New Bravado’s full-length debut, “Sun And Moon,” lives under a psych-rock umbrella, but it’s an expansive record, where the songs often branch out, creating individual identities. Sometimes it’s straight-ahead, Sabbath-style power riffs, at others it’s waves of trippy curveballs, establishing a flow to the album, but vastly avoiding that dreaded phoned-in, monotonous sort of boredom. They’ve been working on this record in some capacity ever since they released the EP “Unconscious Afternoon” in 2013. And it shows. Earlier this week, singer/ guitarist Ben Lally and bassist/producer Adam Copelin swung by the LEO office to talk about the new record, as well as how New Bravado has changed, and an A&R person who wanted to mold them into something they weren’t.
On New Bravado’s beginnings.
Lally: I was in another band. It was alt-country, almost. Kind of weirdo alt-country. We couldn’t get together very often, so I had some time to start another band. I wanted it to be loud and have a psychedelic-rock base.
On the first EP.
Lally: We did it at my house. It just came together. It was six songs. Some of them kind of heavier, some of them not so much. We just wanted to work hard and play a lot of shows — and play real loud in front of people. That was our goal. Everyone was in projects that were kind of low key.
On how New Bravado has changed and how that has impacted “Sun And Moon.”
Lally: I’m now a father and I wasn’t married when we started. Personally a lot has changed for me. How that has affected the band: in the songwriting, the songs got a little heavier in content and more personal, yet almost purposefully abstract — more surreal at points. It’s personal to me, but it may not always be easy to decode. Hopefully, it touches people universally in some way. Another thing that has changed since we tracked the first EP is the recording process. We spent a lot longer on this LP, not just because there are three more songs, because we layered and layered and layered the shit out of everything. Adam was super patient with me coming up with crazy ideas. When I was doing my vocals, at the time, I was like, ‘I have to drink red wine to sing really well.’ So, I was half wine buzzed, like, ‘Let’s try this out, where I sing really low and monotone.’ And, by 10 o’clock, he’s like, ‘Ah, I think we’re good on that.’
On the challenges of bringing a dense and fuzzed-out sound to the studio.
Copelin: Finding a spot for everything is tricky. Sometimes you need to do some weird stuff from an engineering standpoint. That’s the big thing: you can either go for being able to pick out everything or just a big wall of sound. Especially guitar-wise, there’s just so much going on, I had to give everything its own little spot in the mix. Which is tricky. And then having a loud drum set on top of that … and then making everything gel — that’s why it took so long to make.
On musical diversity of the album.
Lally: It’s very natural. I wish I had more of a formula. I hope, over the years, before I’m completely senile, I hope I can develop a way to make it easier for me to write my songs. [laughs]. Although, maybe that’s the way it ought to be, where you let all of your musical tastes come out through not being restrained by whatever genre you are in, or think you are in or say you are in. “Adelaide” — which is one of my favorites on there — I wrote that in 10 minutes and it was in my head exactly the way it came out. Big drums. Spacey guitars. Vocal harmonies. But, as far as changing a little more once we got in the studio, “Vacant” to me is the most produced, in a good way. That is a studio record song. We do it live, but it’s way different.
On outside forces trying to reshape their sound.
Lally: We had people who were giving us advice or maybe suggesting a song structure or things that they would like to hear in the future. And it seemed people wanted to hear “Long Head” and “Translucent Dreams” [songs with those aforementioned big, catchy riffs] basically re-written over and over and over. We even had an A&R guy contact us and try to work with us. I guess to somehow cash in on New Bravado. That guy was really suggestive of that, as well. And we were like, ‘That is so cliché, suck ass.’
Copelin: They wanted us to sound like Foo Fighters meets Muse meets Radiohead or something.
Lally: And then I sent him the song “Which One Is Real,” which isn’t on the record, it’s on the next record. I sent them that track and they were like, ‘This isn’t at all what we were thinking — it’s chromatic and weird and kind of like that early psych from Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.’ And, I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s rad.’ [laughs]. And then my house burned down and I lost touch with those guys. •
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the electrical fire. And no music was lost. Only 1 out of 12 guitars were damaged — although that guitar, Lally’s favorite electric, a Fender Jaguar, known as “Shreddy Kreguar” was burned pretty badly, but is in the process of being revived. Catch New Bravado at Zanzabar Friday, where they are playing the new record from front to back. They will also be selling the vinyl on discount.