Brennan, on the other hand, looks
like that guy you remember from high school -- the one with the
wild hair and crazy grin who was always getting sent to detention.
"2002 was a good year for death for us," he said. "I
lost my brother, and Ryan and Matt both lost grandmothers. Making
this record helped each of us individually."
"The losses brought us together," Fox said. "We
never talked about it directly."
Fox broke the heavy moment with this story: "I went to lunch
with my grandma and played one of our songs for her in the car,
and she said she liked it. Then "Benny and the Jets" came
on the radio, and she said, 'You sing so much better than this guy.'"
Pretty somber stuff. Balance it by the fact that Brennan and Fox's
fathers -- longtime friends and veteran musicians from such bands
as The Chevrons, Marquee Review and Bozak and Morrissey -- played
guitar on a number of the CD's songs. "It took them a little
while to figure out what was going on," Fox said. Those tracks
were recorded in a homemade studio at Fox's parent's house in the
room next to his parent's bedroom -- which he aptly named Adjacent
With Fox a member of The Good Life, Baum a member of Desaparecidos
and Brennan the touring soundman for Cursive, the Cubs garnered
immediate attention from record labels, specifically NYC's Arena
Rock Records, who began courting the band way back in June 2003
with talk of a recording budget, profit splits, the usual record
To seal the deal, Baum and Fox flew out to Brooklyn on their own
dime to meet with Arena Rock label executive Greg Glover while Brennan
also was in town on a Cursive tour. Glover gave the band the run-around
up until their last day in NYC. "Then he calls us and says
to meet him at this bar," Fox recalled. "After 15 minutes
of chitchat, he said, 'We'll figure it out. I'll come out to Omaha.'
We didn't hear from him again for a couple weeks. I asked in an
e-mail if we were 'still dating,' and he said the label had overextended
itself and couldn't do anything with us."
It was a crippling set-back, but just when all hope seemed lost,
along came Ezra Caraeff of Portland's Slowdance Records. The label
ended up releasing the CD in October. One of the driving factors
for signing them? "They can probably out drink any band on
the label," Caraeff said, "a talent which will probably
sell few records, but impresses me greatly."
With Caraeff's comments, I thought I had the story, but it wasn't
until after the interview that I really came to understand the gravity
of the CD's title. That's when I bumped into Brennan again at O'Leaver's
and he added an important detail. Though each one of the band member's
losses had been giant in its own way, it was Brennan's brother,
Tim, who fit the description from a stature standpoint.
"Tim was a big person," Brennan said of his brother,
who had suffered with health problems his entire life. Despite constant
setbacks, he had always kept in good spirits and was a joy to be
around. "Everyone who met him loved him. He was a funny guy,
and he just loved life."
A giant indeed.
Published in The Omaha Reader Dec. 24, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
"2002 was a good year for death
for us. I lost my brother, and Ryan and Matt both lost grandmothers.
Making this record helped each of us individually."