Big High
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Big High

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Summer Meltdown 2009"

A touch too punchy to make the morning offerings, I stumbled in and got WOKE THE FUCK UP by Big High, a local hard rock ensemble and friends to Flowmotion that struck a first impression akin to my first mind-blowing Drunk Horse gig. Like Oakland's steel-plated punk-boogie juggernaut, Big High aren't screwing around and it wasn't a whole tune before I was shaking like a madman close to the stage. Killer tunes, a crazy tight band and a lead singer (Mesa on "vocal flyfishing") possessed of a fathomless bottom and high reachin' top end plus a leaping, fiercely engaging stage presence, and well Big High sorta rocked my widdle world. It's serious heavy muscle that puts a lil' anger and sex in your bloodstream, culminating in a frighteningly good cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" delivered in Dr. John style feather masks for no good reason except to be delightfully weird. If you're feeling Clutch, Parlor Mob or just dig quality hard rock you're missing out if you don't get to know Big High. At the end of their set I bellowed, quite uncontrollably, "We're awake now, motherfuckers!" Meant it, too. -

"First review"

Seattle’s newest rock powerhouse, Big High, is the brainchild of two veterans in the local music community. Originally formed as an acoustic duo in 2008, Mesa (Black Vinyl All-Stars) and Ari (AriSawkaDoria & Swampdweller) quickly decided they were destined for a much bigger sound. Mesa’s raw and powerful vocals command attention and are reminiscent of Robert Plant or Roger Daltrey. Whether shredding the guitar or laying the path to a beautiful melody, Ari Zucker once again makes things look easy and effortless... Big High is creating a rock revival for the ages…..come join the revolution!

-- Seattle Show Gal -- July 2009
- Seattle Show Gal -- July 2009

"D- List Magazine"

The audience wants to see talent, heart, and truth from its artists. They want to be entertained and cultured all in the same experience and they want artists to be tangible, real and believable. Big High envelopes all of these characteristics and is pushing the music into a pendulum swing that is breathing air back into the lungs of rock n' roll...
- D- List Magazine --Nov. 2009--

"Drummer Barrett Martin snares a band"

By Special to The Oregonian
March 11, 2010, 7:35AMThe name Barrett Martin should be familiar to anyone who has followed the trajectory of the Northwest music scene over the last 25 years. The Seattle native has spent his career occupying the drum seat for such grunge-era luminaries as Screaming Trees, Skin Yard and Mad Season.

But if it's not a name you've heard in the past decade or so, there's good reason. Since his steady job as a drummer in the Trees ended in 2000, Martin has been intentionally flying below the radar. He has kept busy, working as a session player (for everyone from Stone Temple Pilots to Brazilian singer Nando Reis), studying ethnomusicology in Ghana and Cuba, and continuing his practices as an ordained Zen monk. But until recently, he's eschewed the idea of joining a band full time.

"I got plenty of offers to join other bands," he recalls, speaking on the phone from his apartment in Seattle. "Pretty big bands, too, but every time I've politely declined."

That is until he was asked to sit in on a club date by his friend, guitarist Ari Joshua. "What I didn't know is that he had invited his bandmates to the show and pulled them onstage. Playing with them, the energy just felt perfect. I knew we had something."

He's now a full-time member of Big High, a bluesy, raw rock band that harks back to the mid-'90s heyday of Seattle's rock scene, especially through the surging vocals of vocalist Mesa Singer and Martin's own tribal-inspired drumming.

The 42-year-old Martin brings a wealth of experience to this still-young band, helping them produce their debut album (due out this June) and encouraging them to stay independent.

"We had some interest from some majors," Martin says, "but I've been through that wringer before and dealt with all those headaches. It just isn't worth it."

9 p.m. Monday, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St.,; $8 advance (503-231-9663 or, $10 day of show; also appearing: Tango Alpha Tango;

-- Robert Ham
- Oregonian-- March 2010


Big High is a new Seattle rock quartet featuring Mesa Singer (Black Vinyl All-Stars) on vocals, Ari Joshua on (AriSawkaDoria & Swampdweller) guitars, Sandy Dickerson on bass, and Barrett Martin (Skin Yard, Screaming Trees, Mad Season) on drums.

Formed by Mesa and Joshua as an acoustic duo, the pair's songs were much too big to be downsized in acoustic style. Bringing in Dickeron and Martin as the rhythm section, the now quartet molded the songs into bluesy rockers with a touch of that good old “Seattle sound” on their self-titled debut.

Big High’s 13-track debut leads off with it’s strongest number “Cold Dark Garden” with its earthy drum intro morphing into a solid rocker, much like Martin’s work with Mad Season. Right away you notice Mesa’s powerful vocals in the forefront as he carries the band through standout rockers “Atom In Formation,” “LSH,” which sounds eerily like a Candlebox song, in fact Mesa’s vocals strijke a resemblence to the Candlebox frontman Kevin Martin.

