The Brew

August 7th

Tickets $10 advance/ $12 at the Door

THE BREW

Chris Plante: Keyboards/vocals

Dave Drouin: Guitars/vocals

Joe Plante: Bass/vocals

Kelly Kane: Drums/vocals

 

“I got one life to live/Bet I’ll make the best of this/And if it’s not there/I’ll build a bridge/Just to find a new route.” – “Chance Reaching”

 

The Brew are an aptly named quartet from Amesbury, a town in northeastern Massachusetts, cooking up a musical melting pot on their brand-new, self-released album, Back to the Woods, that combines their roots in classic rock, adding ingredients of prog, jazz, reggae, world beat, indie, funk and orchestral pop, sometimes in the course of a single song.  “I feel like we would be doing this no matter what, but to have so many people validate what we believe in so deeply, it makes it something really special,” says Chris Plante, the  keyboardist for the group, who joined high school classmates, guitarist Dave Drouin and drummer Kelly Kane, with his brother, bassist Joe Plante, to form The Brew.  The Brew has that indefinable “it” that is the distillation of talent, execution and unconditional commitment to the dream of living up to their abilities. That commitment explains why folks drive hundreds of miles to shows and female fans are sporting Brew tattoos.  The band’s commitment to their music is total, and in a flavor-of-the-month world of commercialism, they are a walk-the-talk example of succeeding on your own terms.  Their eclectic stylistic palette can be heard clearly on Back to the Woods, from the tribal world beat and prog-rock of “Seen It All” and the reggae rhythm of “Looking Down” to the jazz-funk and Sting-like vocal on “Control,” the lush Beach Boys a cappella harmonies of the title track and the Queen-like overkill of “Castle Walls” and the climactic “Chance Reaching.”  Listen to Drouin’s slide layering in “First of Things,” his wah-wah guitars in “Looking Down” (“That’s one of the few solos I’ve recorded without a preconceived starting point or theme,” says Dave. “It was very in the moment, willy-nilly. Just going for it.”) or the rhapsodic symphony, “Castle Walls.”  The Brew’s songs have something on their mind, too, with thoughtful, provocative lyrics. “Seen It All,” “Control” and “Black Train” lament man’s self-destruction and exploitation of earth’s resources, at the same time admitting there are no easy solutions, asking, “If humans are so clever/Why can’t we find another way?” (“Seen It All”) and warning, “Use her as a means/Her gift to us will be the end” (“Control”). The island riddims of “Looking Down” offer a blast at authority, in this case inspired by a cop who busted the band’s drummer Kelly after he was forced to take a leak outside between sets when the line to the restroom was too long for him to get back on-stage.  “Those are the kinds of things that are constantly on our minds,” says Chris. “We’re not radical environmentalists. I feel personally a little bit naïve. But I think we represent the majority of Americans who feel like we need to figure something out, without knowing exactly what the answer is.”  “We can’t write songs about something we’re not passionate about,” says Joe. “Music is a sacred thing to us; we all take this very seriously. We’ve seen the effects lyrics can have on people.”  Aside from fretting about our imminent doom, The Brew have their rueful, romantic side, too. “Definitions” seeks a return to ‘60s moral values with its homage to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”  “Most of the music we listen to goes pretty far back,” says drummer Kane. “With this album, though, we were thinking of not just a return to the ‘60s and ‘70s, but to seriously ancient roots… We’re talking pre-literate, back to a time when the world was more pure, pre-technology, before skyscrapers and even roads, when storytelling was the way people preserved knowledge.  Songs like “First of Things” and “Let It Slide” capture the regret at relationships that, for whatever reason, didn’t last, while “Have to Choose” is about the real-life conflict of juggling romance with the responsibilities of being in a band.  “Things being all peachy and good-to-go isn’t something that comes out of us,” admits Joe. “We tend to focus on the things that are more difficult in life. There’s almost always a dark tinge to what we do.”  The band has been busy building a fan base by touring the northeast, playing events like the Gathering of the Vibes, in Connecticut and the Up North Festival in Maine and headlining Boston’s famed Paradise Rock Club. They opened for Bruce Hornsby in 2006, and again in 2008, and were voted Best Opening Act by his fan site www.Bruuuce.com. This year, the band was nominated for the “Best New Groove” (Best New Artist) award at the Jammy’s in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.  The recording of Back to the Woods with Bruce Hornsby sax player Bobby Read producing at Small World Audio studios in Afton, VA, was a real milestone for The Brew, the first time they had a real budget and were able to prepare before going in to make an album.  “We were able to record most of the songs on ProTools and work them out before we even set foot in the studio,” says Kane.  “We spent two straight weeks recording, without having to piece things together, which made a huge difference,” nods Drouin. “We could focus on the music and making a great album rather than worrying about money.”  And while the band is grateful for their success with the jam band crowd, Chris says the big advance in Back to the Woods is in being able to write and record real songs, with beginnings, middles and ends, like the classic-rock idols his dad turned him on to, bands like Steely Dan and artists such as Paul Simon.  “We definitely jam and switch it up live,” says Chris. “But for us, the musical integrity and message comes before instrumental explorations.”  “We concentrated more on songs this time, sure, but put us in front of people and anything can happen,” chimes in Joe. “Sometimes, we’ll hit the stage without a set list.”  “I think we’ve grown up a lot on this album,” says Kane.  “The four of us have been writing partners since the first day we jammed together,” says Dave, a movie buff who is pushing the band into soundtrack work, like on the heavy orchestrations of “Castle Walls.” “In this band, we have the kind of relationships where we can bring ideas to one another and make suggestions without egos being involved. You have to work for the better part of a decade to get to a place where that’s really genuine.”  “We consider ourselves a democracy,” echoes Chris. “Each one of our opinions counts as much as any of the others. We all contribute.”  You can hear that maturity and confidence coming together on Back to the Woods set pieces like “Castle Walls” and the epic closing “Chance Reaching,” which has presented itself as the album’s first single, and is already receiving airplay on Sirius Satellite Radio.  “We were just trying for that kind of overkill,” laughs Chris. “Building up to 10 notches past where you thought the song should be able to go.”  With Back to the Woods, The Brew make a similar move, climbing to the next rung on the ladder to success.  “Our goal is to get our songs out there to as many people as we can,” concludes Chris. “How it all ends up depends on how far the music will take us. We’re insanely devoted to this. As cliché as it sounds, for us it really is all about the fans”

 

 

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