from left to right: Nels Cline, Nick Reinhart, Mike Watt, Greg Saunier

Big Walnuts Yonder // Premier Guitar Feature 

photo by Lucas Hodge

full article by Lucas Hodge via Premiere Guitar.

Karma—despite the John Lennon song—isn’t always instant, or as Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose, Stooges) says, paraphrasing Orson Welles, “No wine before its time.” 

Some things take a while. 

Watt’s most recent project, Big Walnuts Yonder, is a case in point. The ensemble—an alternative supergroup of sorts—features Watt on bass, Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos) and Nels Cline (Wilco) on guitars, and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) on drums. The project was years in the making, from inception to realization, and given the busy touring and recording schedules of the parties involved, it’s amazing it ever came together at all. 

But it did, and praise the heavens, what a joyful noise it is. From the faux James Brown guitar breaks of the album’s opener, to the free sounds of “Flare Star Phantom,” to Cline’s righteous Beatles’ Revolver-era solo at the end of “I Got Marty Feldman Eyes,” Big Walnuts Yonder is a feast for the ears. For pedal geeks, it’s even better. Reinhart and Cline had about 70 pedals between them, according to Watt. (On the other hand, he plugged straight into an amp.) 

The project started with a conversation between Watt and Reinhart while on tour. “My band, Tera Melos, crossed paths with Watt and his band, the Missing Men, in Ireland,” Reinhart says. “We were playing a show together in Dublin and were hanging out backstage. Whenever you’re sitting around with Watt, you just have questions for the guy. He’s a legend. He told us Black Flag stories from the SST days. Hearing about the Minutemen and that whole world is really exciting for guys my age, in our mid-30s, who grew up on that stuff. I asked him about his record, Contemplating the Engine Room, which Nels plays on. I mentioned the song ‘The Boilerman’ because the guitar in that song is so ripping and crazy. I’d never heard guitar like that over that kind of music. I said, ‘Man that must have been crazy, Nels ripping over that.’ And Watt’s response was, ‘You want to know Nels? You’ve got to play with Nels.’ Then he said, ‘Let’s start a proj.’’’

“I’ve really gotten to the point where I’m not into genre any more. Music is music.” —Mike Watt

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EarthQuaker Devices Interview w/ Mike Watt of Big Walnuts Yonder, & the Minutemen 



photo by Will Ragozzino

by Aaron Rogers  - full article via EarthQuaker Devices

“One Reporters Opinion” from the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime asks the listener an unusual question: “what can be romantic to mike watt?”

How should I know?

The question is never answered in any satisfying way; we’re just given a list of reasons why perhaps nothing is romantic to Mike Watt.

“he’s only a skeleton”

“his body’s a series of points with no height, length, or width”

At nearly two minutes long, “One Reporters Opinion” might as well be “Cygnus X-1” books one and two, as far as Minutemen songs are concerned. By the 1:04 mark, it’s hard to say for certain if Mike Watt exists, except that it says inside the album gatefold he plays bass. Well, okay then. Mike Watt plays bass. That much is clear. But how?

Lyrical ambiguities aside, the arrangement of “One Reporter’s Opinion” is a bit of fractured, free associative, stream-of-consciousness musical telepathy that’s neither rock nor jazz, and it definitely ain’t punk. Except it’s on SST Records, so it is punk. Right?

Only what punk band would open a song with thirty seconds of free jazz drumming before pulling anchor to lurch full steam ahead into a lumpy, lopsided groove that’s more Funkadelic-meets-Beefheart than it is “Nervous Breakdown?” And the bass playing is certifiably insane. Like, just all kinds of syncopated, string-skipping, octave-jumping, logic-defying nuts. It’s beautiful.

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Interview with Greg Saunier of Big Walnuts Yonder // Modern Drummer 

On its self-titled debut, released this past May 5, the indie-rock collective Big Walnuts Yonder fuses wild time shifts, explosive punk tones, and unhinged improvisation on ten electrified, cohesive tracks. The veteran group, comprising bassist and vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, the Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), guitarist and vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos), and drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhof), loaded their debut with frenetic chops, free-jazz-influenced ventures, and sharp, daring moments. Modern Drummer asked Saunier about the recording process, the album’s metric twists, and more.

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Nick Reinhart Interview // Marcel's Music Journal 

Big Walnuts Yonder–an incredible supergroup featuring Minutemen’s Mike Watt, Wilco’s Nels Cline, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, and Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhart–just put out one of the most powerful and marvelously eclectic rock records of the year. Even though the band formed way back in 2008 and didn’t record the album until 2014, it still sounds raw and fresh as hell. The dirty funk of opener “All Against All” accurately portrays the LP’s unique blend of lo-fi math rock and noisy, throwback ‘90s skate punk, while the energetic “Raise the Drawbridges?” gloriously flaunts ear-piercing guitar licks and groove-heavy percussion.

