Plus an exclusive interview with Bob Nanna about pizza, "reunion tours," and his tendency to document every single band-related thing he does.
Like a lot of other nerds in their late 20s, I grew up listening to Braid. In 2012, I can't figure out if that makes me feel really young, or really old, but whatever the case, I always thought Braid (and Hey Mercedes afterwards) aged way better than most of the other emo-esque bands of the era, mostly because they're simply, extremely good. This past year, a concert promoter named Theo Craig dug up an old DAT tape with a recording of Braid playing at the Seattle Community Center in 1998, supporting the Get Up Kids. Check out the track, and read what he had to say about it:
This show happened on the day after I bought a DAT recorder from a pawn shop down the street from the Community Center where the show took place. The Braid show was the first show I ever taped and it started me down the road to involvement in a life in music that included half a decade of service to KEXP in Seattle, band management, tour booking, concert promotion and generally hustling and enjoying every moment of it. I don't want to blow the show, the band, the recording, the DAT recorder out of proportion, but it was all definitely pivotal in my personal/professional evolution and I have to say it feels really sweet to share it with other people who found inspiration in Braid and music in general. Please pass along my profound gratitude to the band for being cool to a goofy kid with a tape recorder and a dynamic mic at a show in Seattle in 1998.
Braid is playing three shows this weekend, in Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago. You can find more info on that right here. Last week, singer Bob Nanna called me up to chat about pizza, "reunion tours," and his troubling tendency to document every single band-related thing he does. I tried to hold in my pants-shitting excitement and keep my head together.
Noisey: Thanks so much for doing this man. It's really an honor to talk to you.
Bob Nanna: Thanks a lot, I’m glad we were able to hook it up. I’m actually in a car right now so if I cut out just let me know. I’m actually going to pick up my girlfriend from work. I think we are going to make some homemade pizza.
Are you guys doing anything special tonight?
Actually my girlfriend and I are in a band, just the two of us called Jack and Ace and we are playing a show tomorrow so we are going to work on the set a little bit tonight, and make dinner.
So who is Theo Craig, and how did he get this recording of "A Dozen Roses?"
I hadn't heard of him until very recently. I heard he was the one that recorded that show and then I heard his story which I think is incredible. It was the first live show he had recorded. It was at a community center in Seattle and it sort of got his journey started working for KEXP. I don’t know the exact details, but I think it was just a jumping off point for all of his future endeavors.
How do you think it came out?
This is probably like the worst thing to say but I try not to listen to much of our live stuff. I tend to get kind of nit-picky on the vocals and stuff, pitch-wise. I think I've heard that show in it’s entirety on the Internet or something because I had heard there was a recording of it.
What’s it like listening to music that you wrote performed... I guess we are talking fifteen years ago?
Yeah, like I said, I don’t really listen to it. That’s not saying I don’t like it, the way that my stupid brain works is that we put out a record or some music and then I listen to it non-stop for a month or two so I sort of get it all in my head and then I stop listening to it because it becomes more about the live experience. This is especially true for old live versions of stuff. I really don’t listen to it that much because I have sort of taken it ran with it. I’m sort of in a different place right now.
Bob with a big monkey.
"A Dozen Roses" was always one of my favorite tracks, especially the remix from Movie Music Volume Two. What does that track mean to you?
It means a lot. That was the first song we ever wrote with Damon on the drums. I remember when we were writing it in my parents basement, I sort of got the idea to start singing in front of the first beat of the verse. I remember Damon being like "That’s really cool! Do that!" I also remember us sort of talking to each other after we wrote that song and realizing how different this one was from our other songs. There was actually a point where I was a little concerned. The song almost was scrapped because it had a groove that we never really had before and it was Damon. I’m glad we stuck with it because I do love that song and I love singing it live. It’s one of those personal things.
Has the dynamic changed between you guys throughout the years?
Not really. Well, I take that back: Completely. We’re older so we’re not letting stupid shit get to us or visions of grandeur fuck with the band working or being young and wanting to do other things. We’ve had great lives and this is just one of the things that makes us really happy and we love doing it. I think we function a lot better now, there's no push and pull like there was before. We were younger and didn’t know any better.
That sounds a lot better than a lot of other reunions I've heard about.
Well you know, this really isn’t a reunion. If we were doing a “reunion tour” we would do a big tour. We had a chance to do a European tour in April and we decided not to. We had to work on the new record. We had to stay at home and take a week off from work to make it. It’s important for us to put out new music because we don’t really want it to seem like a reunion at all because of the way those usually go where it’s just one tour. It’s either a reunion tour forever, like the Pixies, or it’s like one reunion tour and the band explodes because they hate each other and a few years later there's another reunion tour. Even worse then all of that is a reunion tour where you can tell they are just not that into it. They are just doing it because people want to see it and there is money involved.
When I spoke with Bob last week I got so excited that I took this photo of my phone for posterity.
I recently read that you actually played your 600th show last year. How do you even know if that's accurate?
I kept track of all the shows we’ve played and who we have played with. I also kept journals of all of the tours, and I haven’t even looked at those in a long time, they are just kind of in a bin somewhere. I also have them for Hey Mercedes, I think I pretty much have every show I’ve ever played listed somewhere. There was like two years or so where I stopped but I came back and was able to figure it all out.
Wow, that's unbelievable! It's amazing that you have so much documentation of your work!
[Laughs] Well, it's not really a passion. More of a condition.
Braid Tour Dates
Dec 14 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
Dec 15 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrews Hall
Dec 16 – Chicago, IL – The Metro
Follow Ben on Twitter - @b_shap