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The band that started it all for Hermosa Records

 Big Jerks started as a band playing the New Wave club circuit in Los Angeles in the early 80s. While the band had fun, that scene quickly grew tiresome, and despite some legendary gigs, the band turned to studio projects, experimenting with a new concept: rock improv. The jerks expanded musically to include many styles of jazz, rock, folk, comedy, world, avant garde, obscure genres. On top of that, Brian Sisson and lead guitarist Karl Grossman were experimenting with improv vocals over the new music, while trying to make the results come out sounding like real songs.

first gig flyer 1980

This proved to be a challenge, and only hundreds of hours of experimenting and pushing the creative envelope sufficed to bring the total improv concept under control. Luckily for the Big Jerks, the musicians were up to the task at hand. Karl Grossman is a locally famous musical chameleon and visionary guitarist, adding trumpet and occasional keyboards. Original bassist Peter Carreiro is a fine bass player who studies music from around the world. Peter is replaced in the nineties by Tony Alvarez, one of the finest bass players in the LA area. Brian Sisson is a guitarist/vocalist with a deep creative drive. Mark Baertschi is the drummer with big ears, who plays in an orchestral fashion. Together they lock into solid, multi-layered grooves and float vocals on top. They have honed improv rock to a fine edge.

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The first Big Jerks improv rock disc on Hermosa Records, titled Walter's Rotting, is a taste of many different improv sessions. The title hints at Walt Disney's reaction (from the grave) to his beloved empire's new cut-throat reputation. The music is at times beautiful and at times intentionally ugly, depending on the vocal story line. All the music is performed live to digital tape with no overdubs, providing an intimate glimpse into the creative process on the fly. You hear the music as it was concieved, and it's a wild ride, indeed. Not for the lazy pop listener.

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