Sometimes the stars just align in your favor. Look at Big Noise Music Group. Started three years ago by the trio of former Vagrant Records head Jon Cohen, drummer/entrepreneur/producer Nick Gross and John Feldmann, frontman for Goldfinger and super producer for everyone from Blink-182 and the Used to Good Charlotte and the Fever 333, the label is now squarely in the middle of the pop/punk renaissance that’s seen Machine Gun Kelly go to number one and artists like Yungblud start to blow up.
As a largely artist-run company with a wealth of experience in the very hot pop/punk world, Big Noise finds itself as a prime destination for artists in 2021. As a label they’re enjoying success right now with Mod Sun, who has a hit with Avril Lavigne in the song “Flames.”
But, as Gross and Feldmann explained to me when I spoke with them both together recently, Big Noise is so much more than just a label, from publishing and syncs to Esports and festivals, Big Noise is many things. But mostly what they want it to be is a family for artists, which they think they are getting close to.
Steve Baltin: Where are you today?
Nick Gross: I’m driving to my studio. I’ve had this studio in Hollywood for the past eight years or so, but we’ve really expanded the place over the last two to three years. It’s called the Noise Nest. So the Noise Nest is now a 10,000 square foot facility in the center of Hollywood. I have five studios on the property, really cool room studios for some of our gaming and Esports team so they can come in and create content and game and stream and this is where we shoot all of our podcasts now for the different business ventures we have circulating across my ecosystem of things. So it’s just a cool hang. We have like two basketball courts, great coffee, a good vibe.
Baltin: I like the variety of Big Noise as I don’t know that any company that subsists as a music company alone anymore.
Gross: To your point, looking at this business outside of the core of music and the record deals and publishing deals we’re doing and the artists we’re developing and the exciting things that Feldy is always bringing in on the development side, it is all about that 360 nature with our company. At least that’s been the ethos I’ve wanted to bring in from my side creatively, how do we start to incorporate more things? I’ll give a great example of it. In 2019 we built a college festival called FYGU Fest on 10 of the largest college campuses around the country. FYG stands for Find Your Grind, which is an education platform we built internally. What Find Your Grind is all about is helping kids who are either in college or high school really start to think about careers in a different way and what their next future steps look like. So we built a curriculum in the education space that’s in 1,200 schools right now across the country. We decided we’d build this festival through Big Noise, brand it Find Your Grind so that we get our marketing and our brand and our product out there in the space in front of these kids. But also let’s look at some of the developing acts and artists we have signed internally to start playing these festivals. So a lot of the developing acts we had signed were now playing in front of 10,000 kids on college campuses for the first time, which was a huge thing for us. Then we got to bring in our Esports organization around all these shows as well. So it was a really cool symbiotic 360 platform through this festival we built up that got to use a lot of the spokes we have going on.
John Feldmann: I am so grateful that I am 53 and I still get to do music for a living. But as you get older and kind of grow into these different roles that we all take on, these things do become a possibility. Like having a concert, a studio, your own record label. All this stuff becomes possible. And I learn all the time from artists. When I first started working with 5 Seconds Of Summer, I would watch, each one would take turns answering every single question on Instagram. They would be engaged with every fan and they earned every fan one at a time cause it was part of their job. The whole idea of social media managers, which Big Noise also has a stake in, there are roles that five or eight years ago couldn’t have existed because TikTok and Instagram didn’t exist back then. And now there are huge careers of people that are basically just managing TikTok stars. So we’ve got to be constantly evolving to what the business dictates. We’re doing so much stuff now at Big Noise. When we first started this thing almost three years ago we could have never imagined what it was going to grow into and the way it is now.
Baltin: How will you expand in the festival world?
Feldmann: We’re gonna do a Big Noise festival. The idea of a Big Noise festival is 100 percent going to happen, it’s just we’re not looking at the logistics of it all until probably at least summer of 2022. I’m working with Avril Lavigne right now, so I’m talking to her — Arrested Youth, the Used, the Wrecks, Girlfriends, Goldfinger. We’re talking to all these artists that are either on our label or on the periphery of what we’re doing. Mod Sun, who is having a hit right now with the song “Flames,” with him and Avril, so they’re all gonna be part of what this festival looks like I hope.
Baltin: John, I know you go way back with the Used.
Feldmann: I’ve been able to have so many of these goals and these dreams of mine realized with Big Noise. First and foremost, having our own label that is artist driven by Nick and myself, who are both artists. Nick is the drummer for Goldfinger as well as 50 percent of Girlfriends. We have both been on the road months and months at a time. So I know when I sign a band I can say, “Stay out of the shower at Peabody’s because you’re definitely gonna get a foot fungus.” Whatever stories I have from my past I can share with these other bands that we’re signing. And the Used is one of those groups that when I was a kid, meaning late 20s, I knew they were going to change the world. And they really did change the face of modern rock radio. Bert [McCracken] discovered My Chemical Romance, he got them signed and My Chemical Romance are still selling out stadiums. So there’s a thing that happened with Bert that we shared this common epic journey together. So when we were able to sign them to Big Noise it was like a huge goal of a mine to have this band that I discovered on a label that I started with these two partners of mine.
Baltin: How has your vision for Big Noise evolved over the years?
Gross: There are three founders to this label, and the one we’re not talking about is Jon Cohen, who obviously comes from such a legendary background, starting Vagrant Records and signing so many exciting acts through that label and really making a defined music group that stood the test of time. I think having Feldy and I coming from bands is really important to any of the bands we work with to build the trust on the creative side. So it’s not just three business folks coming at these artists all the time and just structuring deals and having that kind of insular creative mentality around building these records. Building the family of Big Noise has been important for us. I think at least the first two years it was around us trying to figure out what we really wanted Big Noise to be. We acquired an urban label called Commission Records that brought in a lot of great catalog, the Lil’ Dicky’s of the world , things like that. I think now we’re figuring out, especially with the most recent signing with Mod Sun. He’s wanted to pioneer himself being part of this family and part of this label family, which now I think we’re just starting to hit our stride on in terms of a lot of these alternative and rock acts that we’re signing, which is pretty awesome.
Baltin: Talk about the musical development of what you are doing there.
Gross: I think it’s great that Feldy and I take this creative approach. Feldy is building a lot of the albums that we’re putting out at a label right now, which is amazing. Not only finding a lot of the things that we’re signing, but actually crafting the vision for a lot of these artists too, which is great.
Feldmann: Like Nick said we were trying to find our feet. Ashley Tisdale was our first signing. She’s a friend of mine and I love pop music and I think I made a really great pop album with her. But it wasn’t really our lane. And I think now that we’re three years into it we’ve really kind of honed in on what we do. We’re an alternative label. Who knows what Mod or any of these artists may grow into, but that’s what we do. It’s in my bones and it’s so great all these artists want to make pop/punk records now.
Gross: Honestly I think that’s a big point in this overall discussion of what Big Noise’s lane is as a label. And it’s so cool to be able to work with two people as a part of this company that really defined a movement in that in the early 2000s of pop/punk and not only producing the albums of those times, but discovering some of the bands that ended up being the pioneers, like the Used and bands like that. I think we’re in this time where you really see a resurgence of that sound coming back. From the artists that we currently have signed to Big Noise, whether it’s Mod Sun or the Girlfriends or the Wrecks, we’re kind of, as a label, I would say at the forefront of this movement.