If you would have told me two decades ago when the Seattle band simply known as Brad released their debut Shame, that they’d A) still be around, b) I’d get to interview them more than once and c) they’d actually be my friends, I’d ask you what drugs were you on and could I get some.
But in reality that is the case for all three of those statements. Brad started out as a side project with Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard hooking up with Satchel front man Shawn Smith (also from Pigeonhead) and drummer Regan Hagar (also in Malfunkshun) and bassist Jeremy Toback. Turns out this wasn’t just a one-off Pearl Jam project like Mad Season. Brad has released six albums in their down time from their main bands. Their latest is the sunshine pop rock fueled United We Stand out on their new label home Razor and Tie Records.
Now, before you call me a name dropper for saying I am friends with the guys in Brad, there is actually a point behind that comment. It is really hard to interview and review friends’ music. In fact I gave a couple of honest but not so glorious reviews to a couple friends’ newest releases and all hell broke loose. Sorry, I don’t play favorites. When I started Innocent Words, I always vowed to be honest. Unfortunately some bands didn’t like that part.
But I digress. I first got to interview Brad’s front man Shawn Smith when the band’s album Welcome to Discovery Park was issued in 2002. Since then I’ve interviewed Shawn and drummer Regan Hagar several times over and became their friend. Yes, I am grateful.
So what do you ask someone you’ve interviewed several times over that you haven’t asked before? Let’s face it, that can get boring. So I sat down with Regan Hagar and we talked a little bit about the new album, a little bit about his use of makeup, and somehow Snuffleupagus worked its way into the conversation.
Innocent Words: When asked the readers what should I ask you guys, the one constant question was, which one of you is Brad?
Regan Hagar: I am.
IW: I find it interesting that we didn’t hear from Brad for eight years; now there have been two albums in two years. What’s with the quick turnaround? Didn’t you have other projects you were working on?
Hagar: Yes, we have been busy with many other projects, all due to be released after death, but we felt Brad should have a twofer… like a two-for-one kind of deal.
IW: Were any of the songs on United We Stand left over from the Just Friends sessions, or are these all brand new?
Hagar: Yes, one was from the Welcome to Discovery period (titled “Tea Bag”).
IW: Speaking of the new album, I am assuming you designed the cover, so why does Ben Franklin have a trickle of blood coming out of his mouth and a black bar over his wyes? Are you getting all “Rage against the Machine” political?
Hagar: Yes, I made it. I am not trying to be Rage-type political, but tired of the greed in this world. The image is more a reference to the USD (United States Dollar), not Franklin. USD soaked with the blood of the people who make it possible for a small amount of people to take more cash then they will ever need. Some want to be the richest in the cemetery, it seems.
IW: Tell me a little bit about the recording process. How long did it take? Did you record the album at Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho, and does Stone charge the other members for recording time?
Hagar: It takes days/weeks/months, to make an album… this one we pieced together over many small sessions. We did make this one at Litho, and yes, we pay for it… at a discount.
IW: Musically, the album feels very bright to me, like I want to cruise with the top down and hit the beach. Is this the direction the band wanted to head with its sound, or did it just happen?
Hagar: We all thought, “What would it sound like to drive with the top down, and how do we make that sound?” Nice you picked up on that. Kudos.
IW: Congratulations on signing with one of my favorite labels, Razor & Tie. Why did you decide to go back to a label after self-releasing your last record? Was it for the money?
Hagar: I have yet to receive any money, not sure any will come, to be honest. One of Stone’s friends suggested we take R/T for a spin, and now here we are. I have yet to meet anyone from the label at this point.
IW: The label plans on re-releasing your previous records. Will these have anything new to offer, like a deluxe package?
Hagar: That is the strategy of R/T. I am not sure what the “deluxe” part will be at this point. Maybe coffee with Shawn or something.
IW: Speaking of Shawn, seeing how he is kind of obsessed with Prince and has been called the “Prince of rock,” because of his vocal style do you ever fear he will come out wearing all purple or shave a symbol in his beard?
Hagar: Have you not seen Shawn in his purple, riding as Snuffleupagus? I guess it’s more of a Satchel thing, but we have no fear of that at all, it’s joyous.
IW: It’s been 20 years since Brad was formed out of your other band Satchel. Congratulations. Being you were just three friends wanting to jam, did you expect it to last this long?
IW: Are there any 20th anniversary plans like that other Seattle band did? Ahem, I am looking at your Pearl Jam.
Hagar: No, we feel we are just a little to “big” for that type of thing.
IW: Now that you all have kids, do the kids think you need to grow up and turn the music down?
Hagar: Hmmmm, Good question.
IW: The word on the streets is Chase Hagar (Regan’s daughter) is planning on muscling her way into Brad and kicking Shawn out. Is there any truth to these rumors?
Hagar: Well, I did see her on stage with Gossard a couple of years back… I better warn Shawn.
IW: Regan, will you ever grow your hair out again and wear makeup like in in your previous band Malfunkshun?
Hagar: I try, I try with the hair, but alas, I gave all my makeup and scarf collection to Chase .