The inspired evolution of Brilliant Beast
The third time's a charm for Brilliant Beast. The Twin Cities quartet has experimented with folk rock and power pop on past recordings, but with EP number three, Where Do You Want, a deeper, more distorted aesthetic has emerged.
"With our new sound, it feels like a debut," says drummer Eric Whalen. Over late-night coffees in Uptown, the band members are gathered with City Pages to talk about their latest musical direction. The project was aided by Old Blackberry Way studio's Neil Weir, who plays in shoegaze-tinged outfits like the Chambermaids and Pony Trash.
"We've spent so much time working towards getting to this point where we are comfortable with what we have," says vocalist/guitarist Hannah Porter, who formed the framework of Brilliant Beast with her older brother Jordan when they were teens. They grew up listening to loud rock 'n' roll — especially Oasis.
Jordan, who sings and plays guitar in Brilliant Beast, recalls a story of how Hannah used to steal his copy of (What's the Story) Morning Glory. Fortunately, their rivalry never grew to Gallagher brothers proportion, and Hannah used the first dollar she earned with her allowance to buy the CD from him. "We get along now," he says. "We haven't gotten into a fistfight yet, but for a while, it was difficult growing up with someone who kept absorbing my ideas and tastes."
Now, their common interests and voices fit well together within the evolving Brilliant Beast. "Hannah's voice is just beautiful," Whalen says, noting that it cuts through the swathes of bland voices that populate current music. Her spot-on performance on the dreamy "Nepotism Shakes" proves his point. "You could fall in love with it." After a pause, he adds, "Jordan's is too, but more of a barking beautiful."
The Porters wrote Where Do You Want with bassist Mark N. Kartarik (who is a City Pages photographer) and Whalen earlier this year. "As a band, we've gotten a lot better and tighter onstage, and people always can appreciate sibling harmonies," Jordan says.
"Every time I hear the album, I am confident in what we're doing, and it represents who we are now," Hannah adds. "We really wanted to have music out that speaks of our current sound. We didn't want to wait and have our old music be a representation of who we are."
It was far more deliberate than the way their 2011 Neighbors EP was written, recorded, and released in two weeks flat. The new album eventually got a limited release from a cassette tape label called Cakes and Tapes based in Portugal, and some reviews followed on an Italian blog. "So we've got Portugal and Italy cornered," Hannah says, jokingly. "Now, we're just working on the rest of the world."
After their first two self-released EPs, the band wanted to shop their latest around to record labels. From one of two initial emails that were sent, Keith Moran of Guilt Ridden Pop signed them before anyone else could snatch them up. The goal is to use the new album to fuel more shows and eventually a tour.
"At this stage in time, we aren't concerned about money," Kartarik says. "We make music because we enjoy playing music. There's no higher motive than making music." Whalen adds, "We just want to be rock stars, and we do want leather jackets." Jordan mollifies the band, telling them, "Eventually we'll have enough in the band fund to buy leather jackets."
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