Broken Glow is a band which has been creating its own distinct rock ‘n’ roll driven roar over the past eight or so years whilst becoming a potent proposition on the Georgia rock scene in recent times with their diverse and adventurous songwriting and sound. February saw the release of the band’s new album Filament, an attention grabbing proposition creating one of the reasons to delve deeper into the band and its heart which the members of Broken Glow kindly assisted with…
Hi guys, thanks for talking with us.
Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?
Broken Glow consists of Paul Burba on drums, Sara Clash on bass, and Garrett Deming on guitar and vocals. Though the band began in 2008, we’ve gone through a few line-up changes. Paul started the band with some old friends from high school, one of whom met Garrett when they both studied at Ithaca College in upstate NY. In 2008 we all got together in Hartford, CT, and since that time we’ve lived in Brooklyn, NY, and currently in Savannah, GA. The love of playing together is really what’s kept the band going through it all.
Have you been involved in other bands before and have those experiences had any noticeable impact on what you are doing now?
Sara used to play with Chicks Throwing Bricks in NYC, Culture Vulture in Savannah, GA and currently plays with Tokalos, a 3-piece surf-blues group based out of Savannah. Born and raised in Sweden, she has a lot of experience performing in various instrumentations, as well as many years’ time working in the music industry. Her understanding of back-of-house event logistics, management techniques, etc. has been invaluable to our band as she’s brought those skills to Broken Glow. The other members of Tokalos are old friends from NYC, so we’re happy to see them playing and are sure to book the bands such that our schedules don’t interfere.
Garrett has a background in classical music since a young age, but Broken Glow is his first rock band. Recently he’s been filling in for local blues outfit Jubal Kane, which has really given him a chance to work on his lead guitar chops. Paul likewise has filled in with local acts Xuluprophet and Sister Beards. We enjoy being a part of our music community, so collaborating and playing music in different iterations comes naturally. It can only make you a better player.
What inspired the band name?
“Broken Glow” comes from Led Zeppelin and Beatles lyrics. “Broken” comes from Across the Universe (“images of broken light…”), and “glow” is from a line in Dancing Days referencing the “evening glow.”
Did you have any specific idea behind the band at its birth and indeed in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
The original band leader was founding member Brenner Eugenides. Highly proficient in jazz and blues guitar, he was tired of playing in cover bands and so gathered Paul and Jon (original vocalist), friends since childhood, to begin a project. As soon as Garrett was recruited we wrote roughly 15 songs.
There was no specific guideline as to what the songs should sound like, only that it should sound like rock music. We knew we wanted to be riffy, in the vein of blues but without relying on standard changes. The bands we all love to listen to are adventurous, so we try not to limit ourselves regarding style. There are a lot of odd modes and scales, and we are careful to use different key centers and rhythmic devices so as not to have every song sound like the same old thing. That said, we’ve settled on “bluesy grunge” as a descriptive term.
Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?
To an extent we’re driven by some of the same things, specifically the love of performing on stage, the bond that exists between musicians during that performance, the energy flow between perfumer and observer… these are all elemental aspects of playing that keep any musician going.
That said, we’ve learned a lot as a group and as people over the previous 8 years. In the early days we dreamed of fame and fortune, stadium tours around the globe, all the tropes of rock n roll that young dreamers get drunk on. Those hopes still exist to an extent, but they aren’t what drive us forward anymore. After the death of Brenner in 2012, the band took some time off to find center. When we reconvened the next year, the fire was different. Now we rock to honor our fallen friend, and to remember not to take for granted how much fun it is when we play.
Since those early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?
Well we’re certainly better players now than we were then! It’s hard to analyze your own work, but it seems like the biggest thing that’s changed is that we now have a single guitar rather than the 2-guitar team we’d become used to. Our recordings still feature dual guitar lines, often times harmonized or with a lead/rhythm relationship, but it’s been Garrett overdubbing himself for the last 2 recordings. We’ve been exposed to all kinds of music during the career of the band, and those influences definitely show these days as our live sets could contain a blistering metal tune, an Otis Redding crooner, and an Eastern meditation one after the next.
Has that evolution of sound been more of an organic movement or more done to the band deliberately wanting to try new things?
A bit of both, really. When Sara joined the group she brought her own particular rhythmic ideas and harmonic sense, which naturally evolved some of the older material as she played it, not to mention those that we’ve written and recorded together. That said we feel it’s important to push yourself if you truly want to get better at what you do, and sometimes that means trying something out that seems out of place. For example, our newest album features a piano accompaniment, which is a big departure from previous recordings. It just sounded too good not to use, and it brings a different tone as the album winds down. We don’t like to do things differently just for the sake of it, but if something works it works, regardless of where it comes from.
There is a wide range of inspirations across the band and any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but maybe your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?
Musically we take heavily after late 60’s and 70’s rock bands (Zeppelin, Hendrix), and their exploratory approach to recording and live improvisation. We’ve always appreciated the work ethic of those classic bands, touring and recording constantly, always pushing their own abilities. Philosophically we understand that music has power, and as such it’s important to send out good vibes with it. Hendrix never wrote a song about hate.
Is there a regular process to the songwriting within the band?
