Interviewed by Adrian Hextall (Journalist/Writer/Photographer) Myglobalmind Webzine
The Brew have just released 4th album ‘Control’ to rave reviews everywhere including a solid 10/10 on this site. Given this solid musical foundation, you would be forgiven for assuming that by now The Brew would have developed a solid fan base in their home country. Success in their home country has, however, been slow in coming. To tell us all about the trials of making a name for yourself in the UK, MGM sat down with Tim, Jason and Kurtis ahead of their headlining show at the 100 Club in London.
Thanks for talking to me tonight guys.. we’ve covered the current album. The early ones we’re just starting to get our heads around at the moment, but were really impressed with ‘Control’.
You seem to have got exactly the right mix, the right look. Everything just seems to have come to a head with this one. Is there anything different? Or is it more of the same or have just the stars have aligned?
Jason: We sort of went back to basics. We changed producer. We wanted to try something new. We wanted to try something fresh and go back to the like raw, just with a three-piece band and that’s–
Tim: We wanted definitely a live feel to the album. A less produced and more of a live feel, which Toby (Jepson – producer) was totally in the same wavelength as us, and that’s the way he likes to record. And obviously, he’s where we’re at. It’s what we’re known for. So this album, you probably realized it’s recorded live. I mean, it’s probably–some of the tracks are a couple of takes and it’s done, you know what I mean?
Tim: And certainly the guitar solos and the vocals are all in one take. There’s no overdubs or anything here. But it’s how works for us live. I mean, that’s what we do every night. So for us, it’s very natural to get that spontaneous energy into the album, because that’s what we do. If it ain’t working after two takes, it’s probably not going to work full stop.
Because you’ve got to be able to recreate it live haven’t you?
Tim: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, that was the main change in direction for us from the previous albums.
And you’ve always managed to pick up a lot of coverage from the likes of– you’ve got classic rock sort of championing you at the moment as well. Is that on the back that Toby knows people and he’s managing to push you in the right directions? Or is everything just coming together?
Tim: If I can just say that, I mean it’s nothing really– in all due respect has nothing to do with Toby. That is literally because Classic Rock have heard the album and they like it.
Yeah, they like it. Fantastic.
Tim: Really because we obviously send in previous albums of our stuff in the past and they’ve obviously given us reviews and what not, but we’ve certainly achieved something this time, something slick with this new album, the sound. Like you said, everything seems to fit together a lot better. The previous albums, we never really found our sound, found the direction we were going and fortunately the critics and everybody seems to be liking it
I’ve yet to see a bad review. Which must be really pleasing to you.
Tim: They get filtered before we get there, that’s why.
In terms e sound, listening to it I can hear many of the bands that my parents brought me up on. I am guessing there’s got to be 60s influences is there for you guys as well is there?
Tim: Yeah definitely. We all sort of grew up with music and Jase was growing up with blues legends and stuff.
Okay, so certainly we picked up on the fact then that, Rewind for example, as I say I reckon I can hear a bit of Mr. Daltrey singing in there. Would that– Tim be something that you’d say was an influence there?
Tim: Yeah absolutely I mean The Who were a big influence on me personally being the greatest band in the world. And–
Tim: And I can see Daltrey singing some of my lyrics. It sounds a bit, I don’t know what it sounds, but it is definitely a fact. That and Fast Forward and some of the previous tracks on the other albums as well. But yeah, that is a big influence lyrically.
Now you dropped your head (Jason) at that point.
Jason: Greatest bands in the world.
Jason: We spend absolutely hours having this debate. ‘The Who, which are the greatest band in the world,’ ‘No they’re not.’
Tim: Yes they are.
Jason: Then you get it from here.
You’ll have different opinions obviously but who would you place on those pedestals? Too many to list.
Jason: I’m always like in the middle, Kurt’s always Zeppelin and Tim’s The Who. I quite like them both.
Kurtis: I mean, I love them all. It’s not an easy thing. For me personally, I would say Zeppelin’s my favourite band. Probably it’s just that fact they were the biggest influence on me. They were the reason I decided to play music.
Right. Are you aspiring along Mr. Bonham’s lines?