Midway through the tracks, Big High slows the pace with a trio of songs including “Whispers,” a laid-back summer jam, then harken back to their acoustic roots with “Symptons of the Sun,” and the lyricially powerful “Black and Blues.”

Adding to the appeal of Big High, the band brought in R.E.M’s Peter Buck to lend guitar and mandolin duties on four tracks – “Whispers,” “Symptoms Of The Sun,” “Blacks And Blues,” and “Could She Be.”

Big High’s debut is certainly solid, large in part to their ability to orchestrate several genres into one song and make it work. Also the fact that the production on these songs are left poretty with that live feel bringing the listener deeper into the cuts.

"Big High - Seattle PI"

It would be hard to find a more extreme shift from the rainy Emerald City in the Pacific Northwest to the desert southwest but that's where Barrett Martin found himself when he traded Seattle for New Mexico shortly after the turn of the century when Screaming Trees bid each other and their fans farewell.

The same can be said for the musical journey on which Martin embarked upon leaving the city. He traveled to the far corners of the world in pursuit of academic and spiritual learnings and turned the attention of his music from the heavy rock sounds and more towards jazz and the music he was absorbing from Africa and South America. That decade of self-imposed "exile" from rock and roll allowed him to write and record three solo albums — The Painted Desert, Earthspeaker, and Zenga — as well as continuing his collaboration with Peter Buck in their side project Tuatara. Martin also produced, drummed, and released Dave Carter's Commitment & Change through the label he founded, Fast Horse Recordings.

Martin says there were opportunities during that time to come out of rock and roll "retirement" and join other bands and he passed on them. He wasn't sure he had a desire to play rock music anymore and he knew he damn sure didn't want any part of the corrupt world of major labels and corporate promoters. A return to rock music would have to wait. It would have to be the right band and the right time. That band is Big High and the time is now.

There is something comfortably retro about Big High's sound. Fans hungry for a return to the sounds exported from Seattle in the early '90s will find something familiar in this record but Grunge Part II this is not. Big High is sonically more in tune with the pre-grunge sounds typical of Pacific Northwest bands, sounds that were swallowed up and lost in the enormity of the success of great bands like Screaming Trees, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Big High has a sound that borrows from the heritage of the great Seattle bands as well as the roots from which those seminal bands drew.

The opening tracks of Big High find the band in full-on rock mode, pummeling listeners with relentless, expansive riffs from guitarist Ari Joshua and soaring vocals from Mesa. Martin and his rhythm mate bassist Sandy do more than serve as an anchor to the punishing licks, particularly Martin.

The combination of Martin's use of non-trad rock rhythms and percussion voices and the unusual keys and tunings of guitarist Joshua recall classic Zeppelin. It's refreshing to hear a band taking inspiration from Zeppelin without recycling their riffs or imitating Robert Plant's oft-copied vocal style.

The second half of the record, beginning with "Symptoms Of The Sun," begins a shift towards a more reflective, meditative sound and it is here where the band excels. The path from "Symptoms" to the exotic instrumental interlude of "Moksha" that leads into "Blacks And Blues" is deep and rich. Using exotic sounds and tunings, Big High creates mystical, mysterious textures and moods. There is a searching quality to these songs as well as the trio that bring the album to a close: "Angel Devil," "Could She Be," and "Possessions."

Big High is a very good rock album from a band that might well have a great one in their future. - Josh Hatheway

"Barrett Martin Joins Rock Band Big High; Debut Album Due June 15"

Former Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin is returning to rock and roll. Big High is releasing their self-titled debut on June 15, 2010 and are planning a series of summer tour dates in support of the new record.

Martin is again ready to rock out, having spent the past decade pursuing academic interests as well as founding his own label to release his solo albums and side projects; projects that primarily played to Martin's love and knowledge of jazz and world music. He joins vocalist Mesa, bassist Sandy, and guitarist Ari Joshua. The band have already played gigs and are planning more to support the new album. Also featured on the album is R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. Martin has collaborated with R.E.M. and he and Buck co-founded Tuatara.

Big High will benefit from the decade Martin spent away from the rock world as they'll be releasing their CD through his
Fast Horse Recordings label rather than signing with another indie or major.

Fans of Martin's solo work need not worry, they'll just have to be patient. He has recorded more than an album's worth of tracks for the follow-up to Zenga and he plans to mix and master those this fall with an eye towards releasing the record this winter.

The digital version of the album is already available through iTunes and other digital music outlets with the physical CD release coming June 15.

