interview by peter soyer
New bands are like old dogs. People are always interested in puppies and give them attention, while old dogs sit around licking themselves and snapping at flies. If they want attention they have to prove their worth. Broken October (Noisefloor Records) is a new band that has felt the pressure of proving their worth to a crowd. These three guys (singer/guitarist Shane Bierwith, bassist/singer Luke Andrews and drummer Tim Brummett) are turning from an old dog to a puppy every time they play a show and with a CD due out in early 2003 they’ll soon be on rotation in every indie kid’s CD player.
Being new faces in the indie world, how are you getting people to notice you?
Shane: You do what you can, like playing. Our first big show was with Denali and The Velvet Teen. You have to be the opening band, which is tough, but it’s something 90 percent of bands have to go through. It would be nice to be that other 10 percent. No one really gives the time of day to an opening band. Like on R.E.M. Behind the Music when Michael Stipe says, “They just stand there with their arms crossed and say prove it to me.” You can do a shitload of stuff to promote yourself, but when it comes down to it it’s pretty much what the label can do for you. If you have a good label you have good distro and good recordings and it’s easier to market.
Are a lot of people accepting you even though you’re new faces in the indie scene?
Luke: Yeah, but in the bay area you get a lot of elitism and a lot of people that are either too cool to come up and talk to you or won’t give you any feedback. But if you’re not hearing any bad comments it’s usually a good thing.
Tim: And I haven’t heard a bad comment yet. People do come up to us and everyone I talk to loves our stuff. Not “loves” it, but we get a good response. No one really knows about us though.
Shane: That’s a tough thing to deal with also. We’ve played a few shows, but we don’t even have a CD out yet to give people. People can accept you for what you are, but without a record it’s really hard to get into somebody.
How are you putting the power and energy of your live shows into your debut album ‘Self Addressed?’
Shane: We’ve been spending a lot of time on this full length.
Luke: It’s referred to as Sgt. Peppers.
Shane: We’re having a lot of fun doing it and it is our truest sound recording to date. We’ve put in days and nights editing, retracking and all that stuff. I think it’s a good representation of us and it definitely has a lot of energy which should portray our live shows pretty well.
What bands have inspired the music you make?
Luke: We each bring forth different influences to the band.
Shane: My biggest influence is definitely Jawbreaker. At the Drive-In, Radiohead, Deathcab for Cutie, even Deftones. I’ll probably think of other bands later and kick myself. It really varies. Knapsack, Jealous Sound, Hey Mercedes, Elliott Smith.
Luke: I bring the heavier influence and hard core background. A lot of screaming, a little bit of chaos.
Tim: Huh, I like Foo Fighters. I’m the poppy person. Everything that Shane said is the same. I like everything.
Shane: I think out of all of us Luke would be the most eclectic.
Luke: I listen to everything. I’ll listen to Fleetwood Mac and then put on a Dr. Dre album right after.
Tim: Yeah, (pointing at Luke) he likes Avril Lavigne. Every bit of music we listen to comes out.
S hane: Well it does and it doesn’t. We tend to stick to our “indie” rock sound. We have a lot of influences.
Tim: Especially Green Day. (Laughing) Right?
Shane: (Laughing) Off the record.
Say you end up in that 10 percent and you win the VMA for best new artist, what would you say at the microphone?
Luke: We probably wouldn’t show up. We’d be throwing stuff.
Shane: Every band wants to dominate the world, but if you actually get to that point it might be really depressing. I think it would be. The work is what makes it fun. To start from nothing and keep on going somewhere. But once you’re at the top, where do you go from there?
Tim: But we also want to get our music out to as many people as possible. If we ever get to that point at least these people could hear us.
Luke: The payoff is just the people you meet, the relationships, the good times you have, traveling a little bit.
What if Nick Carter was presenting the award?
Shane: I don’t know. (Laughing) It’s impossible for me to say if I was standing next to Nick Carter. What would I say? There’s so many things I want to say to him.
Tim: You don’t want to say that will happen, because then, of course, it’s not going to happen.
Luke: Our path is a little different than the VMA’s. We would rather achieve major indie status rather than major label status. We’re more from the field of just proving ourselves and playing as hard as we can and hoping that people appreciate what we’re bringing forth.
Shane: We’re doing it because we love it. It’s gratifying to us. We would love to make a living off of our music. That would be the penultimate. Hopefully that could happen, but I’m not going to bet the farm on it.
Tim: He actually kind of has a farm too.
What would you tell other new bands trying to get started?
Shane: In the music industry that’s the way to go.
Luke: You call and call and call until someone doesn’t want to hear you call.
Shane: But it’s tricky because at the same time…
Tim: You don’t want to piss them off.
Shane: It’s a little mind game you have to play with the promoters and bookers.
Tim: Try to get a little local scene too. Get a core of people that will go to your shows. That means you’ve got some people that like you. Ours just needs to be a little bigger.
Shane: I could give information to up and coming bands, but our first CD hasn’t even come out yet. The best advice I could give them is: Give us a call and we’ll play some shows.