Gig preview: The Brazen at Milo, Leeds
Indie rock band The Brazen have come a long way in a relatively short space of time.
Just 18 months after they decided to switch from playing other people’s songs to penning original material the Leeds five-piece have written, recorded and just released their first album, Lazer Lips.
“We were a covers band originally, part of the Leeds music scene and doing relatively well and we started writing some music and realised it’s probably better to re-brand ourselves and come away from the covers band image completely,” says singer Ryan Hobbs.
“By the time we figured out a name and what we wanted to be it was late October, early November  before we launched The Brazen as an entity.”
As a covers band, called Free Empire, they were used to playing “quite mainstream indie rock”.
“We played all the haunts around Leeds – O’Neills, The Hop, numerous other places and became relatively successful at that and moved into doing weddings and corporate events and parties.”
The turning point came when they were approached by the parents of Jayden Tullett, a toddler from Solihull, who had passed away from a rare heart condition. “I knew them and they asked us to do a charity song to try to raise some money in Jayden’s name and that really got us started thinking about our own songs,” says Hobbs. “We released that one and it got some press coverage and I think it raised nearly £5,000 which was for Cardiac Risk in the Young and that’s where it all started, really.
“That song wasn’t necessarily the kind of song we’d write if it was just down to us, it was obviously for a cause, but we loved the whole process of writing our own music and rather than going into the studio and doing demos for covers it was doing something organic and something that was ours.”
The 11 songs on their debut album were written in a burst of creativity. “There was 12 originally and we cut one out after mastering – we just didn’t think it was quite in keeping with the rest of the album.
“But to be honest with you,” Hobbs says, “We’ve already got five or six in the background for the future.
“I think we’d all kind of squirrelled away tracks. Rob Clayton [one of the band’s two guitarists] wrote six or seven on the album and Trev Phillips, our bassist, wrote three and I wrote one. We wrote independently and brought them into the rehearsal room and we kind of all brought our influences into it. I think you can tell that when you listen to it, not any one track is the same. Someone down in London said we hope between genres a little bit – there’s some pop in there with Lazer Lips and there’s some more serious emotional stuff with a couple of tracks.
“Going forward I think we’re definitely going to try change the way we write music and write as a collective as opposed to writing individually.”
The recent single Get High nods to bands such as The Charlatans and the Stone Roses. “That’s very much Rob’s influences,” says Hobbs. “He’s a bit of a 90s child at heart even now.”
Hobbs is full of praise for the album’s producer Ed Heaton. “I think Ed’s one of the real good guys on the Leeds music scene. As a producer he’s just fantastic, he doesn’t just sit there and press buttons and concentrate on levels, he gets involved in every single track, he gives you his opinions, if he doesn’t like something he’ll tell you, if he thinks you should change something he’ll tell you. He does feel almost like part of the band and when we do our album launch Ed’s coming down and we’re going to give him a bottle of something just to say thank you.
“He’s become a bit of a confidante. If ever I’ve got something that I want to do or I’m thinking of, even for gigs or competitions that a lot of people are doing and whether we want to approach them, who to be dealing with in the industry on the Leeds music scene Ed’s always a great confidante.
“I don’t think we’d ever go anywhere else, certainly not talent-wise. If Ed decided to do something different because he’s got a lot going on that’s up to him, but we love work with him, he’s a cracking bloke.”
For a gig at Milo on Saturday to launch their album, The Brazen have gathered support acts that they rate highly. “We saw Edgar Duke at an event for Double Denim and we were really impressed with them,” says Hobbs. “Dangerhounds are a very similar sort of band in the sense that they’re new and up and coming, and Black Sonic Revolver are from Manchester but they’re popular on the Leeds music scene, they’ve got a couple of albums under their belt and are working on their third album.
“With regards to the quality of bands on that night I’m really pleased with the night’s entertainment that we’ve put together.”
The Brazen return to Milo on July 27 and in September they’re due to play at the O2 Academy in Islington, north London. “It’s all really positive,” says Hobbs. “I think we’ve been really fortunate in the shows which we’ve done since November, we’ve done some really good stuff, we’ve done some really nice venues in different cities , we’ve got other stuff coming up in Manchester and Sheffield as well. It’s nice to go out and gig in different places but you’ve also got to make sure you’re strong at home. It’s like a game of football – you’ve got to be strong at home and try to pick up as many points as you can away from home, that’s kind of the attitude we’ve got to it at the moment.”
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