Big Red Machine
Big Red Machine's Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner (photo by Graham Tolbert, PR)
Big Red Machine
How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?
Why This Album Matters:
Three years ago, The National's Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon released their first album as Big Red Machine. That 2018 self-titled album captured the attention of the indie rock community, resulting in the question: “Will there be a follow up?" Similar high profile projects like Big Red Machine often prove to be one-time ventures, but with the release of How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?, the chemistry between Dessner and Vernon proved to be too strong to simply be a one-and-done venture.
In Their Own Words:
“For someone like me who’s traveled for 20 years, rarely with more than a month or two off completely from touring, it was good to be home for almost two years, where I’m just in the beautiful place," Dessner told the New York Times' Jon Pareles on being off the road and at his Hudson, New York homebase, Long Pond Studio. "I’ve made heaps more music than I had ever made before. And I think it’s allowed me to elevate or push what I was doing, and take it to different places.”
“I wanted it to feel much more inclusive and representative of all the extracurricular energy that we’ve been putting in over the years," said Vernon to Pareles, on wanting to take a less central role on Big Red Machine’s second album. "And I got so tired of being lead singer guy, and I’m in another band. I was like, you’ve got so many connections. Let’s reach out and see what other people have feelings on these tracks. And I wanted to continue to support Aaron and honestly challenge him, frankly, to get out in front more. There are little bits and pieces that I show up and do on the record, and I obviously wrote some words and sang some tunes, but really, this is Aaron’s record.”
“The Ghost Of Cincinnati,” “Hutch” (with Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Nova), “Latter Days” (with Anaïs Mitchell), “Mimi” (with Ilsey) “Phoenix” (featuring Mitchell and Fleet Foxes), and “Renegade” (with Taylor Swift).
Why You Will Dig How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?
Big Red Machine’s 2018 debut was largely an experimental collection of electronic musical ideas coupled with arcane lyrics. That adventurous method remains intact on album number two, but this time out, Big Red Machine have made a more song-oriented album, calling on friends to make significant contributions. These friends include Anaïs Mitchell on the soft, ethereal and folky “Latter Days” and the album finale, “New Auburn." Fleet Foxes partners with Mitchell on the rustic“Phoenix” and Taylor Swift on “Birch" and the jittery pop song “Renegade.” Ilsey, the daughter of former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber, is on “Mimi."Naeem (Juwan) lands one of the album’s more experimental tracks, “Easy To Sabotage." Dessner takes on lead vocal duties on a number of tracks and also offers a loving ode to Bryce, his brother and bandmate in The National, on “Brycie.”
Recommended If You Like:
Bon Iver, El Vy, Fleet Foxes, This Is the Kit, The National, Phosphorescent, Volcano Choir
- Vernon and Dessner first came together in 2008 on a song titled “Big Red Machine," releaased on the 2009 all-star charity album, Dark Was The Night, benefitting the Red Hot Organization.
- The lead up to the release of How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? began last year, when former R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe premiered “No Time For Love Like Now," later revealed to be a new Big Red Machine track.
- Dessner co-produced two career-altering albums from Taylor Swift, Folklore, winner of the 2021 Grammy for Album of the Year. and Evermore. Both albums featured songwriting assistance from Dessner and contributions from Vernon.
- Big Red Machine recorded a cover of Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up," as well as a Sharon Van Etten’s song, “A Crime,” the latter included on Van Etten’s 2021 tenth anniversary reissue of Epic, titled Epic Ten.
- Dessner is from Cincinnati and Big Red Machine's name was inspired by the Cincinnati Reds baseball team which was nicknamed the Big Red Machine from 1970 until 1976.