AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCEMONT
Brucemont is an alternative indie rock band from Asheville, North Carolina. Their unique, versatile tracks take influences from many different genres. Lucidly comparable to alternative English early-century rock, Brucemont is definitely one of the most post-britpop resembling bands in Western North Carolina. Although they may resemble bands like The Fratellis or Phoenix, they still incorporate their own unique garage surf feel to their songs. In fact, at times, certain guitar riffs seem to sound like something you’d hear in Beach Boys’ early demo recordings.
While they may resemble a plethora of bands, listening to Brucemont for the first time is like meeting the child of Beach Fossils and The Shins. AND– they’re genuinely wonderful guys.
Tell us about your band! Who are you?
Julien: Xandy and I went to middle school together. And we all went to high school together.
Xandy: Julien taught me how to play drums in middle school.
J: I actually was teaching drum lessons in middle school. We all played interchangeably in high school.
Colin: And that’s basically how we know each other. We’ve been playing together since high school in a bunch of different variations. Brucemont was just born out of all of us just being the most into being in a band and being into the same sort of music. So, when Lewis got back from college, and Xandy got back from his travels abroad, we were all just in the same place. We started playing music again.
Lewis: Also, when we moved into a new house we had an actual place to practice.
J: Lewis moved in with me after he got out of college. And then we were building the studio.
C: So Brucemont kind of became a thing about a year ago.
**A whole year ago. Could you tell us more about how Brucemont was born? **
L: Xandy wrote a lot of songs while he was in France.
X: The brunt of them was right after I got back.
J: Xandy is like, a super good songwriter. And he can do it by himself. He can write all the band’s parts– or at least flesh them out.
X: I’ve been doing it since I was like twelve, recording and multitracking in my bedroom, just like messing around.
J: When he says “I have a song idea!” It’s basically done. So that’s why we don’t ever have demos. Because if we had demos people would have a hard time discerning between recordings and demos. He, literally, was just like “I have a shitload of songs, are you guys willing to play them?” And we were like “yeah.” Because we’ve played together for forever.
C: So yeah, Brucemont was mainly born out of Xandy having all these songs and us being down to play them.
X: But we had been talking about it before. Before I left we were like “we should seriously try to do a band,” and so when I got back I was like, “well I’m gonna start writing with four parts in mind.” And it was more rocky than I’ve ever done.
You guys were previously called “Hate A.M.” Why did you decide to switch to the new name?
C: We decided to switch the band name because Xandy lived there [on Brucemont circle] since he was out of high school. We’ve had parties there, and that was the first place we actually played together as a band back in the day.
J: I wasn’t really a fan of the name from the beginning, because we were trying to pick names and we couldn’t really pick them.
X: One night, I was like “hey, let’s just be that!”
J: We were like “fine!” But I don’t really like the word “hate” that much in general. But it just didn’t speak to me at all. It was almost a detriment. If someone heard the name of the band, they might be like “oh, they sound like this because it’s got the word ‘hate’ in it. It might be angry or metally”, and so I was like “fuck.” Brucemont is a place that we played a lot and it also just has a really nice ring to it.
X: It’s unique.
J: Which actually is a west Asheville thing, supposedly. I think a lot of people name their bands after [places.] People who live here really like it.
What’s your favorite song off of Scene? Why?
L: I like Resurrection.
J: I think Resurrection is my least favorite song.
Really? I’ve heard that people really love Resurrection!
J: It’s nice to know that… that people like our songs!
C: On Spotify, it’s the only one of our songs that has the little popularity bar.
X: Yeah, it has one popularity bar.
X: My favorite is Resurrection because how we play it, and how it sounds in real life.
J: I also think What I Meant is underrated. What I Meant is my favorite.
X: I actually think What I Meant is my favorite.
J: There’s a lot of emotion and then it’s over.
X: If someone asks to hear our music and I play it for them, I actually go to What I Meant. That’s my favorite.
J: I think the coolest thing is how the album has a lot of well rounded songs.
X: My favorite is Evergreen. That’s my final answer. That’s the one that I’m most proud of and I feel well connected to it.
Have you had any crazy experiences in the Asheville music scene/ at shows/ during recording?
L: There was a guy at the last Shithaus party, and he was on coke or something. He started a fight with everyone who lived there. The last Shithaus show/ party ended with a fight.
C: Shithaus is the epicenter for a lot of stories. More crazy stuff happens at house parties.
X: Every house party that’s been on Brucemont, someone has tagged the basement. I’ve been cleaning bottles out the next day and there’s a fresh tag somewhere. That’s not crazy, but –
J: Oh! Good story! The toilet water was backing up and that guy was jumping on the fucking board next to the drain. And he was jumping up and down and it was just going everywhere.
C: It wasn’t poop water, but it was related.
J: That was funny. That was at Brucemont and it was after one of our shows… Also last time I bled. All over my drum set.
