North Bay Bohemian
“…a raucous collection of classic proto-punk and glam-rock gems inventively revisited and invigorated with raw energy."
HUGElarge inspire big pilsner
By Charlie Swanson
Craft brewers are always looking out for flavorful inspiration, and often find it in unusual places—like doughnuts and mustard. And sometimes their muse crosses over from culinary to musical. Such is the case with Russian River Brewing Company's HUGElarge Sound Czech pilsner, made in collaboration with the Santa Rosa rock band and returning this fall.
HUGElarge is guitarist and vocalist Robert Malta (Paw Paw Blowtorch, Bermuda Triangle Service) and drummer Matt Norelli (American Music Club). Together, they crank out heavy, fuzzed-out riffs and grinding beats that fans of the Black Keys will swoon over.
Since forming in 2005, this stripped-down duo has kept it simple, utilizing vintage equipment and playing in Norelli's garage for the pure joy of rock and roll. That joy is on display throughout the duo's upcoming self-titled record, a raucous collection of classic proto-punk and glam-rock gems inventively revisited and invigorated with raw energy.
Inspired by the band's classic sound and simple, powerful delivery, Russian River Brewing co-owner and brew master Vinnie Cilurzo went about crafting the classic Czech pilsner first in 2009, releasing it every other year. Light in color, yet packed with flavor, the HUGElarge Sound Czech pilsner will be available again when HUGElarge celebrate the release of their debut album with a show at Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Oct. 24.
“Naturally they show good taste in covers”
HUGElarge - S/T
First off full disclosure, I’ve spent plenty of time in the company of these two gents (mostly Robert). These two gents are Robert Malta on vocals/guitar and Matt Norelli on a cocktail drum. Malta was in Santa Rosa’s Paw Paw Blowtorch in the 90’s (and Bermuda Triangle Service a little after that) while Norelli climbed to fame playing drums on the first American Music Club record (and part of the 2nd one, the classic Engine). HUGElarge got together sometime after I left Sonoma County (which was in 2002) and have been wowing crowds ever since. This S/T debut consists of 16 songs 15 covers and one righteous original. Naturally they show good taste in covers by blowing out classic renditions of Johnny Thunders “Born to Lose” (Malta got an excellent, raw guitar sound on this one), a rowdy version of Nikki Sudden’s “Egypt”, the Stooges classic “No Fun”, Buffy St. Marie’s “Codine” (the guitar sounds like Link Wray”), Roky Erickson’s raw “If You Have Ghosts” and plenty more (The Kinks, The Sonics, Marc Bolan, etc.).The one original, “D.O.G.” is a short instrumental that closes the gap quite nicely between surf and garage rock (and means we’ll hopefully hear more originals from these gents in the future). If those Nuggets comps are your bag then it’s time for you, my friend, to discover, the sultry sounds of HUGElarge. Making covers your own is no easy feat but these guys have done it several times on this superb debut.
“…when done right a Pilsner is every bit as flavorful, and thus HUGElarge Sound Czech Pils was born.”
CRAFT BEER COLLABORATIONS | RUSSIAN RIVER X HUGELARGE
Craft beer kings Russian River Brewing Company have collaborated with rock band HUGElarge to create a unique Pilsner.
By Christopher Osburn
One of the newest trends in the craft beer world is collaborations. Deschutes collaborated with BrewDog, Yards and Iceland’s Einstök Brewery worked together on a Coffee Pale Ale, and Half Acre and New Belgium even collaborated on an Oatmeal IPA. But, a few breweries have decided that collaborations aren’t limited to other breweries. Recently, one of the most esteemed breweries, Russian River Brewing Company, collaborated with local rock band HUGElarge to create a memorable Pilsner.
The band HUGElarge was formed in 2005 by Matt Norelli and Robert Malta, who had played music together in the mid-nineties in a band called Pawpawblowtorch. “After that, we continued as friends but we were not hanging out so much since he lived a half hour’s drive further up north,” says Malta. They both live in Sonoma County about 50 miles north of San Francisco. “I had the idea to start playing music again just to give us a reason to hang out.”
