The Belle Brigade Talk Live Show, New Material, and More
Mon, 16 Apr 2012 07:08:17
It's been a year since The Belle Brigade released its self-titled debut, and duo Ethan and Barbara Gruska has only gotten better.
As evinced by their captivating live shows, these two musicians continually evolve. Delicately balancing soulful folk with the right amount of rock energy, The Belle Brigade exist in a space of their own. You can hear their progression loud and clear on stage, but it's bound to be ever present on the brother and sister's forthcoming new material.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, The Belle Brigade's Ethan and Barbara Gruska talk playing live, new material, and so much more.
How have your songs evolved after a year on the road?
Barbara Gruska: The tempos of the songs have really changed from the record in terms of how we play them live. The thing I enjoy most is Ethan and my vocal phrasing. A lot of the melodies have stayed the same, but our rhythmic phrasing has gotten more elastic. We're more in tune with each other when it comes to pushes and pulls of tempo. The singing has gotten a lot better over the past year of playing live.
Ethan Gruska: I agree! That's how I feel.
Barbara Gruska: Some of the songs are faster and some are slower. "Rusted Wheel" is slower than it is on the record. Singing it a little slower feels more groovy live. "Where Not to Look for Freedom" gets a bit faster. It changes every night depending on the room, how we feel, and what the audience's vibe is. I like that we stray from the record. We have a lot of freedom. We don't want to play everything exactly like it is on the record. It's still very true to the songs, but everybody stretches out more. That makes it more fun live.
Ethan Gruska: There are a few extra solo sections in some songs. We have taken a few sections and turned them into a jam time.
Which songs lend themselves to jamming?
Ethan Gruska: "Where Not to Look for Freedom" is a fun one. We've extended the end of that song. We keep it going a little longer. We added a guitar solo to "Belt of Orion". That's different every night.
Have you started working on the next record?
Barbara Gruska: During our time at home in between tours, we've been writing a lot. We have a bunch of new material. I'd say there are around 20 new songs. We've added a few into our shows on this tour. Hopefully, we'll go into the studio right away after this tour and record the second album.
What's the direction of the new material?
Ethan Gruska: It's hard to say right now because we've demoed all the new songs but we haven't gone in and thought of the production value and sonic approach. We have a bunch of ideas. We're excited about the bare bones of the songs because they feel more mature lyrically and form-wise. They're more rock 'n' roll. They're a little bit ballsier. We've been listening to different stuff like a lot of Tom Petty and stuff that's inspiring us to make a different-sounding record.
Has being on the road affected you as writers?
Barbara Gruska: It definitely has. We had playing live in mind with a lot of the new songs. There are some which are more introspective, but we're really excited to play a handful of them live. I think they're going to be really fun for an audience.
What are you listening to right now?
Ethan Gruska: We've been getting really into Ry Cooder stuff. Paradise and Lunch is an album we've been playing a lot on this tour. We're loving Weezer. There's a lot of stuff.
What's your favorite song on the record?
Barbara Gruska: My favorite is one we don't play live, "Only Lonely". It's probably my favorite because I never hear it. If I hear it, I'm like, "Oh yeah, that's cool!"
Ethan Gruska: I'm digging "Belt of Orion" now.
Have you seen The Belle Brigade?