It’s something that fans look forward to with a mixture of excitement and dread: The moment when you find out that your favorite band, one that you’ve held tightly for a few years, is trying something “different” on their next record. The “different” records usually are met by a legion of fans that will think it’s not as good as their older stuff. But, from what I’ve observed at least, the reaction to Brandtson’s “different” record, Hello, Control seems unusually positive.
“For the most part the reaction has been great,” says Myk Porter, guitarist/vocalist of Brandtson. “There have been those that don’t like it as much as some of the older stuff, and those that like it a lot more. I think one of the curses of being a working band for as long as we have, is that some of our older records have a certain nostalgia for some people, and no matter what we put out … it will never be as good as that one record that they listened to all summer in 1998 when they had a crush on so and so. I think we all have those records, but it’s hard to compete with that feeling.”
After 2004’s guitar-driven Send Us a Signal, Brandtson steered into a direction they only briefly hinted at on Send Us a Signal: dance music.
“When our original bassist [John Sayre] left the band after eight years, we weren’t sure what we were going to do … change our name, disband and start something new, or just keep going,” explains Porter. “When our long time friend Adam [Boose] joined, he brought his own dynamic and we embraced it. Brandtson has always been the sum of four parts and still is. But even before Adam joined the band, “Nobody Dances Anymore” was already written along with a few others on the new record. So we were all on the same page with trying to do something a little different.”
There’s a ton of bands making dance music these days, or at least it seems that way. But instead of trying to be the hundredth incarnation of Gang of Four, or glaming up for the next (if its not already currently happening) re-emergence of disco, Brandtson opts for an electronic style of dance music, not too far removed from Kraftwerk. Despite the style of music Brandtson plays, there’s something about their records that’s distinctly them. The vocals of Porter and drummer, Jared Jolley, are unmistakable. Maybe this is why their “different” record went over so well with fans.
“Our producer, Ed Rose, didn’t seem to think that it was that much of a departure, and he’s been recording us for the last six years,” says Porter. “We knew that it was different sonically, but very much true to form as far as how we approached it. We’ve always put out the music that “happens” for us … or what comes to us, and this time it was Hello, Control.”
After touring for the rest of the year, Brandtson will settle down and start writing their next record. Whatever “happens” in the studio with Brandtson, it’ll be interesting to hear where they’ll take their sound next.
“[The new record will be] not so much continuing it as building on it,” explains Porter. “I think if you were to listen back to our records as we released them there’s definitely a continuation from one record to another even though they change or grow. There were a couple records during our Deep Elm days where we kind of got stuck in a little bit of a rut in my opinion, but for the most part our sound has evolved from record to record. So, I think for our next one, we’ll continue to let it evolve.
“My focus personally, is to try and come up with sounds, melodies and, I guess, songs in general that go somewhere new.”