Xtra Large Becoming a Giant : Rock: The Orange County alternative band has an agreement in the works that includes a debut album on the label.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Xtra Large, something of an all-star group of Orange County alternative-hard rock musicians, has struck a deal with Giant Records and is scheduled to release its debut album by summer's end.

The band, which played its first show only two months ago, consists of players who have had high profiles on the local scene as members of various groups.

Singer Darren McNamee and guitarist Warren Fitzgerald both were in the frenetic metal-funk-comedy band, Gherkin Raucous. Drummer Josh Freese has played with the Vandals, Tender Fury, Dweezil Zappa and Infectious Grooves, and plays on Suicidal Tendencies' upcoming album. Bassist Bob Thomson is a founding member of Big Drill Car.

"They're totally whacked," said Giant Records' owner, Irving Azoff, who decided to sign the band after hearing its demo tapes, seeing its self-produced video and catching its stage show in a showcase concert in Hollywood last week. (The group returns to Hollywood for a June 4 show at Club With No Name.)

"We agreed to a deal, and we're getting it drafted up. We as a company haven't been this excited about anything in a long, long time. My gut instinct is that it's a very important band and a lot of fun."

Working without a label's financing, Xtra Large already has nearly finished its first album, according to manager Jon St. James, who produced national hits for local dance-pop acts Stacey Q and Bardeux. He said Giant probably will release it in August or early September.

Freese and Fitzgerald have also completed solo albums, and St. James said Giant will have the first option to release those as well. St. James said Freese has turned down an offer to go on tour as Suicidal Tendencies' drummer in order to devote himself to Xtra Large.

Thomson, who had been splitting time between Xtra Large and Big Drill Car, has left Big Drill Car.

Frank Daly, Big Drill Car's singer, said the band, which records for the independent Cruz label, will start looking for a new bassist.

"It's not like we're left in the lurch," Daly said, noting that Big Drill Car doesn't have any immediate touring or recording commitments. "If there's such a thing as a good time to lose a bass player after five years, this would be it. "The (rest) of us are all real focused in giving 100%, and it's just not fair to have anyone giving less than that," Daly said. "It was just clear that Big Drill Car wasn't his priority, and Xtra Large was, and that's fine--there's no animosity. If that's what he wants to do, more power to him."

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