A large majority of my readers have most likely never heard of the band The Brains. Part of the reason I began this blog in the first place was to share my sincere love of music and I find it especially rewarding when I can turn people on to a band that will blow them away. If you take a listen to this band, or better yet, go and see them live, you will understand immediately how special these guys are. Hailing from from Montreal, Canada the band is often classified as psychobilly (For those unfamiliar, think Stray Cats meet the Ramones) but are really much too intensely layered to be defined by any one particular genre. This band is not new to the music scene, and in fact, have 7 albums and 15 years under their belts. While Rene D. La Muerte is the bands only original member, the addition of bassist Colin The Dead and drummer Phil The Beast, has enabled this band to finally reach a point where they have fulfilled all of the promise of greatness they alluded to with their earlier albums. As a trio, they play off of each other strengths and really understand the end goal they are trying to achieve. Their unconventional approach to music is refreshing and genuine.
The band, known for their lyrics, peppered with tales of the supernatural, evoke classic horror story themes and richly detailed story lines. But don’t let the subject matter fool you. These guys are about way more than just the macabre The sheer talent present in this band is clear from the very first note. Punk, meets rockabilly, meets Latin music, meets the blues. Every single song energizes the crowd and makes you want to get up and dance. I have seldom witnessed a band that plays so hard live and there is absolutely no way you can be at a Brains show without becoming totally immersed in the contagious energy, talent and showmanship. These gentlemen are superstars in the making. They exude such raw talent and amazingly original style, that I have no doubt that their time will come.
Bassist Colin The Dead plays the meanest stand-up bass I may have ever heard, while drummer Phil The Beast, in keeping with his name, plays the drums like a man possessed by some wild and untamed spirit. The rhythm section of this band makes it incomparable to almost any live band you’ll hear today. A solid, steady force to be reckoned with, but one that drips with unique originality that makes it all their own.
When you add the gorgeous and soulful voice of singer and guitarist Rene D. La Muerte to the mix, you have something pretty close to perfection. A trifecta of style, talent and energy that will take you on one hell of a ride.
I was able to sit down with the band at Cafe Nine in New Haven, CT recently.
J. Rene, you are the only original member of the band. How did you start?
Rene:The Brains started on my birthday in 2002, but when I was younger I didn’t have money to go into the studio, so I put recording music on standby. Eventually, when I was working in the studio I decided to actually do this. I brought back old songs. Tweaked them, made them faster and heavier. For a couple of months I couldn’t do this band, and then at Halloween, when everyone was able to practice and get together, we did a few shows before. So we did our Halloween show and had makeup on it was supposed to be for Halloween. Everybody loved the makeup, so we kept wearing it for a while. The sound just continued to grow and we kept making records and here we are.
J.Who does most of the songwriting?
Rene: The band has 7 albums, and in the beginning I sang, wrote the albums, I used to do everything.When Colin came in, he started to give some input on the lyrics and on this last album, Colin basically wrote most of the lyrics. I then took care of all the music and production.
J.You produce the records. Is that something you were trained in?
Rene: Yes, I do that for a job, too. I fly all over the place to do it. I did the Koffin Kats album, I’m working on some new stuff with The Gutter Demons , a band from Canada,
So that’s my other job. I used to work in a studio and clean the studio and when I was doing that I learned all of the old school tricks with tape and how it sounds and how to make an original sound. When people come out of school today,they don’t know how to make an original sound. These kids coming out of school don’t really understand that, yet.
J. So you guys write the songs together as a team?
Phil: So Rene writes the melody and then we all do it together. Colin writes the lyrics. It only took a few weeks to write the last album. We work really well together as a team.
J. How did you end up in the band, Phil?
Rene: Phil is our third drummer. He was a replacement drummer 8 years ago and we started working together and then 6 years later he showed up and he replaced the old drummer. We need a new drummer, the old drummer was fucking up because he was always too drunk.
Phil : I said “I’ll do a few shows and we will see how it goes.” And I’m still here.
Rene: Phil works really well with other people and so does Colin. They are just easy to work with and have good ideas and are really dedicated.
J. The latest album, Out Of The Dark, is phenomenal. It sounds like you guys are really growing as a band, that you fit really well together.
Rene: It was cool to make that album, I made it sound a little more big studio.We do work really well together. We just feed off of each other very well. It seems to just work.
J. Is there a new record coming?
Rene: We are beginning to discuss it. But we write and record everything in about a month. When we start, we just keep on going until it’s done.
J. It’s been quite a while since the band has toured the U.S. How are you feeling about being back?
Phil: We are touring the US for 5-6 weeks and seeing how people are feeling and getting inspired. We are really excited to be here and to have people come out to the shows.
Rene: It’s been 6 years since we’ve been here. It’s really good to be back. Just to be here after 6 years is great. It’s amazing
J. Your lyrics are filled with references to the supernatural. Are you a believer in that kind of thing?
Rene: Yes! The guys always say I’m too sensitive for this shit. I always know when there are ghosts or spirits around.I don’t always want to know it or feel it and it can put me in a bad mood. It’s weird when you’re at a show and you can feel shit like that.
I was born in Chile in the war. I used to see dead people on the street. It got to be normal for me. So I started to really like things like horror movies, and the Misfits and the Ramones. It just all seemed to fit together for me. Then I started to like bands like The Stray Cats and the 50’s and 60’sinspired music. I got into rockabilly and it got a little heavier and heavier. But as far as the supernatural stuff, I want to be this band that talks about horror movies and makes like mini movies to go along with the music.
J. You guys have done some very cool covers. My favorite is when you sing The Cure’s Lovesong. How did that come about?
Rene: We were on tour in England for the first time. I thought it would be a fun and unexpected song to play.You have the psychobilly scene and it can become stuck up. I wanted to sing a song and that they would all know. The people really liked it. It was also a way to bring us some attention. We know what our fans want and we try to provide it for them. I like to do The Cure song, and everybody gets it. I thought it would shake things up a bit.Sometimes scenes are very stuck up. Sometimes throwing something unexpected in there is really good. Our music is for everybody, not just the psychobilly crowd. It’s influenced by all kinds of music. Punk rockers can connect to the fast beat, people who like swing can connect to that bass, everybody can connect to something.
J. I prefer your version over The Cure’s.
Phil: Yes. I do to. It’s got a happier feel. Less depressing.
Colin: When you said you wanted to do that Cure song I was this close to slitting my fucking wrists. I’d never heard the song before but when I did it was so fucking depressing! I though “What kind of garbage is this?” But we made it better.
J. What bands are you inspired by?
Rene: Stray Cats, Elvis, Misfits, Ramones, Nekromantix. I like music from Chile, where I’m from, meringue and salsa. I’m inspired by a lot.
J. What do you hope to accomplish on this tour?
Rene: I just want people to come out and see us. I want to keep making good music that people want to here. I’d like to produce the next record in California. This tour is reintroducing us to the U.S.
You can purchase all of The Brains music on iTunes. And I highly suggest you do.