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SXSW Obsession Part 3: My Interview with Brazos

March 9, 2010

A few weeks ago, I met with Martin Crane, lead singer of local indie band Brazos, for an interview at Spider House as part of the SXSW Spinner project.  You can read the published article here: SXSW 2010: Brazos.

Crane’s a pretty soft-spoken and kind of shy person, and obviously cares deeply about the music he makes, how he comes across as a musician, and despite all this, is reluctantly willing to admit he’s ready for the band to break out.  Interviewing him made for a very interesting and engaging discussion.

Now that we are about a week from the start of the SXSW Music fest, I thought I’d also bring you the short unpublished portions of my interview with Crane.  You can catch Brazos playing at SXSW all this week at these venues:

Monday, March 15th – Mohawk, 8 pm

Tuesday, March 16th – Club DeVille (The Onion Party), 11 pm

Wednesday, March 17th – Austin Hilton (KUT acoustic recording session), 10 am & Red Eyed Fly (Little Radio Party), 2:45 pm

Thursday, March 18th – Homeslice Pizza, 12:30 pm & Emo’s Annex (Official Showcase), 11 pm

Friday, March 19th – Waterloo Park (Mess with Texas Party), 12:45 pm

Saturday, March 20th – Hideout Theatre (The Sessions/Paper Boat Music Show), 4:15 pm

Click the jump to read the Brazos bio I wrote for Spinner and the interview!

Brazos Bio:

The Austin-based band Brazos originally began with Martin Crane, a singer-songwriter and native of South Carolina who moved to Austin about seven years ago.  Crane wrote and performed solo under the banner of Brazos for several years, and after honing his craft, released two successful EPs in 2007, Feeding Frenzy and A City Just As Tall.  In 2008, Crane finally sought to solidify a band line-up for Brazos, recruiting two of his friends, Andy Beaudoin and Paul Price, to play his crop of bedroom-produced songs and to record an LP follow-up to Crane’s EPs, Phosphorescent Blues.

Taking the name “Brazos,” Spanish for “Arms,” from a particularly haunting dream where an old woman literally screamed the word in his face (he later looked up its meaning and took the dream as a sign), Crane is inspired by the rhetoric of isolation and escapism.  He grew up surrounded by old folk and blues standards and the bluegrass scene, describing the experience as somewhat limiting at the time, but clearly formational in his musical sensibility.  As a result of these influences, Crane describes his lyrics as carefully crafted around the theme of noticing everyday details which go overlooked, and pairs them with sonic sound palettes which reflect his personal brand of spiritual awareness.  Released in late 2009, Phosphorescent Blues was met with critical acclaim from independent music bloggers nationwide and earned Crane and Brazos comparisons to Andrew Bird and Broken Social Scene.

As a result of the buzz surrounding the band, Brazos recently embarked on their first national tour supporting White Denim and has opened for Grizzly Bear and Vampire Weekend.  The band also appeared on the legendary Austin City Limits stage for the web-based music series focusing on local musicians, Stage Left, an experience Crane described as “terrifying” and “an honor.”  Brazos is set to make their third appearance at SXSW in 2010.

Unpublished portions from the interview:

On performing for Stage Left:

AGMG

So I saw that you performed on ACL Stage Left.  How was that?

CRANE

It was terrifying at first, to be honest.  We’d never toured before that, and then we were playing that show.  So, the stage is lit up with these lights and the audience is very dark.  You can’t see the audience.  All you can see is yourself.  And you can hear yourself so well that it’s terrifying.  In front of you they have these cameras that swing down to get shots of your face.  So as a singer you’re standing there looking out and the cameras swing down, and they have this way of moving that’s just organic – like a dinosaur eye peering down, about to eat you or something.  I remember thinking that exact thought when I was onstage.  I was in the middle of a song and I was like, “Wow, that looks like a dinosaur eye.”  Stuff like that.  It’s a little unsettling.  We eventually got into it.  It was really great, though.  That place … it’s such an old stage.  It’s seen so many of my favorite people play on that stage.  It was kind of an honor to be able to do that.

AGMG

From what I saw online, it was you solo.  Did you do a couple of solo songs?

CRANE

No, the rest of the set was with the band, but the producer really liked that song.  We were planning on not playing it.  He was like, “You’re playing that song, right?”  I was like, “Nah, man, we’re not.  Sorry.”  He was like, “No, you gotta play that song.”  So I played it by myself because I was the only one that knew it.

On their upcoming SXSW appearances:

AGMG

Have you played SXSW before?

CRANE

Yeah, we’ve actually played it – this will be our third time, but the first two times we really didn’t have anything to show, you know?  We didn’t have an album or anything like that.  So, this is like the first time we’re coming with something.  So  I’ll be curious as to how it goes.

AGMG

I think there’s going to be a lot of buzz around your shows.

CRANE

Yeah, hopefully.  We can only just play.  It would be nice to kind of get things rolling, you know?  When we do play.

AGMG

In terms of getting signed?

CRANE

Yeah, just taking it, quotation mark, to the next level, quotation mark.  Bro.  <laughs> “Taking it to the next level, bro.”

AGMG

That’ll be a quote.  Anything else you want to mention?

CRANE

Check out our album.  We posted the lyrics online, too.  They’re, to me, as important as the music.  And I don’t know if people think about music that way anymore, but that’s the way I think about it.  Yeah, that’s about it.

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