American band Big Troubles were formed by high school friends Alex Craig and Ian Drennan, two very gifted singer/songwriters. Drawing on a rich array of influences such as Britpop and American 90s slacker rock personified by the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Big Troubles have a wonderfully laid back, melodic take on alternative pop.

One can also hear more classic influences of the alternative genre, such as R.E.M and the criminally underrated Matthew Sweet, in their musical style and attitude.

The band, fleshed out by drummer Sam Franklin and bassist Luka Usmiani, have recently released their second album, the highly accomplished Romantic Comedy. Featuring irresistible slices of pop music such as “Misery” and “Sad Girls”, this is one of the most thoroughly delightful surprises of 2011. We were able to get Alex and Ian to help us out with some email questions. We just wish we knew which of them had answered each one…

Who would you identify as the artists that have influenced you the most and made you want to make a career out of music?

A New Jersey-based musician named Mathe U. Moondenale inspired us the most overtly to pursue pop music as a career choice. Others who influenced that decision were Brian Setzer, John London, and Dave Koz, among others.

Both of you have such distinctive and different approaches to music and songwriting. How do you make that work in the context of the band?

At their core, our approaches are really quite similar so it’s always been easy to have them work together. We embrace those differences, as they sometimes compliment each other, or lend some variety where it might otherwise get samey.

You worked with producer Mitch Easter. He’s probably best known for his work on R.E.M’s earlier albums. Do you look to R.E.M as a positive template to where they took alternative pop?

Yes, from what we’ve read of their career trajectory – though we’re not familiar with their music.

How do you make your sound your own and avoid sounding derivative of what has inspired you?

Mostly by means of failure — and failing to achieve the sounds or songwriting-styles of the influences we’re aiming for. Our limitations tend to shape our songs/recordings a lot.

Where do you see the band heading as far as future career is concerned?

The goal is Hollywood — we’re planning to transform Big Troubles into a multimedia project, where the music aspect will be de-emphasized. The music will serve as secondary to the more cinematic elements.

Do you have any plans to tour Australia in the near future?

We would very much like to, and are looking to plan one when possible.

Big Troubles’ Romantic Comedy is out now on Popfrenzy Records.