Brandon of The Architects Interview
Ugly Scene interviews Brandon of the Architects and talks about the band’s beginnings and how they came to be. There were a lot of laughs and ended on a serious note talking about what UglyScene is about, addiction. The band is now on tour and we would strongly advise anyone to get out and check out the band and their web site.
UglyScene: Gadgets First show was when they were fourteen. Whose idea was the band and how old were you all when it started?
Brandon: My youngest brother, Adam the drummer was nine years old at one of the first real shows we ever did. Zach was ten and I was thirteen or fourteen. Most of them were crummy shows we would play Adam and Zach’s elementary school carnival or we would play my Jr. High School mixer or something like that. We played a couple of shows at a bar that would book local bands and we played a couple of times there and we were really bad. We were awful and we had no idea what we were doing before we eventually started to figure it out.
UglyScene: It was more or less your idea to have a band?
Brandon: I was always trying to have a band with somebody and I put crummy little groups together with friends before. The way the story goes is that Adam and Zach were pissed at me because they weren’t in any of my bands so they started their own band with one of their friends and I wrote a couple of songs for their band and then ended up joining their band. The other guy, their friend, his mom wouldn’t let him play in bars so he was out and I was in. That was kind of how it came together. It definitely wasn’t my idea and I can’t take credit for it being my idea and I’ll give that credit to Zach and Adam.
UglyScene: When you were going to come out with your first album you created your own record label. How did that get started?
Brandon: That label was me and my high school debate partner and we both had crummy little high school garage bands and we wanted to make recordings of them. We wanted to have at least a demo tape or something that we could hawk to our friends. We put together the crappiest recording rig of all time in my mom’s basement. We put this crummy little PA system mixer and some crappy cassette recorders and we put it all into the boiler room where the furnace and all that in my mom’s basement. We put the instruments out in the big part and got a bunch of ten dollar microphones and started recording stuff. We had no idea what we were doing and it was purely for our own fun. We totally thought we were white hot shit when we opened a bank account for the record label and went and hired a commercial tape duplication house to manufacture all of our cassettes. We thought that made us so legit.
We only did three or four demo tapes for different bands and one CD for my band that was full length. We tried to do some other bands that didn’t go to our high school and tried to work with other bands that were like legit bands. Back at that time we would put on these big shows and have bands from out of town come play. We tried to get some of those out of town bands to make records with them. The ones who were smart did not make records with us. There was a couple that kind of accidentally ended up making a record or two with us. That label kind of stopped just because the gadgets started to hell cat and we were going out on the road for the first time and that was quite a lot for young men to handle. I can’t imagine that I would have been ambitious enough to run a label and be on the road at that particular point. I think later on that was exactly what I was doing but when I was eighteen that was not a good idea. It would have been a total disaster.
UglyScene: You have a lot of experience in different areas and not just being a band. You have organized concerts and booked bands. How does that translate to what you are doing now?
Brandon: A lot of times it makes it a little harder because you end up having to do stuff that not only do you know it’s not a bad idea for a long time and you know from experience. Experience I would have to say is a two edge sword. It makes it more difficult or frustrating sometimes when you understand the inner workings of the aspects of the music industry and you see people screwing it up every which way. It makes it more frustrating to know what makes something a bad idea. It was definitely more fun when I had no idea what was going on.
UglyScene: Going back to the Gadgets and the Architects I have a couple of questions about the name. I know that you changed the name after one of the band members left. Have you had any problems with another band that has exactly the same name?
Brandon: There is not just another band with the same name. Since we’ve been the Architects there have been twelve other bands with exactly the same name. It’s kind of a pain in the ass and we really have no one to blame for that but ourselves. When we changed the name the Gadgets keyboard player Erin was leaving and we felt like we kind of pressed our luck as far as we can press it with the Gadgets because the sound of the band has changed. It had changed so many times and without Erin it’s going to be a different band again and so do we just want to rename this and make it a totally different band. Everybody agreed that we did and we spent two months arguing about what to name the band and we ended up hatching up a bunch of awesome names and choosing the stupidest possible name. Which landed us in this dumb position where now we have to constantly be dealing with the confusion that arises with it. We kick ourselves every God damn day over it. But it’s what we are stuck with.