So Malta got a cheap guitar and called up Norelli. “Matt didn’t want to haul around his drums anymore and he thought maybe he might play a cocktail drum kit.” They got together and while Norelli was busy figuring out how to rock out on one drum while standing up, Malta was figuring out a way to get a unique sound out of a guitar for a two piece band. “We just played covers of songs that either or both of us dug while we were growing up.” While they were doing this, they developed their sound. “Shortly thereafter a friend dropped by and talked us into playing a local show with younger punk bands and that show started our playing out live. After that it really took off.”
The first time Russian River Brewing Company’s Vinnie Cilurzo saw HUGElarge, he was impressed. They were playing at Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa, California. “Instantly, they became one of my favorite bands and still are to this day,” says Cilurzo. Shortly after that original show, Cilurzo was inspired tp make a beer in their honor. Immediately, he thought of a classic Pilsner.
“My thinking was that a Pilsner can be every bit as hoppy and flavorful as an IPA if done right.” Additionally, watching them play, he wondered how two people could make such an amazing sound. “This is why I compared them to a Pilsner,” he says. “When a Pilsner is done right you think the same thing: you look at this light straw-colored beer and say, 'There is no way this beer is full of flavor.' But when done right a Pilsner is every bit as flavorful, and thus HUGElarge Sound Czech Pils was born.”
The beer is released peiodically. “When it is available it is served in Pilsner glasses or German beer boots with the HUGElarge Sound Czech Pilsner logo screen on them,” says Malta. “Upon it’s release, HUGElarge performed to an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd – a great party.”
The HUGElarge Sound Czech Pilsner is among many of the brewery’s limited release specialty beers. When it is available, folks can get it on tap only at the brewery in downtown Santa Rosa.
Malta and Norelli are extremely proud to have a beer brewed in their honor. “At first we thought we might just stop playing, because really, how many bands famous or infamous get a beer named after them? We felt we pretty much reached the pinnacle for a little garage band. But our fans won’t let us quit, and so we jut keep going.”
And so does the Russian river Brewing Company. To that effect, HUGElarge Sound Czech Pils will be offered this October, in honor of the band's forthcoming album.
“…an album of straight-up, unpretentious pop’n’roll that boasts the easy honesty of Jonathan Richmond mixed with the verve and twang of any Nuggets-style comp you’d care to mention.”
Stereo Embers EXCLUSIVE TRACK PREVIEW – HUGElarge’s cover of doo-wop classic “Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)”
Written by: Dave Cantrell
Here’s how their publicist, very astutely, describes HUGElarge: “2 dapper gents + 1 cocktail drum + 1 Teisco guitar plugged into a 12 watt amplifier = a great self-titled debut album.” Seeing as how said publicist is himself a long-time participant in the rock wars, it’s no surprise his impromptu street combo math is spot on. HUGElarge are a duo consisting of guitar man/vocalist Robert Malta (ex- of Pawpawblowtorch among many others) and stand-up drummer – and no doubt stand-up guy – Matt Norelli (American Music Club) fulfilling an offhand fantasy of sorts to put together a banging album of covers (and a couple originals) in the style of original era garage bands, albeit one with an idiosyncratic, modern drive that suggests the juggernauts of of the Black Keys and the White Stripes minus the hype, drama, or tabloid attentions. The result is an album of straight-up, unpretentious pop’n’roll that boasts the easy honesty of Jonathan Richmond mixed with the verve and twang of any Nuggets-style comp you’d care to mention. From their self-titled debut album (via HWY 61), SEM is happy and proud to present this exclusive first listen to the band’s cover of the 1959 Impalas hit “Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home).” True rock is back, once again.
