Brat Curse deliver hooky, memorable rock
By Tim Anderl
Photo: Brat Curse will perform on Aug. 29 at Blind Bob’s; photo: Kelsey Cahoon
Columbus, Ohio indie rock trio Brat Curse came together by chance. They stay together by sharing their significant (and perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek) interests: drinking, “Terminator 2,” Tecmo Bowl, swimming pools, smoking bowls, popping ollies and mollies … and making memorable rock music. Their latest, self-titled record is a fuzzy, melodic, poppy album that shows off their propensity for creating noisy rock music that straddles the borders of punk, indie and rock ‘n’ roll in familiar and fantastic ways.
Dayton City Paper recently caught up with guitarist/vocalist Brian Baker, also of Astro Fang and Smug Brothers, to discuss the hooky record, which shows the band has as much in common with Baker’s self-admitted vocal hero Lou Reed as they do Superchunk, Pavement and The Pixies.
What are the major differences between being in a band in Dayton, and being in a band in a larger city like Columbus? Has the change in scenery worked to your advantage artistically?
There are many more places to play in Columbus. There are also a lot more bands, and just a bigger audience. Dayton is always really fun to play. I enjoyed it last time when people were slinging beers everywhere. The change in scenery has definitely had an impact on all of us. Columbus is a pretty creative environment, which makes it easier to write and be productive. – Brian Baker
When did you begin writing the material for Brat Curse?
Most of the songs were written in early 2013. Some of them were older demos of mine that were written in 2012. – BB
Are there some predominant influences present in your singing?
Lou Reed has always been my biggest influence when it comes to singing. It is because of him I can’t sing for shit. – BB
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
We actually blew through the tracking for the album pretty quickly. We had a pretty good idea of what we were going to do before we went in. We recorded with Ryan Dixon at his basement studio Black Disco Ball, with whom we’ve worked many times before, so everything went very smoothly. – BB
Are you self-critical when it comes to writing for Brat Curse?
I am. I hate a lot of the stuff I write, but at the same time it’s one of the only things I like doing. – BB
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
They all turned out a little different than we expected on the album. Things changed compositionally, and the lyrics changed quite a bit. We all enjoy recording, and it was fun to breathe a little bit of fresh air into the songs, as we had been playing them live for a little while. – BB
What input did Dixon have that changed the face of the record?
I have been recording with [Dixon] for a long time. His input is very valuable because he knows the sound we want, and what he needs to do to achieve that sound. He also has a fleet of synthesizers and various other strange instruments that always manage to make their way onto our recordings. – BB
And you got a little local help in the mastering department …
Yeah, Darryl “Derl” Robbins mastered it for us. – BB
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Like a Jethro Tull album or something? No. We had just had intentions of making a straightforward, stripped down rock and/or roll album. – BB
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We have been playing these songs live since before we started recording. I’d say the most crowd-pleasing, hype song would be “Over and Over” or “Sunny Outside.” A lot of people know the lyrics to “Sunny Outside,” and sometimes sing them more accurately than I do. – BB
What is the best, most fun show you ever played?
We have had a bunch of great shows, but the one that’s most memorable was probably our worst. We played a show at this bar in Columbus called Hal and Al’s. We had been drinking since about 5 p.m. and ended up playing last. Being completely drunk, we decided to set up backwards with the drums against the wall. Disoriented and drunk, we literally played two songs and only got through half of them before giving up. When we stopped playing, everyone was just staring at us blankly. In retrospect, it’s hilarious to us. – BB
What has Brat Curse been up to since the release of the album?
We have been playing a lot of shows and planning a little tour that we are leaving for in two weeks. We are releasing our self-titled album on cassette with a Columbus label called Superdreamer. We have also started writing for our second album, and have plans to do a split 7” with Columbus locals Sega Genocide and Awful Nothings. – BB
Brat Curse will perform on Saturday, Aug. 29 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Cover is $5 for patrons 21 and up. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit bratcurse.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.