Aside from recording seriously great music with Watt, Cline, and Saunier, Nick Reinhart has proved himself to be one of the most strikingly innovative guitarists in recent memory with his countless other bands and side projects. He is best known as the frontman of Sacramento-based experimental rock trio Tera Melos, who explored complex, mind-bending indie-math zones on their most recent release, 2013′s X’ed Out.

Reinhart has also worked with drummer Zach Hill in Bygones and Death Grips; played live in Rob Crow’s band Goblin Cock; and performed a series of engrossing, entirely improvised live sets with Dot Hacker’s Eric Gardner as Swollen Brain, all of which are discussed in our interview below (the power of collaboration is definitely key here).


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Big Walnuts Yonder Review // Dusted Magazine 

Big Walnuts Yonder brings together four artists with enough in common to make sense, but not so much as to mark an innate direction. Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Greg Saunier, and Nick Reinhart make up a supergroup of the off-kilter for their self-titled debut, and they bring each of their strengths to the album while maintaining the sensibility of a band. The recordings are unsurprisingly unpredictable, and the sound of a group having fun while taking themselves seriously.

The album opens with a big bass groove, as if to confirm suspicions that it’s really Watt’s album, bringing some math and spaz to a Minutemen-based sound. The track shifts quickly, though. “All Against All” fits in with Watt’s work, but his bandmates bring their own sorts of textures to the track. Much of the album could play like this, a big game of name-the- primary-artist. “Flare Star Phantom” seems to offer everyone but Watt a turn, but as you play the game, the melding of the sounds becomes more apparent.

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Big Walnuts Yonder Review // Power Of Pop 

Big Walnuts Yonder is bassist/vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). It is not a supergroup. “It’s worlds colliding,” says Mike Watt.

What it is, is a magnificent collection of songs where four talented musicians tap on their indisputable abilities to create vibrant and exciting art-rock.

This is clearly apparent from the first two tracks viz. the funky “All Against All” and the spacey “Sponge Bath” and its hell for leather for the other eight songs.

The energy is palpable and the chemistry is irresistible as this refreshing free-wheeling alternative rock music keeps twisting and turning with sonic surprises every step of the way.

A joy to behold. Essential.


Buy and stream Big Walnuts Yonder HERE

Nels Cline on Big Walnuts Yonder, Wilco, MMW, The Allmans & More // JamBase 

Welcome to another edition of The Art Of The Sit-In, where we mix it up with the scene’s most adventurous players and hear some stories from the road. For more, check out our recent interviews with John Medeski, Marc Brownstein, Mihali Savoulidis, Marcus King, Chris Wood, Andy Falco, Bruce Hornsby and many more. (A full archive of more than 40 The Art Of The Sit-In features is here.)

At least two great things happened when Nels Cline officially joined Wilco in 2004. One of America’s great alt-country bands found its jones for art-rock — an infusion that helped its live show evolve into the powerhouse it became, where visceral tension and improvisational fireworks exist just below what appears to be a placid surface.

Another was that a much bigger audience found its way to Cline, since the 1980s a buzzed-about guitarist and a musician’s musician plugged into everything from jazz, to punk, to alt-rock.

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Stream Big Walnuts Yonder // Consequence Of Sound 

Back in 2008,  Mike Watt of Minutemen and The Stooges and Tera MelosNick Reinhart came up with the idea for a collaborative project that would allow their creativity to stretch beyond what their mainstay outfits allowed them. It wasn’t hard to convince Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) to join in on the project, but getting everyone together to record the thing was a different story. In 2014, the group finally got together under the banner Big Walnuts Yonder and recorded what would become their debut self-titled LP. On May 5th, the long journey will finally reach its conclusion when Big Walnut Yonder drops via Sargent House.

Watt wrote eight of the album’s 10 tracks, with Cline and Saunier each contributing one of their own. After months of emailing back and forth, the songs were recorded in a marathon three-day session with producer Tony Maimone at his Studio G in Brooklyn. “Basically we had to invent a new band on the spot which was different from what we had in our imaginations,” Saunier said in a press release. “[Big Walnuts Yonder] is not what you’d expect. You can put musicians together with an expectation or stereotype of what each person does, but everyone showed up to this to do what they CAN’T do, what they’re prevented from doing in other groups.”

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Big Walnuts Yonder premiere new track "Sponge Bath" via Stereogum 






Almost 10 years since Minutemen’s Mike Watt and Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhart had the creative spark to begin recording together, the pair’s vision has finally come to fruition in the form of Big Walnuts Yonder’s self-titled debut, out this May. The band — a medley of Watt, Reinhart, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier — has shared its second single “Sponge Bath” today in all its dark, enveloping glory.

