Band concocts rock

By HermineBloom

Reminiscent of seemingly contradictory arena rock such as U2 and experimental, new-age post-punk like Kraftwerk, Chicago-based band Big Science has been busy perfecting a fresh, poppy version of the two sounds since 2007. What might seem less than perfect—or almost too perfect—stems from the fact that three of the four members of Big Science are named Jason, which causes them to refer to each other by their last names.

Big Science comprises Jason Hendrix on guitar, keyboards and vocals; Jason Clark on guitar and drums; Jeremy Pena on drums, keyboards and vocals; and Jason Richards on bass and keyboards. The band is currently recording its own music on AEMMP Records after releasing “The Coast of Nowhere” EP in January 2009.

The Chronicle talked with Richards, 29, to get a sense of how the band met, what to expect from their new music and how they came up with the name Big Science.

The Chronicle: How did you guys meet? How did Big Science come into being the way it is today?

Jason Richards: I met our singer, Jason Hendrix,  in 1999. We met in Kalamazoo, Mich. We started a band there with my brother and it was called The North Atlantic. After that year in 2000, we all went to San Diego. We were a band out there until 2007 and we did a lot of touring.  So I’ve known him for a long time. While we were out in San Diego, we met Jason Clark. He’s the other Jason in the band. He actually recorded and engineered my old band’s record. He lived in Chicago two years before we did. And we moved out after North Atlantic ended and started up Big Science. We’re really lucky because we met Jeremy through a friend and that’s how everything came to pass. I’ve known Jason Clark now for eight years, too.

The Chronicle: What are some of your musical influences? Do you guys share musical tastes?

JR: I think a lot of the things we listen to overlap a little bit. Obviously the guitar players are big fans of U2. There’s lots of delay on guitars. I listen to a lot of sort of punk—Talking Heads stuff and a lot of dub. That’s where I’m coming from, anyway. A lot of things from the ’90s and ’80s that are, I guess,  less openly nostalgic and gimmicky. Some Motor Wreck krautrock sort of stuff is in there. Like on the song “DNC,” nothing when the chorus comes up other than it’s pretty much the same stuff.

The Chronicle: So where did the name Big Science come from?

JR: It’s a name we had been picking up amongst a bunch of other names for a long time. It took us forever to settle on a name. It’s a reference to government-funded science experiments post WWII. That’s what the term means.  It’s also a Laurie Anderson album, which is a really good album.

The Chronicle: How’s the recording going? What’s different about your new music, compared to previous recordings?

JR: We’re mixing right now, so hopefully we’ll be done tomorrow. We’re sort of new to the recording our own stuff thing, but I think we’re pretty good at it. We’re still sort of figuring things out.  We’re going to try and mix it up a little bit with how we write our songs—trying to use the computer more in the process.  In the past, we’d write songs and be like, “OK, well we have this big chunk of songs, let’s go ahead and record them now.” I think we’re going to try to shake things up, make our songs better. We want to be less cookie cutter, the way that we work.

The Chronicle: What’s the chemistry between you guys—as musicians and as friends?

JR: It’s really good.  I like being in a band with my friends. I can’t imagine spending this much time with people that I didn’t care for. There’s no really point to doing it if I wasn’t doing it with my friends. Things are good—things are relaxed most of the time. We’ve been writing music together for a long time. When we write, it’s more of a spontaneous thing. Once in a while someone will bring in an idea for a guitar part and we’ll try to write a part of it. Most of the time, someone starts playing and we all join in.

For more information, visit Their next show is scheduled for March 6 at Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St.