BRICK SIMPLY IS RoCK N' ROLL
Brick Briscoe has made a life of figuring out how to do what he needs to do. Writing songs and performing are at the top of that list. Rooted in the Midwest, but spiritually tied to NYC, where his previous release Songs To Yell To came to life, he continues to defy expectations. Much of his new record Brick Briscoe - IV was recorded or mixed in a hospital while he was undergoing chemotherapy.
Briscoe creates songs that paint a picture of restlessness and wonder, sprinkled liberally with a well matured angst. He’s a wanderer both physically and artistically. You’ll find him just as much obsessed with the open road as trying to get you into the metaphorical bed. The songs move between punk rock edge and a curious free form adventure, with Briscoe’s buzzsaw and angular guitar riffs cutting a trail for his lyrics to find an unsettling safe house.
His live shows channel the things he spits out from this journey. Always intense and surprisingly sensitive, his shows go from a whisper to a howl from moment to moment. He's entertaining for sure, but there's some thinking in the dance and things can get messy.
In between regional gigs and the occasional foray to NYC, Chicago, Minneapolis or wherever, Brick produces and hosts a public radio show called "The Song Show.” It is a show where Brick shows his true passion for music and mines the deep history of song by relating common themes across genres and time periods in each episode. His guests are the musicians and songwriters he comes across playing music, or in true old school fashion, picks up the phone and calls.
He also produces television, commercials and other film based projects from his studio base, "la cueva de la araña," in Petersburg, IN.
Brick was born and raised in Petersburg. Although he wanted to do nothing more than be in a rock band, he was coerced into attending university. After taking a class at Indiana University on the complete works of Charles Chaplin, he decided to try to make films. During a stint at Southern Illinois University the following year, he discovered Truffaut, Godard and Tarkovsky, thus his fate was sealed.
During this journey of personal and financial ruin, Brick moved to New York, then Los Angeles, and finally back to New York chasing the cinema. Influenced greatly by Cassavetes, Truffaut, Rohmer, Cukor and a host of others, he pitched films all over both cities (with several near misses) until he moved back to Petersburg deeming cinema dead.
After giving up feature films for his health and sanity, he discovered that the only thing he ever truly loved was rock n' roll. He now spends most of his time writing and performing with his band and producing music in his studio, as well as, finding guests for his radio show.
He still lives in Petersburg with his wife of 29 years, Marta. They have a new granddaughter, with some help from their daughter Emma and son-in-law Curtis.
Katie here, though I have to give associate producer and husband Andy Mullins credit for this week. I want to say it was 2015 when Ryan Spaulding brought his roving band of Outlaws to Nashville, which is a lot closer to us out here “somewhere in middle America.” (Sorry, Adam, had to do it.) But upon hearing it was going to be so close, Andy immediately said, “Oh, we have to invite Brick to come see it.”
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know much about Brick’s taste in music. I’d seen him play once and described it as watching John Darnielle play with a punk band (and I’m going to stand by that). I liked him immediately, and he’s an excellent storyteller. But Andy always knows when someone will fit in well and enjoy themselves, and he’s even better at connecting people he knows will love each other. It was obvious from the first second Moseley took the stage that Brick was enamored. He stayed for most of that day’s showcases, only leaving because— as you’re about to find out— Brick Briscoe is a very busy man. That day, though, he became a part of our little family, and when you join us for the first Underwater Sunshine Fest (one month now!), he’ll be part of yours, too.
Brick and I have a lot in common. He has a radio show on NPR called “The Song Show”, I’m often a guest on that show; I love Billy Joel and could talk about how much for 24 hours, he let me talk about how great Billy Joel was on his radio show (though it was couched as an “apologist” episode); we have both fought major medical issues in the last two years and are still re-learning how our bodies and minds operate in artistic mediums that had been natural to us. But Brick Briscoe finished making his record IV (you should ask him how to pronounce it) while he was receiving chemo in the hospital. He’s currently editing a documentary he shot on location in Paris. He’s constantly working on new ways to record “The Song Show,” including traveling to festivals, recording interviews with artists (you might have seen him in some pictures or video from when our other Underwater Sunshine Fest artist, Matt Sucich, stopped by Evansville to visit a few weeks ago), and most recently, even finding a band to play the songs being discussed on the show— live. Brick is nothing if not an innovator and a risk taker, someone who was literally creating from a hospital bed.
