Big Drill Car was a pop punk/melodic hardcore group from Huntington Beach, California, who were active from the late 1980s to mid-1990s and briefly again in the mid-2000s (decade). The group never gained any mainstream audience, but were an influence on their contemporaries – most notably ALL, Chemical People and Dag Nasty – alongside whom they are considered the early pioneers of the sound that would later be called melodic hardcore.
Big Drill Car released an EP, Small Block, in 1988 before being signed to Cruz Records (owned by former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn) and releasing two studio albums. The band eventually parted ways with that label and signed to Headhunter Records, who released No Worse for the Wear, the band's last album to date.
Big Drill Car broke up in 1995, but reunited for a one-off series of shows in 2008 and 2009, with the classic original lineup.
"Classic" original lineup-era (1987-1991)
Big Drill Car was formed in 1987 while Frank Daly and Mark Arnold (musician) were still in the seminal OC punk band M.I.A.. Frank and Mark had written some songs that were not M.I.A.-style songs so they got together with some friends (Bob and Danny) and started playing around. Their first shows were a fun mix of covers (like the Descendents' "I'm Not A Loser and Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck') and these new originals songs. After M.I.A. broke up, Big Drill Car entered the studio in 1988 to record the EP Small Block. They were a hard working hard touring band who were rough on their tour vans.
While touring with M.I.A., Frank and Mark met and played with The Descendents. After M.I.A. broke up and the Descendents became ALL the bands started playing locally and touring together. After "signing" with Greg Ginn's newly formed Cruz Records, Stephen Egerton (guitar ALL/Descendents) and Bill Stevenson (drums ALL/Descendents/Black Flag) started up working with Big Drill Car in the studio to record their debut album, Album/Tape/CD Type Thing, which was released in 1989.
Final years (1992-1995)
After the release of their third album, Batch, Big Drill Car parted ways with the now-"classic" original line-up. Bob had announced that he was leaving the band to play in another band who was on the verge of a major label deal. The show was at the PALACE in Los Angeles. It was the biggest of the "VIVA CRUZ" shows (annual shows, show casing the Cruz bands ALL, Big Drill Car and Chemical People). Bob was more active and animated on stage that night than ever before. Bob was replaced by Darrin Morris. Darin fit in perfectly - he was a big fan, a super nice guy and he knew all the songs already. Not long after Darrin joined the band, Danny left. Danny was replaced by a few drummers including Jamie Reidling (Cadillac Tramps/US Bombs) and Keith Fallis former drummer for Carnival Art They went on to release 2 more records with Keith in the band Cargo Records, Toured (A Live Album) which was an earlier recording with the original lineup and No Worse for the Wear, which Keith plays on. While No Worse for the Wear still never broke the band into mainstream audiences, the release of the album would gain Big Drill Car a little success and supporting slots on national and world tours with bands such as The Offspring (who had just released Smash to unexpected success and acclaim) and Guttermouth. After this, Big Drill Car broke up in 1995.
After breaking up, Frank Daly (vocalist) and Mark Arnold (guitarist) joined forces with John Kastner (Doughboys/Asexuals) to form the band All Systems Go!.
Mark is currently working as a soundman, recently working for Lemonheads/Jesus and Mary Chain/Breeders/Rocket From The Crypt.
Frank was guitar teching for Rocket From The Crypt for a while them went on to tour manage Reel Big Fish before settling down, getting married and having a family.
On May 23, 2008, it was reported on Punknews.org that Big Drill Car (with the classic Small Block lineup) was reuniting for a series of reunion shows in August, taking place at Huntington Beach's Fitzgerald's Pub and two Southern California dates on the 2008 Warped Tour. Big Drill Car also headlined Riot Fest 2008, which took place on October 10–12 in Chicago, Illinois.
Asked in August 2008 what was next for Big Drill Car, bassist Bob Thomson stated, "I can 100% guarantee there will be no tour, we're all dads with jobs. It is not easy to co ordinate shows as Frank lives in Indiana, so the best we can hope for is a show here and there." This led many to believe that Big Drill Car could be ending their reunion.
Despite the statement Bob made, Big Drill Car recovened in the summer of 2009 for shows with All. Also in 2009, they released a rarities album called A Never Ending Endeavor, which also featured some new material.
2008 also marked the first time any of their music was available on iTunes.
Reunion of "classic"
Studio Albums and EPs
- Small Block EP (1988, Varient Records! (re-issued on Cruz Records in 1990)
- CD Type Thing (1989, Cruz Records)
- Batch (1991, Cruz Records)
- Toured (A Live Album) (1993, Cargo/Headhunter Records)
- No Worse for the Wear (1994, Cargo/Headhunter Records)
- A Never Ending Endeavor (2009, Varient Records!)
- "Surrender/Getaway" (split w/ Chemical People) (1991, Cruz Records)
- "The Snapperhead E.P." (split w/ Thud! (1992, Blackbox Records)
- "No Worse for the Wear/Black Country Rock" (1994, Stab You in the Back/Truk Records)
- "Nothin' At All/Trash the House" (1994, Goldenrod Records)
- Cruz Sampler 7" (1991) - "Restless Habs"
- The Big One: City of L.A. Power (1991) - "A Take Away"
- Something's Gone Wrong Again: The Buzzcocks Covers Compilation (1992) - "I Don't Mind"
- 13 Back-Ordered Hits (1993) - "16 Lines"
- Blackbox Sampler (1993) - "Big Shot (live)"
- Case Closed? An International Compilation of Husker Du Cover Songs (1993) - "Celebrated Summer"
- By The Banks of the Mighty Santa Ana, Vol. II (1994) - "Song No. 40"
- Super Mixer (1996) - "Nothin' At All"
- Keep the Beat (1996) - "Celebrated Summer"
- O.C.'s 5400 Day Revolution (1999) - "Big Shot (studio version)"
- Darin Oosthuizen - road manager/roadie
- Greg Jacobs - Manager
- Stormy Shepherd - Booking Agent