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Interview: Brick + Mortar

Brick Mortar band

"Wow. It’s nice to see some testosterone in New York for once,” were the words overheard towards the end of Brick + Mortar’s set at Piano’s in Manhattan last month. Hailing from Asbury Park, Brandon Asraf (vocals, bass, synth) and John Tacon (drums, synth), are certainly doing some heavy lifting as the pair produces a drum and bass, post-punk sound appeals to moshers and dancers alike.

After a righteous roster of performances in 2010, and their first EP ‘Seven Years in The Mystic Room,’ Brick + Mortar are headed up to exit 129 for their first gig at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on Thursday, February 10. NJU’s Kiani Angus-Torres took a few minutes to talk to Asraf and Tacon about going from bullies to bros, Victoria’s Secret, and the bastard love-child of Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello) and Joey Ramone.

Where did you two meet and how long have you been playing together?

BA: We met in 8th grade, but we didn’t’ like ea other.  I was the new kid, and John used to throw French fries and pennies at me in the lunch room, and call me names.

JT: Yea, and then we played football together and I was on the D team as a full back and inside linebacker, and he was on the A team, so he got more playing time than me.

BA: John was like Rudy.

So what was your break through moment?

BA: When John brought me to a NJ Bloodline show at the skate park, and he pushed me into the pit.  Then we went to Ozzfest, and after John told me to that I should play music, so I picked up a bass and we would jam in his garage.  

JT: We would play hours on end in Brandon’s basement and that’s how we developed.
When did you officially establish Brick + Mortar?  

BA: We started as The Black Rhythm, which was just instrumental, but when I started singing, it sounded different.  We stole the name from our friend who was going to do a side project, and then moved away.  We officially established the band just over a year ago.

How would you describe your sound?

BA: Basically, as… kind of like…as simple as the Ramones, but as strange as Tom Waits or Animal Collective.  Somewhere between punk rock & avante garde.  It’s like if Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordellow wrote synth music and fucked Joey Ramone, and hung out with Tom Waits.

JT: Raging electro, fun, concrete, punk rock, doomcore, funtime, party music. It’s a party every time we play.

If you could tour with any band right now, who would it be?

BA: Animal Collective, Matt + Kim, Gogol Bordello

JT: The Royal Bangs, Les Savy Fav, The Local Natives or The Black Keys.  We’re a little wild but minimalist, so any band that brings that out.

What was the best show you played in 2010?

BA: Crowdwise, Jimmy Eat World.  The most fun was opening for River City Extension at The Stone Pony.

What public place/store would you most want to hear your music?  CVS? Shop Rite? A Bar & Grill? A fancy lounge? 

JT: Victoria Secret, or Urban Outfitters.

BA: I love supermarkets, I never have money to shop in them, but I love them.  Or a sex shop would be hilarious.

Describe your songwriting process?

BA: I just make up lyrics and melodies throughout the day, bring them to John, we do it all in my bedroom.

JT: Just look at the wall, come up with samples, and improvise a skeleton.  I give opinions, and then we go back and forth, and usually we come to the same page.  I respond well to melodies that Brandon writes because then I can focus on drums.

As an unsigned band, what keeps you motivated?

BA:  People who are really supportive, who really believe in what we do.  Doing videos, but I’d lie if I said I didn’t get bummed out.

JT: I’m put on earth to play music, so I’m always going to play no matter what.  People who believe in that keep me motivated.

Reader Comments (9)

Digging the song & promo photo .
February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlunts
Easily the lamest band going right now. Terrible music, terrible attitude, star-fucking douchebags. Nothing about this is appealing.
February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR
Disagree with you R. Theyre really talented guys and play hard. Keep up the good work b&m
February 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFF
"star-fucking douchebags" nice haha.

These dudes are pretty cool. Definitely unique without trying too hard, which is more than a lot of bands can say.
February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMax
Name one band that's doing what they're doing, R. I suggest you go see them
February 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGab
R's favorite band is The Ergs, duh.
February 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter:P
star-fucking? like they fuck rockstars or movie stars? what are you talking about? these dudes blowing they're way to fame? if only it were that easy.
February 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwill smith
i saw them for the first time this past november. they opened up for river city extension at the stone pony. they blew me away. if i had ten dollars on me i would have bought their album right on the spot. rock on. :)
February 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermara
I really disagree, R. This band sums up most of what I've always loved about live music. Seen them live twice, bought the EP, can't wait to see them live again, really can't wait for new songs. They are very impressive and unique and definitely have a loyal fan in me.
February 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfluff

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