For as long as I have known The Brother Kite, starting when my old friend Matt Rozzero became their drummer in 2004, I have been waiting impatiently for TBK to make a west coast appearance. After seeing them perform at a small club in 2006 in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, it became my favorite question to ask Matt. The excellent, shimmering Waiting for the Time to Be Right was about to be released, and with regard to their next album, I suppose they’re still waiting. But they’re getting closer…
Before TBK could get closer to the west coast, however, I made it out to the east coast again to connect with them at their custom-built studio atop guitarist Jon Downs’ father’s garage in Mason, New Hampshire.
Matt picked me up at my parents’ place in Rhode Island, and on the drive up to New Hampshire, he played for me just about all of the new songs that are due to appear on the next Brother Kite album, Isolation. In stark contrast to the hazy, shoe-gazey, effects-dripped, Beach Boys-Phil Spector inspired pop masterpiece Waiting for the Time to Be Right, Isolation reflects a more stripped back approach, something I had hoped they would go for. After all, when your singer is as good as Patrick Boutwell, and your songs as gorgeous as his, why not let them shine a little brighter?
On top of hearing all the individual members of the band (which also include guitarist Mark Howard and bassist Andrea Downs) more clearly, I also heard Rick Wakeman-like Arp synth breakdowns, glockenspiel, tambourine, and rhythm changes and arrangements that borrowed tastefully from prog rock while staying firmly rooted in classic pop.
When Matt and I arrived, the rest of the band welcomed us to the studio, where Jon led the way in showing me around as I followed with my camera. Though he was quick to point out the flaws and inadequacies of the studio (old scratchy plexiglass, bad seams in the ceiling, etc.), their recordings speak for themselves. Likewise, the performance footage we shot also stands as proof that this self-constructed studio is pretty OK. The audio was recorded via the band’s own equipment, and on top of that, Jon (who is a professional videographer during the day) provided the second camera shot in this footage where you can see the whole band; my footage is focused on Jon, his wife Andrea, and Patrick. Jon also edited the two sets of footage together, flew in the audio, and voila – a beautiful looking and beautiful sounding simple music video!
It was Memorial Day when we did this shoot, so we all had a little cookout afterwards, alternately lounging indoors and out on the front porch, before Matt drove me back to the airport.
It will be a while yet (but soon, we hope) before Isolation is released. The band is currently looking for a label after exiting their contract with Gainesville, Florida-based Clarerecords. But in the meantime, they did make it out to Los Angeles for a mixing session with Thom Monahan (J. Mascis, Vetiver), who offered his help out of his love for the band’s music after an ongoing online correspondence. It was one of many little things that have lengthened the gestation period of the album (on top of enjoying the relative luxury of being able to tinker to their heart’s content in their own studio without incurring huge expenses). It’s also a vote of confidence that I expect will help push TBK to the next level – and hopefully make that live west coast appearance I’ve been waiting for.
The Brother Kite – “Searching For The Light”