Grooving with guitar distortion, “Sponge Bath” is a more conventional indie track than last month’s “Raise The Drawbridge,” which introduced us to the psychedelic, genre-bending music Big Walnuts Yonder had created. The album found the members utilizing unconventional methods to stay in touch due to their busy schedules. According to a press release, Reinhart and Watt would send files of riffs back and forth while formulating song structures, yet the recordings remain warm and present, melting the individual aspects into a trippy pool that’s a testament to the group’s skilled collaboration.

Listen to the track via Stereogum.


Big Walnuts Yonder is out 5/5 via Sargent House.


Click to listen to “Sponge Bath”

Big Walnuts Yonder

Big Walnuts Yonder is bassist/vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). It is not a supergroup. “It’s worlds colliding,” says Mike Watt.

Four exceptional musicians whose work spans multiple genres and generations, Big Walnuts Yonder is a monumental endeavor that’s more than the sum of its parts. The results are a truly epic album defying categorization, where one might hear elements of proto-punk, free jazz, power pop, experimental music, psych-rock and your first teenage acid trip all in one.

The impetus for Big Walnuts Yonder came about way back in 2008 from a conversation between Watt and Reinhart while their bands toured together in Japan. The two discussed recording together and who they might bring in to the sessions. “Nick gets ahold of my first opera,” Watt explains. “Made in 1997 with Nels Cline. He said ‘what’s it like playing with Nels?’”

“So Watt says, ‘if you want to know the man, play with the man,’” Cline elaborates. Cline agreed to join if Reinhart picked the drummer. Reinhart quickly mentioned Saunier, unaware that Cline had previously brought Watt to see him perform at a Deerhoof show years before. “Greg immediately came to mind,” Reinhart says. “His drumming has highly influenced my guitar playing over the years.” The lineup solidified in its mutual appreciation and they began making plans to write and record — while circumnavigating the schedules of 4 extremely busy musicians. “We had planned it for so long,” Saunier says. “Then several years passed in which nothing occurred due to everyone’s schedules. It was 2-3 years of warm, leisurely prep time, then suddenly made in a panic with time and money on the line.”

Prior to recording, Watt sent the band demo recordings of 8 song structures of just him playing bass, unaccompanied. (Cline and Saunier also later brought 1 song each to the session, to which the band contributed their parts, making the album 10 songs total.) Reinhart worked out guitar parts to fit Watt’s riffs and the two traded files back and forth. “I’m pretty sure the other guys didn’t have parts set before going into the studio,” Reinhart says. “Maybe we hadn’t discussed what we would do. But it’s interesting how a lot of the songs began as Mike Watt basslines, and everyone was able to pull songs and melodies out of them.”

The album was recorded in just 3 days in summer 2014 in Brooklyn, NY with producer and former Pere Ubu bassist Tony Maimone engineering at his Studio G. “It was this concentrated sort of freakout,” Saunier says. “We basically had to invent a new band on the spot. And, people might have a stereotype of what each person does, but we all showed up to do what we’re prevented from doing in other groups.” The band would play through each song a couple of times to make up parts, then hit record. “Nels can improvise with anything,” Watt notes. “It was trippy to watch the huge pedal dance! Both those guys have like 35 pedals each. And, Greg’s not just a drummer man, he’s incredible.” The album’s 10 tracks were recorded primarily live with very few overdubs. Although Big Walnuts Yonder was created under somewhat spontaneous circumstances, the group endeavored to ensure the album wouldn’t sound like a jam session. “It was very clear among us,” Saunier notes: “Let’s not overindulge and make it a ‘musician’s recording’.”

It wasn’t until many months later that vocals were added to the songs, with Reinhart recording vocals to 7 songs and Watt singing on 2 tracks at their home studios. “It was actually a surprise that it ended up having vocals on it,” Cline admits. “But it added a layer of accessibility that I didn’t expect.” Saunier, a revered producer in his own right, volunteered to mix the album — a fact that the other 3 musicians each express as a major boon for the album. Saunier was able to take his time to mix each song very differently from the others. This, too, gives the album the unique feel of all rock history condensed into a single explosive, compelling whole.

As Watt and Reinhart note, the 30-year span between the ages of Big Walnuts Yonder members is also a contributing factor to its magic. And, likely a key to the band’s iconoclast sound. “That’s insane playing and connecting with someone who’s almost 30 years older than me,” Reinhart says. “Observing how these dudes are just hammering away so much later is inspiring. They’re still learning and exploring.” Watt adds, “it’s interesting that people are much more open-minded now. We were all just trying to be adventurous with music.”

Asked how he might describe Big Walnuts Yonder, Cline succinctly nails it on the head: “It’s sick. It has an extreme quality and kicks ass.”

Big Walnuts Yonder features a cover illustration by the legendary artist Raymond Pettibon. The album will be available on LP, CD and download on May 5th, 2017 via Sargent House.