Londoner Alice Costelloe and California-native Kacey Underwood form the duo Big Deal, which made its U.S. debut in 2012. The band’s first album, “Lights Out,” was released in 2011 on Mute. The unlikely pair first met when Underwood, who had moved to the U.K. to study abroad, gave Costelloe guitar lessons. “They didn’t go very well,” Underwood admitted to AudioFile over Korean tacos at Dokebi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Although Costelloe and Underwood were members of different bands at the time, the fellow songwriters found themselves sharing and helping out with each others’ music, which naturally led to starting their own project together. “There’s no real rank,” Underwood said, describing the dynamic. “That’s the nice thing about us, it’s just everything’s pretty balanced despite, you know, obvious differences – geography, language, gender, age – but it all seems to balance out.”
Quite understandably, especially for anyone who has seen Big Deal’s intimate, if almost coy, stage act, or listened to the band’s pining songs, audiences frequently mistake their working relationship for a romantic one. Crooning lyrics like “Don’t you wanna have that morning again / Wanna be your lover and try not to be your friend” from the song “Chair,” Costelloe and Underwood cast longing looks whether for each other or, perhaps, with someone else in mind we’ll never know. They, however, take it in stride. Said Underwood:
“We don’t really think about it too much. I mean, I think because we both write songs about relationships. I mean, a lot of songs are love songs. Maybe sometimes they’re not. But I think when you have a guy and a girl on stage – just a guy and a girl – that’s the obvious assumption that gets made. I don’t think it bothers us. I don’t think we think about playing it up or down. We try to play a good show. I don’t mind what people think so much as long as people are interested in the music. I’m happy with that.”
Costelloe and Underwood’s natural chemistry caught the ear of the U.K.-based record label Mute right from the start at their earliest gigs. Eager to get in the studio as soon as possible, Big Deal benefited from Mute’s mutual enthusiasm, as well as its hands-off approach. “They didn’t want us to change anything or do anything,” Underwood said. “Just like, go in, record, get the record done, put it out – which was exactly what we wanted to do. They were great. Mute was a great label to do that for us.”
While Big Deal has considered adding people to the band, fans can probably expect to see Costelloe and Underwood remaining a twosome. Costelloe said they will wait to re-evaluate expanding their sound: “I think for now we’re just concentrating on touring this record, and then once that’s done, we start writing the other record. We’ll see if it still makes sense.”
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