Big High Tracklisting:

1. Cold Dark Garden
2. LSH
3. Atoms In Formation
4. Right Brain
5. Whisper
6. Symptoms Of THe Sun
7. Moksha
8. Blacks And Blues
9. Chemicals
10. Truck Stop
11. Angel Devil
12. Could She Be
13. Possessions

Read more:

"The Tale o' Barrett & Big High"

It was great to get back to one of our favorite venues in town, the Doug Fir, last night. We got the privilege of opening for Barrett Martin's new band, Big High. Barrett Martin is a world-class drummer who played with the Screaming Trees and Mad Season, and on tons of other records ranging from film scores to world music.
We showed up never having met him, or any of the band for that matter. Barrett was the first there, and really couldn't haven't been nicer. He quickly met us all, offered up his drums for our use, and homemade cookies from his own mother. Walker, of course, was thrilled to play his huge, custom, Tama kit, which was specifically designed for him, and a one-of-a-kind. Just hearing Barrett's sound-check was enough to be sold on his unique style of tribal-rock drumming. His band proved to be equally as cordial, and we quickly all became friends.

We were up first to a modest, but eager, Monday evening crowd. Our set was one of my favorites that we've put together lately, and can't wait to play it again, mixing old and new favorites with some new twists. As we were playing I noticed a couple of familiar faces in the crowd, which at first made me nervous, but quickly turned into fuel for the fire. Peter Buck, of REM fame, was out in the crowd, and stayed for the whole set, including Scott McCaughey, of the Minus 5, and of course, Barrett Martin, (which was the one to make Walker nervous). I didn't think our set could have gone better, and was justified when McCaughey moved to the front and center spot for our last portion of the set, including "The Devil's Mark". Directly after the show Peter Buck came up, without introducing himself, and said he loved it and wanted some discs. I told him I'd grab him a few for free. He insisted on giving me more than we ever charge, and said that I could give him one for free after we're signed on a major label. Later on in the evening Peter caught up with me back towards the bar, and we got to chat more. He told me about what it felt like to play the Los Angeles Forum years after he attended Led Zeppelin in '73. It was fun to rub shoulders with people who have seen so much, and been apart of some great music that has been made.

Big High took the stage and powered through their brand of throwback rock, that made you long for the '70's, and even the '90's. They were a four-piece consisting of bass, drums, vocals, and guitar. And the guitarist, by the way, was playing a really cool '61 Gibson SG, which was called the Les Paul back then for a short time. After their set we all had a good time loading up, chatting about our next shows, and saying our goodbyes. Overall, we all had a really great time, and happy to have made some new friends.

Aaron and I pre-show, eating some Doug Fir burgers.

(Left to Right) Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, Walker Beckman, Barrett Martin.

Who's that crazy tiger?! Green Room.

Walker, Nathan, Mirabai, and Peter Buck.

We are really excited to play later this evening to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with great artists, Kelli Schaefer, and The Skinnyz. If you don't have plans, or even if you do, come join us all for a low-dough show at only $7. This show is 21 and up, but we won't be mad if you try your fake mustache, but the venue might be. Anyway, we'll see you all tomorrow. Be ready to rock, and have a good time. Green food coloring is on me!

Nathan - Tango Alpha Tango


June 2010 Big High




BIG HIGH embarks on their first west coast tour, starting with a CD release show at Seattle's legendary Crocodile Cafe, ground zero of Seattle's rock music scene for the last 20 years.

Consisting of singer MESA, guitarist ARI JOSHUA, bassist SANDY, and drummer BARRETT MARTIN (of SCREAMING TREES, MAD SEASON, and TUATARA fame), BIG HIGH is the latest incarnation in a long line of great Northwest bands that trace their origins back to the foundational principles of classic Seattle rock.

Long time Seattle-ite PETER BUCK of REM also makes a guest appearance on four of the album tracks, shouldering guitar duties on the songs Whispers, Symptoms Of The Sun, Blacks And Blues, and Could She Be.

Built around great songwriting, and a heavy yet ascending element to their music, their debut album showcases a band that has the ability to write a great song and then deliver it with a thunderous bolt that hasn't been heard in rock and roll since the heavy days of the 1990s. Produced by drummer Barrett Martin, the album starts off with the rolling, tribal groove of Cold Dark Garden, and then builds in momentum with three uptempo rockers; LSH, Atoms In Formation, and Right Brain. Midway through the album, the band shows its use of dynamics and subtlety by collapsing into the calmer waters of Whispers, and Symptoms Of The Sun. The second half of the album builds again with the street tough messages of Black and Blues and Chemicals, before a final ascent into the darkly beautiful Angel Devil, Could She Be, and the explosive Possessions.

BIG HIGH'S debut album was released on June 15th through the band's label, Big High Music, and is distributed by Portland based Burnside Distribution. Already at work on their second album to follow on the heels of this debut, Big High is playing select shows around the Northwest and down the West Coast as they prepare for a full American tour in 2011.

West Coast Dates 2010

July 17th - The Crocodile, Seattle, WA
August 21st - Hempfest Mainstage, Seattle, WA
August 26th - Dante's, Portland, OR
August 28th - The Bouquet, Boise, ID
September 1st - The Viper Room, Los Angeles, CA
September 2nd-3rd - Recording Sessions, Joshua Tree, CA
September 4th - The Hemlock, San Francisco, CA
September 18th - The Tractor, Seattle, WA