The Brew Interview
The Brew Interview
by Dan Foote and Wesley Rizzo
Transcribed by KC Orcutt
JF: Tell us where you’re from, a little bit about the band, and how long you’ve been playing together.
TB: (Dave) We’re all from Amesbury, Mass. We went to Amesbury high school together. Me and Kelly have been playing together since the 90’s and Joe and Chris joined up when Chris was in his junior year. Joe was in his senior year, me and Kelly were just out of high school. That was about 9 years ago, or is it 8, 8 years ago. They joined up and then we became the Brew.
JF: How do you come up with new material? Do you start with riffs, or lyrics?
TB: (Chris) Ah, it usually starts with chords. We listen to the chords and try to find the optimal melody. Then usually with the melody, it actually dictates the lyrics most of the time. I think that’s just one of many approaches. That’s the way I mostly come up with shit. That’s my approach.
JF: Do you guys all take turns writing songs or do you all contribute?
TB: (Chris) We definitely all contribute. It’s not really a Brew song, until we play it probably like 20-30 times. Then it actually starts to become a song. Everyone puts in every idea they have and we all weed through a million ways each song could go.
JF: How do you decide on the set list that you pick?
TB: (Joe) It depends on the venue. We just try to look at what the venue we’re playing. If it’s a festival and people want to dance, then we’ll try gear it towards that. Or if we’re opening for a more indie rock band, we’ll play more indie rock tunes. If we’re headlining, then we’ll just play whatever the fuck we want to play.
JF: We hear a lot about different styles of how bands communicate on stage. Some have hand signals and some have a pre-planned path. What’s your method?
TB: (Dave) We communicate mainly through Braille. *laughter* It depends on the song. Mainly listening. We listen to each other, intensely. Every now and then you need a look. We just go with the look to signal where the big end is coming in.
(Kelly) One of us will make a really funny face, *laughter* and that will be the cue.
(Joe) It depends on the song also. I mean, some of our songs have the open ended sort of approach in the middle of the song but most of them, not structured like Umphrey’s structured, but we have an idea of how to build without that. We just go with the moment and listen.
(Dave) We go with the feel more than like one dude calling out signals forcing everyone else to switch to a certain key or stuff like that. Or like a 5 chord. Or I lean back and it’s the 3 chord and you know what I mean. It’s more emotional, soulful sort of listening than a mathematical kind of approach.
JF: Do you tend to take more risks when you’re in Amesbury, when you guys are around your friends or your family, or do you like to play loosey-goosey when you’re around your friends or family?
TB: (Dave) There’s no real specific time when we’re gonna take risks or not. It really just all depends on if we feel like doing it that time. Like today, at this show, with a packed place, we did like a whole bunch of super risky shit. The intro to “Fly By Night” was a minute long. A brand new improvised intro that we’ve never done and had potential for utter disaster. But everyone was listening good and well. It all depends on how we feel.
(Chris) If you feel like taking the freedom at that moment to kind of step outside.
(Dave) We are kind of true to our feelings to a fault sometimes. We really aren’t a good band at being contrived if we’re not having fun. It doesn’t often happen but you know, if you’re like out in the middle of nowhere, out west and PA sucks, it’s not gonna be the best show and we’re not gonna rock out pretending it’s an awesome show. “Let’s take more risks now”, or whatever, it’s just kind of exactly how we’re feeling. So when we’re tearing it up, or you know, having a more mellow night, with less risks and more songs, definitely just literally how we’re feeling. The music has this real emotion of what we’re feeling. We’re never going to fake. You know what I’m saying? You know what I mean? *Laughter*
JF: Let’s talk gear. What is everyone using on stage?
TB: (Dave) I’m endorsed by Becker Guitars and Furman Sound and those are the real one’s I’m sporting right now. I have some distortion pedals, delays, a tuner and crybaby. Stuff like that. I have an old Fender Twin that I use mainly. My Becker guitars! They’re working on my main guitar right now and I’ve got a loaner. But when I get my main guitar from them I’ll be using that exclusively.
I realize JamForums.com is heavy into gear so maybe I’ll just give a little bit more of an explanation on what I’m using.
