Brick + Mortar are one of the most creative and inventive bands I’ve ever seen live. Both lead vocal-guitarist Brandon Asraf and drummer John Tacon provide whimsical-like performances. I’ve never seen a drummer move around the stage so much, ever. At one point Tacon joined Asraf in the audience with his floor tom, as the crowd gathered round the energy in the room escalated. When the amp caught fire.. what did they do? Kept playing, with smiles.
20 Lbs. - Brick + Mortar
After the show I caught up with Brandon and John for the details on their new EP and life before 7 Years in the Mystic Room.
MWL: You released 7 Years in the Mystic Room, I love it- what are the direct influences here?
Brandon Asraf: 7 years in the mystic room is literally my life on record. Childhood, love, life, work, and failure. It’s the first time I’ve ever attempted to record songs and the first time I ever sang on record, so really, it was a big experiment for me, one that I fell in love with.
John Tacon: I didn’t channel any one particular musical act as a direct influence. The influence came from me recording for the first time with Brandon and having a lot of things to get off of our chest, almost like our way of proving ourselves. Pre- 7 years, was a weird in-limbo time, because I was unsure of my direction with what I wanted to do musically. Making this record with Brandon changed my whole shit.
MWL: Fill me in on the band, how did you meet? When did you start playing together?
BA: I been following John around, trying to have his skill rub off on me since I first saw him play in eighth grade. He’s the only person I’ve ever played with and he’s practically my fucking blood brother
JT: Met Brandon in eighth grade, became better friends in 9th grade, and best friends when we started to play music together. We have been through a lot, attempted to try to play with other people, but never worked. It always ended up with Brandon and I, but it totally works for us.
185 Drop -Brick + Mortar
MWL: Any favorite tracks that you’ve recorded/played together?
BA: Currently on record: Heatstroke, Unreleased: Terrible Things
JT: Currently on record: 185 Drop, Unreleased: What Up, What Up
MWL: So tell me, who is the primary songwriter?
BA: I am the primary songwriter, but nothing ever gets on record without passing through Tacon’s hands. Being that we are an unconventional band, our songwriting process is rather random. Most times, I come up with the lyrics and melody months before I ever think about them being songs.
MWL: What about growing up, did either of you have lessons or anything like that?
JT: I have only had 3 years of private lessons, learned the basics, and the rest of my years playing has been mostly on just feel.
BA: I had an amazing teacher. I think I started taking bass lessons when I was fifteen. He was an awesome person and taught me that each musician has a gift and a responsibility to use their talents for good. That’s where I learned theory and most of my core musical knowledge. Singing was a different story, I just went for it one day and never looked back.
MWL: Who and what are your musical and non-musical influences? Other bands… girlfriends, momma’s homemade spaghetti?
JT: I listen to music a lot to enjoy it, but for whatever reason it doesn’t seep into the way I write. I do love seeing great players and great bands that are on that level. My girlfriend is great and makes awesome eggplant. My moms great too.
BA: Lyrically, everybody who plays a role in my life ends up being an influence. Lyrics are funny that way. Musically, I don’t find myself listening to the kind of music I make. Although, I’m a sucker for dope beat.
Backwards @ Clock - Brick + Mortar
MWL: How would you describe your shows, visually and musically?
Brick + Mortar: IT’S A FUCKING PARTY…Sweat, booze, girls, drums, beats, smiles, secret one-hits, crowdsurfers, stage stormers, strangers, and love.
MWL: That it is. Any venue you love to play at?
B+M: Asbury Lanes is the best venue in Jersey. Hands down.
MWL: Favorite bands/musicians to jam with?
B+M: We have been touring with Junior Astronomers and so far its been a blast. We will always love our brother band River City Extension.
MWL: What are you listening to these days?
BA: Whatever’s on Tacon’s iphone.
JT: Battles, Black Lips, Das Racist, Why?, Dodos, The Growlers, Man Man, Kanye, Nicki Minaj(I know..It’s lame), Refused, Portugal. The Man, Tune-Yards, White Denim, Santigold. Yeah. Bunch more.
MWL: What is the most fucked up thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows?
BA: Our first headlining show, everybody in the crowd stormed the stage and had unplugged all our gear, we continued to play while Tacon had to load the sampler manually to get it where it had to be for us to finish the song. It’s between that and the time that we set off the fire alarm at Brooklyn Bowl trying to smoke some of that “Oprah”.
MWL: What’s the worst/weirdest place you have ever played a show at, and why?
B+M: Years ago we got tricked into playing a show with a bunch of Christian bands. Awkward.
MWL: You just released a new video featuring an acoustic version of Heatstroke, I love it. What were the influences for that, who directed?
B+M: Video is a big part of our band. We actually formed an alliance of artists and filmmakers around the same time we put out 7 Years. “Heatstroke” (acoustic) was directed by Matt Lyons of Humble Humans. ( You can see his work here.) If you enjoy that, see some of our work with Vamp Group.
MWL: I have to ask, there are two of you.. who is Brick and who is Mortar?
Generalized answer to this question: WE SWITCH.
By: Katie McVeay| Beat-Play Ambassador New York | @crookedsunshine|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC