Interview with Braid: Over The Coast Ryan McGrath July 23, 2014 Interviews After a series of eccentric tours along with the spontaneous release of their EP, Closer To Closed, the Midwestern emo quartet Braid truly made a charming return to grace since their 2011 reunion. Fueled by a newly revived sense of energy that came from playing again, Braid’s newfound love for songwriting inspired them to craft together No Coast, their first studio full-length in 16 years. Prior to its release date, I had the opportunity to talk with guitarist and vocalist Chris Broach about the fun and excitement that came along the way while they were working on No Coast. You guys released No Coast this month. Considering that this is your first full-length since Frame & Canvas, what did you look forward to about putting out this record the most? I am really excited for people to hear the record and to be able to play the new songs. When we’ve been touring lately up until we were writing, we played a few new songs live here and there, but we kind of have the old standbys of just everything from Frame & Canvas and before, to some of the singles that we did. It’s not that those songs aren’t fun or don’t have enough energy live, but it’s nice to be able to get out there and do some new stuff. How long have you wanted to put out a new full-length since your reunion? Was it the first thing that came to mind immediately or was there a lot of eagerness and spontaneity that came from playing again? Yeah, it was kind of a little bit of both, you know? When we got back together in 2011 to do some shows and to write a new EP and stuff, that was sort of very spontaneous and we’ve wanted to do something for a while. Bob Nanna [guitarist and lead vocalist] and I have been playing in another band at the time and we sort of realized that we just wanted to do Braid more than trying out a new band. So we were like, “Yeah, let’s do some new songs,” and we wrote them with no expectations with what we were going to do next. We really enjoyed playing again and then we did a Frame & Canvas tour where we played the whole album from start to finish in the U.S. and the UK, and it sort of made us feel like we should write a new album. I don’t think the idea was to write a new record right away; it was more like, “Let’s back together, write some songs, have some fun and play some shows.” And then around 2012 when we did some more touring, Bob and I started getting together at my house in the city and we were just writing. So it was definitely spontaneous in terms of us enjoying this and it’s wasn’t something that we wanted to do just one time; we kind of wanted to keep going. In the past, you’ve mentioned that you wanted No Coast to feel like more of an introduction to the band that means a lot more than being just a follow-up of your previous material. In what ways would you say that No Coast uniquely stands out compared to previous work to date? If you look at our whole history and the catalog of things that we’ve done, we’ve recoded a lot of stuff quite poorly, you know? I am not saying that necessarily about the albums that we did, but with a lot of our stuff in the past we were just like, “Oh, we got these three songs and let’s just record them and put them out. Yeah, this guy has a studio, we’ll just go there and whatever.” Because we decided that we were going to write a new record and it’s been 16 years since our last full-length [Frame & Canvas], we put a lot of thought into it. We’ve all had a lot of life experiences between 1999 and now and that’s quite a long time. We’ve all played in different bands and expanded our musical horizons so for me, I think the record doesn’t sound like Braid. It’s not like we were taking a whole new direction, but I think it makes sense for where Braid left off. At the same time, it also makes sense for where we are now as people. In the end, I think we ended up with a record that is pretty cohesive; there is some freshness to it compared to what we’ve done 15 years ago. All of the people that I’ve shown this to were like, “That sounds like a killer Braid record,” so I feel like we’ve set out what we wanted to accomplish. So far, we’ve got a lot of good responses, which is exciting because you’re never really sure how you are going to be received. If people look at this and they’re going to see it as Braid doing a comeback record, the point is that we didn’t want it to be a comeback record. We wanted it to stand on its own and say, “Check out Braid; look at this record that we did, we are super stoked on it and we hope you are too.” The idea of having No Coast be an “introduction” to Braid came from the fact that we’d like to have all of our older fans get excited, but I am also stoked to have some new kids check it out. We all wanted this to be something that can grab people, whether they knew Braid or not. Does that make sense? Totally, I definitely agree. I think it’s very exciting either way to have your new material to reach out to so many different types of people. Now with your new approach in writing in mind, was there any pressure to top Frame & Canvas in any way since this will be your first full-length release in a very long time? To be honest, for me personally, I didn’t think about Frame & Canvas a whole lot when we were writing this. The thing is, when Todd Bell [bassist] and Damon Atkinson [drummer] and Bob and I play together, we didn’t sit around and ask ourselves, “Gosh, how are going to write songs like we used to?” We just got together and we just started working again and it was just immediate chemistry. Of course, Frame & Canvas was probably in the back of my mind, but we really wanted to make sure that this record can be just as influential or can maybe stand up to it. I didn’t want to compare to Frame & Canvas since it’s been so long since we’ve done a record. I will say that, when we were writing, Bob and I and Damon and Todd would talk about when Superchunk came back with a new record after a long time; that was so killer. Because of the fact that we were sort of taking a long break like they did, we wanted to make sure that the record was going to be exciting like that. You guys put out No Coast through Topshelf Records. What was your relationship with the label and what made you guys want to work with them for this release? We had talked about where we wanted to do this record and of course, Polyvinyl Records came up and we talked about working with some other labels as well, and really Topshelf made the most sense. Those guys were super excited and we liked the stuff that they’re doing. We felt like they’re connected to the type of music scene that Braid is connected to very well right now and if you look at the bands on that label, some of them cited us as influences and had a similar sound to us and with some other bands that we loved. They were cool about letting us do what we were going to do without really asking for anything. To their credit, both Seth Decoteau and Kevin Duquette [of Topshelf Records] didn’t bother us for demos and heard the record when it was done when we were happy with the mixes. That’s a lot of trust for them to put in us, and I think that really goes a long, long way. And I think for us, that shows a lot of the dedication for what they’re doing. In recent years, it appears that there has been a resurging infatuation with the emo genre as of late. There are many bands that were around during your time who have been announcing reunion shows left and right. Now that you are back with this new record, does the timing of this release feel right since the emo scene has been receiving a lot more attention? It’s funny because that was a total coincidence, and hopefully it plays in our favor, you know? I mean, we’re putting out a record when people are getting excited about this stuff, but we weren’t sitting around going, “Hmm…when is that ‘emo revival’ going to come? Okay, cool, let’s do our record now.” When we were about to launch the announcement for the new record, we were like, “Oh my God, Mineral is back together? Oh my God, American Football is doing shows?” Like, all of this stuff started coming out at the same time. It’s really funny to look at the summer tour lineup and you are seeing groups like Mineral, American Football and The Jazz June and some other bands we were friends with back in the day and it’s totally surreal and unexpected. Now that you have this new record coming out and you will be touring in support of it, what does the future hold for Braid after the summer? We are going to do some stuff in the fall and I know we are going to get to the West Coast. We’ll probably go into the Southeast at some point, but that’s about as far ahead as we have planned now. But, you know, with the way we are heading, it’s not like we’re going to be putting out this new record, tour a couple of dates in support of it and then be like, “See you later.” That’s not our plan. Bob and I and the other guys have talked and at least I know for me, I can’t wait to write another album. I am super excited about this record and seeing where it goes and I think that we would all love to just keep doing this and that’s the plan. Braid will be playing at the Asbury Lanes on July 23, the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on July 26 and at Boot And Saddle in Philadelphia on July 27. No Coast is available now through Topshelf Records. 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