In recent years Garrett has written the bulk of new material. Songs come from all different places – observations of strangers, personal anxieties or reflections, little stories – but usually begin on the guitar. After a rough form is worked out the song is jammed in rehearsal and the structure is finished when it feels natural. Other times we’ll record our rehearsals and find the bits where we were jamming, and a song can magically appear. Those are usually the best songs, when everyone has input.
Where does the lyrical side of songs most draw inspiration from?
Some of the songs are about direct experience (i.e. Blister, Sun Comes Up), others are indictments of injustice or apathy (i.e. Iconoclast, Mr. Suit & Tie). Garrett writes nearly all the lyrics, and he has a firm literary background, so rhyme schemes and rhythm are generally heavily employed. Then again, sometimes the lyrics just come, walking to work and written on a napkin. Our newest song, Us and Ants, uses a verbatim statement made by Paul in casual conversation. If you keep your eyes and ears open you can find inspiration in just about anything.
Please give us some background to your latest release.
Filament was recorded in August 2015 at Habitat Noise Studios in Wilmington Island, GA. Donal Moats served as engineer and recorded us on 2″ reel to reel tape. Our friend Chris Horton helped out as producer and briefly played with the band during preparation for the release. We partnered with Southbound Brewing Company, a local brewery in Savannah, GA, and concocted a custom beer to be sold at the release show, which was held at the brewery. We released the album February 19th 2016 and were joined at the release show by local rockers BBXF. Local radio broadcast live from the event, and we played the entire album in order while liquid light artist Planetary Projections dazzled with an insane light display. Here’s a clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkyOAkBMrog . It was a great time, and we’re very happy with the new album.
Can you offer some insight into the themes and premise behind it and its songs.
One of our goals with Filament was to cover a lot of sonic territory and with it various subjects. As the filament is what allows a bulb to glow, so the album attempts to hit the root of emotion and what drives you to get up every morning. The first 3 songs are from the early days of the band, while the following 6 are newly written as of April 2015.
Iconoclast opens the album, an apocalyptic howl against false idols and those who would wield power with impunity. Running Scared and Smoke both struggle with personal issues (i.e. paranoia, addiction), then the album opens up with Monk Mode, a psychedelic meditation. Fish Out of Water has no proper lyrics to speak of, though the ideas behind its title are howled by Sara. Next is Blue Dream, a rift rock tune about brotherhood, and Blister, a quick punk-inspired song about how inconveniences can become advantageous with the right mind. Cousin is the most personal song on the album, exploring the themes of family, age and retrospection, whilst to round it off Well stomps as a bluesy ode to pure water, the essential element of life.
Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?
We never write in the studio. Studio time is precious and often expensive, so we’ve always worked the songs out before we go in to record. We prefer to record live, together in the same room, which we did for Filament. There is very little additional production on the album.
Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?
Obviously playing live is the best part about being in a band. It’s the only time you’re in the true element of a performing musician, and it can be the best and worst experience ever. We like to improvise heavily during our sets, sometimes extending solo sections, other times throwing medleys together on the spot. We prefer long gigs to short 30 minute sets, as we’ve accumulated a lot of material in our 8 years. Generally Sara and Garrett have mics, allowing for harmonies and interplay between vocalists. We rarely play the same set, and frequently attend local open mics to try out new material in front of an audience or to help promote upcoming events. Live music is literally what our lives revolve around, even outside of the band. We’re always going to our friends’ shows or gathering community musicians at our house for food and music.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally or further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods; many opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there?
There are always opportunities to succeed if you have the tenacity to stick it through. Many bands don’t last more than a few years, not accepting the fact that success depends largely on longevity. Yes, there are rare situations where a young prodigy becomes a star overnight, but generally it’s a much slower process. Labels don’t allow artists the opportunity for growth like they used to. Instead, they expect a seasoned, professional act before they’ll sign anything. With this in mind, people who join a band to become rich and famous don’t generally last very long.
In the southeast USA, there are many local and regional opportunities for growth, but our operation is funded solely by the members. We’ve never been affiliated with a management company or A&R firm, nor a record label of any kind. Since most “mainstream” media outlets are run by a very small handful of connected corporations it can be nearly impossible to break through to a large audience without being beholden to Viacom or ClearChannel. That said, the real consumers of music are regular people, and the more you play and make a good impression the wider your reach becomes. It’s just physics.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?
Frankly we’re not huge social media users. While the internet’s capabilities of making people aware are obvious, we’re not the type of people with our nose stuck in a phone. Garrett and Sara don’t even have an internet connection at their house, and we prefer to spend more time talking with real people than wondering how many “likes” our newest photo got.
An issue with social media is that you must be strategic to use it in an effective way. Some people practically spam everyone they know with show invites and page requests, to the point where the boy who cried wolf can’t get someone to pay attention when they’re doing something REALLY cool. We use the standard sites, but don’t live and die by them. We like print media and radio airtime locally for promotion, as well as the old fashioned technique (who remembers fliers and handbills?)
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add?
If you’re just learning to play, keep playing! If you just started gigging, keep gigging! If you like a new band, interact with them and support them! Music is a community-based activity, not just an iTunes playlist. Thanks for digging the band!
The RingMaster Review 13/04/2016
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