Interview: Brick + Mortar

“Being that we are an unconventional band, our songwriting process is rather random. Come see us live. Sweat, booze, girls, drums, beats, smiles, secret one-hits, crowdsurfers, stage stormers, strangers, and love. Everyone is welcome. ”

After an EP, 7 Years in the Mystic Room released on March 2010,  Americans of New Jersey , Brick + Mortar gave this year, birth to their last title Heartstoke .

And also the amazing track “Move to the ocean” that seduced me at first due to its electricity still remains predominant and leaves us in a very pleasant state of emergency.

There is a sense of recklessness and deliberate aerial, a great musical event beside which he had been a shame to spend .

Meet Brandon Asraf (Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Samples) who talks about his group, among other digressions on their future projects and his vision of the music business.

But then before just listen and discover their sound here :

LSD: In general, questions about the names of groups have no  interest, but at least  it’s interesting, because the name Brick + Mortar is somewhat the antithesis of your names. And in French we said « des briques et du ciment » who remains me Pink Floyd’s track the wall.  A small story tell us about it?

B + M: In the beginning it was just a name. A stolen one, my best friend was this electronic/mixed media artist and we spoke about starting a side project called Brick + Mortar, He ended up moving across the country around the time i started teaching myself to sing when it came time for a name I asked to use Brick + Mortar and he said ok. But now its evolved to represent our sound and work ethic, we built this from the ground up brick by brick show by show and fan by fan. Thanks for not asking us who is Brick and who is Mortar…we get that a  lot!

LSD: How do you come to play the indie rock when you grew up in New Jersey on the East Coast of the United States?  Between Kool and the Gang and Bon Jovi (joke), but still Bruce Springsteen. What represented the city for you as a teenager? You were proud or you want to flee?

 B + M: Asbury was the fucking ghetto when I was a teen, I lived south of there growing up it was a rough hood in the 80s and 90s. Basically it was the stone pony (Bruce Springsteen’s favorite venue) and a run down boardwalk. But places that get thrown away by society are perfect for artists and free thinkers so know I live in the heart of Asbury and we have a cool community of small shops and everyone supports each others endeavors. I am proud to live in Asbury Park we have built a real following and here…

p.s. If you are ever in town check out asbury lanes for amazing shows ran by people who care about artIsts!

LSD: There was talk of music but what influenced you at the very beginning when you started?

B + M: I started playing music cause i was depressed. I was 15 with no real friends or direction my father was on the run from the law since i was 10 and my mother was….well she had 5 kids and no clue what to do next. So i decided I need to tell my story i need to express myself or i might explode. I met my best friend and bandmate tacon 9who was already a fucking beast on the drums) and he said “Brandon you should play bass” so I did and i was good the rest is history. I never looked at bands and wanted fame or money or chicks i just wanted to express myself and see if the world could relate to me. I have never even been in a band besides with my best friend Tacon. I am most influenced by life. To me a song can be anything notes timings and chords are all just colors you know but a song is the story you tell with them.

LSD: Sometimes the environment greatly affects creativity, is that being based in New Jersey, in the shadow of all these groups connected New York and especially Brooklyn has had an effect on you ?

B + M: We are the underdog we always have been and maybe we always will be. As a band we have to work for every fan we get and prove ourselves with every show. Brooklyn bands are cool and its the hip place to be but i like being the underdog.

LSD: So who are your musical influences now ?              

B + M: Bands like Animal Collective, Electronic artists , local bands, a lot of hip hop, stuff like kimbra and oldies like 50’s stuff…oh and The Doors, Pink Floyd etc.

LSD: How do you compose your music? Is there a writing process that precedes entry into any studio or is it more instinctive after long jams? At what point do you know a song is finished? Small matter of a musician, what are your instruments and software productions predilections? I especially like the voice, the rhythm and the samples on the Move To the Ocean track .

B + M: I make everything with stuff i have at the moment in my bedroom. We don’t use computers to make most samples. Instead we use a roland spds sampler, its a bit more complicated but it feels more real in my hands. To me a song is as simple as a melody and a drum beat. I write all the lyrics and melody first then we make the beats and add samples from there. Lyrics just come to me throughout my day and melody is simple i just let it fall out. After me and tacon work out a beat and song structure we add the icing (samples, bass, guitar, keys, weird vox and all that)

 LSD: You were already at SWSX, as part of your tour. How it happened to you ?

B + M: We have always had a great live show. We used to just book shows and and improvise all the songs. That how i learned to write songs. I believe the audience is more important than the band. Fans are who make songs live forever. I dunno if other bands feel that way but i just believe that the audience is part of our show. We have people clap storm the stage we basically bring a fucking party to each town. I even teach each crowd the chorus for our song “For Yellow Walls” by the end we have the whole place singing along. I grew up as a boardwalk kid, this environment made me a fast talker and a good frontman. We traveled from NJ to Texas and back.

LSD: Since the beginning of your career, do you feel it in how people receive your concerts? What places are you going to during this tour?

B + M: We got on our showcase thru Mad Dragon Records. We are releasing a seven inch record thru them produced by “Motion City Soundtrack”. We booked around sxsw.

LSD: The music market is perpetual evolution. You feel more free time, or do you feel more pressure somewhere?

B + M: I don’t feel pressure. I feel like pressure comes when u make compromises as an artist. We have refused to make any our art is pure. Music is the one thing I have always stuck to my guns on. Its my faith really. If i make it someday then great but if i don’t at least i know that i was honest every step of the way.

LSD: What do you think of these successful groups more likely to break free of the system of record ?

B + M: Yes I think one day record labels will be difference beasts all together. More like groups of different media/business/art collectives that come together to try and make it together.

LSD: Please recommend some ‘must listen’ 5 tracks to our readers.

Deer Hunter – Helicopter
WU TANG – Protect Ya Neck
Animal Collective – My Girls
Front Bottoms – Maps
River City Extension – Holy Cross

Watch Brick + Mortar stopped by The Nest for an intimate acoustic rendition of their new single, “Heatstroke” here :

Check out their facebook page and their bandcamp!

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