Their father was a musician and their mother is an Elvis fan, so it was almost inevitable that Russell and Derek Osiecki would grow up to be musicians. Together with classmate Eddie Cleland, they formed a band called the Generics and played their first gig at age 12 at the Men's Minimum Security Prison in South Las Vegas.
A few years later, while Eddie was on tour in Japan, Russ hooked up with Steve Refling in Los Angeles and formed Great Rivers of the World, scoring a track on the soundtrack to "An American Summer." In late 1990, Eddie returned and the band reformed as Big Umbrella.
Their focus on the band as a unit is apparent in the credits on the album, where the entire band is listed as songwriters and producers. They seem to prefer being seen as a band rather than as individuals. Listening to the music, it's easy to hear the history behind the band and the closeness that's grown out of their years together. The echoes of the Generics are hard to miss: the influences of Mrs. Osiecki's Beatles and Byrds albums, and the nods to Crowded House and the Replacements, favorites of Russ and Derek when they were growing up in Nevada.
They still make it back to Vegas every so often to play for their loyal fans, and occasionally head up to Washington, where a core of Big Umbrella fans turns out to see them whenever they're in town. (They have a small Northwestern tour planned for May, so if you live near Seattle, watch your mailbox for tour dates.) And they often play in and around their current home base of Los Angeles, where they write, rehearse, and get together just to hang out. With this kind of quiet solidarity, they should have little trouble weathering any storms that come their way.
Excerpted from The Racer Record, the Racer Records newsletter.