Acting Out Of Honor, Merit & Passion For Their Craft: An Interview with The Brevet [PHOTOS+INTERVIEW] REVIEW+PHOTOS+INTERVIEW: THE BREVET @ BOOTLEG THEATRE 2/9/17
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Coming off a tour along the west coast with folk singer/songwriter RIVVRS, was a five man band named “The Brevet”. The Orange County based band consisting of Aric Chase Damn on vox/guitar, Michael Jones on the piano, David Agiuar on drums, Ben Ross on bass and John Kinglsey on guitar started in 2012 and have steadily built a national Americana buzz. The last show of this co-headlining tour was held in front of a packed house at The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles.
The Brevet closed out the night with a set I whole heartedly enjoyed. It was nice to finally catch a band that hailed from the same county as me that wasn’t a punk rock band. The Brevet ripped through their hits and even played the new tracks from their latest single release “Into The Storm”: A two track release consisting an acoustic performance of “Moving Mountains” and “Into The Storm”.
Their showmanship was engaging. As they performed their brand of Americana, it made me long for some summer time vibes during this cold cold February.
Before The Brevet took the stage, I got the chance to sit down with the band for a few quick questions. I played a few games of ping pong with Michael and John (who both smoked me by the way) engaging in some small talk about the OC neighborhoods we had our roots in, and when everyone arrived we started to chat.
BC: So how was the tour?
John: Tour has been awesome!
BC: Do you guys have any cool/crazy stories from touring?
Michael: Well at one point we had the wrongs chains. We had driven from LA to Portland in one drive in one big swoop. It’s a 20 hour drive and it was 3 am and we’re in the like Mt Shasta/North California area and we were about to hit a chain check and we didn’t have chains so we had to go back to the nearest Wal-Mart since it’s the only place open at 3 am that might have chains and we had to get the wrong size because they didn’t have the right size. And we basically had to pretend that we had the right size but we got through
BC: Were you guys all in one vehicle?
John: Yeah we were in a 15 passenger van
Ben: So all in all it was pretty mellow tour.
BC: So I know you guys started with composing scores and cinematic pieces and such but how did you get started with that?
Michael: Aric was acting in a few different films in college since he was a theater major –
John: He’s a thespian.
Aric: YOU WATCH YOUR MOUTH!
Michael: [chuckles] So he’d come back from Nebraska (He went to school in Nebraska) and we were often trying to have different bands put the music into these films so we just thought “Why don’t we just try to write the music ourselves” so we were doing these scores on our own but it was very… orchestral type stuff but then we thought, “Well maybe we should make “band like” music too”
BC: And it all kind of came together after that?
Michael: Yeah we had like three songs outside of our film student stuff, then right after that we found David.
BC: What is the meaning of “The Brevet”? How did you guys get that name?
Aric: So I’m huge civil war buff and “The Brevet” was largely used in the civil war. It was a rank that was given out of honor and merit and when you got that rank you didn’t receive pay for the extra work you had to do.
Dave: It was an unpaid promotion basically
John: So when someone was a Brevet […] it meant that they earned the distinction of it but were doing it without the other benefits it came with.
Dave: So to be clear, it’s not like they weren’t getting paid for what they were doing. They just didn’t get a fat salary boost. It was more of an honor thing
John: So in relation to us, it all kind of started because we all loved the music.
Dave: It’s more about the “success” as a musician. It’s not necessarily about going on the road and eating ham sandwiches for a living but it’s more about being able to support a family, to be successful and to be fulfilled with your peers and fellow musicians
Ben: It kind of speaks to chasing your dreams and finding a rather unconventional career path
Dave: And definitely having to beat out your own path as you do it. We have help and we have an incredible team around us, but at the end of the day … it’s the five of us in a room making these calls and deciding what to do. So there’s a lot of trust in yourself and the band.
BC: In your latest release, “Into The Storm”, was there anything new that you guys tried with it
Dave: Well “Into The Storm” has been in the works for a while now but “Into The Storm” and “Embers” are two different chapters of The Brevet.
Aric: “Moving Mountains”[…] was recorded in a different way
Dave: […] A lot of “Battle Of The Heart” and a good amount of “American Novel” still had a lot coming out of Michael and Aric’s childhood friendship, musicianship and songwriting … and us coming in and elaborating on it, and working together on those things. And “Embers” was the first time it feels like there’s a continuum. All five songs sound like they were produced in the sort of headspace. They all have continuity in my mind. And in “Moving Mountains”, with all that musicianship we had been building with each other, we got to apply that to old music.
BC: I saw that video acoustic video that just went up for “Into The Storm”. I really enjoyed it.
Dave: That was a fun session. There’s a really cool story with that too. It was one take and it was in an old club house in a trailer park that we used to record at. They were tearing it down and turning it into a rock climbing gym or something like that. So when we went to record, we thought we couldn’t use that place anymore … so we had to find somewhere else. [We] scouted around but didn’t really find anything so we went back to that space and thought it was kind of cool.
Michael: We were actually planning on doing a shoot outdoors, but there happened to be crazy Santa Ana winds that day, so we thought “What can we do within this space that we have that’s being torn down”.
BC: If you could attach one word or emotion to “Into The storm” what would it be?
John: I’d say “journey”. “Into The Storm” is very much about our journey as artists into this career. But a lot of those paths have been dried up and a lot of things changed. Things are constantly changing. So it’s about a journey as a band
BC: Is that where the name came from?
John: Yeah… It kind of circles back to “The Brevet” question.
Ben: Also, I’d like to say kind of “Earthy” or “Raw”. “Into The Storm” is one of those songs that we play a bit more broken down live and with “Moving Mountain” as well. It’s a lot more broken down.
BC: What can we expect next from you guys?
John: We have a lot of songs that we’ve been recording and working really hard on that we hope to release soon. But we’re hoping to do more tour you know. Just playing more shows. We love playing LA but it’s nice to get out. So all of it I guess. Playing, writing, recording. We’re still very young as a band and we’re still growing. And being self produced is a huge advantage in terms of material. We have that wizard over there [points to Michael]. We can record in our down time and sit on it and wait for a good time to release it. This is going to be a good year.
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— Hector Vergara (@Hextrn) February 10, 2017
Derrick K. Lee is a music attorney, blogger, concert photographer and co-owner of Blurred Culture. He goes to a lot of shows and sometimes he writes good. Music is his boo.
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