My main overdrive that’s always on is a Keeley TS-808. Next to that I have a Keeley TS9 that I use together for lead shit. After that is an old MXR compressor. I have two different delays, one analog, one digital. Eddie Van Halen Phase 90, a Crybaby. I have an old custom Gibson Explorer from 2001 made for the guitar player from the Scorpions. That’s been my main guitar for like, years. I use flat-wound strings. Jazz strings, 11’s.11’s are already pretty fat. But, when you have flat-wound 11’s, they’re really solid. When I hit chords hard, they hold their intonation well so everything comes through really fundamental rather than all jangled-out. It really reminds me of Queen a little bit. I’ve been using those strings for seven years.
(Chris) I feel it makes them blend with the piano a lot better too. You know, kind of more piano-like than normal strings.
(Chris) I’m endorsed by Muse Research which is a super computer for hosting virtual and software based instruments. They’re gonna be the best sounding unless you’re using analog stuff like a real grand piano and whatnot, which I don’t wanna move. *laughs* So, I am also endorsed by CME Keyboards, those are my MIDI controllers. And I’m just coming out of a KC350. Analysis Plus Cables endorse the whole band, they are an unbelievable cable company. Super reliable, super clear, unbelievable cables. Their cables kick ass. That’s my rig.
(Joe) I play a Lakland bass at the moment and I also am using an amp head classic SVT tube head with 4×10” cab and 15” on the bottom. I run a lot of true bypass stuff and analog pedals that are usually vintage. And that’s pretty much it. I’ve got distortions, synths, and some stuff that I just do as far as throwing in there for a little taste here and there but mostly I just play the bass clean.
(Kelly) I play a 5-piece Tama Star Classic with Evans G2 coated heads. I’m a big fan of the Zildjian K Custom symbols. Dark high-hats,18 inch and 16 inch. I use a Paiste ride. A Tama Iron Cobra kick pedal and high-hat stand. I just picked up a Roland SPD30. It’s a lot of looping and a lot of electronic stuff. I eventually want to incorporate that to get some different snare sounds. It’s really, really cool.
(Joe) We’re also sponsored by Sennheiser as well.
JF: You recently hit one million downloads on archive.org. What crossed your mind when that happened?
TB: (Joe) Holy shit! Seriously. It’s a lot of downloads, a lot of people listening to our music and just kind of proves that being a live band, you can have such a viral thing like archive. It really works out for some people and sure has for us and we’re really pumped about it.
(Dave) We love the idea of free music sharing and the taper community and the friends we’ve made that come to soooooo many shows to tape us. It’s a really cool community sort of thing. People can get your shows for free, I use archive.org to listen to bands all the time.
(Joe) We like to help out tapers too. There’s a really cool community of people out there that are just trying to spread your music and spread other peoples music. It’s a really cool thing to have them involved and keep them as part of the family. It’s a good way of getting your music out there.
JF: How’s the DVD coming?
TB: (Joe) It’s coming great, awesome. We’re really pumped about it. We should be releasing it in the fall and definitely everything that we wanted to have happen, happened with it. We’re really looking forward to the release.
(Dave) We’ve got all of the footage captured and synced up. A bunch of the songs are already edited. 8 high def cameras including some Steady-Cam stuff. The crew was the best camera crew, all of our friends, and we’re the ones that do all the editing, it’s all in-house and all our friends did it, and it’s coming out really cool.
(Joe) It’s all shot in HD so it should be a really fun video to watch. We’re really happy with the turnout too, having a sold out crowd. You know, a 900 seat theater was really cool to have our first DVD record in front of an audience like that.
JF: Fans have heard some new, unreleased songs in the live rotation. Are you guys releasing a new album any time soon?
TB: (Dave) We have 5 tracks done and we’re a couple of songs hit the way-side as we went on. Now we’re doing another batch of 8 songs and they’ll probably be like 5 or 6 that make it from that batch and then we might whittle it from there. We might even do another little batch of songs after that. Put you know, stuff that really had the magic captured. We’re trying to make this record full of great performances. We’re recording all of the bass and drums on tape. On analog 2” tapes. We’re going for a real magical, fat sounding record of good performances and emotion. More-so that way, rather than a perfect Pro Tools’d-out. No pitch correction or anything like. We’re trying to make it epic and emotional. The best songs we can fucking do.
