THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Channeling Divergent Musical Tastes and Charting Their Own Road of Musical Creativity
Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, From Issue 804 By: Robert E Martin
05th February, 2015 0
Brody & the Busch Rd. Trio epitomize everything that a creative rock-n-roll outfit should embody in these contemporary and confusing times when audience attention spans can be so easily diverted by the latest instagram that pops on their cell phones.
After their first full-length CD release in 2009, which was entitled We’re Just Visiting, through persistence and commitment to their artistic vision over the past six years, the group has refused to compromise their integrity by reverting to the safety net of performing popular cover songs from bygone eras to put food on their plate; opting instead to delve deeper into their songwriting and performance abilities, taking a refreshing detour onto a musical road they are carving for themselves, along with anybody else who cares to listen and come along for the ride.
Rock ‘n Roll isn’t just about the songs: it’s about the attitude and willingness to make honest statements in a big way; and with the recent release of their follow-up project, Sing for My Supper, the group has made both a refreshing and serious commitment to showcase the unique artistry of their carefully crafted songs on pink 12-inch vinyl, with plastic sleeves to protect the grooves, lyrics printed upon a high quality insert….along with a well-placed thumb at the nose to those that would claim nothing about music is permanent nowadays.
The reality and beauty of Brody & the Busch Rd. Trio is the stuff of contemporary folklore, revolving around vocalist, songwriter, and de-facto muse Eric ‘Brody’ Braeutigam, who drew the muscular and adept backline of bassist Josh Rodammer and drummer Cody Little together, along with guitarist Derek Burk to carve tonal coloration into Brody’s original songs with his talented fretwork. Each member of the trio credits Brody as being the spiritual fulcrum that allows the band to detail the complexion of each original gem they create.
Musically the group is constantly open to new influences and was able at a young age to absorb both Classic Rock and America’s rich musical legacy of the Blues and Folk into their sound to help inform their material. Each song on their new release reveals an amalgamation of influences that in their effort to create something fresh and unique with each track allows for a divergent range of expression. This allows them to be both explosive and controlled and explore the full range of emotion between those extremes with their material.
As Josh explains the origins of the group, “Brody played by himself in the woods by the bonfire and was basically this singer/songwriter guy, Cody was a drummer in his high school band, and Derek started with a guitar as a teenager. We all went to the same high school and Eric was living in this house with a big garage where we could set up and jam. We all started in Cody’s basement and stayed there for a year or two, and had never jammed together before.”
“One day Josh and I decided to move everything into Brody’s garage,” continues Derek. “It was a case of making some noise, because you couldn’t really call them practices; but we wanted to test the water to see if we could put a band together. Brody brought a notebook full of songs that sounded like acoustic Bob Dylan tunes and weren’t really written for a band.”
“At that time Brody had about 50 songs and threw most of them away,” interjects Derek. “We started with five songs and built the foundation from there. Our first EP in 2009 contained six songs and that’s really when we started the whole thing. A year later we decided to learn about 12 cover songs, perform those six originals we had worked up, and then cut an EP so we could go to bars and get gigs. That way we would have something more legitimate to present than saying simply, ‘Hey, book us – we’re a band!”
“We started more or less without any real plan,” reflects Cody. “But it was through Brody’s songs that everything musically came together and fused.”
With a strong sense of dynamics and intonation and so many varied influences on display with their newest release, I’m curious as to what each member feels distinguishes their sound.
“We pull from so many directions musically that it shows up in different areas,” answers Derek. “Some members grew up listening to Incubus and Punk Rock like The Deftones, Brody was always a bigger fan of singer/songwriters and traditional Blues like Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters, Dylan and Springsteen for sure; and other members were into Bryan Adams and Kurt Cobain, even though we don’t sound like Nirvana, or any of these artists in particular – it all comes together into a melting pot that informs our original material. We all look for new bands that we haven’t heard before and something to wrap our heads around and give us new ideas. Apart from that, we all want to go see the Foo Fighters when they appear at DTE this summer.”