L: There was this punk house called 69 Gay Street, it was like the best place ever. The ceiling was so low, and people would crowd surf there so much that there were always footprints on the ceiling. So when they moved out, there were all of these boot prints all over the ceiling and it looked really, really cool.
Asheville seems to be such a big town for buskers. Has any of you ever tried busking before? If so, what was it like?
J: Fuck them, and they’re from Florida. That’s my answer.
C: The thing about that is how it’s a different music crowd. It’s not related to any of the venues, and it’s not really related to musicians around here who do venues and house shows. The buskers don’t always interact with a lot of other musicians. They’re in their own world. I’ve never been to a house show with someone who also busks.
X: That was something that we aspired to in High School, but now, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem super realistic. It’s weird because you’re playing to a bunch of people who are walking by.
L: That’s like, everything that’s wrong with Asheville.
X: Also, in this busking scene, I was in another marimba band with adults after high school, and we’d play downtown sometimes if it was a nice day. People would pull up and be like “yo, this is our turf! Get outta here!”
How does the creative/ songwriting process work for you guys?
L: Pretty good.
J: Pretty great.
X: It’s been changing a little bit. Before, as they were saying earlier, I would just make a finished song and I’d be like “here’s the song, let’s learn it!” But now, with our newer stuff especially, I’ll have a half-formed idea and we’ll all work on it together, which is really cool.
J: We’re a band!
X: I think it’s more of an even mix of our tastes and expressions.
J: Traditionally, Xandy writes all of the stuff, and he delivers it to us. And then we ignore what he wants until he gets really mad about it –
X: – and I’m like “guys, fucking listen to this!” and then they do and it goes great.
J: And we mostly play it pretty verbatim. After us playing all together, he’s also gotten better at it. It’s pretty cool that we are playing more together now that we’re more practiced and in sync. We’re writing together now. That’s getting really fun. The other day, actually, we’ve gotten to a point where we can kind of yell at each other without actually getting mad. So we’d say “just hear me out, can we try this thing?” I’m the drummer, but I play bass and keyboard, too. We all play a couple instruments. So I remember this last time – I don’t know how to communicate chords because I can’t play chords on a guitar – but I’m like, “there’s this note that I’m hearing that would be really cool if we could go to!” and that’s what’s cool about that. We all just fucking duked it out, to figure out what it could do, and that idea I had in my head was evolved upon as soon as I said it.
L: I feel like the newer stuff is a little bit more… chutzpah.
J: The newer stuff is a little more reflective of us. Xandy writing songs by himself is even different from Xandy writing with us. It has all of our sounds & stuff. Also, when you’re recording by yourself, it’s really easy to just to play, like “la la laaa… “ and when you’re playing with other people you’re like “YEAH!” It’s hard to fucking bang shit out.
X: Yeah you’re right. You can’t bang shit out on your own.
What bands/ artists influence your sound the most?
X: For me, with my writing, it’s mostly mainstream indie rock. I never stopped listening to The Shins. I love them. I took a lot of ques from Grizzly Bear. Here We Go Magic. Smith Westerns.
J: I agree with all of these things.
When I first heard you guys, you actually reminded me a lot of The Shins.
J: Some of [Xandy’s] vocal melodies are definitely where when he would first sing it I’d be like “hah! What? Pretty sure Mercer’s done that.” But mixed with the music it’s so different. It’s got a lot more influences, especially the new stuff. Drum-wise, I always go back to Stuart Copeland who was the drummer for The Police.
L: Fuck yes dude!
J: I’ve played in a reggae band, and I really like that. So there’s a little bit of just something different there with the syncopation. I think it might be more than with indie rock. It might also just have to do with all of our influences. Spoon is another big one.
X: Frankie Cosmos is a huge one. Alex G, Palehound. I’ve also had a lot of music phases where I’d be into jazz, or acid-techno, or world music. West African, Afro-pop, samba, bossa nova, even more progressive, like Brazillian, Portuguese rock, French music from the 60’s. Whitest Boy Alive and Erlend Øye. Erlend Øye in general is a HUGE influence for me. He’s my musical idol. I love him.
L: The Beatles.
X: My parents raised me on The Beatles.
J: I think that might be a given for all of us.
X: It might have given me my ear for chords and harmonies.
J: Radiohead. Radiohead is like god-level though. It’s just remembering that Radiohead is going to be better than every band that ever comes after us. And knowing that and then being okay with it.
C: The Beatles and Radiohead are on the same wave of influence. The same tier.
X: It’s like saying you like music.
L: They are very different though. [Radiohead] is very introverted, studio-heavy.
J: We do look up to that, though. Songs like Evergreen and Weird Fishes [by Radiohead], the drum parts are very similar in syncopation. On the new music, though, when you listen to some newer stuff we’re writing right now, I hear more Tame Impala and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. It’s getting [musically] harder.
Any life experiences that formed songs?
