The Inspiration & Perspiration Getting From Point A To Point B In One Take With The Brevet [INTERVIEW] BC Artist Profil: The Brevet
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On the hottest day of the heat wave to hit NYC, The Brevet, (Aric Chase Damm [vocals, guitar], David Aguiar [drums, percussion] and John Kingsley [guitar]) usher out of a cab in mid-Manhattan. They have had barely 30 minutes sleep after getting off the red eye from Los Angeles yet they are somehow still happy to carry all their gear and take a quick walk to a small park a half block up. It is only a half block up and yet we are melting in the heat. Only men can actually look better in this kind of temperature, so after looking incredibly handsome for photos, they were kind enough to not giggle too much as the perspiration poured off of me as I asked them questions about their artistic process. The thing I took away from this band was how down to earth, introspective and thoughtful they all are, but that is something that I should have seen coming considering how much of that is reflected in their music.
What is your first musical memory?
Aric Chase Damm : Probably Raffi. My mom played a lot of folk music as a kid. I grew up in Georgia, so there was a lotta like old time Appalachian stuff going on in the house. She sang like Shake Nodes and stuff like that so very formulaic; lava lamp type shit.
John Kingsley : For me my parents played a lot of Elvis when I was a kid. I was really into Elvis, and like a lot of the Holly’s my father used to play a lot of The Doors and The Holly’s. I remember that constantly. That really inspired me crafted what music I listen to.
David Aguiar : I’m first generation here. My parents are from the Azores from Portugal, so I grew up with folk music. They made me do folklore, like I’d have to wear these little outfits and a little dance, so those songs stuck with me forever.
Where do you go for inspiration when you write your music?
Aric Chase Damm : I think it’s more just life. I look a lot at movie scores and film, so a lot of the things that inspire me are constantly like movies and scores and composers. So kinda the emotions that they inflict, a lotta hope, a lot of overcoming, that’s a lot of the time what initially inspired me to write the way we do. Now it’s just kind of doing the whole music thing and going throughout the ups and downs of it, just try to relay it and be very personal with it. That’s what I’m writing about right now.
David Aguiar : It can come pretty spontaneously too, your story about “Meet me in the Night”, how you wrote that.
Aric Chase Damm : Yeah, each song varies. I was writing this one song and one of the other guys I was writing a song with came up with the guitar lick and it sounded like to me like a spaghetti western. We wrote in this whole western like tale, based around that guitar lick, so different things can inspire different forms of writing.
John Kingsley : I think it’s about being ready to receive at all times being open for when ever it hits and not trying to necessarily search for one specific thing but when the times comes your ready and able to at least try to do something with it.
David Aguiar : I think we’ve been really lucky to have a studio space. One of us can get up in the middle of the night, have an idea, quickly write it down, record it really quick and that’s when we can all come together the next day and start embellishing on it. Then sometimes it turns into something really beautiful and sometimes it goes no where. I think that’s where what John was saying was really important, just to not focus on that, not to go try to find the perfect creative idea or space but just to move on with your life and keep going forward and be open to the next idea that hopefully that is kinda planning seeds and hope that something good comes out of it.
Is there a story behind “Be Your Man”?
Aric Chase Damm : “Be Your Man” is just kinda an analogy that I wrote as a way of a man trying to be the ideal man in our society that we live in right now. It’s a relationship based song, in all honesty just trying to be the best person you can be for the person you love.
David Aguiar : It always reminded me of a Budweiser commercial, can I say that?
Aric Chase Damm : Yes. (laughs)
David Aguiar : Because it always starts with a certain idea that we take in and then we start adding stuff into it lead guitar and then it gets twangy, and swings a little bit and it always just reminded me of a feel good. It’s like a love song but its not tacky. It’s a hard lyric, which to Aric’s credit one of his many attributes is being able to make lyrics not corny, like a lyric like “be your man” I feel like could be pretty, corny, but I feel like it comes across. Maybe that’s why the Budweiser thing comes up, seems like, feels like a feel good summer love song but I don’t feel like we are compromising any sincerity.
Aric Chase Damm : It pulls on different kind of emotions with that song for sure, the lyrical content that’s a little more heavy and then the actual music, the guitar and swing, that’s a little more fun.
David Aguiar : I like “building a house, as high as I can” that’s probably my favorite lyric.
John Kingsley : The cool thing about that one is that lyrically that sort of matches the soundscape structure of a lot of the brevet stuff. It’s broad, not to specific, yet your able to kind of, like David was saying to Aric’s credit, he’s able to make these lyrics that have a point and that are accessible, sort of malleable to whoever is taking them in; almost Robert Hunter-ish if you will. Very sort of powerfully descriptive in a way that’s accessible to everybody. Which is pretty cool. Good job!
Aric Chase Damm : Thanks man, I try my best.
Can we talk about your music video process, the one takes and how that came about?
Aric Chase Damm : We did a video for “Hold On” which was a live acoustic video and that kinda started because we just wanted to film a live performance. But you know how a lot of bands do it in a field or something like that, and that was the goal originally, a forrest or something. Let’s do that, let’s set up in a field, one shot, and film us doing a performance. Nothing really fancy. And we get to the field and it was really really windy, and so no live performance is going to work there. We were just in the process of moving out of our old recording studio, which was actually a club house in a mobile home park, built in the 1950’s, so a huge recreational room and we all met back up there just trying to figure out what we were doing, cause we have this camera man, we have a director, you know we kinda planned this whole day. What do we do? And our director, she kinda came up with this idea, Why don’t we do this here? Why don’t we do this one take thing where we don’t cut and we kinda move along, and we meet with the band, so were like, “Alright, let’s do this.” and it just became this beautiful really really cool video, kinda was like, just cool for us to see in a weird way, we all kinda looked at it and were like “I like this video a lot, it’s really cool.” And I guess from there, this one take kinda idea, we worked with the same director, same DP, and we were like, let’s do another one take but make like a music video music video. The idea for “Embers” …. “I just want to love you like an old romance would do” is the line in it and so Sarah our director came up with this concept of having a girl interpretive dance through out this live one take going through different eras starting in the 1940’s going through to the present day. It takes her on her journey.
David Aguiar : One of the cool things about that, is how it kind of came from that same sort of need to get something done quickly, cause originally for “Embers” we had ideas about a time machine…
John Kingsley : Burning paino, we were going to light a piano on fire.
David Aguiar : We used to have a piano at our studio…
Aric Chase Damm : David wants to light it on fire.
David Aguiar : I’m itching to destroy it, cause it sounds horrible. It’s not worth saving. So there were a lot of ideas, really in depth ideas of how to really take some time and make a video. But we were really crunched for time, like Aric said, “Hold On’ was really well received and was put together really beautifully, so the one take idea was really nice cause it kinda melded those two things. It was not like “Hold On”, “Hold On” is more of a live performance, but done in a sort of interesting way, and “Embers” is more in line with the theme of the song, but we still use the one take, where it took a lot of planing to get from point a to point b and still tell a story.
Aric Chase Damm : You can get the one takes done quicker like in the sense of putting them out faster but there is a lot more planning that goes into it because you have to work with really really talented people DP/Steady cam operator, a great dancer, and a great director. There’s a lot of skill that goes into it, which is kinda cool because it expands and strengthens our own artwork too.
David Aguiar : Which is kind of like the song writing question too, it would be nice if we had the money and the resources to take a month off of work or whatever we are doing back home to go rent out a cabin in the woods and put ourselves in the perfect space to write the perfect songs, but the reality is that there are deadlines, and there is real life that comes at us, so to be surrounded by people who know how to work with what we’ve got and make something cool out of it, then keep creating more, instead of spending like three months on one video, so that’s really the overall theme I think for the band.
John Kingsley : There is no one answer to anything. Whether it is a song idea or a guitar part, just being able to capitalize on a good idea and working with the resources you have with the time you have and making what you’re doing the best it can be, to the best of your ability, there’s probably a million different ways that video could have come out great, we happened on the one vein of inspiration and worked with it and it came out great.
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Cortney Armitage is a photographer and writer based out of Brooklyn, NY. Born into the world of indie rock ‘n’ roll, she travels back and forth from Los Angeles capturing artists in and out of their natural habitat. Contact her at: www.CortneyArmitage.com