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Big Dismal Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Big Dismal lyrics)
Big Dismal Biography
When singer/songwriter Eric Durrance was growing up in Tallahassee, FL, he used to spend his summers exploring a geological landmark known as "Big Dismal". The site is characterized by a massive sinkhole where 100-foot walls plunge straight down to the water below. As an adult, the title of the landmark took on a new meaning for the singer and the band that would adopt this name as their moniker.
"As we began looking at the world and everything around us, we started thinking, 'Man, these are dismal times we're in,'" Durrance says. "This name makes sense, because our music is positive and we're trying to bring a little bit of truth and inspiration into a dismal place."
On Believe, Big Dismal's debut on Wind-up Records, the Tallahassee-based quartet delivers a powerhouse rock album, bolstered by Durrance's acoustic-conjured melodies and lyrics that reflect the group's strong Christian faith. He mentioned, "This first record is a lot about love, heartache and getting through tough times," he says. "The average person is going to relate to these songs."
The young musician was raised a Southern Baptist. His mother was a musician who performed regularly in clubs and his father was a semi-truck driver. He recalls, "During my early years, I wound up at my grandma's a lot. She taught me so much about life and religion-she is such a strong force in my life. The first single, 'Remember (I.O.U.),' is dedicated to her, and the song pretty much explains the whole story of being brought up (in part) by my grandmother."
As a child of the '80s, Durrance was also exposed to an array of influences the decade had to offer. "I was into all the hair bands," he confesses. "I had Motley Crue posted all over my wall, but I also had a little country influence. Coming from the Southern Bible Belt and being raised by my grandmother, country music was always around. I think I learned a lot about how to put words together from country music."
That skill first revealed itself when Durrance performed in a handful of acts amid the burgeoning Tallahassee scene of the late '90s. Eventually, the songwriter decided to go solo and began recording his own demos at a friend's home studio. Armed with a modest EP, these homemade tracks shot to No. 1 several times as most requested tracks by listeners at stations in North Florida.
Soon a band was assembled around Durrance featuring drummer Jeff Chomin, bassist Gary Sobel and guitarist Chuck Shea, who co-wrote some of the material on Big Dismal's debut.
Believe was recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Sherman Oaks, CA and produced by the legendary Jack Joseph Puig (John Mayer, The Black Crowes). "He's the man," the singer says of Puig. "He's taught us so much. He not only recorded this band, but he broke down each individual and really pulled the best out of us. It wasn't easy."
A few key guests turned up during the recording process. Amy Lee, the heavenly lead singer of Evanescence, lent harmonies to "Missing You." And veteran percussionist Lenny Castro added various rhythmic touches to every track. "On 'Remember (I.O.U.),' Lenny played the drums in the verses and our drummer came in on the choruses," Durrance describes. "So we had two drum sets going in the studio. It was like they were cuing each other. It was really unusual."
Believe strikes a musical balance between aggressive and restrained, outraged and hopeful. But the record is always distinguished by the ensemble's ability to cut to the emotional heart of the matter.
The captivating anthem "Missing You" is inspired by the band members' thoughts of leaving their families to go on the road. ("I'm already missing you, but I'm not even gone."). Whereas the hypnotic "Reality" is about more systematic life experiences. Atop the singular guitar riff, Durrance's muscular vocals belt, "'Cause out here in the world/You know some things will never change/You're just another number with a face."
Big Dismal's collective favorite is the compelling closing number. "'Losing You' is the one that came out exactly how the band envisioned it," Durrance says. "The music, the bridge, the strings, the conviction of the vocal-it just turned out perfect. Most importantly, the overall message of the song came across the way we wanted it."
The overall message is one the group hopes will resonate with listeners. In closing, Durrance simply offers, "Believe."