For the past two years Broadside has steadily been carving themselves a niche in Richmond’s music scene. As is the case with every band in those rocky early phases, it’s taken a ton of hard work and a few lineup changes, but finally the four-piece pop-punk outfit seems to be gaining some momentum–no easy feat in a town (or region, for that matter) that’s not known for showing a whole lot of interest in Broadside’s particular genre. But with the popularity of their exhilarating live shows spreading fast, Broadside is making a case for those who believe that pop-punk isn’t dead, it’s just been sleeping.
The idea for Broadside came about in 2008, when Jade Estrella and Andrew Dunton met out in L.A. after they both joined the same band. That band eventually relocated to Richmond, where it promptly broke up. Not to be deterred, Estrella and Dunton set about getting a new act together, and before long they had recruited bassist Josh Glupker, another Richmond native looking for a new project. Finding the right vocalist, however, required some more intensive scouting. The guys say they had to audition over fifty singers via Craigslist and MySpace before they found what they were looking for in Bryant Austin. After the lineup was finalized, the guys set about cutting their teeth playing shows up and down the East Coast, all the while trying to write material that people might actually want to listen to. They’re hoping the hard work will pay off soon.
Broadside just recorded an EP at Track Attack Studios with producer Jason Sowers (of fellow Richmond pop-punk outfit Race the Sun), and the reaction online has been pretty good so far. Drawing comparisons to So Wrong It’s Right and Hit the Lights, the songs are getting praise for the uber-catchiness of the riffs as well as Austin’s vocals. The band is currently planning a November tour with Major League and Forever Came Calling.
For starters, can you tell me a little about how you guys met?
Jade is from the LA area, when I (Andrew Dunton, drums) was going to school out there, he and I met out there after joining a band. We did some touring with that band and decided to move back to the East Coast, where the majority of that band was originally from, to save some money. Shortly after, we decided to start Broadside. We met with Josh and it clicked immediately. After hundreds of tryouts, we finally found Bryant and headed right into the studio.
Is it difficult for a pop-punk band to get ahead being based in this area?
It can be difficult booking pop punk shows here in Richmond. The pop punk community in Richmond is pretty small compared to other genres, but we are working hard to get people out, have fun and enjoy pop punk. Usually when we go on tour we have a pretty good reception as a pop punk band, especially in the New England area.
How do you feel about the music scene in your hometown? Do you feel like you get enough local support?
Richmond’s music scene is sweet because it’s such a close-knit group compared to a lot of bigger cities. If you meet up with the right people, you can be immersed in the scene. It does have a negative side though, because being so small, a lot of people can be close-minded about listening to new bands they have never heard of, or attending their shows. It can be a tough scene to break into. I feel like a lot of people here want you to prove yourself before they really give you a chance. We are working hard on getting Richmond to back us, and come out and have fun with us. We love playing here.
Do you have a favorite venue in the city?
Our favorite venue is The Canal Club, just because it’s really intimate.
Do you ever write songs around lyrics or does the music have be completed before you can put words to a song?
Usually when we come together, we have ideas for the music, start with that, and then add lyrics after the song is written. Bryant writes the lyrics and we all work together to write the music.
What are your tours like? Are you hitting the road again anytime soon?
We have done numerous tours up and down the whole East Coast. Being on tour has been some of the best times of my life. It can get pretty hard sometimes without having showers, and constantly sleeping in the van at Wal-mart parking lots, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Do you think that pop-punk bands now pay too much attention to a specific formula to be more commercially appealing?
I don’t feel like there is too much focus on the “commercially appealing” aspect of pop-punk. There is the “pop” part of pop-punk. I feel if you enjoy what you are doing and stay true to what you believe, then you can go wherever you want with it.
Some people describe you as “easycore”. How do you describe yourselves?
It personally doesn’t bother me to be called “easycore”. I feel like it’s just easy for people to throw bands in categories. I usually just describe us as a feel good pop punk band. We don’t have any breakdowns in our music and we aren’t angry people. We just like to have fun.
Is it ever difficult for your vocalist to hit those high notes all the way through a live show?
I’m sure it takes a toll on his vocal cords, but we practice constantly to have our live show sounding as close as we can get it to the recordings. He usually doesn’t have a problem with them.
What was it like recording with Jason Sowers (Race the Sun, Track Attack Studios)?
Jason has been a friend of ours for a while, and going into the studio was just like hanging out. He is such a chill guy and we had a lot of fun tracking at his studio. The cookouts were fun too!
What are you up to now? Any plans to record?
We are currently writing new material for our next release and getting our set ready for tour. Once we get back from our full US [tour], we will start to plan out when we are heading into the studio.
What are some of your favorite bands from Richmond?
Some of our favorite RVA bands are Strike Anywhere, Mayfair and Race The Sun.
What are you listening to lately?
I have been listening to a lot of Polar Bear Club, Major League, Handguns, Forever Came Calling, The Story So Far, New Found Glory, The Wonder Years… stuff along those lines.
What equipment do you guys use?
We use Fender and Gibson guitars, Mesa and Orange amps, Fender basses, Tama drums. We have toyed around with all different kinds of equipment and stuck with the ones we like. It’s sentimental for us just because we have worked long hours to be able to pay for our gear.