Big Chief


There are 2 artists with the name Big Chief: 1) Not so much grunge as they were high-energy fetishists, and not so much funk-rock as they just happened to be funky, Ann Arbor, Michigan's Big Chief were slightly ahead of their time in a number of ways. Not only were they updating the sound of Detroit '69 prior to the grunge sweepstakes of the early '90s, but they gradually incorporated their fanboy obsessions with funk and Blaxploitation flicks well before the revivals caught on with the masses. Most of the groups that followed these stylistic hybrids in the mid- to late '90s probably never heard the band that was honing this style a few years before them. But Big Chief were more about making fun records, rather than adding a generous amount of forced rebellion for marketing value. They were hardly original, but they were a couple bases ahead of the platinum acts that followed. Credit timing, botched promotion, lack of headline-worthy image, and geographic location for their inability to gain further notice. Prior to knowing what to call themselves, vocalist Barry Henssler (ex-Necros), drummer Mike Danner (ex-Laughing Hyenas), bassist Matt O'Brien, and guitarists Mark Dancey and Phil Durr were fielding offers from major labels and indies alike. (Oddly, the indies came calling after the majors.) While they could have immediately signed up with a major, they adhered to their working class ethics and built their profile in self-sufficient, small steps. Sub Pop's Bruce Pavitt kn...

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