For only the second time since 2001, Memphis-based Big Ass Truck will reunite, this time for two live shows, the first coming to Proud Larrys’ in Oxford on Friday, June 3; and the second the following night at Levitt Shell in Memphis.
For those of you who are under 30, Big Ass Truck is a Memphis band whose music incorporates rock, hip-hop, and “psychedelic-funk.” They were frequently known to sell out shows at Proud Larrys’ during the mid-90s. “Larry’s was our home,” vocalist and guitarist Steve Selvidge told TLV. “I mean, we were one of the first bands to play Proud Larrys’.”
Over the years, Big Ass Truck has had a dozen or so members. The band’s original lineup comprised Selvidge, guitarist/vocalist Robby Grant, drummer Robert Barnett, bassist Joe Boone, keyboardist Alex Greene, and DJ Colin Butler providing samples, beats, and loops during live performances and recording sessions.
Boone, who now works as the music editor at The Memphis Flyer, credits Greene and Butler in a 2014 article as being the dimension that defined the band’s sound, and being essential to their success. “Any critical references to soul or hip-hop stem from the turntables and the keyboards,” Boone wrote. “They gave us the bigger sound and wider palette we heard from Al Green at Royal Studios and the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal records.”
“The first reunion,” Selvidge said, referring to a one-night only performance at Minglewood Hall in Memphis in February of 2014, “we did with the original lineup, or the first record lineup, basically.” He went on to explain that the guys from the first record were used because the band didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the show, and that “it just made sense because it put the thing in motion and gave us some parameters to work with.” However, their decision to go with the earlier roster, they were limited in the song selection for the show. “We mainly played stuff from the first two records,” Selvidge explained.
Selvidge went on to say that their upcoming shows will feature a different lineup than 2014. They decided to do the lineup as it was when they stopped playing in 2001, which is similar to the earlier one, but with Grayson Grant replacing Boone on bass, and longtime friend and sometimes-producer Ross Rice taking over for Greene on keys. “This allows us to play anything from our catalog,” he proudly proclaims.
Not to say that the 2014 show wasn’t a huge success for the band. Selvidge explained that the group was initially booked to play The 1884 Lounge, which is a small room attached to Minglewood Hall utilized by smaller acts that can’t fill the 1500 seat venue. “We didn’t know who was going to show up, or anything,” he recalled. “We just sort of put something on our respective social media about the gig and then it sold out immediately,” he says. Due to the large demand for tickets, the band decided to move into the big room, but not open it up all the way. Instead, the plan was to use a pipe and drape system to make the large venue feel more intimate to a smaller crowd. “Then, more and more people started buying tickets, Selvidge said laughingly. “By the time it was all said and done there were 1500 people there. We were pleasantly surprised.”