Kurtis: 100%, 110%. Incredible drummer. I mean, him and obviously Keith Moon from The Who.
Now in terms of the album itself, the tracks on it, you’ve gone for a theme with the titles. I’m sure everybody is asking you about this. I was looking through all of them. The way you’ve slotted them into the songs, I mean obviously works perfectly, but what was the reasoning behind it? It can’t be just to give me a nostalgia trip down to the old days of the cassettes or something like that.
Tim: Yeah, the control thing just came to me one day when I was looking at lyrics and it occurred to me that the lyrics were either retrospective of the moment, looking forward. And I just thought, well you know, if you could control your life in that element too, it would be great and the idea just popped into my head like a remote control, actually that’s a really cool idea.
And then the idea of the symbols, the whole thing just started to develop in my head. And I put it to the guys and they thought it was a cool idea, and it was pretty unique. And we’ve been asked also if it’s like a concept, no it isn’t, it– you know because Tommy is a concept album. This is just a themed album but that’s really all there is to it. It was just a moment of inspiration.
Yeah, that’s clearly worked well, because I imagine it is a talking point every time isn’t it? Okay, so tour wise. Second date in tonight, how did last night go? You were up in Manchester, weren’t you?
Jason: It was in Manchester. Yeah, it was cool. It wasn’t exactly wall to wall but it was– it turned out we haven’t played in the UK for six years. So looking out, it’s like start from scratch here. We had three shows last year. But that was it. We had a couple of festivals but over than that we’ve just been focusing on Europe.
You’ve focused a lot, I think Germany and the other European countries, haven’t you? You got a lot of support there?
Jason: Germany, Spain, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, all around that area, and we’ve got– luckily we played Rockpalast, we got quite– really big exposure out there. Playing with great artists and–
Tim: It went from being a nobody band to a known band, purely from Rockpalast, almost overnight. It opened us up in front of mainland Europe and thankfully they really liked it.
Got you a lot of traction as a result?
Tim: Yeah, it went really– Europe’s going incredibly well for us.
It is amazing, isn’t it? The difference in what attracts a crowd? As soon as you get over the Channel across Europe compared to the UK still.
Tim: Yeah, we’ve talked about this at length, and we think Europe is how England used to be. In a sense that if a band came in to town, people would turn out to check out the new band in town and spend the money, a tenner, 15 quid (that’s pounds to our none Brit readers!) , whatever, and go on and check out this new band. Regardless of whether the hype is there or not. In England, that used to be the case. And now, they just won’t do that. They will not go out and see a band. Unless, it’s a stupid tribute band, or a covers band. And you can quote me on that.
Jason: Or unless it’s a band hyped up by Radio One.
Tim: And I don’t know where all the originality and the home of music, the land of music. It just lost its way. And what it’s going to take to get kids out to go out and support live new original music. I really don’t know. Because the world still looks to England for direction. They still believe that England has that pedigree but unfortunately, all the talent is going to Europe. We’re on tour in Europe all the time. All the old bands, all the new bands. Everybody’s out in Europe.
Not managing to get that foothold in the UK. It’s what you are told to like from the reality TV shows.
Tim: Absolutely. We’re fortunate that we can spend time trying to work in England. Pure and simply because Europe keeps us in pocket money.
And the sense, presumably based on the reviews of the album to date, you thought, Okay, it’s worthwhile then. We’ll have a crack at a decent sized tour of the UK?
Jason: Great there was so much response. People are really positive about what they’re hearing. We’re a firm believer that if people know about the band and hear the music, they’ll like it, and they’ll come to the show. And they’ll have a good time, we’ll put on a good show.
But it’s just getting those people to know about the band.
From the live photos I’ve seen to date of you guys, you’ve clearly putting the effort in. Most shots of you I think Jason, are in mid-air [laughter].
Kurtis: He drinks a lot of Red Bull.
It’s a photographer’s dream obviously to get those shots [chuckles]. It shows you putting the energy in. I would imagine your reviews from shows in Europe are excellent, if they’ve that level of energy in it.
Tim: We’ve got– we’ve been lucky enough to– we got voted in the top three live bands in Europe a couple of years back by one of the big German magazines. It’s reassurance that we’re doing the right thing.
