Chris Broach chats with me about Braid’s new EP, how the band got back together after all these years, recording with J. Robbins, and their growth as musicians.
Braid started talking about recording new material a year ago. Whats happened since then that’s brought you to where you are today?
Bob was DJing in the city at a bar. He told me to come out. I did. The next week I guest DJed with him. Then it became a regular thing. So, Bob and I were DJing together once a week at Bar Deville, we were hanging out often, because of our weekly DJ thing and somehow it came up then, and so we talked a lot and made a bunch of late night jokes about it. So then we talked to everyone else. Everyone was down, and last summer we finalized that we were actually going to do it. We couldn’t tell anyone because we realized we wouldn’t be able to get together for quite a while to do this, so we all had to keep our big mouths shut, because we didn’t even know if it would work or if the songs we wrote would work. We decided the best time to get together to write would be around Christmas time when everyone would be in and around Chicago/Champaign/Milwaukee. Damon lives in Nashville, Todd lives in Milwaukee, and Bob and I are in Chicago. So we got together before and after Christmas, and before NYE, to write and demo the stuff at a space I have with a band I play in (Bright Lights – those guys were kind enough to let us use the space) at Wall to Wall Studios in Chicago which is a great studio by the way. Needless to say, we felt the songs worked and were good. We were excited to record and so we called up J. and Polyvinyl.
How has it been working with J. Robbins again?
It was great! He did our last full-length album many years ago in D.C. and we just decided that if we were going to do this, we had to have him record it. He knows what we’re going for, and had some good insight into the songs production wise as we knew he would. He flew out to Chicago and we recorded at Million Yen. He did backing vocals on a track that I sing, played some tambourine, and even played some piano and guitar on the Jeff Hanson cover. Needless to say, we’re incredibly lucky to work with such a great guy, an old friend, and a great producer.
What was the process in the recording? Any new tricks you tried this time or was your recording style the same as its always been?
Well, this time we tracked everything separately. One of us would play with Damon to get the drums tracked, but then we went back and put all of the tracks together over the drums. Bass next, then guitars, then piano, then vocals, then fun stuff, like tambourine and backing vocals. It went pretty smoothly. I mean, I guess piano was a nice new addition, and J. playing that and doing some backing vocals was a cool thing for us.
Anyway you can provide some insight into how the new songs sound? Do you think it’s in line with your older work, a new direction or both?
Sure. They sound like Braid, or so we hear from our close friends. I like the songs. I think it’s definitely in line with where we were headed as a band years ago and where we are now. The song writing process was the same as it was the last time we wrote together in 1999, and it was surprising to us that it came so easily. We had planned on getting warmed up playing old songs first and then moving into writing some new stuff, but we just went right into the new stuff straight away. So, that was really great.
How do you think you’ve grown as a songwriter?
As for me, I’ve done a lot of different things since Braid that sounded similar and not similar at all to Braid with L’ Spaerow, The Firebird Band, some of my solo stuff and other projects. I have definitely grown as a lyricist having taken on the lead in most of my other projects. As a guitarist, I think that being with these guys and playing together again really brought out the “Braid-style” in my playing again. It was surprising and amazing how easily we came together to do this.
One show has been confirmed so far. Any plans for any dates outside of IL?
Actually, we haven’t confirmed any shows at all, yet..we are talking about some different options, but nothing is set in stone. As of now there aren’t plans to tour anywhere. That could change, but as of now, it’s unlikely.
The release will be an EP. Any firm release date yet? Also, what songs will be included?
The EP is 4 songs. Three are brand new Braid songs and one is a cover song. We chose a song by Jeff Hanson to cover. He was a friend that passed away suddenly in 2009, and we thought this would be a good way to pay tribute to an old friend.
Besides the band, what else have you been doing the last few years?
I finished a degree in psychology and am now in grad school and working full time. Bob’s been working at Threadless and doing solo stuff, City on Film, and some other projects, one of which was a band called Certain People I Know with Damon, Todd is now teaching and in grad school as well. Damon is heading up operations for Warped Tour and 4fini’s other tours. For me, I am starting some new bands, one called Bright Lights and one other that is not yet named with some old friends, and doing solo work under my own name. We plan to begin playing out around Chicago soon, and seeing where it goes from there. I’ve also been doing some music for commercials with an old friend Todd Finkel – check out adidas.com and watch the Copenhagen skate video – we did that track. The Firebird Band has been doing some little things here and there, but only as a studio project. Hey Mercedes did a reunion show or two in the last few years, as well…
Any new bands you have been listening to lately that you’d recommend?
As for me, I’ve been listening to a lot of Cut Copy, Friendly Fires, MGMT, Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem, Calvin Harris and a lot of that kind of stuff. I like The Velvet Teen, Bob got me into them.
Final comments? How can people get in touch with you?
Thanks a million! Our website is braidcentral.com Facebook is facebook.com/braidcentral Twitter @braidcentral, @chrisbroach, @toddleebell, @heybobnanna, @damonetm. As soon as we know about anything, release date, shows, etc… we’ll be posting about it everywhere. Thanks for your continued support Kevin! Maybe we’ll see you at some upcoming shows.