of Large Sizes:
Indie Rock Survivors
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: November 6, 2002
of Large Sizes
w/ The Holy Ghost, Fromanhole
Saturday, Nov. 9
9 p.m., $7
13th & Martha
At a fragile
time in music history when you're lucky if a band stays together
for 16 months, House of Large Sizes has managed to keep it going
for 16 years.
Anyone who grew up in
the Midwest with even a fleeting knowledge of local punk knows about
the Iowa-based trio. The band has been playing the rock circuit
since before grunge raised its flannel head, and rode the wave long
after it was tattered to bits, all the while staying true to its
"I wanted to be
in a band that played a lot," said guitarist/vocalist Dave
Deibler. "Our heroes were the Minute Men -- bands that were
real bands and not studio projects."
Deibler got his wish,
but it's been a life with more downs than ups, he said. "The
best part is playing a great show in front of a crowd where no one
knows you," he said. "The worst part is the breakdowns.
Twice we've been stranded in the same room in the same motel in
Spokane while our van was being repaired at the same dealership.
It gets surreal. This isn't the kind of lifestyle that's going to
work for everyone."
days, Deibler, 39, says hanging out with his wife, House of Large
Sizes (HOLS) bassist Barb Schlif, in their home 15 miles west of
Cedar Falls, Iowa, is more appealing than the hours spent on the
interstate driving between gigs. After years of having more friends
on the road than at home, the couple have put down roots in their
rural community, opening a boutique a few years ago called The Mohair
Pear that sells vintage and retro clothing, new and used vinyl,
hair dye and other accoutrements of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
But with a new self-titled
CD just released on Boulder's What Are Records? label, the band
is once again headed out on the road, with Omaha's Sokol Underground
squarely in their sites Nov. 9. The recording marks a rebirth for
a band that's gone from Midwest obscurity to major label obscurity
and back to Midwest obscurity.
Founded in September
1986, HOLS garnered a strong regional following due to constant
touring and their incendiary live shows. When Nirvana broke big
in the early '90s, Columbia Records signed the band as part of the
major-label feeding frenzy for indie acts. My Ass-Kicking Life
was released on the label in 1994, but HOLS relationship with Columbia
never took and the band quickly found itself back in indie status,
releasing 1997's Glass Cockpit on then-Lincoln-based Ismist
Records before finding a home at What Are Records?
don't cringe when I listen to this one -- I think anyone who
has been in a band knows what I'm talking about."
you want it to be perfect, you'll never finish the record.
If you're too careful, you'll never write a song."
new one is quite possibly the best CD they've ever made. Fans of
the band will immediately recognize their trademark post-punk, angular
crunch -- a sound that gets them compared to countless bands that
they actually predate. But rarely has HOLS sounded so fine-tuned,
aggressive and just down-right angry. On tracks like the bass-driven
scorcher "Fine Time" and the power-chord heavy "The
History of Camouflage," HOLS sounds like a warped hybrid of
classic X and Surfer Rosa-era Pixies, complete with white-knuckled
guitar riffs, king-Kong-sized breaks and spit-in-your face vocals.
Deibler says their eponymous
release is their first record that he doesn't feel uncomfortable
hearing again. "I don't usually listen to our CDs after they're
done," he said, "but I don't cringe when I listen to this
one -- I think anyone who has been in a band knows what I'm talking
In addition to new drummer
Brent Hanson, Deibler credits a more-confident -- if not rushed
-- songwriting style that strips everything down to its core. "All
the songs on this one were written really quickly because we wanted
to get it out before going on tour with Frank Black last year,"
he said. "We didn't have a chance to second-guess ourselves
and as a result, the melodies are stronger. If you want it to be
perfect, you'll never finish the record. If you're too careful,
you'll never write a song."
Sage words from a veteran
who's seen it all, though Deibler says he doesn't give advice to
young bands. "Any good band won't listen to you anyway,"
he said. "Young bands today are too careerist. They have lawyers
and publishers and stuff before they've even paid their dues. We
could have been more business-aware when we started, but we didn't
think the music we played would be successful."
Published in The Omaha Weekly Nov. 6, 2002. Copyright © 2002 Tim
McMahan. All rights reserved.