"These guys do two of the best T. Rex covers we’ve ever heard…"
Posted by Don Seven, 9/1
Albums full of cover tunes can be dull, annoying, and/or tedious. Fortunately, this self-titled album is none of the above. The two guys who call themselves HUGElarge have come up with a dazzling collection of cover tracks that doesn't sound like the rest. The band is the duo of Robert Malta and Matt Norelli, two guys who are no strangers to the world of music (both played in numerous underground bands before recording this album). What makes these cuts sound so appealing is the fact that they are presented so simply with no filler added. So instead of sounding like rehashed trash, these cuts end up sounding inspired. And the overall feeling you get hearing them is that these guys had a great deal of fun during the recording process. There's a lot to sink your teeth into...sixteen tracks in all. Our favorite groovy cuts include "Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)," "Born To Lose," "Motivator," "The Slider," and "96 Tears." These guys do two of the best T. Rex covers we've ever heard...
"This is something everyone can sink their teeth into. Hard to forget the name – HUGElarge. Let it loom big in the not-too-distant future.”
Album Review: HUGElarge, “HUGElarge”
Written by Rob Ross
The last time I heard two men play with the intensity of a full-bore “band” was Mike Watt and George Hurley doing the music of my (and their) late, beloved Minutemen – until now. Robert Malta (guitar and vocals) and Matt Norelli (drums) are the “two man power trio” that comprise HUGElarge and they erupt with this debut album of familiar and well-loved covers from the ’60’s and ’70’s. Even the album art has a coolness that fits alongside the music contained within.
Since this album is filled with highlights, the one that grabbed me most is “Who’ll Be The Next In Line”, a most favored Kinks song to me – stripped down to the bare bones and balls – brief and slammed out with gusto; The Standells’ “Sometimes Good Guys Dont Wear White” has a nice feel and a bitchin’ slide guitar solo; The Charlatans’ (by way of Buffie Sainte-Marie) “Codeine” gets a heavy, bluesy treatment and has a lot of emotion in the delivery and Johnny Thunders’ “Born To Lose” has a 100-m.p.h. pace and a great vocal.
As several of the classics from Nuggets are sampled, the standout is the rendition of The Sonics’ “Have Love Will Travel”, which is sparse and crisp with some of the finest guitar sounds I’ve heard in a while. The Jarmels’ 1961 “A Little Bit Of Soap” gets punked up and manages to work for a song that was at the tail-end of the vocal-group era; “Poison Ivy” is given a Cramps-like workout and kicks good and hard and “96 Tears” closes the 16 song collection in damned fine style.
This is something everyone can sink their teeth into. Hard to forget the name – HUGElarge. Let it loom big in the not-too-distant future.
…”blistering blend of classic songs done up with garage rock revivalism from two veteran Bay Area musicians”
Album Review: HUGElarge “S/T”
Posted by Charlie on Aug 18, 2015
The new self-titled album by Sonoma County duo HUGElarge is a blistering blend of classic songs done up with garage rock revivalism from two veteran Bay Area musicians. Guitarist and vocalist Robert Malta (Paw Paw Blowtorch / Bermuda Triangle Service) and drummer Matt Norelli (American Music Club) sound as fresh and eager as a couple of teenagers, pounding fuzzed-out riffs and grinding beats that fans of the Black Keys will swoon over.
Since forming in 2005, this stripped-down duo has kept it simple, utilizing vintage equipment and playing in Norelli’s garage for the pure joy of rock and roll. That joy is on display throughout the new record, and HUGElarge sound as big as advertised. It’s a raucous collection of classic proto-punk and glam rock gems, with tracks like T. Rex’s “Motivator” and ? & the Mysterians’ “96 Tears” inventively revisited and invigorating as ever.
Recorded by mix master Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Roky Erickson) the album sounds amazing for two guys, a guitar and a cocktail drum. Coming soon as a special high-quality collector’s edition, this self-titled album is available next month though Hwy 61 Records and at local record stores. To give you a taste of the album, check out the video for the album’s only original track, the instrumental “D.O.G.”
…”a 16-strong set of blisteringly unhinged rock’n’roll covers (OK, 15 covers, 1 quick original)”