For their latest project the band says it took a little over a year to complete from start to finish. “I’d say it took about 14 months from writing to recording,” says Josh. “It took about a year of recording and then six months of getting the vinyl album pressed and pulled together. We had about nine studio dates and were knocking out a song a day, so we would take week-long intervals and record the rhythm tracks and then go in and get the core of the song and polish it up over later sessions.”
Given the diversity in the tracks, the group says they didn’t re-track very much material. “We’d do the drum and rhythm tracks for two days and then layer in the rest of it. Because we were on tape there wasn’t an opportunity to fudge things. We had to live with what we created or redo it. Much of the time it stuck and we kept the takes. We didn’t have any computer tom-foolery going on with this recording,” explains Cody.
“The first time we did our six-track EP I was nervous, “ he admits. “I’d never done any legitimate recording; but with our first LP I was incredibly nervous. Andy Reed is very professional and at first I was shaking a little, but we knocked all the songs out in one day and one six hour session. It was cool and we had accomplished something.
The group says feedback on their latest endeavor, with Reed in the recording booth once again, has been very positive. “Everybody that gets a copy digs it and I think it’s really different from what else is going on this area,” states Derek.
“We set out to do something different from everybody else. We didn’t want to be just another Metal Band, and we didn’t want to be Radio Rock. Our songs are not anybody else’s and we’re not musicians from other bands getting together, so we didn’t have that factor going into this project, either.”
Trying to get their musical message out to an audience is perhaps the most challenging component for the creative prowess of any all-original band; and this situation is no different for Brody & the Busch Rd. Trio. “In terms of live gigs they can be hit and miss with no real reason for it,” continues Derek. “Sometimes we’ll play to a good crowd and the next time at the same bar on a Saturday night nobody will be there. Mostly we play at White’s and Bemo’s, but we’ve had some shows in Mt. Pleasant and Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint. We’ve shuffled around, but it’s really tough out there.”
“I’ve got to tell this one road story,” interjects Cody. “The first time we played in Detroit it was in Corktown at this Irish pub called Donovan’s. We didn’t know what to expect and they had a white board with the names of performing bands on it and our name wasn’t on the list. At this point the promoter walks in and starts collecting money because he got a speeding ticket, so we got paid like $34.00 for the entire night. But there were a lot of people there and the place wasn’t much bigger than your office. We were excited to be playing in Detroit, but it was a little bit strange and something we’ll never forget. The guy running the show was tweaked on something and it was a experience performing at an Irish Pub located in Mexican town that was featuring rock and roll bands.”
Given that many younger nightlife crowds tend to lean towards DJ and Dance music, the process of winning over fans is much different than it was in prior decades. “At some clubs people pay attention,” reflects Derek, “and usually we will play a cover song and then play more originals. At most bars couples will come in and want to hear 80s cover tunes and start requesting tunes, and I’m like, ‘Do we look like a Journey cover band?’ We’re pushing our swag and our material and the challenge in this area is that the biggest bands are cover bands. But we draw upon cover material in the clubs from many of the bands we like: REM, Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins.”
“Sometimes this can be frustrating,” admits Josh. “You can spend your night playing music and working your butt off and it can be like nobody cares, yet on other nights it’s great. There are more music venues in this area than people realize, but most of them only book cover bands. But this hasn’t deterred us from writing new music. Nowadays the bigger events are what draw crowds. We play Dirtfest every year and we played the Sins in Stereo release party at the State Theatre, and both of those events drew very large crowds that totally enjoyed what we were doing.”
In terms of future goals, the group says they would like to sell more records and play larger venues, not just bars, and attempt to reach into bigger markets like Lansing and Grand Rapids. “The Internet offers our best exposure and with digital downloads people can check out the music before buying it,” notes Brody. “But the nice thing with releasing this latest album on vinyl is that people will put it into their collection and they’ll listen to it. Vinyl isn’t as disposable.”
“We try to rehearse once a week and always test new material out live,” he continues. “I’d like to see us in Bay City recording again this summer and we have two songs ready to put onto tape already. I’m always writing new music and will come into a session with a sketch, the music, and the lyrics. Then the band will add their parts to everything. Sometimes I come up with gibberish verses but have a cool idea, so the band will hash it out and see where it all sits. They’ll take it home and come up with fresh ideas and then I’ll finish up a verse or write the bridge.”
