I've been going to gigs at the MOTH since I moved to London just over 7 years ago and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd ever make it past the red velvet rope in front of the long wooden staircase that leads backstage, let alone twice in the past 2 weeks. As I climb over it now I've got one leg on either side of the rope, I've been left unsupervised and told I could head on up. My right foot's gone over and sets down gingerly on the other side as to not trigger any pressure alarms. One one thousand, two one thousand, okay I think it's safe. There's no meaty paw on my shoulder or 'HEY YOU!' bellowed in my general direction so I proceed with caution. I knock on the doors at the top of the steps and enter on tip-toe. I'm greeted by Gavin the tour manager who's writing out the setlists by hand. Just over his shoulder on my right is a spread of antipasti laid out for band and crew that I'm eyeing, I can't help wondering when the last time I ate was. Also to my right is Ryan (Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar) of Broncho, he's got a paper plate wrapped around a bunch of merchandise in his one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other.
Ryan looks over at me as he signs the plate, 'it's a Birthday Burrito' he smiles. Looking at Ryan all I see is Sam Rockwell's double, he also sounds an awful lot like Rockwell, I tell him this. 'Nobody's ever said that to me before' he says 'I'll take it as a compliment' it's definitely meant as one. 'Wait, I hear Ben's sick, are you forging his signature?' I ask deciphering penmanship surprisingly worse than my own for once. 'I'm forging everyone's signature' he says with bravado in an I-won't-tell-if-you-don't smile he pegs me with. I've inadvertently become an accessory to fraud by proxy, both thrilling and exciting. Ryan goes on saying this is a present for a little girl who's just turned 10. She's come over from France with her parents to celebrate her birthday here at the gig. I don't even remember my tenth birthday but I'm confident she'll never forget hers.
The doors behind me swing open Penny (Bassist) casually walks in and over to a chair where she dumps a few outer layers of clothing. Ren Harvieu's playing downstairs and her set is being piped in backstage. I realize it's just about half finished, I need to get this show on the road.
Cpt: A few years back I saw Bat For Lashes and Natasha (Lead Vocals) was dancing on stage to her own music and I thought, wow, how meta to be dancing to the very music you've created. I've always wondered what's that gotta be like. By extension what's it like for you when you hearing yourselves on TV, Film or radio (episode of Girls and Film 43) I've seen myself on TV once and it was surreal, real weird stuff like I was in a Fellini movie or something. Okay okay, I'm getting sidetracked here.
Ryan: Hey, I love getting sidetracked
Cpt: Okay, but what is it like?
Ryan: I don't really know, I don't find myself in...those circumstances. I did hear about the Girls thing, but lots of times I don't see the stuff. It's great for my Mom, she loves it. It's more of like doing it for everyone else in my life you know? My parents get proud when I'm in something and my Brothers get proud you know? And that's what it's all about. Because I can't think that way about stuff because I don't want to start searching that stuff out, I like living in the moment.
Cpt: No, you're right, I get what you mean. I guess I mean not actively searching it out but you're in the moment at a friends place or a car or something and there's your voice and it's not coming out of your mouth at present.
Ryan: There have been a couple of times where I've been somewhere like at a restaurant or something and a Broncho song will come on and you just get embarrassed.
Cpt: That's so sweet, I can totally relate about the embarrassment part. I feel like everything I do, say, or remember doing or saying leads me to embarrassment.
This is especially true of listening to this interview the next day, the first I've ever recorded. Totally embarrassing.
Cpt: Penny, could I encroach on your thoughts regarding this subject? How do you feel about it, when your music is in media you or your friends watch/listen to?
Penny: You get texts from friends a lot who will be watching something somewhere random at a random time.
Cpt: I'm guilty of this. On my side though, they're not friends, they're usually just bands I'm harassing but I dunno, I'm proud of them as they're just breaking out and getting into the spotlight.
Penny: I guess I was watching a show on Netflix once and, that A-Typical show, had a Broncho song in it so when it came up I was kinda like, it took me a minute to recognize it.
Penny: Well yeah, first you're like who's ripping us off? Or who did we rip off accidentally?
