Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, the sextet known as Bronze Radio Return are an embodiment of when different styles of music come together in an energetic and eclectic band. They recently released a new album called Light Me Up and will be heading off for a small tour starting on February 20th in Akron, Ohio. MEB writer/photographer M.J. Rawls caught up with the band to talk about their history, what’s on the horizon for the future, and their recent album.
MEB: I love the concept of the start of the band and the old “Bronze Radio” that helped shaped your music taste and fuel your passion towards it. With a lot of music fans now, they may not be familiar with that feeling. Podcasts, streaming services all at a click of a button. I know the meaning of the name to you, but do you think that “Bronze Radio” could be a metaphoric meaning for anyone? I think that’s the appeal to the band.
BRR: I think the bronze radio aptly fits a metaphor for our early influences. In this case it was a tip of the hat to the music that influenced us growing up. That bronze radio played a lot of blues, country, jazz, bluegrass, etc. and while nothing we create sounds directly like those genres, it was those styles that started us listening to music. You mentioned podcasts and streaming services which I think are great tools for music discovery. Bronze Podcast Return.
MEB: I’ve read that BRR finds remote locations to record their albums. What was different in regards to “Light Me Up?” Does that level of isolation give the band the pinpoint focus that the record needs. A lot of artists try to tune out the “noise” as much as possible.
We look for remote and new locations when we record because, for us, it keeps it fresh. I’ve been asked before how different regions of the country may affect the vibe of a recording, but what it really boils down to is a fresh new space, feeling alert, and having time to focus. I think there’s an energy with being in a new place that keeps a certain part of you alert and aware. This last album was mostly recorded outside of El Paso, TX on a pecan farm on the border of Mexico. It felt foreign and exciting.
MEB: You guys have had your songs placed on ESPN, films and Starbucks ads. Doing so well independently, do you find the placement is a more effective way to get your music out conjoined with touring and such? I feel like when fans go see a show, there’s a lot of “oh! I already know this song”
We are very fortunate to have our music placed in a variety of shows, movies, commercials, etc. Ultimately, it’s a vehicle for your music to reach a much larger audience. I figure if a song of ours gets played in a movie that 1 million people see and from that million only 1000 people go and find our music from it. It’s still 1000 more people who would probably never had heard our music before that movie. I agree with you – combining that exposure and touring the country certainly helps get the word out.
MEB: Your newest album, “Light Me Up” is really diverse. Listening to it, I think the main thing that ties it together is energy? With six band members contributing and so many moving parts, how to do all come together to make it uniform? You guys have previously stated that you feel like the live and recording parts of Bronze Radio Return are two different entities.
We’ve learned a lot about what works for us in the studio from recording a hand full of albums over the years. Communication, focus, positivity and “eye on the prize” thinking have all helped us work as a team when making an album. The uniformity happens naturally when we are all on the same page about where the songs are headed and where we want to take them. With six guys in the band, a producer and an engineer, we have a lot of perspectives to tap into.
MEB: I’m a big lyrics person and a song in particular, “Pocket Knife” stood out to me. I got a rugged heart/I got a body made of blades/I’m gonna keep ‘em sharp/like a pocket knife.”. It’s not really easy to make lyrics catchy and clever, but this album makes great use of it. Does that come easy or do you find yourself at a point where you have to step away until it comes to you?
Thanks! Lyrics are a tricky beast. Sometimes words flow and other times they don’t. I’ve learned over the years to not force it because when I do they sound less honest and more confusing. It’s funny you mention “Pocket Knife” because that song had several re-writes. It was initially called “Parking Lot” and was about the time I (and probably many others) spent many nights growing up hanging out in parking lot. It made so much sense to me, but was hard to connect the dots with the vocal melodies already in place. We left the studio with it unfinished and I came home and worked on words for a couple of days before recording the final lyrics. From parking lots to pocket knives…
MEB: In a live setting, where do you feel that live show of BRR translates best? Would it be a club show or a festival setting?
I think we can make our live show translate at both club shows and festivals. It’s all about the energy from the crowd and the energy on stage. If both of those energies are rocking, it’s going to be fun.
MEB: What’s next on the agenda for Bronze Radio Return for 2016? What are the goals that the band looks to obtain going forward amongst the robust list of accomplishments you already have?
I think it’s going to be a busy 2016. We start off with a coast to coast late winter tour that will bring us through some of our favorite cities and venues. We’ve started working on plans to embark on our first European tour in the spring which is something we’ve wanted to do since starting this band. If all goes according to plan we will hopefully be back on some great festival stages this summer. For the last album we recorded more songs than we ended up releasing so maybe we will release some more music this year too. Who knows : )