Brody & The Busch Rd Trio • Buying the Ticket and Taking the Ride

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 718   By: Robert 'Bo' White

13th January, 2011     0

Eric Braeutigam goes by Brody, the de-facto muse of a talented group of renegade roots musicians who are building momentum in Mid-Michigan. They are young enough to be hip to what's happening but they can also reach back into America's rich musical legacy of blues, jazz and rock 'n roll. They can be recklessly creative at the same time they are studied and calculated musicians. They have developed their craft through long hours of toil and trouble and have come back for more. They are digging up the goldmine and finding a bounty of almost forgotten treasures. They've embraced Zeppelin and REM travelled down to the crossroad where Robert Johnson sold his soul in order to create the most intriguing music in the world. Brody is in good company.

We spent a little time together in a portal of cyberspace just to hear the music and feel the buzz Brody when did you first get interested in rock & roll music? I can't place it at an exact age, but I was pretty young. I used to secretly stay up late at night listening to the oldies station using my walkman and headphones so my parents and my brother, who I shared a room with at the time, couldn't hear. On some nights the station would play a program that not only played the music, but told stories about the songs and artists. I was fascinated by the history of it all and the pure talent of the musicians featured on the program. They played music from the 50s and early sixties like Elvis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, early Beatles, probably some early Stones, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, and The Ronettes. I couldn't get enough of it, and I still can't. To this day I am in constantly searching for inspiring bands, albums, and songs that I haven't heard before, music that takes me to a different place. Of course, I still listen to the oldies too. I just recently heard "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes for the first time in a while and the sound that Phil Spector and The Ronettes created still knocks me off my feet. 

Have you explored other idioms – country, jazz, blues?  Everyone in the band loves the blues. Like many people our age we were more or less introduced to the blues by bands like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin and traveled back in time from there to find Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, etc. Some of our songs have some blues influence in them and others do feature a country-fried twang and swing. However, we have never sat down and said, "we're going to write a blues song, or a country song today." All of us have a very wide variety of influences and it causes genres to bleed together into a sound that becomes our own. Relying too much on one genre can be a dangerous thing for a band to do. We don't ever want to get pigeonholed. Derek does have some jazz background given that his grandfather was a drummer with the WWII Air Force band and had a large collection of jazz 78s.

Did you have formal training? Cody is the only member to have any formal training on the instrument he plays in the band. However, that was in the high school marching band, so it's not like he was sitting back there with a drum kit. Derek and I played trombone in junior high, and Rod played the trumpet. But, we're all self-taught on what we now play.

Who writes the original material for the band? I write the rhythm guitar line, the lyrics, and come up with the vocal melody and then either give the guys a recording or show it to them at practice. From there, they take the song to a new level by giving it more character, more energy, setting the timing, etc. Cody, Derek, and Rod really bring the songs to life.

How did you hook up with the rest of the members?  We've all known each other for a long time, and have jammed separately over the years, but never as a unit until August of 09. The roots of it all really go back to the basement of the Little household. Cody always played drums with his older brother, Chris, who plays guitar and Rod would jam with them, I would jam with them, and Derek would jam with them, but it was just for fun. In the years leading up to the formation of the band we all played music with one another at some point, but there wasn't much talk of forming a band until Derek and Cody starting jamming together in the winter of 09 and then Rod decided to learn how to play bass that following summer.

You've been playing as Brody & the Busch Rd. Trio for about a year. What has it been like for you to be working your craft and developing a fan base? The band is a big part of our lives and being in it has caused us all to become even closer friends. We have come a long way as a band and as individual musicians, and have developed the non-verbal communication that all good bands need to have. Our new songs are becoming more elaborate and our old songs are taking a new shape in certain places because we are better and more experienced musicians than we were in the beginning. Also, starting in the bars that we did forced us to write and learn more songs, because we were expected to fill 3 to 4 hour time slots. The experience we gained from that is priceless. We are very thankful for the dedicated group of friends and fans that come to our shows. It means a lot to us to see them there. In addition, we love earning new fans. We expect to work for new fans, to turn around their skepticism or just take them from uncommitted to interested. Seeing someone who had a skeptical look on his/her face when we hit our first chord having a good time before our first set is over gives us even more energy. We feed off of it.

