Brandy Row - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Sunday, 08 May 2016 03:00

Brandy Row2


Whilst in London Town recently I decided to hook up with one of its most exciting sons, the one and only Brandy Row. As you do when interviewing a singer songwriter we decided to go for a Thai Buffet and have a good old chat about all things Brandy Row.


Hi Brandy we might as well start at the top and you have a brand new EP in the bag tell us a bit about it?


Well for the last seven to eight months I've been busy writing and recording a brand new EP that was recorded in Birmingham. I used a bunch of different musicians on this one and it’s ready to hit the streets on May the 2nd.


You did a limited run for All Ages Records here in Camden.


I did yes. It was a really limited run for Record Store Day it has a different cover and was only a handful of copies so really rare yeah, and I haven't even got one myself so if someone could let me know how it sounds because I have no idea. (Laughing) Maybe it’s not even me on the records. A friend of mine used to do that, he was in The Parkinsons over in Portugal, and was in an old band and they wrote to a load of magazines about this record they were going to release and what they did was go raid all the local charity shops buying any old records then putting their own labels on them and sending them out to magazines and a few got back to them saying hey we got your record and when I played it it was Michael Jackson's ‘Thriller’. (Laughing) the band had a good laugh at that I hope Marco at No Front Teeth hasn't done that, although it would be funny. (Laughing)


As a solo artist now and not as a member of a band, is there more pressure to do things right and be democratic with the people you get in to play on the songs, or is it your way or the highway?


I guess because it’s my vision and my way of doing things that's sort of the way it goes. But I would obviously listen if someone offered constructive criticism, or an alternative way of doing something. I would say I am a songwriter, composer and lyricist rather than a musician as such. If someone else offers an alternative way then we do try it and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, I think you have to listen to others opinions.



So, with that in mind were there any songs on the new EP or previous singles that changed when you played them to other people?


Not with this EP but on previous releases like The Troubadours, even though it was called Brandy Row And The Troubadours, we were a band and a collective. It should never have been called that it’s not like I was on some ego trip. It was more to do with traditional big bands like Johnny Blower And The Heatwaves, (Laughing) you know what I mean? I did write the songs but we were all in it together. Now it’s different because I've got all these songs and I'm going to release it under my own name. When I go up to Birmingham to record these songs I work with a guy called Alastair Jamieson, he is producing the music so I trust him and I'll play him the demos and then give him time to reflect and take them in and come up with some ideas maybe a change here or there.


Where did you find him then?


Through an amazing guy called Ash Sheehan, he’s amazing he comes from a long line of Irish gypsy performers and can pretty much play every instrument known to man and on one song he plays everything apart from the guitar which I played. I can't remember exactly how or when we met, I seem to remember it was just a case of meeting him around kinda thing. Maybe he was playing and we got chatting and found we shared a lot of the same ideas and how we saw things. I think we both sort of live as outsiders but him much more than me. Anyway, he took me to Birmingham and we recorded 'Consolidated' in one day and he played pretty much every instrument and that was it, his playing is phenomenal and makes it such a great song. It’s the biggest song I've ever recorded - it’s a total wall of sound and its only two people. I don't see Ash so much now because he's busy doing his own thing, but I continue to record in Birmingham because I just think it brings out the best in me - it’s such a great vibe in that studio.


What about the other tracks on the EP how did they come about?


'Hold No Shame' is the title track to the new EP and it’s about my life; I wrote it in about three different countries and kept changing it. It’s a really straight acoustic song and was done in one take and although it’s the rawest song on there I think it's the most powerful. 'Martial Law' is very ‘60s and lyrically about what would happen if martial law was introduced, and how we can make the most of what we have now - all very storytelling. 'Walking On a Razor’s Edge' is this huge sort of French cabaret thing quite strange at times.


Brandy Row4


When you were over in America there is that picture of you walking down that really straight road as a silhouette with a beautiful skyline and landscape that song ('Martial Law') sounds like that picture looks, if that makes any sense whatsoever?


Funny you should mention that because we shot a video over in California for 'Martial Law' and that picture was taken as part of that shoot, so yeah that's great you should say that because that's hit the nail on the head there. The song is very much a CinemaScope type of arrangement and sound, so thanks for noticing.


There is just that vibe about the song and tied in with that picture it just made sense.


The thing is we had this old police car we were riding round in and we filmed it like a gangster movie and I was all covered in blood and stuff it was really weird because this guy who filmed that is holding the fucking footage hostage. He's this Brazilian guy and he had some personal issues that unravelled whilst we were filming and I think he just flipped out. It's really frustrating because I wouldn't care if it was something materialistic but it’s not it’s a piece of art you know? I have begged him, “come on dude we worked our arses off making that video in one day with fake guns and all the blood and it’s a beautiful film.” I don't know why he wouldn't want to put his name on it and get it out there it’s a real mystery. So I’ve just recently shot a brand new video for it over here and that obviously has a totally different feel. Not as romantic as the dessert.


What about the older material like 'Decline Of A Better Man', 'Crazy World' and 'The Final Stand' will they still feature in your set when you play live?


Sure, when I play solo and with a band they often make the set. ‘Decline’ is a great song, it stands out for me it’s about where I was at a certain time in my life and covers some serious issues like mental illness. Again that was Ash who put the drums and the brass down.


