During the 1960s, Laurel Canyon developed a reputation as an enclave for folk and rock musicians seeking quiet sanctuary from the hustle bustle of Los Angeles. But on the drive up to the studio of Bigelf, a single neon-lit peace sign on the roadside was the sole reminder of a time when Laurel Canyon was more hippie than yuppie. The band, a trio that has been recording its distinctive psychedelic-pop prog, has long been based here.
"When we recording Money Machine and the demos for Hex, we lived across the street from from the garage where The Who used to rehearse in the '60s," bandleader Damon Fox told me. "Laurel Canyon has a vibe and, if that energy is inside you, then you channel it."
On assignment for Prog magazine, I interviewed the band about Into the Maelstrom, its long-awaited followup to its last album, 2008's Cheating the Gallows. During the interim, Bigelf underwent significant lineup changes. "For Bigelf to survive, it had to be torn apart and put back together," Fox said. Indeed, the band has endured more setbacks and struggles than most bands, which I chronicled in my article. As they put it, "Our Behind the Music special would be pretty devastating."
The resulting album is a triumph. Bigelf recruited drummer Mike Portnoy to guest on drums and recorded its best produced and most forward-looking album to date. Seek it out when its released March 3 on InsideOut. And, in the meantime, read the latest issue of Prog, currently filtering onto newsstands (including Barnes & Noble in the US) and available as an e-magazine via iTunes and Google Play.