UglyScene: Yeah at this point I think you are kind of stuck with it.
Brandon: We could have called the band Looney Tunes Train Wreck and it would have been a better name. The best way to tell if it is us is if there is a photograph. If the guys in the photograph are handsome and if they look like the type of people who are gracious, charming and actual conversationalists, it’s us. If anybody looks dodgy on that page it’s not us.
UglyScene: You mentioned the change in the style from one band to the other one. The creative process takes you many different places but what do you think triggered that change?
Brandon: For the last two or three years of the Gadgets it was a little bit of a free for all. We refused to self examine when it came to music. It was like what I feel like doing is what I am going to do and fuck everybody else and we don’t care what anybody says and we are going to do exactly what we feel like doing. We learned the hard way that your audience can get a little confused and want to know which Gadgets are we going to see tonight and which Gadgets are we going to pay eight dollars for to see. Is it the Gadgets that play ska or the Gadgets that sound like they are doing a rhythm and blues review. So we probably pressed our luck with that and we kind of hit a point where we were just like let’s just be a straight ahead rock band because I think that we have all enjoyed being a rock band with a lot of additional frills. So that’s how we ended up here.
UglyScene: You were talking about your style and when I was listening to your songs there was a little bit of the Rolling Stones. How much influence are you getting from artists like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones because it is such a broad spectrum even though you are still being very rock and roll on the album?
Brandon: There is a lot actually. I have certainly listened to the Stones a lot in my life and ZZ Top and Bruce Springsteen and all kinds of straight up rock and roll records. I remember distinctly the Gadgets being on tour and I remember the tour when at some truck stop we got bored of all the tapes in the van. We took a bunch of band money and bought five new tapes and one of them was the double cassette of Hot Rock and there is probably a group of people out there that are Gadgets fans that hated us when our style started to change. If they were looking for something to blame they can pretty much blame that shopping trip at the truck stop. We had bought Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits and a bunch of stuff that was different from what we were always listening to in the van. There is probably a solid argument to be made that those tapes ruined the Gadgets that certain people really loved and made the Gadgets that other people really love and definitely contributed to the Architects. If nobody else loves us we love us.
UglyScene: What is it like to work with Skeleton Crew?
Brandon: They are super easy to work with and are no stress. Most of the time when you are signed to a label and you call to get some information or the label calls you usually there is some kind of like a very delicate political ballet that you have to perform. It’s a combination of ballet and samurai sword fighting where you are trying to behead your opponent while you are on point. Usually that is the way it plays out it’s all this real delicate politics and they are trying to take your temperature and you are trying to take their temperature and nobody wants to be the first one to say the thing that screws up the phone call that screws up the whole label relationship. Usually talking to a label is like talking to your first girlfriend ever like in Jr. High when girls would get huffy and hang up on you for reasons that just completely passed your understanding. It’s usually like that when you talk to a label but not at all with Skeleton Crew. When you pick up the phone to call Skeleton Crew for whatever reason it’s no stress and no worrying about stuff, nobody’s on your ass and nobody is trying to talk about some meaningless politics. It’s a vastly superior situation to the typical kinds of communications that usually go on between bands and labels.
UglyScene: How did the label discover you?
Brandon: We happened to play one of the worst shows in the universe and Frank happened to see it. It was one of the most staggeringly unattended shows that we have ever played. The people who happened to attend Frank happened to be among them and he really liked us. There was some drunk lady at the bar and Frank and a couple of other people. He bought every single one of our records and a shirt and then within a week or two he had all of Skeleton Crew bands and street team kids commenting on our MySpace page in mass. Pages and pages on how we should do a record for Skeleton Crew and finally I was like point taken, somebody call Frank and see if he maybe wants to do a record. We did and it’s been really great and I have no complaints.
UglyScene: Have you ever played before with My Chemical Romance and what do you do after the shows? Do you come out and meet the fans?
