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Big City Drugs Gets Serious About Punk

Kevin O’Brien never wanted to be in a band.

But when the full-time comedian (and occasional Westword contributor) had the chance to start jamming with his friend, fellow comedian and musician Sam Tallent, he loved it. Now, the beer-drinking guitar-playing hangouts have turned into a serious band, Big City Drugs, which celebrates the release of its EP at 10 p.m. tonight at GLOB.

“I wasn’t in a band to be in a band. I was in a band to be in a band with Sam and Bobby [Crane] and Corey [Helie],” O’Brien says. “It wasn’t something for us to do. We just want to play with each other.”

O’Brien and Helie have been making music together since they were teenagers in Nebraska. In addition, the four of them have been touring comedians for most of their adult lives. Tallent, aside from being a major comedy force in and outside Denver, was a longtime DIY musician. Big City Drugs may have started as a joke, but the idea itself seems natural, serious and almost obvious.

The band began the Halloween before last at a house party, where the four men were dressed as hack comedians (like Gallagher and Carrot Top) and played a brief punk set for fellow costumed party-goers.

After the party, the members didn’t think the band had a future, but Denver had other ideas.

“I think we gained a lot of confidence by people assuming we were a real band,” O’Brien says. “The more people asked when we were playing next, the more we were like, ‘Oh, let’s book more shows.”

Unlike O’Brien, frontman Crane always thought the band was real, and he jumped at the chance to finally be in a punk group.

“I desperately wanted to be in a band, any band, but no one would have me because I lacked experience, connections and any sort of musical talent,” Crane says. “When those guys asked me to join BCD, I was beyond excited.”

Despite differing ambitions, the band has grown, and Denver has taken notice.

There have been gigs since that Halloween party, and now an EP. The EP was produced by friend and SPELLS member Chuck Coffey, and the five songs were recorded in under ten hours, paying just $200 in studio fees.

“We got done right at the zero hour,” O’Brien says. “Coffey was the best. He was the perfect sherpa. The four of us, we’ve all been friends for a super-long time, so to have an outsider to defer to, that solves a lot problems before they start.”

True to its grassroots punk attitude, the Big City Drugs EP will be released at GLOB, a DIY institution.

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“I want everyone to go to GLOB before it’s gone,” O’Brien says. “For me, that was the biggest reason I wanted to do the show at GLOB, and Sam wanted it somewhere grimy. A legit DIY space while they still exist. I’ve never played GLOB; for being an old-school Denver kid, in a way, to do a show at GLOB on Brighton before it’s gone is monumental for all of us.”

The show will feature bands Born Dumb and Low Forms (from Minnesota), and begins at 10 p.m. It costs $5. You can expect excellent punk music, but despite the fact that Big City Drugs features four comedians, don’t expect any comedy.

“As far as our music involving comedy, it doesn't,” Crane says. “Personally, I think funny songs are hokey and lame. Punk should make you want to kick a door down, not snicker and giggle. We're serious about our output.”

Big City Drugs play tonight, Friday, November 11, at 10 p.m. at GLOB, 3551 Brighton Boulevard.

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