BRAINSTORM | Relationship, or Band?

brainstorm sqWe write songs that are fun for us to play with melodies we like to sing.



Experimental pop three-piece from Portland, Oregon, BRAINSTORM is a band with a lot of personality who is all too willing to showcase it. The band met in 2008, signed with Tender Loving Empire over the summer, and released their sophomore album Heat Waves October 2. They’ve received press from the likes of NPR, Rolling Stone, MTV Hive, and The Huffington Post. Of the hundreds of artists playing CMJ 2012, BRAINSTORM and their song “Beast in the Sky” made CMJ’s October mixtape.

After playing some shows in France with fellow Portland duo Yacht, the band is on a coast-to-coast tour in the United States, stopping at CMJ to give New York some love. I caught a second of guitarist and vocalist Patrick Phillips’ time in the form of an email interview prior to their CMJ 2012 showcases.

So, how did you meet?

We [met in] 2008 playing in an experimental country outfit called the Ohioan. Adam is a transplant from upstate New York and I’m from Salem, Oregon, originally.

What influences you most musically?

We listen to lots of pop and folk music from all parts of the world, contemporary and older. Both Adam and I also come from more of a punk/garage/experimental background but found we were writing poppier stuff and have embraced that as part of our sound. 

Tell us how you differentiate yourselves from other bands. What’s your secret?

Back when we were a two piece, a friend of ours said watching BRAINSTORM was like watching a relationship and not a band. Although he was razzing us a little, our music is definitely the product of two persons’ experiences, interests, and influences. Sort of a Venn diagram situation. We write songs that are fun for us to play with melodies we like to sing. I think audiences can tell we love what we do.

What about playing CMJ Music Marathon excites you the most? How are you preparing for CMJ?

I personally haven’t spent much time in NYC so I’m stoked to check out the city and all the shows at various venues. We’re preparing with a strict paleo-diet and morning Pilates. Getting lean for all the pizza, bodega sandwiches, and beer we’ll consume.

What do you do immediately before a show? What about immediately after?

Massage train, before and after.

You’ve been touring for three years now. What city and/or venue was your most memorable, and why?

Vegas has consistently been memorable. We played a show with four dubstep DJs at a night called “Nickel Fucking Beer Night.” People paid a modest cover and then got in line for five-cent beers, grabbing as many as they could carry. Needless to say, folks were wasted and we had to wait through hours of gut-rumbling synth bass wobble before we went on around 1 a.m. Don’t know if anyone remembers the rock band amidst the rave, booty dancing atmosphere, but it was definitely memorable for us. 

Tell us a little about your time in France with Yacht.

France was a blast, needless to say. When we played with Yacht in Nantes, the whole show was catered with amazing (stewed beef) to bizarre (multi-colored crab pâté cakes) food. Unfortunately, Yacht’s vegan tour driver ate a vegetable dish that turned out to have fish product in it and went into anaphylactic shock and then the hospital. He was better by the end of the show, and we all partied in our pajamas at a weird French hotel/apartment. 

And touring with Dinosaur Feathers. How is that going so far?

It’s been great so far. Lots of jokes and drive-by moonings on highways. They’re also a great sonic fit for us. Definitely among the more coherent tour parings we’ve had. 

Do you have any weird rituals or games that you do while on tour?

There’re the classic car games, like adding anal to car models. Our tour car would be an anal element. We also end up falling into inside joke vortexes that would be alienating to describe to anyone outside.

What was your inspiration behind the album Heat Waves? And how does that differ from your first album?

Heat Waves showcases the best songs we’ve written over the years that make the most coherent statement about us as a band, live and recorded. We went into recording with our good friend Robbie Moncrief (producer of Bitte Orca, among other amazing sounding records), ready to expand our sound by use of all the instruments and tricks that recording at a nice studio afforded. Although we recorded a full length a couple years ago, this is definitely the recording we feel represents us best for those just getting into our music. 

With making the front page on iTunes recently, Rolling Stone premiering your single, a premiere on NPR’s “All Song’s Considered,” and shows in the U.S. and abroad, would you say that your band has “made it?” What is your definition of success?

Success and its definition had changed over and over again for me as I’ve been playing music. The dream is to quit your day job and make music all the time, I suppose. That being said, I was excited when we released our first vinyl 7” and toured to SXSW for the first time. It’s sort of addictive. I wouldn’t say we’ve “made it” but we’re definitely “making it.” Definitely pumped about the press and traveling we’ve received and done. We just want to take the best opportunities that come our way to share our music with more and more people.

Cassette or vinyl?

I’m definitely a vinyl guy. Cassettes are cool, though, and I love them as an object. They’re rad when you have a tape deck in your car; unfortunately, I don’t. But when it comes down to it, I love spinning records at home and out at bars and clubs when I DJ. 

What did you do during your hiatus? Any soul searching or funny stories worth sharing?

Well, Adam went off into the woods to count birds and I stayed around Portland and worked a ton at a restaurant. Not too much soul searching on my end, not more than the usual existential crisis, anyways. Adam came back with an intestinal parasite, so that’s something. | Kristyn Potter

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply