Monday, February 11, 2013

Interview with Broken Prayer

The Cover of the New LP

Moving back to Chicago was awesome. Moving downtown was even better. There are more shows than I know what to do with, especially cheap shows that emphasize fun and DIY ethos, which are two things very near and dear to my heart. I found a lot of cool stuff going on almost every day through the site DIY CHICAGO. A week from moving back I had my first experience with The Mousetrap, an awesome punk house with a lot of space and a courtyard. Double Negative was playing with Cold Lovers, Sea of Shit, and Broken Prayer. I came in alone, with a Fat Tire bomber and an Ishiguro paperback.

Before the house opened up, I was leaning against a concrete wall reading when Daniel Lupton and Double Negative walked by. I was pretty psyched since I had just moved from Durham and one of my favorite bands from the area was in my neck of the woods. We talked a bunch and I got to see a bunch of sweet music. Broken Prayer, however, really blew me away. A spitfire vocalist, dirty guitar riffs and more energy than comes out of a split atom. I was totally hooked, though I wouldn't hear any of their music recorded until their newest release came out on Sorry State Records, which can be heard for free HERE.

A lot of the musicians in this band have other really incredible projects too, which are demonstrated in the interview below. These guys just returned from tour and are playing a show fairly soon at Alderaan on February 23 with a bunch of other incredible bands, so it should be a good time. It's also an early show at 2 PM, so I'm really excited to be able to see it during the day. I really dig daytime shows to be honest. It also means I can catch TENEMENT later that day at Swerp Mansion. Needless to say, it's going to be a good day to be a punk.

Anyway, without further ado, here's the interview:

Jordan: Who all is in Broken Prayer? How did the band start? I know that Liz moved from Boston to Chicago recently but did you guys know each other beforehand?

Scott: It's me, Joey Crappel, Dick Nonahue, Liz and Mark Plant. The band started when I bought a micro-Korg with my 2011 tax return. I recorded a demo by myself, that got the ball rolling, and then I got everybody else. I'd been in a band called The Breaks with Nick (Dick) before, and he's the best drummer I know, Joey needed a zillionth band to be in and offered to play bass, Liz moved back from Boston and Mark is my brother. So this band is also about Family Togetherness.

J: What's the discography of Broken Prayer?
S: A demo that I made about 20 of on mini-CDs, the LP on Sorry State, the accompanying single on Not Normal, and now the Welcome to 2013 compilation LP on Not Normal.

J: How has it been working with Sorry State Records? I saw you guys with Double Negative earlier in June at the Mousetrap - is that when you guys met Daniel Lupton?

S: I'd known Daniel for a while and let me say, working with Sorry State is the B E S T. He responds to e-mails, actually does things he says he'll do, has incredible distribution and a great reputation. Sorry State was the first label I contacted and I could  not be happier that he wanted to do it. Thanks to Sorry State we're doing exactly the record we want to do. 

S: I actually met Daniel years ago. Our first interaction that I can remember is trading my Ill Repute - What Happens Next? LP for his Cold Sweat 1st LP. Manipulation, my other band, did our second 7" with him and Liz's band Libyans has been doing stuff with Sorry State too, so it seemed like a natural fit. But it's still very flattering that he'd wanna put out Broken Prayer stuff. The only label I sent the demo to was Sorry State.

Liz: I met Daniel when his old band Logic Problem played with Libyans in Boston. It was a terrible show- poorly attended and at a shitty bar with a cranky owner who seemed to hate doing punk shows but always did them anyway. (Side note: I once saw jay reatard scream at that guy and it made my day). Luckily Daniel wasn't put off by that experience and we've been good friends ever since. He laughs at my stupid jokes which is the best way to win my friendship. Once, we were talking about how stupid it is that Will Smith named his daughter Willow and i said "that's not that weird, since my dad's name is Bliz." Daniel took what I said at face value until about five minutes later he started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop. I will never forget that. I think he's a Chicagoan separated from his city at birth and adopted by some Virginians, because he fits in so well with us. Best dude. Best label. We collectively spent about $400 in the sorry state "store" at his house on this tour. 

J: Do you guys have specific roles in terms of songwriting and recording? How long does it take to write a song? Where and when does songwriting happen?

S: That's pretty much all my department. Writing a song takes about 6 months - about a week of finding the riffs and then about 5 and 3/4 months of incubation and tweaking. The songwriting happens in my house when I'm playing around with a keyboard or guitar, or in the shower when I think of something I like, or really anywhere. I try to find stuff I like versus create something I think would be cool. That’s a big difference and the biggest part of the process - finding vs. forcing. I'll always be trying to get better at that. Tom Waits compared songwriting to bird watching - you might be looking right at the bird but it takes a long time before you can see it for what it is. I remember that because I like bird watching. So I sort of play around, usually in a vague general direction, and see what I can take from it.

L: dude, being in broken prayer RULES because I don't have to do anything. I come to practice and Scott tells me what to do and then I do it. However, I do like to think that I somehow took part in the tweaking process. 

J: What is the recording process like? What gear do you use? Do you use a studio at all or is it all DIY?

S: This recording process was done in various practice spaces, sort of whenever it worked out, with my friend Niko, who records a lot of hardcore bands around here. He brings his laptop, his mics, his interface, etc. and we do as much as we can with the time we can afford. I would love to be able to spend a ton of time in the studio, try out a bunch of different stuff and really nail it. I will someday, when the millions of dollars start rolling in for playing hardcore. But for this LP, especially on the vocals, it was the first time we'd tried a lot of it, and it was a lot more like "Yeah that's fine" rather  than "That's it!". With the way technology's moving, I'm sure it won't be long before I can spend as much time as I want recording stuff and noodling with it. Actually I guess that day is already here, I'm just not caught up to it.

J: How has the tour been going? Have there been many memorable events (hopefully the good kind) so far this tour? Contrarily, what's the craziest thing that has happened?

S: Tour was great! Great great great! The most memorable thing was being really cozy and napping comfortably in the van. Do you know how rare that is? Very! It was awesome! The van we were in allowed for bed-quality sleep because you could store stuff under the seats. That may sound boring. So be it. That was my favorite aspect of it. Being half-awake all the time usually characterizes touring. Not this time.

S: We had a lot of fun playing shows and being shown great hospitality, especially in by Chris Moore in DC, Will and Jim in Philly and of course, Sorry State Daniel in Raleigh. And we're all record hounds who hounded some great records too. I got 2 Screamin' Meemees LPs and a Typhus boot, among other things.

S: Craziest thing that happened? Well, sort of the whole thing is something you can’t relate to coworkers very easily. It’s all kind of crazy and idiosyncratic that way - playing in kitchens and basements, having skinheads and crusties around, screaming my face off into a bad PA and having people like it... I guess to me, the craziest thing was that we got 24 beers as part of the deal at the bar we played in Raleigh, and I think we took 2 of them, total, as a band. We're no Dead Boys. So that's crazy because of how tame it is. 

S: We played the same spot as the final Born Against show in Richmond. Actually, at that spot, I misheard the sound guy - I thought he said he wanted me to get hurt, so I told him that wasn't going to happen and besides, "you can't". He actually wanted me to get heard. So I’m a macho dufus. Liz also mouthed off to him over a misunderstanding. So that was the closest to a crazy thing - two of us were rude and later apologized to an old drunk southern guy.

L: I didn't mouth off to him! I was yelling at your brother. He totally deserved it. 

L: The best part about tour was obsessing over analyzing personality types. I think our types should go on record, don't you Scott? Joey and I are ENFJ. Dick is ENFP. Mark is ENTP. and Scott is INFP, as is our roadie extraordinaire Mark Masters. 

L: I think the funniest thing that happened on tour was Nick getting harassed by the NYPD for sitting In our van watching the bulls on his phone. They searched the van and found a paint bullet, then arrested him. No, I'm kidding. But he kinda yelled at them and it ruled. I like it when jerks get yelled at, see jay reatard story. 

J: What kinds of music do you guys listen to when you're in the van during the tour? What bands have you guys been into lately?

S: In the van I remember listening to Girls at Our Best, Totalitar, Household, Destino Final and others. Liz loves Elvis Costello. All of us are major collectors/music heads. Right now I'm listening to the Iron Lung Mixtape. We all agree on hardcore punk ruling. We all wanted to buy the D-Clone LP but couldn't find it, and I think we were all at the Crazy Spirit show the night before we left. We're all in other bands too - I'm in Manipulation (shameless promo - we also have an LP coming out on Sorry State soon), Joey's in Boilerman and Strangers, Nick's in Violent End, Mark just started a new thing without a name yet, and Liz is in Slag and Libyans and Siamese Twins.

