The Brass have been on my radar since day one, but I never got to interview them - until now that is! But with the release of the band's debut full-length "Our Own Path" (Contra Records/Insurgence Records) just around the corner I thought it was a good time to finally do so - enjoy!
Hi Claz, what’s up? Thanks for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment?
Hey thanks for asking me to do an interview. We don’t do many interviews but you have kept track of The Brass from the very beginning and always supported us so I’m happy to oblige. Things are busy but going well!
Let’s talk some history first, because perhaps not everyone knows that The Brass actually started out as a Canadian and more of a hardcore influenced band. Though this was only five years ago, can you tell me something about the early days of the band?
It’s a bit of a story! First of all, I’m not Canadian, Im from Arizona. I ended up living in Vancouver after a punk tour I was on blew up and ended unexpectedly in BC. After a few weeks I started sniffing around for some kids to start an oi band and ended up doing a more 86 Mentality/punk type of thing, and that was the beginning of The Brass.
And then it was you who moved to New York City right? Despite a whole new line-up you decided to stick with the name The Brass. Why was that?
I was living in Canada without a visa and had trouble finding work so I decided to head back to the states. New York ended up being my choice. I liked the concept of The Brass, still had tons of song ideas, so I decided to keep it. I got a couple friends (Cedric, Simon, and my old buddy Hoad) to start jamming. Dave ended up taking over drums and then we started playing out.
The ‘new’ The Brass also introduced a different style of music – Oi!. Though this was obviously already an influence on 2013’s demo, the cassette that followed – the “Rugged Cross” EP – was a sick, all-out Oi! attack! Was the feedback you received different as it was on the demo and how do you look back on this tape now?
I had some of the material for Rugged Cross in my head from the early days, but my bandmates at the time felt the songs were “too corny” or “too oi”. So Rugged Cross was a chance for me to go all the way and do what I wanted to do in the first place. And living in NYC with no money and working a shitty line cook job gave me even more
inspiration. People liked it way more than I expected, I thought The Brass wasn’t going to last long after Rugged Cross but Im happy I was wrong.
A favorite off the demo was re-recorded for “Rugged Cross”, the
absolutely mental “Psychopath”. Do you still wake up every morning
thinking today might be your last?
To me it is unfortunate that this release was only available on cassette and part of the “Short Cuts” compilation CD. With other words, it wasn’t released on vinyl! Was this on purpose, or did it just never got to it and if so, is there still a change of some wax in the future?
If I remember correctly, we didn’t have any solid offers to put it out on vinyl at the time. It also seemed better to just keep it as a DIY tape. Maybe someday….
Luckily the next EP, “Desperation”, was released on vinyl by Sydney Town. They’ve released some great records, including yours, but not too many. As a matter of fact, they didn’t release anything for several years prior to “Desperation”. How did that deal got together?
Carl (Fatigue, Sydney Ducks) came to one of our shows in NYC shortly after Rugged Cross came out and said something like “I want to put American Ghetto on a record”. So we cranked out Desperation and re-recorded the song.
It could be that you are not much of a vinyl collector of course, but still I can imagine it must have been quite exciting when you held your first The Brass 7” in your hands? What did you feel when you opened up that first box of records?
Ive been on several records with various punk bands but that was the first one I wrote entirely, which I think made it feel even better.
That was the first half of 2016, in the late second half of that year the “Short Cuts” compilation was released by Crowd Control Media, containing four songs of an upcoming LP… except 2017 passed by, but no new LP! What happened the past year?
Life, chaos, bullshit. The usual.
Now the wait is almost over though, because “Our Own Path” is coming out very soon! Can you give my readers an impression of what they can expect of the album?
Some of the same old sound, and a lot of new sound. A few longer songs, a few experiments. A classic punk cover. I cant say that one song sounds anything like the others.
In my opinion the hard work has paid off. It still has that raw, crude sound, but flawless nonetheless! Do you consider yourself a perfectionist when it comes down to your music?
I'm lucky enough to be working with solid players and producers so things tend to go pretty quick when tracking. There are a couple songs on the album that we only rehearsed once before laying them down. Yes, I tend to get a bit obsessive when writing and run songs over and over in my head, but the execution is pretty easy. The mixing is what takes the longest. In that aspect, everyone involved is a perfectionist. Vodou worked his absolute ass off mixing that thing.
I think I have mentioned all of The Brass’ releases that were at one point or another physically available – and all have been released by a different label! “Our Own Path” is no different as Contra Records (Europe) and Insurgance Records (North America) have the honor this time around. Is there an idea behind this, or pure coincidence?
Just coincidence and also sniffing around to find the right fit. I think that all of us are hoping this current situation continues for a long time. We are sitting on tons of new material and both those labels are great to work with.
What are your plans in support of the album? There’s a big American tour coming up, but a little bird also told me about a European holiday – a dream coming true? Is there anything you can share with me at this moment?
You can expect a Euro tour this year. We are also hoping to hit other parts of the world if we can, but cant say where or when just yet. The minute the record is out in March we are doing a 48 day tour around North America, keep an eye out for us!
Alright, I think that is it for now! Thanks a lot for your time and your music, keep it going! If there is anything you’d like to add, feel free to do so!
As well as releasing “Our Own Path” in March we also have 3 new tracks coming out on a split with legendary Oi! band The Press, and a comp on Insurgence called “Northern Aggression”. Look out for it all on Insurgence and Contra. Thanks for the support everyone, we hope to see you at a show soon!