Catching up with Braid
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 13:09
Headlining the Polyvinyl 15 Year Anniversary show last Saturday at the Pygmalion Music Festival were local indie giants Braid, who recently reunited and released a new EP titled Closer to Closed. Before their big performance, WPCD talked to vocalist and guitarist Bob Nanna to catch up with the band.
WPCD: What is it like being back together after all of these years?
BN: It feels really great. It's tough because we're not actually totally back together, we're getting together to write new songs and create some new music. It just feels really good to be able to play music with those other three guys. I'm such fans of them as musicians, and I think we write really well together. The time we spent together writing songs and touring was really special, and to relive that in any small way just feels really good.
WPCD: What sparked the decision to reunite?
BN: I had recently started spending more time with Chris (Broach). He moved back into the city of Chicago and we started doing DJ nights together. Once it was around Record Store Day of last year, I came to one DJ night and was like: "You know what would be awesome? If Braid recorded two new songs for a 7 inch for next year's Record Store Day." Because I wondered what it would sound like if the four of us got in a room and tried to write some songs. That's kind of where it started, everyone was up for it. Our schedules don't really line up so much anymore, but we were able to get together, write the songs, and then record them.
WPCD: What have you been up to since Braid disbanded?
BN: A lot. Musically, I played in Hey Mercedes for almost five years. And then I did a whole lot of touring solo under the name The City On Film. That's pretty much it, I've been touring a lot. I also work now at threadless.com which is amazing.
WPCD: Is there any hope to see something new come out of either Hey Mercedes or The City On Film in the future?
BN: I can't ever say never, I don't want to say never for anything, but there's nothing planned for Hey Mercedes. But I'm constantly putting out new solo stuff online or whatever. I'm starting to play in a new band too and doing a project called Jack And Ace. I just want to keep writing because it makes me feel good.
WPCD: How did you choose the songs from your catalog to re-learn and perform live?
BN: We went though and thought about the songs that we liked playing the most. Some importance was given to the ones that we thought we would be able to learn and play well in time. There are one or two songs that we hadn't played in a long, long, long time that we thought would be fun to try and relearn. We're playing some of the new songs, too so those are actually songs we need to learn how to play live as well. We got together a list of songs we thought we really needed to play, songs that we wanted to play, and then some weird, kind of wildcard songs that we thought would be cool if we played but not a big deal if we don't.
WPCD: Tell me about the new EP Closer To Closed.
BN: Our plan was only to write two songs, and then we were going to do the cover of the Jeff Hanson song "You Are The Reason." But when we got together, it just went so well we wanted to keep going. I brought in one of the songs "Do Over" and Chris brought in another song "The Right Time." Just sort of vague sketches of the song, and then we worked them out. And then the song "Universe Or Worse" we worked out together.
WPCD: Was writing this EP similar to writing Braid material in the past?
BN: Yeah, absolutely. That's exactly how every Braid song was written for the most part, where one of us would bring an idea in and then we worked it out. And it really wasn't weird at all with all of the time in between practices, we just kind of picked up where we left off.
WPCD: What is it like performing at Polyvinyl Records'15th anniversary show?
BN: That feels great, too. I'm so proud of Polyvinyl. We were right there from the beginning, in fact Matt (Lunsford) was the person who booked our first show in Danville in 93. So we've known him forever, and to see his label thrive like this and still be around is incredible. We're real fortunate that we're able to hook up with them at the beginning because they're doing stuff right. They really care and they're passionate.
WPCD: What was the best show Braid has ever performed and why?
BN: (Laughs) That's such a tough question because we've played almost 600 shows, but I have to say the last one which was three weeks ago in Chicago because there really wasn't any pressure. We weren't nervous, everyone was there to have fun and have a good time. The only thing I was really worried about was my equipment failing. But as far as messing up the songs or singing the wrong lyrics or whatever, it didn't matter because there really was no pressure. I think it was a fun set. If you ask me next week, I'll probably say it was the Polyvinyl show.
WPCD: If you could jam with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be?
BN: (Laughs) That's a funny question. I'm pretty bad a jamming to be honest, I like structure when it comes to music. But I might say, it's pretty obscure, but the drummer of the band Velveteen. Damon (Atkinson) from Braid is one of the drummers I've ever seen, much less played with, but I would love to be in the band the Veleteen for like a tour or something, or a week, or a show. I just like that band a lot.