Brandon: We had never played with My Chemical Romance. We played across the street from them one time and that was a long time ago. After the shows we always come out and sell merch unless one of us is sick or something like that. There are always at least a couple of us at the merch table because that is the friendly way to do it. We pride ourselves on being a gentlemen’s band and to make it as fun as it can be. Other than playing and selling merch there will be a lot of sleeping, showering and phone calls home.
UglyScene: One of the purposes for UglyScene is looking at the other side of glam. That comes from the idea that music is inspiring and music can, in my opinion, save someone’s life. Also that if a person hears someone that they look up to musically talk about certain issues they can get the help they need. Would you like to talk about anything regarding this?
Brandon: First it’s worth mentioning that one of the ever present pieces of stage bands and one of the things about the Architects is that we have two kinds of songs. One is about drugs and the other is about law enforcement. With that said I don’t really go into it more than that on stage. The facts are that upon review of our body of work and especially review of the lyrical content you could get the idea that every single member of this band has some experience. Either first hand, second hand or somebody that they are close to a friend or family member who has had an experience with either drugs or a mental illness. I could probably say without putting us in imminent legal danger that if it exists a member of my band has done it. All that being said our songs are pretty down on the entire experience.
We don’t really think of, especially the content of the songs, as particularly being pro-drug, it’s more like this is the world we live in. The town that we come from is cratered and the city has been carpet bombed with all kinds of horrendous drugs. All kinds of people have gotten way sicker than making themselves better. We all have a lot of experience with it and I don’t want to get too personal with it but it’s something that I wish it still wasn’t the same old dumb rationales from when I was a kid. All the rationales and excuses that people use today why it’s ok that they get high is all the same and have been around since God was a boy. It’s sad and terrible that it is the way that it is and it would be great if more people abstained entirely from all that kind of self-destructive behavior. For many people it’s not an option and is kind of wired into their genes so the next best thing would be to get treatment and for friends and family to be supportive of people who need treatment. If you have never seen it you would be shocked to see how fast someone can go from sixty to zero. With drug addiction and with bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia it can come on real fast and it’s a terrible thing to have to watch and it’s even worse if you think you are helpless to do anything about it.
UglyScene: I think it’s important for the younger generation to see that this is happening and say that they are not happy that it is happening. I think that your video Pills does a good job at reflecting that.
Brandon: That tune despite the chorus sounding like a big party the song itself is pretty much that I have an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical industry and with the over prescribing doctors of all stripes out there. Personally I’ve had so much experience with whatever crap I’ve been diagnosed with and I’ve had an unfathomable amount of chemicals hoisted upon me by the medical establishment. It’s one of the most disheartening experiences ever. I can’t remember conversations with doctors but I can remember what they prescribed to me. That just seems like the complete inverse of the way that we should take care of each other. You can encourage people to get better and that’s one of the things that seem to be missing.
I don’t know about globally but in my town the prevailing attitude is oh well he’s a grown up and can take care of himself. That’s the problem. A lot of times they can’t take care of themselves or there is a very fine line and once they cross it they are not going to be able to take care of themselves anymore. It wouldn’t kill us to acknowledge that we do have a duty to one another even if the deepest it ever goes is to giving advice. Telling them that maybe they should lay off or talk to somebody. That is one area which people seem to give one another a pass as far as serving our fellow man. It’s like I’ll give you a pass when it comes to telling somebody that you suspect that they have a problem or to take them somewhere and get them some help. I don’t think people should have a pass on that I think it’s your obligation to your friends and family and fellow man is to try and help. It’s nothing for you do drive someone to a hospital or facility and that might be the straw that finally cracks it wide open and helps them help themselves. I hate the don’t ask don’t tell when it comes to people’s addictions. We should be able to be honest with one another about stuff like this.
UglyScene: You are right. There should be a community effort instead of an individualistic society when it comes to addiction.
Brandon: Personal responsibility is great but that’s part of the reason that it’s an illness. You can’t just fix it yourself.
UglyScene: I hate ending an interview in somewhat of a sad note because up until the last question we were laughing a lot. I really appreciate your honesty and everything that we have talked about.
For More Information on the Architects:
Comments are closed.