Local Noise: Breaking Laces

The fast rising band Breaking Laces appear ready for their “Monster” moment. With the release of their latest album, When You Find Out, they are hoping the time has come for their breakthrough. “I remember R.E.M. saying they made Monster as much out of necessity as anything else,” says Willem Hartong, lead singer and guitarist for the band. “I feel our true blue, balls to the wall rock record is waiting for us and it might be the last chance we have to make it, as well as the right time to do it.”

The release was actually pushed back due to the unfortunate circumstance of drummer Seth Masarky breaking both his wrists while at the recent South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX. But things are now back on track and the initial response has been overwhelmingly positive for the group. Willem and Seth, along with bassist Rob Chojnacki, all hail from the Tri-State area, but they actually call the big red van their home base, since that’s where they spend the bulk of their time as they move about the country.

Their travels have brought them to every kind of gig imaginable. Their motto is “If you book it, we’ll play it.” They’ve played on a boat on Lake Champlain, next to a nautilus machine at a Gold’s Gym and even heavy metal night at a club in rural Indiana. That might not seem so unusual, except for the fact that they are an acoustic rock band. “The songs tend to be achingly emotional with a tinge of ‘It’s gonna be okay,’ explains Willem. “The idea has often been to take the simple song and make it as big as we need or want it to be. It might seem that we don’t have enough tools with just the three of us, but we have more than you think, and we keep finding new ones along the way. Initially I did all the writing, and that still is somewhat the case. But the process of taking the song from the first draft or idea stage, is intentionally collaborative. We have recently had ‘new music Fridays’ when we are off the road. This is a day when we each come in with new ideas and explore them through jamming or mocking up a Pro Tools demo. Those ideas come from all three directions, and it’s been really fun and fruitful so far.”

While their individual musical tastes tend to overlap, they do each bring in some unique influences. Radiohead, Built to Spill and Death Cab For Cutie are three unanimous choices among the band, but Seth has influences stemming from his love of jazz, Phish and the Grateful Dead. Willem is a fan of groups such as Soul Coughing and Pinback, while Rob is a devotee of Damien Rice and the Smoking Popes. The only contentious times come when Willem and Seth throw in some Def Leppard or Pearl Jam into the CD player, which they like, but Seth can’t stand.

The group has an extensive catalog of songs, and almost all seem to get attention from fans of the band at live shows. “I can honestly say there are very few, if any, songs I’m not excited to play off our master list,” relates Willem. “We try and tailor any given set to where we are both physically and emotionally. I draw up the set lists, but everyone has veto power and if they are like, ‘I’m not feeling that one tonight,’ we usually convince them otherwise or find something else. As far as the fans go, I guess you’d have to ask them. We ran a Facebook post asking them for their favorite tune and it was fun to see so many different answers, even some I wasn’t expecting like ‘The Ocean that Lies Between Us‘ and ‘This World.’”

The unique moniker actually has its genesis in Willem’s experiences in the club scene when he was spending time in Boston. “The name comes from a song I wrote about getting constantly turned away at clubs and dance places my friends would drag me to in Boston,” he recalls. “Apparently the large bouncers doubled as the fashion police at these places, and they’d often give me a hard time about my Skecher sneakers, saying they couldn’t let me in with them. I’d often argue that they were my semi-suede dancing shoes, although I honestly don’t know how people can dance in stiff shiny leather shoes, and we’d go back and forth. I almost had one guy turned my way when he sighed and said, ‘Well, what about the breaking laces?’ I could only assume he meant the wide laces on my shoes were akin to those worn by break dancers and it became clear I wasn’t getting in. So I told him to go fondue himself and that I was taking my breaking laces down the street to a dive bar that was a lot more fun anyways. Seemed like an appropriate metaphor.”

For further information about Breaking Laces, and to find out about upcoming shows, check out breakinglaces.com and twitter.com/breaking laces.