Brick + Mortar Open Up About Their New Album, "Meta Meta Etc.": "The World is a Big and Cold Place, but Hope is Even Bigger if You Decide to Believe in Yourself"
With over a decade of grinding under their belt, it comes as a surprise that Asbury Park, NJ duo Brick + Mortar are just now releasing their debut full-length album, but it has been well worth the wait. The band, comprised of best friends Brandon Asraf (bass, vocals) and John Tacon (drums, electric samples, vocals) has created a world for themselves with their eclectic instrumentals, incredibly personal lyricism and high energy live performances, and it all comes to a head on their upcoming release Meta Meta, Etc.. By touching on subjects like America's drug culture, self doubt, and hope, Brick + Mortar were able to fully embrace themselves and their unique sound on this release in hopes of inspiring those who have pushed them to believe in themselves: their fans.
With Meta Meta Etc. out this week, we caught up with Asraf and Tacon to discuss the stories behind the album, the challenges that come with being an independent band and what they hope fans take away from their music. Read more about the album and listen to Brick + Mortar's latest single, "Saturday Night" below!
Interview by Dom Vigil
You guys have had an incredibly busy 2018 with new music and tour dates, and it’s just about to get even crazier for you with your first full-length dropping this month! What has been the highlight of your year so far?
Brandon Asraf: Well it’s hard to choose, but I am gonna go with touring Europe for the first time. Our friends The Front Bottoms brought us out at the beginning of 2018 which was a surreal experience and a major milestone for us. Our live show is an adventure to be a part of crowd wise and it was refreshing and relieving to see that it translates everywhere we go.
John Tacon: Yeah definitely touring Europe. I remember playing in Glasgow and when we were doing the intro to One Little Pill, the crowd just immediately started chanting, “HERE WE...HERE WE...HERE WE FUCKIN GO!” and it was insane. I didn’t realize what they were saying until after the set when someone told me. Apparently it’s a thing over there.
Your upcoming album, Meta Meta Etc. marks your first full-length release as Brick + Mortar. What did you set out to accomplish on this release that you haven’t been able to do with EPs in the past yet?
Brandon: We have taken what we have learned from all the studio experience and knowledge gained from working with producers to craft our own full length record. When we started, it was pure discovery and we had a clean slate. Over our time recording the EP’s, we ultimately learned the craft of songwriting. This record in my opinion is the first record we have been able to take our time to really get it right.
John: Yup, and we were super lucky to have the help and knowledge of Pat Noon from Eightsixteen/Tax East Studios. He allowed us to really tune into ourselves and gave us the time to attain the sound we were aspiring to get. Writing and producing our own first record was a goal we’ve had for a while and glad we achieved it.
Meta Meta Etc. follows your 2015 EP, Dropped and last year’s re-release, Dropped Again. How do you feel you’ve grown or evolved between these releases?
Brandon: On this release, I feel I have tapped into a raw place lyrically while at the same time pulling my voice in many new styles and directions. It’s really exciting to step outside of my comfort zone. I hope that you can hear the evolution of our songwriting on this record. I am of the motto of never doing the same thing twice. It’s very challenging to stick with that and keep people interested, so I just do what feels good.
John: On this record, I really tried honing in on my songwriting chops as opposed to drum chops. Some of my playing on the earlier stuff is a lot more crazy and technical, while the grooves on this record are more focused and keen to what I thought the song actually needed. Also, I approached the way I recorded the drums differently than in the past. I’m interested to see what listeners think of the overall sound of everything but you know, a drummer is always a drummer, so I hope you dig that drum sound!
What are you most excited for listeners to hear on Meta Meta Etc.?
Brandon: I am excited for the track "Friends" and "Saturday Night." We really tried some different song structures and musical twists in these tracks. It’s honestly hard to choose because there are other songs on this record I feel that way about.
John: Yeah I am pumped for people to hear "Friends." We’ve started playing it live and that song just makes me go in, man. Don’t know what it is, but it makes me feel some type of way. I have a problem with just sitting behind my drums the whole show, so I tend to jump around like a madman. But seriously, the whole record is dope and I can’t wait for you to hear it.
What was the most challenging part about working on the album? What has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part for me was looking at the songs as a whole record and knowing we made the artistic choices we wanted. I don’t know if people will get it, but I do feel that we sound unique to ourselves. I proud am of that. The most challenging part was getting the record finished because we were recording it while in legal limbo with our ex labels and managers and had to really pull together to finance the record. I too want to personally thank Pat Noon at Eightsixteen/Trax East Studios, Joe Costable, and Alan Douches at West West Side Music for helping us give this record it’s voice.
You recently released “Saturday Night” from the album, as well! Can you tell us a little bit about this track? What inspired it?
It’s my own perspective on drug culture in America today. In my view, it’s like the late 1980’s and everything is pushing us to party, consume, and distract ourselves from reality. The message is feel rich and stay high, the only problem is people die. Our culture makes us all feel like we are losers and drugs are a padding of sorts; a warm blanket to shield us from what we hate about ourselves. At least at first.
What would you like listeners to take away from “Saturday Night” or even Meta Meta Etc. as a whole?
The world is a big and cold place, but hope is even bigger if you decide to believe in yourself. I don’t believe in a higher power, but I feel like everyone needs to believe in themselves at some point. The character in this record looks within himself to truly see his ugly side and decides to hope for a better future.
With the new album out soon, do you have any plans to hit the road again this year?
We are planning a fall/winter tour! Hope to have dates solidified soon.
Do you have any other big goals for 2018?
We hope this record gets us to the next level and helps us gain the opportunities to have bigger live shows and a greater fan base. We also want to make more music videos and try some more experimental content.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Brandon: Just want to say thanks for talking to us. I also want thank every fan who reads this for making me believe in myself. I didn’t start out believing in myself, I learned it from you encouraging me. Some days, like everyone, I wake up and feel like a fraud then you remind me that what I do is real.
John: Thanks for wanting to chat with us! Shout out to the dopest fans on the planet. See you all very soon.