Clocked In: A conversation about the difficulties of working and touring with Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner

little big league

I called Michelle Zauner on the phone a couple weeks ago and this is what she said to me: “I forgot this was happening.”

It is easy to forget things are happening, especially in the summer. Plus Zauner was on vacation, in Oregon, the state where she grew up and where she lived before attending college at Bryn Mawr, before making Philadelphia her home and before starting the band Little Big League.

It was recently announced that Little Big League signed with Run For Cover, the Boston label that released the new album by fellow Philadelphians Modern Baseball, You’re Gonna Miss It All. A new Little Big League LP, the follow-up to the well-received These Are Good People (Tiny Engines; 2013), is expected to arrive later this year.

In addition to her work as the singer and guitarist in Little Big League, Zauner also makes music under the name Japanese Breakfast. Last month, the Seagreen Records label released her cassette American Sound & Where Is My Great Big Feeling?

Zauner is clearly very busy with music, but when she’s not on tour, she works elsewhere. For this new installment of Clocked In, we spoke with Zauner about her non-music-related work history, from clerical work at her dad’s truck broker business, to bossing a grill at Bryn Mawr, to holding down the comic shop Brave New Worlds. Continue reading →


The Hotelier / Foxing co headlining tour brings the heat to The Fire

Foxing | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Foxing | photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

A co-headlining tour featuring Saint Louis’ Foxing and Worcester, Massachusetts’ The Hotelier brought an incredible lineup of bands to The Fire Sunday night. Two popular regional acts played alongside the touring artists, both of whom boast well-received new releases, making for a night of punk so exciting that it was sold out well in advance.

First at bat was local favorites Little Big League. The band flawlessly mixed hooky riffs with a powerful vocal performance from frontwoman Michelle Zauner. Their set was impressive and it came as no surprise when they announced they were the newest member of the Run For Cover Records family the next morning. Continue reading →


How should musicians handle bloggers that want freebies of their physical releases? Here’s what Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner did.

japanese bfastIt’s one of those double-edged swords of being a music journalist. Unless you’re a shameless mooch – the sort our buddies at Philebrity once pointedly dubbed “promosexual” – you probably made your way into the industry so you could turn other people on to artists that you’re personally excited about. However, in the process of doing that, you kinda sorta have to hit up those artists (or their label / industry reps) for freebies from time to time.

As a writer, there are various ways to altruistically handle this. One, simply purchase anything you’re writing about with your own money (nobody does this). Two, approach the artist / their people and ask for a download of the 7″ single / LP full-length / cassette you’re looking to review. Three, if advance leakage and lack of mp3 monetization are a concern for the artist or label, simply make do with a streaming-only version of the music (not as portable as a download, but whatever) and use that in your research.

Amazingly, in 2014, there are still journalists who require a physical copy of a release before they cover it. This recently led to a curious incident involving Japanese Breakfast, the solo lo-fi project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner.

The project’s two 2014 EPs are being released as a limited-run cassette, American Sound and Where is My Great Big Feeling via Sea Green Records this month. Zauner was recently hit up by a music blogger for a copy of the aforementioned limited-run cassette, and the exchange was a little disheartening. She was upset enough that she posted the emails to her Tumblr page last night – we’ll leave the blogger’s name out of this on our end, but if you’re curious, Zauner did identify them in her post.

Here’s how it went down: Zauner replied that she couldn’t afford to send a copy of the cassette, however, free downloads are available on her Bandcamp page, and the writer could feel free to review that. “It will most likely sound better on your computer anyway,” she joked. The blogger didn’t find this funny. Continue reading →


Listen to a new crunchy, awesome and rocking Little Big League song, “Pure Bliss Choices”


Philly rock and rollers Little Big League have a new song, “Pure Bliss Choices,” on a new three song split 7″ with the Connecticut band Ovolv. You can listen to the other LBL song, that they shared in early May – “Year Of The Sunhouse” – here.

“Pure Bliss Choices” is pure Little Big League guitar bliss, with shades of Dinosaur, Jr guitar action and lead singer’s Michelle Zauner aching, pleading vocals. It’s the song of moment; play it loud. Pre-order it here.


Michelle Zauner of Little Big League to release solo project American Sound & Where Is My Great Big Feeling?

japanese bfast
Photo via

This week we learned via Brooklyn Vegan that Michelle Zauner, frontwoman of Little Big League, has plans to release a solo cassette called American Sound & Where Is My Great Big Feeling? via Sea Green Records.  Zauner produces her own work aside from Little Big League under the name Japanese Breakfast, and this is a combination of two recent EP releases.

Last month, Zauner participated in a blog called Song a Day for a Week along with a few other artists including Frankie CosmosAmerican Sound is a compilation of the songs Zauner created for Song a Day for a Week, which takes on a raw, emotional tone as she had just discovered her mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Zauner tells Brooklyn Vegan “The songs became incredibly cathartic. I didn’t have much time to write or record them. They became more like diary entries, lacking any real narrative. They became pieces of conversation and feelings of anger and defeat.”