And as you say, slight change of methodology with the way you put this album together. You’re using Toby to produce it, who’s obviously got that bit of knowledge behind him from his little angels, and the production side with all the bands as well. What it’s like working with him?
Jason: It was great. It was great fun from start to finish. We didn’t fight once. We all seem to be on the same page, musically. We spent a week before going to studio with him just running through all the material, tightening it up, getting it– throwing ideas around. And from when we first met we were on the same wavelength and that’s what you need is a band. And he almost became the fourth member of the band through his input and stuff. It was just a great time. It was the best fun I think about it in the studio. We had a great time.
Tim: Plus there was a pub next to us.
Kurtis: The local pub helped [laughter] it was great.
Presumably on the back of that everything just went smoothly and went through a lot quicker.
Tim: We’d finished the tracking in four days. We’ve recorded the ten tracks it’s in four days, it’s just unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.
And then given you’ve gone for that live feel with the tracks, presumably very little production work post recording?
Tim: We knew where we were with the tracks. We had rehearsed them, recorded them, arranged them, before going into the studios. Literally it was just a case of, Let’s get the tape we want to hear. Very natural for us, which I think shows as well.
In terms of future for you guys, you’ll be looking – I would imagine – to get some good support slots as your profile raises. Anything in the works? Or are there any, ‘This would be our dream bill if we could get on it’…
Tim: Again the bizarre thing is, we do a festival in a few weeks time. We’re on the same billing as Joe Bonamassa, The Brew, and Bernie Marsden. You talk about support; we’re on that billing in Europe already. You come to England, and yeah it would be nice.. we’ve supported ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, we’ve done those in Europe. To do similar things in the UK with that style of bands would be great.
Kurtis: Bands such as like Band of Skulls, Black Keys, you know these guys.. Anyone in the same sort of vein of music as us. I mean I’d like to play with the Black Keys, I think that would be fun.
I mean maybe if there’s a band out there that isn’t quite happen– going down in to Europe and want to do a gig swap, we can arrange that with them. So, that’s always a possibility.
I read that Joe Bonamassa gave you a bit of foot up the ladder in the background for you guys, but he didn’t know he did?
It did because– He didn’t realize yeah. It was courtesy of him not wanting his show being broadcast for some unknown reason. Rockpalast (Rockpalast (Rock Palace) is a German music television show that broadcasts live on German television station WDR. It started in 1974 and continues to this day) was the show that really gave that boost, for people other than himself. And they (the channel) decided to play the full set and broadcast the full set of each band that played before him, and fortunately enough, they played our full hours’ set.
Well, that makes perfect sense. What’s the festival you’ve got in a couple of weeks?
Tim: Lorley. Lorley. L-O-R-L-E-Y. Lorley.
Lorley, in Germany (http://www.metalfest.eu/)
Tim: Oh, right. Okay. Yeah, back up to Germany.Playing the Rockpalast venue, as well. It’s legendary– most of the big Rockpalast concerts are all from Lorley.
You mentioned you supported Chickenfoot. Did you do that gig in Brixton?
Tim: No, no, no. This is Europe–
If anything happens to us, it happened in Europe [chuckles].
And not this kind of thing. All the stuff we talked about, the bands we played and stuff, it is all in Europe.
Jason: But it’s now trying to shift that attention and focus to the UK now.
Kurtis: Because we’re from here, we want our country to appreciate the band as well.
Kurtis: Hopefully in time.
Any messages for any bands.. local lads would love to support you and know how difficult it is to get a foot up the ladder?
Kurtis: Well, I think of any band– the best advice you would ever give them is to keep the faith. Because not many bands will last long enough to really get anywhere.
Tim: That is one of the sad things about the UK.
Kurtis: Or through losing the morale, or anything. Because this is a hard– this a hard graft, playing small venues to no people.
Travelling for hours at a time to get there.
Kurtis: When you believe what you’re writing is the best thing that’s ever been heard. It’s soul destroying sometimes. I think keeping your faith. Because somewhere along the lines, someone will hear and will go, that’s great. It’s all about timing. Just keeping the faith.
That sounds good to me. Great advice, thank you very much. That’s a nice way to wrap it up. I appreciate that.