Barry Brusseau: From Pop Punk to Folk! But Always DIY

barry brusseau

Barry says that it was his wife who pushed him.

“I should try and just do this myself. I set myself up with some voice lessons, and started the horrifying journey of getting out in front of people and playing open mics.”

“I would make demos of [these songs] on my four track, and play them back for my wife,” recalls Brusseau of how A Night Goes Through from his solo album The Royal Violent Birds eventually came to life.”She encouraged me.”

This, coupled with a long-time love for music and vinyl records made for very fertile and determined creative ground. He says: “I grew up loving records. Coming home after buying one, and reading everything inside and out. Holding it while listening, and letting my imagination run wild. I decided that’s what I wanted to do, make the kind of record I would have loved to get.”

Getting to that stage though, was a long and surprisingly humble journey form the man who previously fronted pop-punkers The Jimmies (not the New York children’s band who blow bubbles an’ that) who were signed to Lockout before disbanding. For two years, Barry put away $50.00 from each payday to save for studio sessions, eventually garnering enough to record at Portland’s Type Foundry studio with producer Adam Selzer for the analog record preluding this year’s effort (with Sleater Kinney & Elliott Smith producer Larry Crane).

” If anyone would understand using the digital realm to achieve a great sounding vinyl it would be Larry,” Brusseau lovingly comments. While he would play all the instruments on his debut, The Royal Violent Birds sees him chill out with a little more musical collaboration from other musicians.

It’s pretty inspiring when you hear the resulting album.

“So, I made this record for myself, because I wanted nothing more than to hold the final product in my hands. If you believe that the format of vinyl is the best way to experience music than it’s for you too. It was a labor of love, as was my first vinyl release. Again, I started saving $50 a paycheck for two years – and that still leaves me a little shy. I’m willing to sacrifice all logical means of business sense to achieve a record that will make me smile. To hold the record in my hands and feel only the way vinyl can.”

It makes sense that someone with such ardent fervour for the quality of vinyl would be extremely chuffed (to say the least!) about recording something onto vinyl himself.

“Now the heart of this record is the music, but the soul of it is in the senses of sight and touch. It’s really hard to achieve the same aesthetic in any other medium. I wanted to make the kind of record you put on your turntable, and then sit down and experience the package. It’s that chance to fully express your imagination.”

Free mp3 (Right-click link and select ‘Save as…’: Barry Brusseau: Love and Adoration.mp3

Such an imagination is one that gave way to unbelievably cool album title: The Royal Violent Birds – something no-one except her maj would probably query as being rather abrasive. 

The title actually comes from Brusseau contemplating band names while passing the time at work. Needless to say, a la Rilo Kiley, it’s a title track that gives way to the arguably best song on the album.

“During work one day I was contemplating band names. I just dig the word ‘royal,’ so I started there,” he recalls. “The work I do gives me a lot of time to brainstorm. ‘Violent’ is another impactful word, and I liked the two together. I thought it should be softened at the end so it came to rest as ‘The Royal Violent Birds.’ A band title for a future project maybe? I just wrote it down, and let it rest.”

He continues, “One fine day at work I was standing next to this line of industrial battery chargers.  There was a loud hum coming from this team of electric juicers. In the key of that droning note I started singing to myself. The melody and first verse of ‘The Royal Violent Birds’ just spilled out. As I worked I pulled my note book out regularly as the rest of the lyrics came very quick. It’s about the unknown, and not being afraid. The violence and chaos of  mother nature are good.”

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“It’s minimal in instrumentation and big on heart. It’s personal and intimate,” he says, describing his style of ethereal indie-folk. Strangely enough though, fro musician with a record of versatility and genre-defying character, he happens to be a bit down about the one thing that makes him so special on record.

“I’m very insecure about the imperfections of my voice, and spend lots of time beating myself down about it. I’m feeling accepting and much more confident on this album, though. American Idol, I’m not coming. But, I’m proud of this album,” he says with both joy and laughter in his voice. “I wanted it to feel a little more like a David Lynch ride, artful creepiness and soothing hypnotics. This is closer to the live show.”

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