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Three “pretty sick blokes” hailing from Meanjin/Brisbane, grunge trio B R A T are taking 2023 well and truly by the horns, armed with their debut EP Taylor Street and touring up a storm in Queensland to celebrate the ultimate ode to life’s ups and inevitable (come)downs.
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Drenched in dark undertones, moments of riotous delivery, and revelling apathy, Taylor Street began life on back decks between binges, emerging as a full-bodied reflective rapscallion that nods to the past and present of the alternative rock sonic sphere, as the band recently revealed in a chat with Hysteriamag.com.
“It’s been nice to have the love and affection from my family and friends about it,” says B R A T bassist Jacob Tully of the band’s recent release Taylor Street. “My dads’ been pumping that shit to everyone he meets, which is pretty dope.”
“We’ve had a lot of really good reactions actually from the Brisbane punk scene, from our friends that we know and people we’ve gigged with for the last couple of months now. I don’t think it’s really hit the world as hard as it could just yet – but we’ll get there.”
“How do I put it …” drummer Justin “Lobey” Hobbs chimes in, before briefly trailing off. “I’ve had an immense feeling of pride that we’ve been able to put this together and get it out. And people can actually take a bit of a look into our lives. It’s been kind of surreal for me. It’s kind of been a dream come true so far, I guess that would be the right way to put it!”
“I think we could all die happily now knowing that we’ve finally actually got our shit together enough to record and release something,” adds Tully, “and to have a little chapter of our lives out there for everyone to hear.”
Recently touring their new sonic baby alongside Brisbane rockers FOUL FACE and other friends, and with one show on the EP launch run still remaining when Hysteria caught up with the band, it certainly wasn’t anyone’s first live rodeo when B R A T jumped up onstage at King Lear’s Throne in Brisbane, Eleven Dive Bar in Maroochydore and Vinnie’s Dive Bar in Southport in January and early February. But poetically, it was the band’s first EP launch show that instantly offered an unexpected and memorable first of its own kind.
“That first launch show at King Lear’s Throne was insane,” enthuses Hobbs. “It was the first time we’ve had people yelling our own lyrics back at us!”
“Yeah, that was sick,” adds Tully. “That was really cool actually, we did get a really good reaction there. That was surprising! I didn’t know people could actually understand what we were saying up until that point.”
The Brisbane scene really just feels like a bunch of friends getting together, and you get to play shows as well! It’s almost a family community. Everyone knows each other, everyone knows what’s going on, and it’s fantastic to get up there and do what we enjoy with people we enjoy being around.
[ Jacob Tully ]
“Or care enough to want to learn the words!” Hobbs continues. “It was a very surreal thing. I’m sitting behind a drum kit, and I could hear them! It was insane.”
Boasting fluctuating energies and stylistic flavours throughout, Taylor Street derives significant pleasure from youthful dread, infectious riffs and real-life moments for the group themselves, with the project initially starting life with Tully and B R A T vocalist Blair Thompson living in, you guessed it: Taylor Street.
“It all started with just Blair and myself in Taylor Street, fucking about with our guitars,” shares Tully of the Taylor Street EP origin story. “I had a couple of songs that I’d been working on since I was about 17, I’d just written random things but never really did much with them until I met Blair.”
“We delved a little bit further into our lives, and I guess you could say that the lyrics were based heavily on how we were living at the time. In your youth, you go through sort of depressive episodes, and I always found that getting really fucked up was a good way to write stuff. It’s kind of funny listening to it, because it sounds so moody and sad. But it’s like: oh dude, you’re literally just on a comedown, calm down!”
“I kind of miss that inspiration from just getting really fucked up.”
With the inevitable “soundalikes” that often accompany any band who go anywhere near grunge, and particularly those hailing from the frequently fertile grunge territory in Brisbane (looking at you, Violent Soho), the gravitational pull for B R A T to the alternative rock realms also has come armed with some more diverse and unexpected influences.
“I’ve got a very different take to Blair and Jake with how we’ve done everything,” says Hobbs of his musical influences. “I came along a bit after a lot of these songs were already conceptualised. But for me, my main inspiration – Violent Soho is a brilliant one, massive Brisbane band, they inspire me a lot. But I’m from the punk sort of scene, and that influenced a lot of the way that I try to write these songs.”
“At the time, I was listening to a lot from a guy called Shlohmo,” adds Tully, “with those darker sort of tones of electronica. I wanted to somehow make that into a rock sound, or incorporate those darker tones playing guitar. And I would also say I was quite heavily inspired by bands like Fidlar and even WAAX from Brisbane, and was also listening to a lot of Madvillainy by MF Doom and Madlib.”
“I don’t know if we ever came close to sounding like them,” Tully laughs before continuing. “And, I mean, god … cringe my ass off right here, but Nirvana obviously had to be the biggest influence that pushed me to start making the music.”
Now intrinsically immersed in the Brisbane scene, with interstate shows firmly in their gaze as they look to broaden their ever-growing trajectory well into 2023, B R A T are poised to make even more delightfully sweaty waves in the live scene. And, as the band reveal, their hometown scene is proving to be one built on no-bullshit, passionate support and burgeoning opportunities.
“It feels like there’s an endless amount of gig opportunities,” says Tully of the current Brisbane music scene. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there for up and coming artists, and the scene is fucking awesome. They’re lovely people. I mean, they go hard, they scream, they get violent on stage – but they’re really lovely people.”
“Everyone has been super supportive and given us lots of tips. Every time you go to a gig, you probably get a little bit tired of seeing the same people – but at the same time, it’s such a tight-knit little scene of so many bands who really support each other and try to boost each other into more gigs, and offer shows where we can.”
“I’d never been part of it until we started playing, but I was surprised by how friendly everyone is, and I was glad there weren’t really any major ego issues.”
“The Brisbane scene really just feels like a bunch of friends getting together,” concludes Hobbs, “and you get to play shows as well! It’s almost a family community. Everyone knows each other, everyone knows what’s going on, and it’s fantastic to get up there and do what we enjoy with people we enjoy being around.”
“In all honesty, I absolutely love it. Everyone bumps each other’s shit, we’re all boosting each other’s songs when they come out. I love it.”