A new recording deal with Mascot Label Group. An upcoming LP produced by industry heavyweight Matt Hyde (Deftones, Slayer, No Doubt). A booking contract with United Talent Agency for North America and the UK. A management deal with power brokers MDDN. An impending tour with longtime comrades-in-arms O’Brother. Just when everything was starting to come together for Atlanta alt rockers Big Jesus, along comes some dirtbag thieves to throw a wrench into their well laid plans.
On February 11, the band’s van, trailer, and gear were stolen in Grant Park. Although the van was recovered within a few hours, the trailer — tag number TR7221R — and equipment remain missing. No arrests have been made as of this post.
The crime has been particularly devastating for guitarist and audio engineer C.J. Ridings, who lost all of his personal recording equipment in the theft, severely hampering his ability to work. In a statement released by Baby Robot Media, Ridings had the following to say:
“The trailer contained all of my own personal recording equipment. Every mic I owned, every cable, set of headphones, stand and pre-amp. An entire collection of equipment I’ve been gathering for years to employ myself as an engineer. A lot of my work comes from bands who don’t have the budget to make a recording in an actual studio. With my own gear and using my own band’s rehearsal room, I was able to provide something competitive to studio-quality recording for young local bands who otherwise would be unable to afford it. Now I’m in a bit of a catch 22 situation. I can’t buy new gear without work and I can’t work without new gear.”
Fortunately, the local community has rallied around the group. Several of Ridings fellow engineers have lent him equipment to complete ongoing projects and others have offered to donate studio time whenever he needs it. “I’m pretty lucky to be surrounded by good people,” Ridings told us via text. “None of the gear was insured and is pretty much just gone.”
For Big Jesus, the priority is to replace the trailer as quickly as possible so they can return to the business of being a working band. To that end, local alternative station 99x and Smith’s Olde Bar have teamed up to organize a benefit show for the group which will take place tonight at Smith’s. Featuring a headlining performance from Big Jesus with support from fellow locals Baby Baby, the Head, the Future Babes, and MammaBear, tickets are just $9.99 with all proceeds going to the band.
Although it’s only been a couple of weeks since the crime was committed, the group has discovered there are a lot of people in the city looking out for them. In the end, what could have been a devastating blow to the band’s future plans, seems to be only a minor setback. “Between the donations we’ve received already and the show tonight, I think we should be close to replacing and repairing everything that was stolen and damaged,” says Ridings.
This is critical news because this is the year Big Jesus is supposed to take several leaps forward. The group has always had a huge sound and a rabid local following, but have seemed content to keep their vision small and close to home. However, according to Ridings, the band is ready to make major waves in 2016.
“We have a small run with O’Brother in April, and a few festivals in May,” he says. “We’re looking to put out the new album in summer or fall and tour our guts out in support of it. We’re ready to make the transition from Big Jesus just being a local band into a full-time job. We’ve been building our team to make it all happen … We’re putting all our eggs in the Big J basket and really going to go for this thing.”
Big Jesus performs tonight at Smith’s Olde Bar. Supporting them will be Baby Baby, the Head, the Future Babes, and MammaBear. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $9.99.