bree explains her amazing new hard rock album, Bob Ezrin connection, life as a religious cult castaway and more!
bree (yes the lowercase is intended) hails from Nashville, via Oregon and has a life well worth reading about even at her young age. She is stunningly gorgeous with looks that are only eclipsed by her talent and story; she’s someone you clearly need to get to know. Her band is amazing and their new album “All American Girl” is already on my very short list for best album of 2013. I happened upon her music almost completely on accident and after hearing their combination of good time hard rock fueled by bree’s megawatt vocals I knew my “summer soundtrack” had arrived. Every song on the ironically titled “All American Girl” (she’s hardly your typical safe, squeaky clean story) is start to finish amazing. There was a time bree went to school to be an audio engineer but the minute you hear her voice it becomes abundantly clear she’s found her true calling. Now, after making a big splash in Music City, Nashville, she is ready to bring her unique brand of rock to the masses and it goes without saying she is more than ready for her close-up. Enough of my yakking, read on….
LRI: Hi Bree. Thanks so much for taking some time for us and congrats on the release of your cd “All American Girl”. I am literally blown away by the entire album, sequencing, packaging and all and feel a bit of fate simply in discovering it. The cliche is you have your whole life to write your debut album, do you think the experience of making the album lived up to your dreams?
bree: Yes. The eleven songs on All American Girl were recorded from January 2012 until January 2013 while our producer Justin Cortelyou was between sessions engineering for Bob Ezrin. The first song we recorded was Dance All Nite (With My Finger In The Air) at the House Of Blues Nashville’s Studio D and the last was You Can’t Take The Heart Out Of Me at Ronnie’s Place. The album was recorded at four different Nashville studios: House Of Blues Nashville’s Studio D, Bob Ezrin’s Anarchy Studio, The Tracking Room and Ronnie’s Place. It was a fantastic experience that became more of an adventure than a series of recording sessions. Those are some of the finest studios in Nashville and they’ve hosted some of the greatest recording artists in every genre. Each studio inspired me in its own way.
Q. You met Bob Ezrin who lives down in Nashville and connected with some of his people including his exclusive engineer Justin Cortelyou (KISS, Kesha, Alice Cooper). As someone who once thought about twisting the knobs and pursuing music production yourself does that give you a heightened sense of appreciation for what those guys do behind the scenes?
bree: I didn’t nickname Justin Cortelyou The Wizard for nothing! Bob Ezrin is nothing short of legendary and for Justin to be his exclusive engineer speaks volumes about his talent. I could tell from the first session we were going to make a killer Rock n Roll album we’d all be proud of, but what I didn’t expect was how much fun it was going to be. Justin is an absolute riot in the studio and sometimes I was laughing so hard we’d have to pause before we recorded. Making All American Girl was a blast and I believe that energy is reflected in the recordings.
Q. My wife’s family has a Jehovahs Witness history, her Grandma buried her rock and roll albums in the backyard, stuff like that contributes to a background which is pretty effed up but pretty interesting. Your story runs farrrrrrr deeper. As much as it feels comfortable, can you elaborate on your life from birth to 18??
bree: I could easily write a book about it and someday I will, but I’ll try to make it brief. From the ages of birth until I was six my life was wonderful. My Mother loved me to death and my Father, who had previously sang in a rock band in Long Beach, CA, instilled a love of kick ass 1960s and 70s rock in me. However, there were some strange things going on that I didn’t understand at the time. I knew my Father was the leader of a local church, but people kept disappearing. In reality, my Father’s church is a cult. People were disappearing because of two reasons. One, he was throwing people out to consolidate his power. He actually “marked” (condemned for life) every one of his three brothers and six sisters. People were also disappearing because they were dying. My Father’s cult is an off-shoot of the Church Of The First Born. The don’t believe in doctors or hospitals. When I was six my Mother accidentally swallowed a sewing needle. It took a while for her to die and, as you can imagine, it was horrifically painful. She passed out cold in front of me while we were washing dishes together. One day my Father called me into another room to say goodbye to her. She was already dead. They didn’t bother to close her eyes. I was six years old and had nightmares for years. Nine months later he married a woman from the cult. She made my life a living hell and was both verbally and physically abusive. She would slam me in the face for making a mistake in the kitchen (I had to cook and clean for everyone). Slowly I began to retreat into my own world. I would sneak out at night to drive two hours to Portland to hear bands like Flogging Molly, Relient K and Alkaline Trio and sneak back home before anyone woke up. Rock n Roll became my sanctuary and I do believe it literally saved my sanity. I used to watch those bands and think to myself, “I know I can do this.” When I was seventeen I had a boyfriend and one night my step-mother cornered me in my bedroom to ask if we were having sex. It was time for another beating and I didn’t care anymore. I’d had enough. I told her “Yes’ and she told my Father when he came home. He told me I was “marked” and that I had two hours to pack my clothes in plastic bags. They’ve never spoken to me again. My Father and his cult considers me dead.