“If a song doesn’t sound right, we know it,” sates Cody. “Even with my drumming, if someone asks me to change something or try something out, of course I will do it. I usually know what needs to be done and the other guys do the same with the intros and bridges to songs. We shape it into something we want to hear, which is what it really comes down to. We’re playing music we would want to listen to and we’re not trying to emulate something. We make up the parts and hear what sounds right and that’s how we write our music.”
As for the name of the band, it evolved out of a jam session and a case of beer deep in the bowels of their early garage sessions. “We knew that we had to come up with a name and Eric lives on Busch Road,” relates Derek. “I’ve always liked band names like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Tom Petty & the Hearbreakers and seeing as Brody is the center force in the band, maybe if the three of us didn’t stick with it, Brody could bring in new people and not have to change the name.”
“We’ve never thought for a second of changing the band name,” adds Cody. “Even when we were getting more serious. When we first started we’d go to bonfires in Brody’s woods and he’d have his acoustic guitar out there and the whole inception of this outfit came from what Brody was writing. We’ve all found a groove that works for us.”
As for their personal favorite tracks off the new release, Cody sites Allie’s Song. “Every time we play that song live it’s hard to focus on not messing it up. I think it’s the hardest song we’ve ever done. There’s no room for error and the same is true with the bass line.” Josh also points to Careless: “It stops and jumps and drops and then comes back and is reminiscent of 90s grunge rock like that.” Meanwhile, the entire band references Seventh Trumpet Blues: “The production and song construction are totally solid with that track.”
Derek says the group knew right away they wanted to do this latest release on vinyl. “We knew we’d have limited space. Our first album when 13 songs and over an hour long, but knowing we had two sides of a record it left room for 9 songs and about 40 minutes of material. This way we could make all the songs recorded really good. You can’t miss in terms of song quality when you pare it down to nine tracks.”
As fate would have it, however, one glitch did enter this latest project. “We had our Kickstarter campaign going on this release,” relates Cody, “and had this sample from a Motorola console recording that tracked this radio going through stations and getting fuzzy, real old-school AM style. We wanted a piece of that to be the intro to Seventh Trumpet Blues and caught this little section that worked perfectly. But then we got flagged for copyright infringement for using it and it went into review. This delayed the record for six months. It actually took six months for the copyright office to give us clearance, just for using this noise on the radio.”
“In my opinion,” concludes Brody, “over the course of the six years I’ve been doing this and have had the pleasure of working with these guys, we’ve built a studio from the ground up and released some amazing original music. I appreciate how many people we’ve met gigging out and the community of musicians in this region is fantastic. There’s a lot of them out there and they are good supportive people. A lot of these local shows are better than so-called ‘name’ act shows that I’ve paid $60 to see.”
“I’m glad we’ve had this opportunity to talk openly and honestly about the current music scene. It is getting tough out there, but without places like White’s and Bemo’s we would have nowhere to play regularly, and that would be a damn shame.”
“My band mates give me a lot of credit, but if I didn’t have them to reign me in and give life to the songs I wrote, those songs would never have a voice. The fact that there are three people who believe in my songs enough to work on them is the greatest form of praise that I can think of.
“Anything worthwhile in life is a struggle, but the struggle is what makes everybody that much better.”
Brody & the Busch Rd. Trio will be performing February 7th at Tri-City Brewing Company. This is a ‘Harmonica Rifle’ show, which features Derek and Brody doing acoustic material. The band will be at Mort’s Northern Bar in Bay City on March 14th and they will be playing as part of the Gorilla Warfare ISMA Circuit. March 20th they will be at Bemo’s and the group will also be performing on April 12th at the 29th Review Music Awards Ceremony.
Their new vinyl album, Sing for My Supper, is available at both their shows and The Electric Kitsch in Bay City; and is also available on their website at brodyandthebuschrdtrio.bandcamp.com. The new vinyl is $15, which includes a CD copy. CDs are $5.00 and digital copies are also $5.00.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)