S: Speaking for myself, some perennial favorites are Devo, Gauze, The Crucifucks (especially their 2nd LP), Nervous Gender, Discharge,  the Killed by Death comps, Crossed Out, Rudimentary Peni and No Trend. Some of my favorite bands of the last few years have been Framtid, Kriegshog, No Balls (especially Come Clean), Household, ADULT., Iron Lung, Needles, Totalitar, Rusted Shut... I like other kinds of stuff too. I love Leonard Cohen and Magnetic Fields, Mobb Deep, Dr. Octagon,  Iron Curtain, LOVE Neil Young, Kraftwerk and Neu!, the soundtrack to Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril. You know, I could actually send you a scan of a doodle with my top 50 records.
L: I am also in Siamese Twins, and a new project with Joey that's a continuation of our old band Embarrassed Teens who played one show. We're gonna call it Siamese Tweens. 

L: As far as what music I like, jeez. Where to start? I think the best band to come out in a while is royal headache. I'm always on a quest to find "the perfect pop record," and that LP comes close. Other candidates include everything marked men has ever done, here come the warm jets by Brian Eno, alien lanes by GBV, so what's left now by the observers, too much guitar by reigning sound, guitar romantic by the exploding hearts, both carbonas self titled you can see I loosely define what is pop. I guess I'm just obsessed with songwriting. Some review of the Siamese Twins 7" said that we had well written songs but needed something else to stand out from the pack. But even though it was actually a mediocre review I was so psyched that they said we were solid songwriters! 

L: I do also actually like hardcore too though! Currently kind of obsessed with dawn of humans. Definitely my favorite toxic state band...

L: Sorry for babbling. It's interesting to me that when I got into punk in the 90s, reading an interview like this where a band listed their influences was one of the top ways I found out about bands. Now kids don't have to do that, they can find out about anything on the Internet. I'm not saying one way is better than the other, but it's interesting to observe how this changes the dynamics of the punk scene.

J: What do you think of the Chicago punk scene? What bands stick out to you that you like playing with?

S: It's awesome! I came from Saint Louis, where there's great great stuff but everybody's always struggling, and it's about 40 people playing to each other. The Chicago scene is huge and there are tons of great bands and places to play. I'm really excited about the Strangers demo and Gasrag's demo. I love Distract, Ooze, Slag, Violent End, Culo, Kontaminat, Tensions, Haka, and I'm probably forgetting stuff. Daylight Robbery is my favorite local band, one of my favorites in the country. Their latest LP is one of my top 3 for last year. Not Normal and Residue Records are great. It's great! 

L: I am really freaking biased when it comes to Chicago. I love it so much. I left for five years and coming home was the best decision I ever made. I agree with everything Scott said. I'd also like to add Moral Void and Angry Gods to that list. Heavier bands that that are really tight and awesome. Population and Torture Love are two good local bands doing kind of joy division/goth/whatever style. And autonomy fucking rules too, even though they're actually from southern Illinois so it doesn't count. Their new LP on dirt cult is SO GOOD. 

J: What is the design on the cover of the new LP? It's really awesome.

S: The design is by my friend Jeff Robtoy, who I was in Cardiac Arrest with. It's from a book that he did. He's a great artist. He does the art for his band, Pillow Talk, and his aesthetic is pretty spot-on what we're going for. He and I are very similar, which probably explains why his aesthetic makes so much sense to me, and why I like his bands so much. Everyone, check out Jeff Robtoy!

J: What else is in your future? Any new song ideas you've thrown around or places you plan on going?

S: We'll be recording another LP, probably around the end of the year. We have leftover songs from the last one, and 5 or 6 new ones we're working on. Then we'd love to tour again. I don't know. I'm bad at planning. All I can say for sure is Yes.

J: Do you guys have any other artistic means of expression or is music the major outlet?

S: I do improv and sketch around Chicago and drawings and stuff. Everybody else does gobs and gobs of music. Especially Liz and Joey just do tons of bands. 

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

S: Thanks for much for the interview! This is crazy! I write guitar riffs in my room and now somebody wants to blog about it!

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