Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bobb Bruno interview from

Sitting backstage at Oxford Art Factory, a tired Bobb Bruno slumps comfortably into a black leather couch. Outside, the dull roar of patrons is heard less and less as they vacate the building after dancing to a cheery and youthful set from LA’s Best Coast. Lead singer Bethany Cosentino and drummer Ali Koehler snuggle in couches behind us, typing away steadily to loved ones. Bobb Bruno sits, stroking his beard and omitting a wise and serene aura. Jarred Beeler [Life: Aquatic] and I look at each other and nod, let’s do this thing.

Holly: So how does it feel playing with Bethany [of Best Coast] who openly admits to writing songs for sixteen-year-old girls?

Bobb: Oh it’s awesome. I’ve loved pop music for a really long time. Every other band I’ve played in has been like experimental or some kind of heavy band and just not that kind of music. So after being a fan of that kind of music for so long it’s really cool to get to play pop music.

Jarred: Does pop music make you generally happier as a person?

Bobb: Yeah, for sure, that’s why I love pop music so much. Whenever I’m down, there are certain songs that you can put on and they change your perspective. Even though in my own music the songs are really long and not poppy, most of my influences are coming from pop music. Like half and half: pop music and experimental music, and I’m just trying to find a middle ground between the two.

Holly: Listening to your solo stuff, it has a lot more of a sombre feel to it compared to Best Coast. Is that intentional?

Bobb: Yeah it is. This record I have coming out called ‘Melodramas’, which the song you [Life: Aquatic] posted is from, came from a really down period in my life, which was pre Best Coast and post Pocahaunted. I basically had a falling out with some people who I thought were really close friends but it turns out they weren’t. The music that came out of that period of my life is what’s going to be on that record. So a lot of it’s really melancholic. It’s sad but towards the end it get’s up, which is kind of the arc of where my life has gone.

Holly: The song ‘Look Out The Window So They Won’t See You Crying’ feels very alienated, and it’s got this real sombre, quiet feel to it. Where exactly did you write that?

Bobb: I wrote that in my bedroom - it was actually one of the last songs I wrote for the record. Especially for this record, the way that some of my songs were born were kind of from my live set. Basically, I’ll work on these kind of improvisational songs, then I record them and then refine them so they have a much more set structure. So I was kind of playing around with these piano chord samples, of me just playing the keyboard, and then just from doing these random chord sequences that whole song came out of it.

Jarred: I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve heard it, it’s really spoken to them – it’s a piece of music they can really relate to and emotionally it’s really close to them.

Bobb: Oh cool.

Jarred: Were you intending to create a piece of music that was universally accepted by people going through the same situation?

Bobb: With all my music, that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to make something that alienates anybody. I’m trying to reach [people], not in a sell out way, but I want my music to appeal. I don’t want to make music that nobody wants to listen to. That’s where the pop influence comes in. I try to take techniques that are used in like avant-garde and experimental music and just apply that to pop songs; like structures. Try and take those elements and incorporate melodic elements. So no, I’m really happy people are into that. When I started playing music, I had no intention of being in a band, I had no intention of playing in front of people, it was just bedroom stuff that I did and the sole purpose of it was to make music I could fall asleep to *laughs* ‘Coz like, I had a hard time going to sleep so I tried to make this dreamy, kind of sleepy music, and that’s still the core inspiration to all my solo music. Everything else that’s happened afterwards has been a bonus. I never thought I’d be touring, I just thought I’d be a postman or something like that.

Jarred: I think to a lot of people you’ve kind of become this priest figure, omitting this sort of calming vibe.

Bobb: Oh that’s cool. I haven’t heard that.

Holly: Yeah maybe you should tour in a priest’s outfit.

Bobb: *laughs* Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’m starting to get sick of the bunny outfit.

Jarred: Yeah speaking of the bunny outfit, we were going to ask you about that. What’s up with that?

Bobb: I took a trip to Japan, just like a vacation, and I found it in a department store and I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, I couldn’t even try it on, but I just bought it. Then someone asked me to play a solo show and I was like I should just wear this outfit. Then once I did, it made playing solo a lot easier because I felt like people weren’t looking directly at me, there was like this other thing they were focusing on; just looking at this giant head.

Jarred: I think the best thing about the bunny outfit, is that your music is so sad and melancholic and you’re just sitting there in this bunny outfit with this serious face and playing the drum machine… It’s a very surreal situation.

Bobb: Yeah the bunny suit is very sad ‘coz it’s never been washed. It’s completely filthy. At this point there’s all kinds of grease stains through it. I don’t know, a lot of shows I just end up rolling around on the floor; it’s gotten really dirty.

Holly: Do you find that playing in The States as a solo artist that people automatically know you’re part of Best Coast?

Bobb: No because once Best Coast started touring a lot I made the decision, and it had nothing to do with Best Coast, to stop playing solo. The year in between when Best Coast started and before Best Coast took off I was playing a lot of solo shows and I just got sick of them; I really hated doing them and it got to the point where I was like “I’m not going to do this anymore” – on the second last show I didn’t even wear the outfit. I was like “fuck this shit, I don’t give a fuck.” It became more fun to practice for my shows in my bedroom than to actually perform in front of people. I was like “I don’t wanna sit in front of people and be fucking miserable.”

Jarred: Once your next album is released, can you imagine yourself getting back onstage, maybe with a band, maybe Bethany supporting you?

Bobb: I tried playing with a band once, and it was kind of cool, but I think with my own music I’m too much of a control freak. It’s better to just do it all myself. I mean I have a guest on one or two songs, but the core of it should just be me.

Holly: Is it easy to manage the two projects?

Bobb: Yeah, I mean, the way it is with my solo stuff, it’s not something I do like piecemeal. If I write a song, I get one idea and I start recording pretty much immediately. Once I have the basis of a song I’ll just improvise over the top of that until the song is done. So pretty much I start the song and I finish it in one or two sittings.

Jarred: When you are recording a song, is there one instrument you get to and you feel relieved to hit that instrument?

Bobb: It’s always bass. I started out as a drummer and I was fucking terrible at it.

Jarred: But in your live shows it’s amazing!

Bobb: Yeah I’ve gotten a lot better at it but when I got interested in playing bass, it was just a more natural thing for me. Even now with my solo stuff, when I feel like a song is kind of “urgh” I put the bass down and I kind of know where it’s going to go. And it’s the same with Best Coast. I think it’s the instrument that’s most natural for me to play.

Jarred: When’s the album coming out?

Bobb: It’s all done, it’s been mastered and it’s probably at the pressing plant right now. I just need to finish the artwork, which I’ve been lagging on for like ever. It’ll be out hopefully by summer time.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Sleeping Giant for putting out the Bobb Bruno record. What a great record to have.