You can imagine the raw, untapped anxiety, frustration, anger, and naked honesty that you’ll find on IV.
That’s not to say it’s not got a sense of humor: the two first songs, “It Just Seems Like It’s About the Kids” and “Sally Sells Herself by the Seashore,” are both equal parts bemused and raunchy. One of my favorite lines from his bio is that “you’ll find him just as much obsessed with the open road as trying to get you into the metaphorical bed.” Well— yeah. He’s a punk musician who can slow the show to a barely perceptible whisper in moments. He’s got an excellent handle on dynamics. He’s a huge fan of The Jam, Television, Robyn Hitchcock, and of course, The Who— and he sees himself very much as a rock musician. Brick’s been around long enough to know that rock— TRUE rock— can switch effortlessly between the sweet calm of the beginning of “Love Reign O’er Me” to the rollicking, screaming chorus, that finds Daltrey, even with his incredible range and power, cracks and strains against the chains of the words in the title.
Which is to say, Brick can write a ballad. I love to hear him, and I especially like to hear everything LOUD. I’m a huge fan of a hard-and-fast style: something he obviously knows he has because his record before IV was called Songs to Yell To. But he’s as good when he takes it down a few levels. My personal favorite before IV came out was a song called “Shamrock, TX” about a small town most people drive through without stopping for much of anything. It feels as if it’s stream-of-consciousness: as if, through the act of picking up the guitar, he has begun writing a love letter to the implied listener.
I wanted to write to tell you that our trip was held up,
We were crossing over quietly, hoping to make
Amarillo, but everything’s dark
I was thinking right then, that I needed to tell you
So I hope you know, I was thinking ‘bout you
I was thinking baby, I was thinking baby—
That it could have been worse.
Nothing ever happened, we just stopped.
But a smell hung heavy for a few hours
I’m hungry and I’m lonely and I’m looking for you
All around me
The sweetness and longing in this song gives it a bittersweet dusty “home” feeling (have I mentioned I’m from Texas in every single article I’ve written? Fine, then I repeat myself). This is definitely a panhandle love song, in that it feels vast and like the wind is cutting through everything. I hope you go to Spotify and listen to this song, not just because I love it and my love for it is a part of me, but because then I want you to go listen to “Sally Sells Herself By the Seashore.”
(Don’t like it, don’t like it)
Sally sells herself by the seashore
Holy hell it makes me want to die
Sally sells herself by the seashore
She can run, but she can’t hide
I don’t like it, I don’t like it
My sister says Sally’s a whore
Says she is going straight to hell
Come on, Sister, come on down
Cos Sally guarantees what she sells
I don’t like it
I don’t like it
If you can’t have fun with a song like that… well, maybe you’d rather have a song like “Heading to Kanorado,” with a great line like “You can be a dumbass anywhere.” Or maybe “I’m Not Impressed by This Life Very Much.”
This is an anthem
To romance and love
To conjugal visits
An anthem of lust
This is an anthem
To hate and to greed
To jesters and clerks
An anthem of lust
At 20 you suck, at 30 you suck
At 40, you’re fucked
What I’m saying is that while Brick is kind, compassionate, clearly thoughtful, and downright loving— he also knows how to write a funny song that has razor-teeth in the lyrics. (Sorry to those of you in the 40 and up bracket…but hey, at least apparently I’m halfway between sucking and— oh, you can read the lyrics.) So come meet Andy’s friend Brick Briscoe, a man I’m lucky enough to have met through my husband. Brick’s been our family for a long time, music or no music. We’re happy to have him at Underwater Sunshine Fest. And if these lyrics make only one thing clear… you’re going to have a good time getting to know Brick Briscoe.