Q. You grew up to be a most stunning and curvaceous girl and the themes of sexual empowerment and freedom run deep in MANY of your songs. How many times have people mistaken cuteness or sex appeal as weakness in your rise to this point?
bree: I have a very different off and on-stage persona. Off stage I am very soft-spoken and I’m very nice to everyone I meet. Many people are surprised by this and will say, “Wow, I expected you to be a bitch” which confuses me. However, some people do misinterpret my niceness for a weakness and will try to take advantage in some way. That’s a mistake. I’ve been on the street, I’ve been homeless and if you draw that side out of me you’ll regret it. By nature, I am a very sexual person. That side of me comes out when I write and perform. It’s just me expressing myself.
Q. Anyone who’s had a threeway or almost had a threeway can relate to your song “I’m The Boss” which is amazing on every level. First of all, everyone loves the concept, but we all know it can get complicated. Did this song just flow fairly easily out of you??…it sounds like you expressed a shitton of emotion and attitude that couldn’t possibly be “faked”
bree: No, there’s nothing about me that’s faked. I would find it repulsive to do so. What you see and hear with me is what you get. And that’s the way it will always be. Yes, I love girls. Yes, I love boys. I love everyone and sometimes it makes for some very interesting situations that make for some very interesting songs.
Q. Its so funny. We like to think that America is not still sexually repressed and everyone can have parental advisory stickers on their albums or bleep out the f word on pop radio but the fact is mainstream music is still safe, still repressed, still homogenized. After listening to this album, it occurred to me that a lot of artists push the envelope to be edgy but not many just speak about real life or speak from the heart like you do here. Is it simply that you are being far more confessional and conversational as opposed to being so damn calculated?
bree: You nailed it. Every one of my songs is simply based upon a personal experience. I find it very cathartic and there is no better vehicle for me to express myself than through Rock n Roll. There were some very dark times in the cult when I thought some very dark things. Then I would sneak out to hear a great band and everything would be OK. I would sneak back home totally energized and full of hope. I will never need to calculate anything. I have my reasons for what I do.
Q. One of the most interesting things about the album is how it has the spirit and energy of a live show. It took our hometown boys from Cheap Trick years to capture that feel in the studio but you seem to have pulled it off on your freshman try. How important was it to you to have that cigar and whisky glass live ambiance? Did you do anything as a band that helped to foster that type of comfort in the studio?
bree: I’m glad you mentioned Cheap Trick. I met David (my drummer) on my 21st birthday (7/22/10). We would talk about music for hours and we like a lot of the same bands. One night he showed me a YouTube video of Cheap Trick and I told him I didn’t know who they were. He didn’t know if I was joking or not because, since I’d been secluded in the cult for years, there were many popular things I knew nothing about. For example, we were at bar and I asked for a bottle of water. David replied, “Do you want flat water or a bottle of Perrier?” I told him I didn’t know what “Perrier” was. He laughed and said, “Are you serious? You sound like you’ve stepped out of a Star Trek episode.” The truth was that I’d also never heard of Cheap Trick but they’ve quickly become one of my favorite bands. They remind me of a cross between two of my biggest influences – The Beatles and The Who – and I thought they were great when I recently saw them open for Aerosmith here in Nashville.
I told (producer) Justin Cortelyou that I wanted us to sound as live as possible in the studio with few overdubs and he loved the idea. I’m kind of a minimalist. We are only a three piece in the studio and on stage. I want to hear the song. Except for some harmonies and the occasional guitar overdub, what you hear on All American Girl is how we sound live. And we don’t beat a song into the ground. It’s got to sound fresh with the adrenaline still pumping through it. Almost all of the songs on All American Girl were recorded on the first two takes. It keeps it honest and it keeps it real.
Q. There is no ballad on the album. In fact, the closest thing to a ballad would be the song “Whisky” which is about your former lover only getting frisky when he’s on the “Whisky”!!! That song does have a little bit of a different style than the rest of the album yet it fits in perfectly. Would you say that you are more concerned with plugging in and having a good loud time than exploring a lot of intricate styles and could that change at any moments notice?
bree: Good question. I’m a rocker and the “All American Girl” album releases years of pent up emotions. I have no doubt I will explore many directions in my career, but I can promise you this – they will all be very intense on some level. I won’t name artists, but there have been more than a few who explode out of the starting gate and then seem to lose energy as their career progressed. Won’t happen here.
Q. I think the whole album is better than five gorgeous lesbians eating ice cream off of each other but one of my favorite songs is “Not Today” which just makes me want to push play and start the whole thing all over again. Does that song pretty much sum up a philosophy of taking the biggest bite possible out of life and enjoying every minute?
bree: (laughs) Now THAT’S a compliment. “Not Today” is about not letting anyone rain on your parade. I do what I do because it gets me off and makes me very, very happy. In the music business everyone constantly tries to tell you what to do to make it. Not interested. I do what I do because it fills me with joy. And if enough people get off on what I do then we’ll all have a great time together.
Q. Thanks again for talking with us, I urge people to pick up your album but after seeing your band on AXS tv on directtv I also want you to come tour the Midwest. The material absolutely sounds as good live as it does on the record, your band kills; the drums and bass drive most of these songs and compliment you perfectly. The obvious question is where can we hear more, see more of you on tour or otherwise and will physical cds and vinyl be in stores??
bree: We’re getting some fantastic feedback and I’m starting to get this great feeling that more than a few people have been waiting what I’m doing to come along. And, yes, in addition to being digitally available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, there will be physical CDs in stores. I love Nashville and have people here whom I adore, but I absolutely cannot wait to hit the road and bring it to every city in the country.