JF: Favorite songs of all time?
TB: (Joe) It changes so often. My musical taste is always evolving. Right now, the song that comes to mine, I’m a big ballad guy, I’d have to say, I’d go with Tears for Fears, I don’t know the name of the song but we used to cover it.
(Dave) *** singing*** ***I wanted to be with you alone***
(Dave) My favorite song right now is probably a tune called “Flowers” off of the new Anais Mitchell record called Hadestown. It literally fucks me up every time I hear it. It’s like the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I think she’s the greatest artist of our time.
JF: Favorite venue to watch a show, play a show?
TB: (Kelly) The Showcase Live and the Port City Music Hall.
JF: One person alive or dead that you’d like to meet?
TB: Any Beatle would be pretty awesome, that’s pretty much it. To meet Paul or Ringo at this point would be “shizz” yourself time.
JF: Blondes or Brunettes?
TB: (All at once) Brunettes, my wife, Blondes, *laughter*.
JF: Tell us one embarrassing story that your fans should know about that took place on the tour.
TB: (Dave) This one’s good. We were on our way to record the first batch of songs for the Key and for some reason or another our heads weren’t really about us. When we left a rest stop we were in this rental truck. This was in 2004 or 2005, and as we were driving we realize, someone thought the back was on fire because the lights were on. “Why are the interior lights on back there”? We left the back open, and Uncle Rick, Chris and Joe’s uncle, all of his bags and stuff fell out all over the highway and we didn’t realize that until like 20 miles past. We turned around and it’s four in the morning and I’m sitting in the car and Chris and Uncle Rick are storming across the highway collecting clothes. This is a 12 hour trip to Virginia that turned into a 32 hour trip. It was so awful and embarrassing.
JF: Strangest fan encounter?
TB: (Dave) That girl that was grinding her face into the mud, that red-head girl. This was 7 years ago. I think it was the most disturbing thing. She was like a beautiful like 18 year old girl blatantly took too many drugs and was grinding her face into the ground, smashing her head into the ground and then the security were not being very nice and she was just a mess and it scared me.
(Chris) I think we saw earlier that day this older, naked 60 year old guy with his arms duct taped around his back. Freaking out, going AHHHHHHHHHHH!
JF: Alright one last question. Favorite curse word?
TB: (Chris) It’s a made up one that I stole from Willow but we like to say “dikini / dykini” and “peck”.
(Kelly) Poop. I’ve always liked “poop”.
Check out The Brew at www.thebrew.biz
Fall 2010 tour dates for The Brew :
August 26, Black Eyed Sally’s, Hartford, CT
August 27, Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME
September 1, 8×10 Club, Baltimore, MD
September 2, Iota Club & Cafe, Arlington, VA
September 3, Sullivan Hall, New York, NY
September 4, Shire Music Festival, Washington, MA
September 5 – moe.down XI, Gelston Castle Estate, Mohawk, NY
September 17-19 – Wormtown Music Festival 12, Camp KeeWanee, Greenfield MA
October 1, 2010 Bluebird Theater Denver, CO
October 2, 2010 Aggie Theater Fort Collins, CO
October 4, 2010 Nutty’s North Sioux Falls, SD
October 5, 2010 The Aquarium Fargo, ND
October 6, 2010 High Noon Saloon Madison, WI
October 7, 2010 Miramar Theatre Milwaukee, WI
October 8, 2010 Cabooze Minneapolis, MN
October 9, 2010 Kinetic Playground Chicago, IL
October 10, 2010 Blind Pig Ann Arbor, MI
October 11, 2010 Rumba Cafe Columbus, OH
October 13, 2010 Nectar’s Burlington, VT
October 14, 2010 Fairfield Theatre’s StageOne Fairfield, CT
October 15, 2010 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
October 16, 2010 Unity Centre for Performing Arts Unity, ME