jeanne crump interviews a band you should definitely check out: Brick + Mortar…
A fantastically talented duo from Toms River, N.J., Brick + Mortar (John Tacon and Brandon Asraf) took some time to reveal the genius behind the creation of their newest EP, psychedelic album art, and influences behind their work. These guys have managed to produce a sound that is truly bold with a feel-good nature and maddening depth. You can see them live on May 6 at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, N.J., and at The Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 1, opening for HR of Bad Brains.
Pop-Break: Your name Brick + Mortar is very unique. I’ve always wondered why you chose it. Any special influence or story behind it?
Brick + Mortar: It was the name of a side project our best friend never started. He is the main inspiration behind us blending the electronic end of what we do into our music. But now it seems to mean more, kind of like building this movement from the ground up.
PB: New Jersey truly is a great hub for musicians and independent music industry businesses. Aside from the access to live music seven days a week in cities like Asbury Park and Long Branch, what do you think is the most powerful force behind the music scene in these small cities?
B+M: The bands. Most fans who come out to shows in these cities are in bands and are a part of a musical community. Every great band is made of hundreds of other bands around them.
PB: I see you have your first headlining show at Asbury Lanes on May 6. What has been your most successful or exciting show to date?
B+M: Stages are cool, but it kind of sends the message, “Hey I’m in a BAND. Look what I can do.” Nothing beats a hundred kids sweating, singing, and dancing right in front of you at ground level. The vibe is definitely different. It’s hard to pick just one show. They all start melting into one great memory. Something tells me May 6 will be one to remember for a while.
PB: Was there something in particular that inspired you when writing your most recent EP 7 Years In the Mystic Room? What is the story behind the album title?
B+M: [Brandon:] It’s about my life for those years — things I have been through, strange surreal situations. It was an experience to say the least. The “mystic room” is my mind. I spend a lot of time there and when I come out, I bring these songs back with me. Tacon and I are so close that when I bring these songs back with me his ideas perfectly mesh with them. I mean, I learned to play from him so everything is very natural.
PB: Your music has such a powerful feel and it radiates emotion unlike so much stale music these days. Your genre is described as concrete/electro. What would be the best way you would describe the music you produce to someone who has never heard it?
B+M: We pretty much sound like a party. That somehow has a deep meaning. This is hard for us because we hardly spend time on figuring out what genre we’d like to place ourselves in, we just create pieces of music. It’s never a chore to try to get people at shows into it, they all just seem to get it. We’ve been called “creepy” recently.
PB: The artwork on your EP is quite, well, “trippy.” Is there any symbolism behind the art, or was it just a design you saw and liked?
B+M: In the beginning it was just a piece of plywood, but over time it grew meaning. I had been working on this piece of art for a while and it just seemed to fit the sound. We wanted to keep this style of artwork and make it the pinnacle of how we present ourselves. We shot the cover art the same day as the music video for “20lb” which has that imagery as the main theme.
PB: Now for the cliche question: If you could get the opportunity to play a gig with any band, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
B+M: [Brandon:] The Doors, hands down. Jim Morrison has influenced my writing from day one. [John:] James Brown. It must have been a trip playing in that dude’s band.