An interview with Barry Brusseau
Musician Barry Brusseau's album The Royal Violent Birds has been receiving an awful lot of play here at Rock Star Journalist headquarters, so when we were given an opportunity to speak with Brusseau, we jumped at the chance. In this e-mail interview, the musician speaks on his writing and recording processes, as well as whether or not he'll be performing these songs in your area. You took the lyrics to "Pig Frost" from a book of poetry by Tyler Stockton. What attracted you to his work? Tyler Stockton is a friend and fellow striving musician. He put out two self-published books of poetry a couple of years ago. It's mostly deprived and dark atrocities, and that's not really where my music takes me. Did you speak with him before or after putting the song together? I asked him if he would mind if I put a poem to music, and he said go ahead. I got up one morning and opened one of the books and started thumbing through a few selection. I landed on "Pig Frost". and started messing with it. The simple structure spilled out very quickly, and I made a little demo of it. I sent it to him and he liked it. Was that a starting point for this record, or did it come at a different part of the writing process? I liked the idea of starting the album with a big bomb of a song, and then the dust settles. Bookending the album with two versions was something I decided on very early. I haven't heard from him recently, and I have no idea what he thinks of those versions.
Your statement on your website regarding the recording process states that you stayed analog the whole way through. Why such adherence to that methodology?
I must apologize for the confusion on my website. The part about staying analog all the way through was referring to my first album. The thought was that it wouldn't make sense to make the ultimate analog experience, and record it digitally. I was very happy with the way that turned out, but after speaking with some good engineers I was comfortable doing this record digitally. I recorded at Jackpot Studios with Larry Crane (tape op magazine). I figured I could put my trust in Larry to make a great recording that sonically would sound great on vinyl.\
I look at the digital vs analog, CD vs vinyl thing this way; I love coffee and most of the time I drink it on the go in a paper cup. It still tastes good and smells good, and works in a pinch. But when I really want to get the most out of my love for coffee I drink it out of a big ceramic mug. I slow everything down, and sit back and savor every sip. CD's/Mp3's work in a pinch, but to get the most out of my music experience I need to sit down and listen to a real vinyl record.
Does having a download card included with the record chafe a little?
I'm a big fan of the download card, and know lots of people listen to music on there [sic] iPod. I want people to have that option. The cd is just a vehicle to carry your music to your computer, so you can cut out the middle man and give the download card. Even if you don't have a turntable you can enjoy the art, soul, feel, and beauty of a physical album.
Have you worked with the other musicians on this record before? Even if not, it certainly sounds like you were all on the same page regarding the sparse approach.
I've played with all the musicians on this album before (some more that others). My brother Tim and I have been playing together for 26 years. Doing everything from Slayer covers in the back bedroom of my mothers house to touring the country in our punk band "The Jimmies" (r.i.p). Tim is a complete drummer who can do it all, and came up with some great stuff for this album.
As a solo artist in a much different scene (the softer side of things) having a permanent band is not an easy thing. Where as in the Rock-n-Roll world putting a loyal bunch of semi talented rockers, looking to have a drink and a good time, is much easier. The skilled violinist or cello player is being pulled in a million directions, and always has lots of commitments. So putting everyone together for a show, or the studio can be a real challenge.
Are they any plans to tour on this, or is it strictly a recording project?
would love to tour, but I don't know if it does me any good. I feel like if I could count on 10 to 15 people attending every show I would do it. I think no one really knows who I am, and it could be a waste of time. So how do you get known? How does a person climb that mountain of obscurity and raise their profile? I've been doing this a long time, and don't think there's a blueprint for it. You just keep swinging and doing what a person can do. I have a full time job and I'm a husband, brother, son, and friend. Responsibility doesn't always leave a lot of time to work with, so I try and be grateful for what I have. A tour is not out of the question, but in the meantime I play around the great town of Portland Oregon whenever I can. Thanks for taking the time to give my record a listen, and I appreciate the kind words about my music.