Brandy Row7


You started to head down the Pledge route but pulled it. Any particular reason for that?


Yeah, I didn't feel comfortable doing it at all.


It’s an ever increasingly popular route to market for bands what exactly didn't you feel comfortable with?


I'm already selling myself by making the records and doing the videos. I don't know, it just didn't feel right for me and I felt uncomfortable with it all when I sat down and gave it some real thought.


Pledge really seems to divide the music community like nothing else I can think of, but from my point of view it’s no different to a label in many respects some bands use it to great effect whilst others just see it as a cash cow and milk it dry and put no thought into it at all. For me as a punter I buy lots off the platform but there have been a few that really tested my resolve.


Part of it to me is like X Factor fake bullshit and begging for the money or it won’t get made when everyone knows it’s going to get released somewhere down the line.


Sure but some might argue that a product wouldn't have been made had they not had the money up front, and don't record labels pay for the product anyway so what’s the difference? Fans paying or labels paying? You’re a lucky band that can finance the rehearsals and recording yourself confident you have a decent enough fan base to make the record pay.


Sure if you're comfortable with it then that's great, but me it wasn't right. I wanted to go back to working hard and saving up the money doing a day job six days a week to pay for it myself that's why for the last seven or so months I've gone underground. I was working my ass off to get this record done I had to do it. Do it my own way.


Brandy Row1


I guess doing it that way you have the time and are not held by such constraints, because when you start the Pledge you are going to have this done by a certain date and that will hit the Pledgers by such and such, because if someone has already paid then they want it like yesterday and if things over run (which they do) is that going to damage the relationship between you and your fans?


Exactly that's why I did it my way in my own time with my own money until I was happy with it. Let me tell you when it’s up there you’re exposed and when nobody Pledges you have to go away with your tail between your legs (Laughing) There's a lot of satisfaction when you pay for it yourself and everything comes together and you can afford to pay the musicians and do things better than before maybe. In fact I'm ready to go back and record the next songs in June.


Album or single then?


Album, 'Busy Times For Idle Minds'


All brand new tracks then or re visiting some of the older singles?


All brand new.




What about the next logical step then touring. Anything planned?


Yes for this one (the ‘Hold No Shame’ EP) I'm going to be going to Italy for four dates then Holland and round to Vienna and then Germany and I've already got the band sorted for that based in Berlin, some guys you might know who used to be in Radio Dead Ones. I'll go over to Berlin to rehearse just before the tour. It’s funny the more you play and stuff the more people you meet. My saxophone player from the Troubadours lives in Sweden so I'll go over and play some shows in Scandinavia.


Do the songs change much then using different bands to back you?


They do yeah, the songs on the album are all quite different anyway so it'll be good. I think as a solo artist I can get away with it, exploring all these avenues. Whereas if it was a band you'd be accused of selling out and not sounding the same from record to record. Like, somebody like Nick Cave can do whatever he wants really musically. I don't really want to put myself in a certain genre and get stuck in it. There’s so much good music out there.


Brandy Row Poster


People love to pigeonhole musicians and it’s something of a safety blanket and if a song isn't in a style its shelved.


Yeah I like the idea that whatever I write just comes out and there's a freedom with that not to be tied to any specific genre.


What else is happening right now? You sound like you have a great plan.


I've written a book that was supposed to come out a few years ago but for one reason or another was put back, so I'll wait on that one. I'm also trying to sort out some dates around the world at the moment and I hope to go back to the East Coast of America - New York, also Japan is a possibility later in the year. I'd love to go back to New York and I think I'm a lot more stable now than I was when I was there last. I met a lot of great people and played with some really good guys in fact the last drink I ever had was in New York three years ago, and it feels good now. I'd love to go back.


What would you like to happen with the release of this new EP?


I'd love success, I don't see it as selling out, or a dirty word. I'll work as hard as I can to reach as many people as I can. There are magazines out there that people read I'd love to be featured in that would be considered too hip or not cool. I'm not the type of person who thinks “I always want to stay underground and just be cool and my records are too hard to find.” I say “fuck that.” I want to reach people, I've got loads of songs that I think have appeal and I want people to hear them and maybe inspire people to do the same.


Brandy Row6


It’s easy to say you’re punk rock and so underground, but a lot of the time that's a self-preservation thing because people are scared of failure so it’s easier in a way not to try something different just in case it doesn't come off.


Yeah. I want the chance and if I get it I will take it. I can't believe people go into this business to show off and don't want to play to full houses every night or sell lots of records. That’s the dream isn't it? I can't stop writing songs I'm forever having ideas, which is great, and I want people to hear them and I think this new EP (‘Hold No Shame’) is like my c.v. for people to hear what I can do which is perfect. It’s great that Marco is putting this out on his label but I haven't thought about the next one, maybe Sony (Laughing)! You never know. I think during the seven months off I realised that I was happy to go down the solo route because I'm happy with where I'm at and the songs I've got, and I don't have to fit in with a band and those sorts of problems that can crop up. Doing things for the right reasons in this business is a great feeling and I'm in a great place at this moment in time.


Brandy Row has a brand new EP out on No Front Teeth Records right now called 'Hold No Shame' (there's a link for you to buy it below) and if you're around Europe when he's in town go catch one of his shows.