TEN: Starting in 2013, each Friday, Innocent Words started shining the spotlight directly on up and coming artists/bands with 10 questions we like to call IW10.
Asbury Park, NJ
Members and Instruments:
Brandon Asraf: Lead vocals, bass, guitar, programming, keys
John Tacon: Drums, vocals, programming, guitar, keys, bass
Short Bio (in your own words):
It all started when we were in 8th grade when we’d talk shit to each other in the cafeteria. John was mostly a dick and would throw fries at Brandon while Brandon would in response talk shit to him. They eventually became good friends in high school where John started playing in a few short-lived bands.
One day walking home from school, John suggested that Brandon pick up the bass. Doing so changed the course of Brandon’s life. While John’s upbringing was reasonably normal, Brandon, on the other hand, grew up “like wolves” amid five siblings and a conman father. We jammed together for many years instrumentally before deciding to try our hand at songwriting. Seeing as Brandon decided to become the singer for the band and having never sung before, he was initially concerned about his voice. But like with everything else, after sucking for a while, he eventually got pretty good. We decided to call ourselves Brick + Mortar, and put out our first EP, ‘7 Years in the Mystic Room.’ It received some buzz and, after lots of touring, ‘the Bangs’ EP followed in 2013.
Since then, we heavily toured, got dropped, waited forever, finally got the songs back that the record company withheld from us, then released our third EP, ‘Dropped.’ It’s now 2017, we left our previous management, got distribution through Believe Digital, and re-released Dropped under the moniker “Dropped Again” which is fully remastered accompanied by two new tracks called “One Little Pill” and “Great Escape”. These two new songs foreshadow what is to be expected from our new album, which is already finished and should be out early 2018.
What was the first live concert you ever went to?
Brandon: Mine was watching Tacon rip it in a hardcore band at a house party. We were 15 I think, but all the dudes in Tacon’s band were 20 something and very bad dudes, haha. It was terrifying come to think of it.
John: Haha, that was terrifying. At this party, all I wanted to do was to finish the song we were playing, but the guitarist was too busy beating someone up. This is so stereotypical to where I’m from, but my first concert was Bruce Springsteen. It was back in ’99, so I was pretty young, and didn’t realize or appreciate at the time how much of a performer he was.
What is your funniest or worst tour experience?
Brandon: We got robbed in Indianapolis, and it was fucking terrible. We had a day off and wanted to get stoned and go see “Planet of The Apes.” We jump in the van and are about to pull out when our tour manager, Feeny, says “Brandon, where’s your amp?” It was a professional job. No windows broken. Just popped our lock right out of the door!
John: I’d have to agree with Brandon, it was definitely the worst, seeing as we were playing the biggest show of our careers the next day, and they ganked my wallet. We thought we were toast until our amazing fans stepped in and helped us out. They helped us raise over $10k by the end of the day on IndieGoGo, and we could pay for everything that was stolen. I think it was the best and worst experience that we’ve had.
What THREE things are a must have when you go on tour or play a show?
Brandon: Headphones, the perfect van pillow, and my grey backpack.
John: Lots of socks and underwear, headphones, and a phone charger.
What was the first record you ever purchased?
Brandon: When I was 11 or 12, I made up a fake name and did the whole send-a-penny-to-Columbia-House thing. I ordered Snoop’s ‘Doggy style’ and Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ along with a bunch of other 90’s gems. My house’s lack of supervision was fun sometimes.
John: Mine was Silverchair’s ‘Frogstomp.’ That record shaped my whole psyche at the time. I was all about wearing jeans with the bottoms cut, having that Marilyn Manson t-shirt that my Mom told me to take back to Spencer’s but never did, and playing to Silverchair’s song “Pure Massacre” outside on my deck.
If you had to record an EP of covers, which FIVE songs/artist would make the cut?
Brandon: I would say –
“Break on Through” by The Doors
“Money” by Pink Floyd
“House of The Rising Sun” by The Animals
“Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega
“Loser” by Beck.
John: I’d say –
“Down Under” by Men at Work
“Black Skinhead” by Kanye West
“Home Is Where the Hatred Is” by Gil Scott-Heron
“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails
“Time to Pretend” by MGMT
What’s your preferred music format – vinyl, CD, digital, cassette – and why?
Brandon: Although I am not currently a person who collects physical music, I do like the way a record feels in my hands. I think it’s the ultimate tangible music experience. You hold a record and realize that listening to music used to take more effort. Therefore, it was once a more rare and cherished experience in pop culture. I imagine people getting together just to listen and accidentally forming music scenes in the process. To me, that’s a big part of the allure of the record. But due to my lifestyle, laziness, and budget, I most often use Spotify and Pandora.
John: Like Brandon, I like vinyl, but don’t have the means right now to get a sweet tube amp record player and a bunch of records. I listen to music mostly in the digital format simply because it’s an easy, enjoyable listening experience. I used to love cracking open a new CD, look at the album art, see who the band thanks in their liner notes, which would then turn me on to new bands. But because of the internet, gone are the days of overpriced plastic discs that cost $1 to make. It is refreshing to see that vinyl is popular again and I hope that the rise will continue.