Thursday, June 19, 2008

Q&A with The Briggs

Here is my interview with singer/guitarist Jason LaRocca of The Briggs. We chatted from his home in L.A. on June 5. The band - which also includes LaRocca's brother Joey (guitar/vocals), Ryan Roberts (bass) and Chris Arredondo (drums) -
plays the Vans Warped Tour all summer. Their fine new album "Come All You Madmen" is out now on SideOne Dummy Records.

The Briggs can also be heard on the label's "Warped Tour 2008 Compilation," a 2-CD set featuring 50 tracks from current and recent Warped acts.

Q: Did you ever attend Warped as a teen?
A: I tried to make it out to several and I don’t think I ever ended up making it... For whatever reasons, I was always trying to get out to one and never did. I think Joey’s first one was when he was 12 or 13. Obviously, I always wanted to go see one. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were a huge band for me in ’97. I always felt that energy.

Q: How did you get several members of the Bosstones involved in various aspects of the new album?
A: Basically, we’ve known [Joe] Gittleman for awhile now. He approached us about producing our EP when we first signed to SideOne Dummy. We did that and it was a really great experience. We did ‘Back to Higher Ground’ with him. On this record, all the stars aligned to have Dicky [Barrett] and the horn section work with us. Everyone was in town for their reunion show at Avalon. I was pushing for it and Gittleman was like, ‘are you sure you want Bosstones stuff all over this?’ I said, ‘it’s still us. We just wanted these things sprinkled around. I can’t help but be a fan.’ He broke down and let me bring the guys in, so it was cool.

Q: Brian Baker adds some great guitar solos. Didn’t you do some dates with Bad Religion last year?
A: Yeah, we did their fall tour after Warped. It felt too short – four weeks in September.

Q: When you went into the studio, did you strive to make the songs sound closer to your live show?
A: Definitely...we wanted to feel like we had already toured with these songs and knew them well and could go in the studio and record them very comfortably. That was the goal we had in mind.

Q: As you’re writing the songs, do you ever think, ‘this would make a cool chant or gang chorus?’
A: Oh yeah. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if some things are going to be as anthemic as you think they’re going to be until you plug it in and play it with the full band, up to 11.

Q: One of the most striking of the new songs is ‘Final Words.’ Was that inspired by a true story?
A: Yeah. It was written from a place of being a little bit lost. A lot of things were going on at the same time. I had a friend who was going out to the war in the Middle East. The inspiration was if there was a song that could reflect what you wouldn’t have been able to say or sing or do without having the time to plan for it. It was various personal experiences that brought out that somber sort of message.

Q: Is ‘Madmen’ directed at any particular king abdicating his throne?
A: You’d have to ask Joey about that one, but I think it’s pretty obvious who he’s talking about [laughs].

Q: Does ‘Ship of Fools’ refer to the same subject matter as ‘Madmen’?
A: Yeah, it’s got a bit of political connotation. Also, it’s a reflective on the music industry in general. Some of the confusion we feel about where it all stands with what the hell are we doing? This model we’ve created is falling apart as this ship of fools. It’s a tongue and cheek nod to those two things.

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