X: I guess almost all of my songs are formed by relationships or being in and out of love with someone. Which is kind of tacky. But some songs, it’s a mix of different things: trying to be a musician in Asheville, and about weird things that my friends are doing, or not doing. Evergreen is about my last relationship. I wrote that one and it feels very universal to me. It feels like I can apply it to a lot for different parts of my life. But it was definitely about a relationship.
J: I think those lyrics are very universal.
What do you want out of music/ the music industry? What does the perfect image of success look like for you?
X: Lots and lots of black tar heroine.
Me too! That’s why I’m in Melted.
X: I’m just trying to mellllllllltt. Haha!
J: Do we all agree that the original idea of a rockstar is probably not what we wanna do?
X: I think my image of success is having enough to live off of. Just because of music. And then putting out stuff that people really like.
C: Being able to record our albums without–
J: –having to suck every single dick of every single person who gives us money to record our album. We would rather not do that…
C: I think it would be nice to have enough financial gain for our recording – to take however long we want to record our album— and not feel like we’re taking a hit in our checking accounts. Beyond that, honestly, I could give a shit. I want to play music for my friends, make music with my friends, and record music ‘cause I love doing those things.
X: My idea of success is not having to work a job because of my music. And that’s all.
J: I forget how fun it is to play in front of people, and so I say it’s not important, but we just played The Mothlight and there were a lot of people in the audience and I was like “oh shit, people actually like our music.” Shows would be really fun, and the format of our music works well for shows.
X: I wouldn’t want to play the Civic Center [which is owned by US Cellular and is an epicenter for less authenticity and more commercialized shows]…
J: But we could also crush a small Bonaroo set. We could totally do that. It would be fun.
X: My favorite part of shows is the give and take. It’s a personal thing.
J: And meeting other bands, too, that are trying really hard. But I also run a business. So I really like that. Maybe fame is not the angle. But we’ve always had recording equipment, and we’ve always been really interested in that. The album we recorded was done all on our own equipment.
Tell us about your newly-released EP Fault.
X: Well, the new songs definitely have a different feel. We moved from, I don’t know, dance rock, to more surf rock, and now it’s like psych. It’s a little more aggressive, more mathy.
J: Lewis and Xandy have switched instruments for the majority of the songs.
X: Yeah, thank GOD. I’m not fucking on guitar anymore.
J: Xandy started playing bass and he doesn’t have to play a guitar solo ever again. Lewis is a riff master. He just shits riffs out. Like good riffs, though. Like shiny fucking beautiful riffs.
L: Put that on a tombstone.
C: Textbook riff shitter. When you think riff shitter, think Lewis.
J: They’re polished.
Should we expect to hear any sounds similar to your album Scene, or will it sound completely different?
J: It’s sounding different. But the EP is a cool side thing almost. The EP is more in the direction of Ressurection-y stuff. What I Meant. More light hearted.
A song, artist, or album that makes you feel a heavy dose of nostalgia?
J: I really like The Kinks. That’s some nostalgia.
L: Oooo. Nostalgia is the record Alopecia by Why?. That’s the most nostalgic album in my life.
X: I don’t like them. I hate them. But I think I’ve only heard Elephant Eyelash. Oh it’s a horrible album. I hated it. It’s so whiny.
L: You might not like Alopecia either.
J: I also really like Deerhunter. Deerhunter’s music… like he’s nostalgic for those times. He’s more applicable to me.
X: The Shins, and The Strokes make me nostalgic. Flatt & Scruggs. They make me feel nostalgia.
J: THE STROKES!!!!
L: Mad Brains! : Real Estate. Beach House.
J: Are we old enough to understand nostalgia as a concept? I… would challenge this question based on our age. Not saying it’s a bad question, I just don’t know if we’re old enough. I think so, but I also think that the nostalgia from people who are three times as old as us are gonna be much more nostalgic.
L: Dude, I was nostalgic from the womb.
X: Yeah me too.
Do you prefer vinyl? MP3? Tapes? Physical or digital ways of listening to music?
L: Digital, but Vinyl when I have free time.
J: I love vinyl. However, I have a really nice set of brand new speakers that are fucking amazing paired with a vintage amp
X: You came into my house and my computer was sitting on top of the record player. Maybe that’s symbolic.
L: I am an aux cord liker.
C: I do have a soft spot in my heart, though, for 128 kilobytes per second.
J: I think that the best format for music is definitely an 8 track. No I’m just kidding. The best format of music is… no question, a V0 LAME Encoded MP3. .flac is a lossless file format but it’s also open source, and therefore is the best. .wavs and .aiffs and .accs can go suck a dick.
A favorite memory that could inspire jams for years to come?
J: Playing with these guys before any of us had any hair on our faces.
X: Honestly, I don’t feel that much nostalgia for… I don’t fully identify with the 90’s because I was so young then. The early 2000s? I don’t feel it.
L: I get super nostalgic about trip hop. Massive Attack. I always heard that shit when I was little and I thought “that is the coolest sound ever.” And then it just, like, died.
J: I miss playing Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon instead of having to do work.
PHOTOS by AUDREY KEELIN