Ryan: There are times where I'll hear one of our songs out and about and it takes me a while to figure out that it is us.
Cpt: Okay, my last and probably most embarrassing question. You've formed in Oklahoma right?
Cpt: Okay, great. When I think Oklahoma I think stagecoaches, traveling from one side of America to the other.
At this point the interview has derailed and I try an old Jedi mind trick to get it back on track. I divulge that I've recently bought a comforter cover with a Western motif to it, you know like Cowboys, Bank Robbers that sorta thing. To date no one living, or dead, has seen it. I'm not given an opportunity to finish my train of thought when Penny nearly spits-out what she was drinking to laugh, and in the process confirms my suspicions of what would happen if a woman did ever see this, comforter of mine. The interview is back on track-ish though and that's what really counts.
Cpt: I just love that whole frontier lifestyle.
Ryan: You know what's more Frontier than Oklahoma? Oregon. When I go to Oregon I feel like I'm actually in the West.
Penny: That's because you are.
Cpt: Ahahaha (my turn to laugh)
Ryan: Cause I am. Oklahoma's just, not in the West, we're central.
Cpt: I've obviously got a misconception of what Oklahoma is and where because all I can think of is the musical when I hear that word. Like the burning word into canvas or something.
Penny: Rodgers and Hammerstein. My idea of Oklahoma is 'Middle-America', everything average.
Ryan: Our whole motto is, Oklahoma, we're O-K.
This is an O-K place to stop our interview because it's almost time for the show and Ryan's gotta take this burrito/forgery concoction to the birthday girl. I make my way downstairs to my usual booth by the stage. Ren's band has nearly torn down their setup and the nice Portuguese couple who I've asked to save my seat have actually saved it, Louisa moves her bag for me and smiles while her boyfriend Louis comes back with some beers. 'Everyone always comments on our names' they say when I comment on their names. I notice Security heading towards our booth and he locks eyes with me like a heat seeking missile on its target, I tense up, there's nowhere to go, the jig is up. 'Good evening' he addresses us, 'there's a young girl here with her family tonight, would it be alright if they join you at this booth?' 'BRING THE BIRTHDAY GIRL OVER!' I yell probably a little too loudly judging from the shock/horror on the faces (security included) around me, but relief takes many different forms some weird, some ugly and some loud.
After the set, which goes out like a light just as fast as it came on, I head towards to stage to nab a setlist. Gavin nonchalantly strolls over and says, 'this is the one with the songs we actually played, it's correct' I thank him profusely and he tells me to stick around because they'll be having drinks. Usually people are asking me to leave so it takes a moment to sink in and I smile stupidly but he's already left to tear down. I do end up sticking around and that's where I meet Nathan (Percussion).
'Nice shoes' I say. Nathan plops down next to me, 'Hey' he says 'you're that guy that was doing the interview right?' 'Yes' I say, 'you're the guy that wasn't around to get interviewed, right?' with a smile that hopefully reads with a lot less sarcasm than it does here. 'Yeah, sorry about that, I was napping. If I don't get a nap in before I'm useless.' 'I hear that' I say empathizing as I too have stolen 40 winks before heading out tonight. I immediately steer the conversation back towards the Nike Special Field Air Force 1s in Khaki/Coral he's rocking (I'm a bit of a sneaker freaker). 'They're new' he says, 'I'm not sure how I feel about them, but they are comfortable'. 'Sir, they are spot on, can't go wrong with an AF1.' The conversation flows naturally (for once in my life) between shoes, second hand clothes, the excellent light show his crew put on and I make suggestions on a few more pairs of kicks he might want to look into and ask him to e-mail me if he needs advice, 'don't be surprised if I do'. The latter part of the evening is a game of musical chairs. Broncho's got a wide fan base but on this night it's made up of fans, friends, family and colleagues. Execs have flown in from California to tour with them, friends from Oklahoma living in London have come out and Label mates show up too including Phil who I've been communicating with over e-mail of Park The Van Records, he introduces himself to me and we finally get acquainted (got me here to review this gig, hi/thanks Phil if you're reading this!).