After their track ‘Bullets or Bummer’ made our ears bleed, we thought we’d grab Broken Baby to find out what makes their ticking time bomb of a band tick.
In this introducing interview they chat about both that track, their influences and their debut E.P. which is a banquet for all those broken babies out there who enjoy noise, no wave and near deaf experiences.
You are both very talented; Alex has found success in both ‘The Damnwells’ and as a solo artist and Amber has been an actress (playing the critically acclaimed lead role in Sci-Fi drama ‘Listening’) as well as a member of various bands. I wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you met and how this project came about?
Alex and I met years ago (I think it was 2007) at a film festival. He was there with the premiere of a documentary about his band, ‘Golden Days,’ and I was there with a guy I was dating who was also premiering a film. We all became immediate friends, talking about our mutual love of punk rock, noise music, and just bands in general. Years later Alex and I started dating. Four years in to our relationship we finally got the guts to start a band together. It was really Alex’s idea. We were on the first leg of the tour for Alex’s second solo album, ‘II.’ While we were home for a month waiting for the second leg of the tour to start we wrote 7 songs for Broken Baby. One of ’em was shit.
In the band do you have specific roles or is it less strict? Also which comes first; words or music? For example, on ‘Brain Drain’ was it that lumbering guitar riff or those tongue twisting lyrics?
There are no real roles. We create it all together. But what seems to be the pattern with all the songs is that the music comes first, then the melody, then the lyrics.
How long did it take to create the E.P? And (I know every moderately punk-ish band must get asked this) to what extent is the E.P a reaction against the current state of politics in the U.S?
We wrote and recorded in a little less than a month. It wasn’t intentional, however when we started thinking about lyrics it was hard to ignore what was going on around us.
‘Bullets or Bummer’ goes from loud to quiet and spans singing, shouting and spoken word. Was this a track that gradually developed over time, or did it just come together?
This song tumbled out pretty quickly. It was the first song we started working on and the first one we finished.
On seeing that the band is just you two, a lot of people (myself included!) will parallel you to the White Stripes (even before they hear your sound). What is it like being in a band with your partner and was there a conscious effort when making the E.P to use those diverse styles to shake off any notion that you are just another stripped back blues-rock double act?
We actually don’t really think about any of those things and when we are making music. There’s two people in the band because we’re kind of self contained. I guess we don’t really need any one else at the moment. That will obviously change when we start to tour.
On ‘I won’t make you shave your face’ you sing that you’ve ‘been in a bunch of bands…not that they were any good’. How have both of your musical pasts influenced the ‘Broken Baby project?
The only thing about the previous bands that have influenced Broken Baby is that we didn’t want to sound anything like what we’ve done before.
There’s a lot packed into this E.P: I can hear the off kilter funk of Devo on ‘Hurt My Heart’, Bratmobile attitude on ‘Don’t be Rude’ and the pop inflections of Best Coast on ‘Shovel Up’. Who would you say your influences are and who are you liking at the moment?
Thank you! That’s great company to be in! When we were creating this album we were listening to a bunch of Gang of Four, Eurythmics, The Sound, Cyndi Lauper, Savages, Til’ Tuesday, BOB; the list is quite long. We consume so much music that it’s almost impossible to say what we’re really liking at the moment. We’re about to head pretty deep into a Comsat Angels hole since they just reissued all those records on vinyl.
Alex, earlier this year you released ‘Alive in America: Part 1’ which was ‘the raw, live performance of six people playing music together’. Is this rawness something you both strived for on the ‘Broken Baby’ EP – which has its moments of beautiful messiness; like you would find on a live album?
We were absolutely conscious of preserving those raw, imperfect moments you’d experience when you go see a live band.
Finally, what is next for ‘Broken Baby’? Are you going back on the road, or working on another E.P/L.P?
We’ll play some shows around Los Angeles to start and we’re already working on an LP!
Broken Baby’s debut E.P. will be available everywhere on August 25th.