoon impression of Sonya’s vocal as he heads back into the cabin. Fumbling through the dark, he climbs his drum stool to hang a lantern from the rafters. And in a flash, the drummer nearly meets his Spinal Tap Moment, crashing to the floor in the dark and smashing his head, arm and side on God-knows-what. He plays on.