Behold the Brave talk about their new album, songwriting and starting a cult.
The first time I listened to music from Behold The Brave was in early 2012, on a track sent to me by one of the members asking about The Pulse booking an anniversary showcase at Track 29.
“Oh To Sleep” was the track title from their first EP. Once I listened to it, there wasn’t any question—I wanted them in the showcase line-up. The balance of pure rock-n-roll, the echoes of a Southern heritage and an obvious talent for writing both melodically and lyrically, converge into something immediately enjoyable.
The band’s latest release is a full-length album titled “Great American Experience” and it’s an apt title for their brand of music. You could drop them in any club in the world, and anyone who pays even marginal attention would be able to identify their musical origin: This is American Rock-N-Roll. You could make the case for an even more specific origin of the BTB style: Neo-Classic Rock of Southern Heritage with tinges of Pop sensibilities? Perhaps.
But like so many convenient identifiers, it fails in accuracy and in offering you anything other than vagaries of style. Sure, all of those elements are present in BTB’s music. But often it’s not what influences a band’s music that produces solid material; it’s how that band channels all the elements and achieves originality. BTB is doing this rather well. I spoke with bassist Joel Parks about their music and what drives their creativity
.Zach Cooper: Every band and performing musician has, or is striving to create, their own sound or a style that is recognized as their own. I think you have that going for BTB, but do you think about creating a certain sound, or do you just work together and see what comes out?
Joel Parks: I think every performer, no matter the art, has some kind of preconceived check list in their head with the types of influences that want to pull from. The cool thing about working with a group of guys is that we individually have those influences that we like to bring to the table. So you get some interesting combinations. You also butt heads a lot, so we never collectively say, "We want this song to sound like…” We all bring a lot of different ideas to the table.
ZC: “Great American Challenge” is your latest full-length release. Matt Goldman produced that with you guys on the Regenerate Music label. Was this the first experience collaborating with a producer and label? How was this experience for you?
JP: Regenerate has been our first label experience. We're fortunate enough to have some support that trusts our judgment when it comes to the music we create. Goldman was a champ to work with. He is by far the most experienced producer we've worked with to date and we loved having his input and ideas in the on the record. He's a tone genius. It was actually his idea, during the first day of pre-production, to track the majority of the record live. That turned out to be a huge reason this record feels as great as it does.
ZC: There’s plenty of powerful rock-n-roll in the BTB discography so far. But there are just as many subtle harmonies and gentle touches. How does the band approach the writing process? Is it completely collaborative or are there leads writing the majority of the material?
JP: The musical structure is a group effort, no doubt. We let Clayton do his thing for the lyrics and the majority of the melodies. We are always trying to expand our musical palettes, which helps with the diversity in a lot of our tunes. You can't be prejudiced to certain styles and expect to still bring something fresh to the table. I might even be a little embarrassed by all of the Spotify shows that I listen to.
ZC: You guys are from the Chattanooga area. Also, you met and formed while attending the Christian college Lee University. How does being “Southern” influence your music, or does it? Is there something about having the experience in a conservative Christian college that influences you lyrically or otherwise?
JP: Clayton and Zack have been life-long friends, and I met the two of them at Lee University in 2008. Jeremiah joined the group a couple of years later, after having known them through other bands. When you live in a place like Chattanooga for so long, I think it's impossible to not be influenced by it. The scenery, the people, and the music scene have such a unique pull about them. It's next to impossible to not be influenced by all of that. You can take the boys out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the boys. We all have our separate beliefs, though we respect each other and the people that listen to our music. The lyrics mean something different to every person that listens, and that's how they should be.
ZC: What’s next for Beyond the Brave? Recording, touring? Heavy on both? Starting a cult?
JP: Hopefully, we’ll be able to throw some new things out in the near future. We always try to continue writing. Progressively getting rowdier. Absolutely touring. We have a little route at the end of this month, starting in Chattanooga at JJ's Bohemia on June 25 with our long time friends Abandon Kansas. Who wouldn't like having their own cult?
Behold The Brave
Clayton Davis (guitar, keys, vocals), Zack Randolph (guitar), Joel Parks (bass), Jeremiah Thompson (drums)
Behold the Brave, 10 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, JJ’s Bohemia, 231 E. MLK Blvd. (423) 266-1400, jjsbohemia.com