What do you see as your greatest gift – singer, writer, arranger, producer? I would definitely say songwriting. Writing has always been my mainstay. Until about six months ago I wasn't much of a guitar player (I still have a lot of work to do in that area), and I'm no Jeff Buckley or Robert Plant, but writing is a talent I feel I have that allows me to really give something to the band.

What is your favorite Brody & the Busch Rd trio song? Why?  It's hard to choose one because each of the 20-some songs we've written are dear to us for a variety of reasons. As far as our newer songs go we'll choose "Murphy Lk. Rd. Epilogue." That song jumps in its own way. The music makes people move to it while the lyrics pull at their heartstrings. It has a nostalgic feel to it, partially because Murphy Lk. Rd. itself holds a special place in the hearts of many people who come from Frankenmuth and the other small towns surrounding it. Out of the songs on our EP we'll go with "Shootout at the OK Corral." The song pumps us and the audience up every time we play it. Cody's drum rolls in it really send us all into a frenzy of sorts. The lyrics for it stem from the hard times many people in this area are facing right now. So many people we know or just see in our everyday lives have a look of despondency that is impossible to ignore, and it's important to us to have a song about that.

You recently released an excellent EP Yelling at Weather Ballons. It has it all rock, blues, roots, and folk. What was it like to have the exquisite Don Lajiness as the producer?  It was great. Donny is a pro who went above and beyond our expectations. He has an incredible ear, and pays great attention to detail. Donny also has a unique sense of humor and a seemingly limitless amount of enthusiasm and patience that got us through some frustration in the studio. It's hard to be angry while Donny's grooving along to our music and playing the manic maestro directing us as we play or listen to the playback. We learned a lot from Donny; he made a lot of very helpful suggestions and taught us a thing or two about music. He gave us a finished product that we are all very proud of and impressed with. We recommend Donny to any band or artist who wants a quality recording and an enjoyable experience.

Brody , I like the timber and nuance of your voice – reminds me a bit of Michael Stipe – has anyone influenced your vocal style? I like the Michael Stipe comment. REM's Automatic for the People is up there on my list of favorite albums. The first voice to really catch my ear was my dad's. I heard my first live music in church sitting next to my dad, and was impressed with the way he sang the hymns. Many of the hymns have a very melodic and almost tragic sense to them that appealed to my ears even at a young age. He would also sing along to cassette tapes in the van when we were going somewhere, and I always wanted to be able to sing like that. After that came Dylan, Springsteen, Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Ryan Adams to name a few.

Rod and Cody are a strong rhythm section. This is so incredibly important to the band's overall sound and musicianship.  They seem to have strong diverse backgrounds in various genres . How do they contribute to the creative process?  Let's face it, any rock band worth listening to has to have a solid rhythm section. Rod and Cody aren't just there to keep time and provide background noise; they're there to be heard in their own right. The sound they create together is not something that can easily be reproduced because it's so unique. Rod and Cody can take the raw song that we bring into practice and really shape the overall sound into what you hear when we play it on stage. During practices and gigs, Cody and Rod are constantly communicating, whether verbally or visually so that the two of them are always on the same page. None of the songs we play would sound the way they do today if it wasn't for the two of them. They're both exceptional talents that I'm proud and fortunate to be in a band with.

Any last thoughts or comments? We'd like to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support us along the way. It would take a while to name all the names, but they know who they are. We owe them a great deal of gratitude. Also, we invite and encourage anyone and everyone to come out to our shows and check out our EP online or pick up a copy from us. We're enjoying the ride and plan on keeping the pedal down as long as possible. In the words of the great Hunter S. Thompson, "buy the ticket, take the ride." Or better yet, "We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo out to the end."
Check out Brody & the Busch Rd Trio on Facebook, Hubpages and YouTube


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