You can listen to the Where Is My Great Big Feeling EP below via Zauner’s Bandcamp page:


Listen to Little Big League’s awesome new single “Year of the Sunhouse”; see them at The Barbary next week


Philly’s Little Big League got a sweet Pitchfork writeup today, premiering their latest, a jagged rocker called “Year of the Sunhouse” that you can listen to below. The song, from a forthcoming split single with Ovlov, got a gritty tone and spastic punk beat, and P4K writer Ian Cohen reads it as a firsthand account from an artist – this specific artist, but probably also representative of countless like them – that live and die by DIY culture and wouldn’t have it any other way. Among the lyrics Cohen cites: “They ask are you still playing basement shows with the band. Doing the music thing? Well yes I fucking am!” It’s an awesome moment of the song, a defiant personal perspective from songwriter Michelle Zauner (who we’ve long known was great at introspective stream-of-consciousness lyrics) that says this is what we are, this is what we do and I don’t care if it fits into your mold of what’s normal or right. Listen below and catch Little Big League May 14th when they kick off tour at The Barbary.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Little Big League at Johnny Brenda’s, Asaad at Silk City, Trail of Dead at Underground Arts and more


It was a good 2013 for Philly indie-punk four piece Little Big League. The band released it’s debut full length, toured and garnered attention from national media outlets like Pitchfork. Now they’re playing their first headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s just in time for front woman Michelle Zauner to show off her new strat and the band to hopefully unveil some of the songs they’ve been tracking for album number two. Tickets and info can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Recap: The Early November and more celebrated the ten-year anniversary of The Rooms Too Cold at Union Transfer

The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold |
The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold |

Last month, Jersey-bred punk five-piece The Early November celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their debut LP The Room’s Too Cold with a string of shows, including one locally at Union Transfer on December 21st. Joining them on the bill were local melodic punk favorites Restorations and indie rock four-piece Little Big League.

Early November guitarist Joseph Marro told photographer Ally Newbold that celebrating the anniversary of the album – and seeing the fan response – was a special thing for the band.

“When we were making that record we really just wanted to make something we thought was cool and that made a statement for us and maybe one day people would like it as much as I liked some of my favorite records,” Marro said. “To see all those people there and to hear their voices singing along was really incredible. I’ve met a lot of people who said that that record is special to them. In my mind, even though we’re not a very big band, that means were successful.”

Ben Pierce of Restorations says it was one of his favorite shows, and describes it as “something between a high school reunion and my music career coming full circle.”

“My old bands played shows with early versions of The Early November through our high school years,” Pierce said. “So it was great to share a stage with them a decade later surrounded by the same South Jersey / Philly friends and family.”

Michelle Zauner of Little Big League said that even though “I was pretty freaked out” playing to a sold-out Union Transfer crowd, the camaraderie between bands and between the Union Transfer crew made it feel like an intimate show for friends. “We had a blast,” Zauner said, “and it’s always inspiring to see a band still doing what they love 10-plus years later.”


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sameer Rao’s Top 5 Musical Gut-Punches of 2013

Photo courtesy of Sean Agnew
Photo courtesy of Sean Agnew

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributing writer Sameer Rao talks about songs that make you feel.

For those who are true monsters, hardened against moments that expose you for the vulnerable and fragile human that you really are, please stop reading here.

For the rest of us, we occasionally crack at the wail of a guitar, the cry of a love-lorn singer, or the naked clarity of a synthline (or, more often, all of the above). I call these moments “gut-punches” – musical cues that can stop you in your tracks or make you uncontrollably sob in the middle of a friend’s Christmas party, screaming “It’s just so beautiful!” as you wipe your snot-encrusted nose with that ugly sweater you bought just for that occasion.

Moments like this confirm why music in the age of digital reproduction can still be powerful and transcendent, and I masochistically yearn for them with every new record I listen to. Fortunately, we had a bunch of great ones this year. I’ll try not to stain my shirt as I run down the list of 2013’s Top 5 Musical Gut-Punches.

5. Little Big League – “Tokyo Drift” from These are Good People

The exemplary debut full-length from Philly’s own Little Big League is filled with moments that compel you to scream out for jilted love, but this song was a personal stand-out. It’s a song that evolved in texture throughout live performances from the past two years, blending classic shoegaze and 90s melodic rock into a volatile cocktail that threatens to overflow through the song’s delay-heavy bridge. Just when you think you’ll punch a hole in the drywall, squeals of feedback withdraw into singer Michelle Zauner’s haunting and understated soprano before the song gracefully shimmers into thin air. You’re left coming to terms with your own power, or your shattered hand in the drywall – either way, you’re still grateful to be alive.

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