Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicago band Brighton MA playing hometown show

Photo by Stephanie Bassos

Despite its name, Brighton MA is a Chicago band through and through.

The band, www.brightonma.net,  formed in 2006 after Scotland Yard Gospel Choir co-founder Matt Kerstein and drummer Sam Koentopp left that band and started collaborating with arranger/guitarist Jim Tuerk. Brighton MA also includes guitarist Joe Darnaby and bassist Jon Ozaksut.

Brighton MA is touring in support of its new album, "Oh Lost," and will perform May 2 at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago. Stolen Silver also is on the bill.

The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $10, available at www.ticketfly.com.

I had the chance to talk to Tuerk about the new album.

Q - Great to talk to you. Of course, you are touring in support of the new album,"Oh Lost." What goals did you have for the album and do you think you achieved them?

We wanted to make a cohesive rock album in a very short time - none of this recording a record for two years sort of business. We had the tunes, and benefited from a three-week block in Engine Studios which recently moved - I think we were one of the last sessions.  

But with the album now in the bag, we're concentrating on bringing the music across the country. We've been playing a lot of shows with a horn trio (the upcoming Hideout show included), which lends itself to a celebratory vibe, and we have a lot to celebrate.


Q - The album was produced by Brian Deck, who has worked with the likes of Iron & Wine and Modest Mouse. How did you hook up with him and what did he bring to the table?

After we finished the last EP, ("Billboard Sun"), our manager hooked us up with Brian to do this record. He was instrumental in making it.  

Every one in the band has strong ideas about how to shape a tune, so what we needed really was a No-man—someone who could we could trust to sift through all of our collective ideas. Brian was that guy for this record, and we hope to bring him back in on our next. Hilariously funny dude, too.

Q - Does the band's name cause confusion at sometimes, with people thinking you should be a Massachusetts band rather than a band from Chicago? Or is it just another way for people to discover the band?

You know, it does cause a little confusion, but we wanted a band name that had some meaning and depth behind it. Matt carries very warm feelings for it as a place, so we thought that was a nice sort of thing to name a band after. 

Almost hoping that if you were into us and our music, then we could be that sort of a place for you to go to. Plus we think it has a nice ring to it. 

So although it is a bit confusing, it's also proved to be inclusive. People come up all the time and talk about how it caught their eye because they lived in Brighton for a time or how they love Boston and such.

Q - Matt and Sam left The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir to form Brighton MA. Was the time just right for you to go off on your own? What was your vision for the band?

The SYGC was a blast, but with two songwriters, it couldn't sustain itself, so yeah, it was just the right time to go.  That said, it was amicable and we're still good friends with those guys - Mark Yoshizumi recorded our last EP and helped with "Oh Lost." 

But as Matt started to write more with Jim Tuerk who had done some string arrangements for the Choir, the idea of BMA started and we built up songs that were largely in reference to the formative years in Matt's childhood. We've grown up a lot since then.  

And after a couple personnel changes, we have a pretty tight knit group of guys who are all invested in what we do. 

Q - The band continues to gain more fans. How have experiences like playing at SXSW and with bands like Spoon and The Arcade Fire helped the band to grow?

I think every band would concur that playing more shows makes you a better band.  SXSW is such a crazy time: a million bands in 30-45 minute increments everywhere. 

It's a challenge for sure—the 1-2-3-go! immediacy. We look at playing with bigger bands as a huge opportunity to learn from them musically and to connect with their audience. 

Right after SXSW, we did some dates with Tim Kasher and it immediately gained us some fans because his fan base is filled with genuine music lovers who were willing to give us a shot. Plus, you just get better by being around people like Tim and his musicians on the road. Total pros.

Q - How do you think the Chicago music scene compares to other music scenes? Do you have a favorite place to play in Chicago?

We love it here. There are so many great bands with great people in them.  

I mentioned us playing with horns - that's something that you could do in any city of course, but we have a vibrant jazz scene here with some unique players. 

It seems like everyone here is open-minded and generally open to anything that's good music. And that type of support from the musician community is nice to lean on when you need it.

Q - The  band has gained comparisons to The Walkmen, The Flaming Lips and Bob Dylan. Do you consider them influences? How would you describe your music?

Sure! Glad to be considered in that great company!  

Our music is all over the rock & roll map. It has elements of folk, noise, pop, classic, grunge and new wave. But while we draw from all these sources, we keep the focus on what serves the individual song with an unyielding priority given to lyrical content. 

We hear The Walkmen referenced a fair amount, and yeah, a couple of us guys are really into what they do.  But we bring a lot of different influences in - our drummer is a jazz guy, our guitarist Joe is kind of a metal head, Boston's the Dylan scholar, and so on.  

That's always been a big value to this band: all the disparate influences we bring informing our collective love of what we're trying to make.

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