They’re an explosive burst of joyful energy all the way from the Netherlands; the Broken Brass Ensemble took the festival circuit by storm last year and are back with their new single ‘Hitchhiker’ which is set to be released on the 26th of January. GIGsoup caught up with the eight piece neo-New Orlean’s Jazz band about their production techniques and plans for the future.
Where did you all meet?
Most of the band knew each other from high school or music academy, but it first came together musically four years ago in a town called Leeuwarden in the north of The Netherlands. We loved the New Orleans sound and came together to play that kind of music. The band and sound evolved into a New Orleans brass 2.0 version.
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Why did you decide to go with a fusion sound over a traditional New Orleans Sound?
We played in a traditional way in the beginning, but we decided really quickly that we wanted to write our own songs. With all the musical influences within the band, ranging from bebop jazz to heavy metal, we were bound to end up with our own take on brass music.
New Orleans is kind of the birthplace of the brass sound we started out with, is the basis of our sound and the brass sound we love because of the sheer energy it has. The city breathes brass and jazz music. In New Orleans brass bands play (on the streets), in both times of joy and times of grief (brass bands form the first line and second line at funerals – first line is sad, second line is about celebrating life). Brass is the outlet of emotions and energy over there, everything that makes (playing) music great.
There are elements of heavily processed production elements in some of your tracks (such as the vocals on Hoe Het Is), what were the ideas behind including elements like this?
We like to experiment with our sound. Brass music isn’t a fixed thing which you can’t change. We’re not that purist. Music is a fluid thing. It changes and keep changing because people (like us) want to experiment with it. ‘Hoe Het Is’ had that hiphop-funk feel right from the start; so we just thought “why not ask a rapper to add some verses?” And it worked out to be really awesome. On the new record we have different kind of sounds and effects, and for the live shows we want to be able to reproduce that, so we’re adding effect- pedals to the sousaphone, saxophone and trombones to make that happen. An adding an Octaver-pedal to a sousaphone makes it sound massive!
You’re famous for frequently and energetically touring. How does the experience compare to being in studio recording?
We want the live shows to end in riots basically. Have the crowd go crazy. All energy is focused on the people in front of us and we get that energy back which makes the shows so energetic. Recording in a studio is a whole different story, because we can’t feed off a crowd, but we do want to have that live energy on the record. So we have to dig deep to make that energy happen for the recording. A crowd in front of us makes that process much much easier.
Do you ever think of trying to tour in America? Do you think audiences would be receptive?
We really really really really really really want to tour in the USA, and especially do shows in New Orleans. Go back to the source of our brass sound and find out how people react to our take on the music in the city it all started. We think audiences will dig our sound, because it has all the elements for a riotous live show, but still has enough musicianship to please the jazz cats.
You sight “DIY” as one of your influences. Talk us through what you mean by this.
When you want something you have to Do It Yourself. Our manager has toured Europe with hardcore-punk and rock n roll bands and he always says we have to consider this when approaching our live shows. We have to treat it like it’s the last one and the last chance to give people a party. We wanted to play shows outside of The Netherlands, and the first opportunity came from the UK (Green Man Festival). It was just for one show. We could have waited for more shows, we could have thought it was too far (because it was more than 12 hour drive, which is a lot for just this one show), many reasons not to do the show. But we saw an opportunity, so we drove up to Wales to do the show. We did the one show for 3000(!) people and the place went crazy! It landed us a booking agent in the UK and a lot of festival shows the next year. So sometimes you just have do it.
Who are you listening too right now?
Everything from jazz to heavy metal. Really. There are eight people in the band, with really different tastes in music.
What’s next for you?