RIOT FEST INTERVIEWS: BRICK + MORTAR
By: Stacey L. Crawley
Photo Credit: Peter Bomberger
Brick + Mortar formed in New Jersey in 2008 and their indie rock involves music with a message. I caught up with Brandon Asraf, John Tacon and Richie Brown at Chicago’s Riot Fest this year and discovered Jimi Hendrix saved the band from near extinction.
(S) The new album and message is incredible. Where did you meet? How did your band get together?
(Brandon Asraf) Me and John, when we were really young in intermediate school, and we didn’t like each other, we were both jerks, and John would throw french fries at me. John hung out with other jerks, but I was a jerk alone. And then we wound up becoming friends.
(John Tacon) Yeah. We lifted weights. We’d toss the old pigskin around.
(Brandon Asraf) I met Richie. I was looking for someone to use. I had my eyes peeled for a talent that I could exploit. So I was stealing from Staples and I noticed Richie, who was younger than me, and I thought maybe I could trick this guy into doing stuff for me.
(Richie Brown) What he saw was a nice little twink.
(S) Are you all from Tom’s River New Jersey then?
(B) Yeah we grew up together as kids.
(S) What was the music scene like?
(J) It wasn’t. (all laugh)
(J) Yeah it was boring. Lot of metal bands, cover bands.
(R) John was in a cover band called ‘The Pickles” (laughs)
(J) It was actually – this is cool and all- but that was the highlight of my career.
(B) Until you play the Tuckerton Trailer Park and Rec Center, you haven’t lived.
(J) I think the hottest was at The Beat Kitchen though.
(B) Sold out show, it was great, but the air broke and it was so hot! But it was great.
(S) The 2015 remix of Jimmy Hendrix “Voodoo Chile.” That was pretty cool and it was in Hitman 47. How did that come to fruition?
(B) It was total accident actually. We were on tour and someone was like, ‘Hey do you wanna sing on this cover song?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I’ve never sung a cover. I guess I’ll do it.” We popped in the studio and did like a scratch track, and all of sudden heard nothing about it for like, I don’t even know. A year almost. And the label had dropped us, and they were like, ‘you’re losers, get outta here,’ and then all of a sudden they bought this cover.
And then the label wouldn’t give us our songs back because they were a big label and we were nobody, and they wouldn’t give us the songs back but they accidently forgot to send me the, whatever paperwork, to sign and basically I was able to get the songs back for the cover.
But what’s funny is we just sung on the song. Josh Mobley, who did a lot of the sound and work. It was definitely great because I’d never done a cover before and uh, it was cool just to sing on something but it actually saved us as a band. Jimi Hendrix gave us a bargaining chip.
(J) Our songs were, you know, recorded on the label’s dime, so that’s why they held our songs. But the Hendrix song, freed us.
(B) What’s funny is some giant, multinational fucking company forgot to send a fax.
(S) You gotta love that.
(B) We did.
(J) We do!
(S) Final question. Have you ever seen Lucy the elephant at Margate?
(B) No, I actually have never seen that, but have you seen the little house? It’s like an elf house.
(J) Yeah some guy like made it for his daughter and now it’s the troll house.
(S) Nice, ha – ha. Sounds weird.
(R) It’s near water. Water makes everything weird.
(S) Thanks guys, this has been fun and weird. I loved every minute of it.
Check out Brick + Mortar’s next show Thursday 06 October 2016 in Ithaca, NY. For more information visit their official webiste www.brmr.net