“I thought of ‘Broncho’ like a dude that smokes a lot of weed and lives in a fog.”
Broncho burst out of Norman, Okla., on the strength of their self-released indie debut, 2011’s Can’t Get Past the Lips, a compressed, 10-song CD of punk-pop energy and spit. Front man/guitarist Ryan Lindsey started demoing for a film project, jamming with friends, and chasing his creative muses. Those auspicious happenings led to a few shows, label interest, incessant touring, and major press accolades. Five years later, three albums served, and thousands of road miles and sweaty live shows delivered, the Oklahoma quartet—currently consisting of Lindsey, Ben King on guitar, Nathan Price on drums and Penny Pitchlynn on bass—are hitting the road again. I caught up with Lindsey on one of the band’s rare off days.
Did you enjoy touring with Billy Idol? What did you learn?
The biggest thing we took away from Billy was understanding how one can have a long career, keep working, and keep entertaining people. He still looks great, and he puts on a magical show every single night. That was inspiring to watch, and it was also a great learning experience, seeing the whole production come together every night. I think it also helped lower my stress levels and my tendency to overthink everything.
What is the music scene like in Tulsa?
Scene-wise, there’s a lot of creative energy in the city and in the local music community. I don’t know if it’s people returning home or moving here, but it’s definitely growing. Personally, I feel like I was drawn here. I moved here from Norman [Okla.]. There are lots of cheap places to rent, and you can find a place to make some noise. I think St. Louis is similar. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out on Cherokee Street at my friend Andrea’s place. She and the Sleepy Kitty folks always take care of us, and I like it there.
How did you get signed?
Our first record was released by some friends of ours; then we were signed to a label between our first and second records. They were a subsidiary of Universal Music, but then they folded, and we were left to finish our second record on our own.
Next, our current label, Dine Alone Records, knew about our first record and wanted to sign us right away. He gave us a call, we hit it off, and we did the deal. We really liked him and seemed like a good fit. We still own the first record with CQ Records and our friends at the Guest Room Record Store in Norman.
What role does social media play in your music and connecting with fans?
Our social media footprint is pretty small, but it helps. I liken it to posting flyers around the city. I’m not sure that our fans are huge social media users, but we know that some people come to our shows because of it. It’s the modern equivalent of MTV or late-night TV; I remember discovering bands on shows like David Letterman. We’re still trying to figure it all out. I still think it’s all about making records and touring hard.
Where does Broncho fit in the current music scene?
I see us as a little ferry boat running supplies between different islands. We feel there are so many good bands doing their own thing. Whether it’s the Growlers, Cage the Elephant, or Portrait of a Man, everyone is doing something cool. I’d like to think we have a passport to all the musical worlds, and we can flow between them. I guess we feel like we’d made sense of all those worlds.
What role does video play in amplifying your music?
Videos are important and I love making them. It really helps convey the image of the music and what I was picturing when I wrote a song. We try to keep a finger on the process. We’ve done all our videos with friends and guys like George Salisbury [Oklahoma City–based videographer and graphic artist]. He’s done a lot of videos for the Flaming Lips and also has a hand in producing their backdrop artwork and print. He’s been with the Lips since the beginning and lives on this compound with Wayne [Coyne].
We have another friend, Jarod Evans [producer and engineer at Blackwatch Studios], who has done a lot of production for us, too. He shot the new video for the song “Speed Demon.” When we worked on our past record, he would just set up cameras and document the recording process. He has a unique method of shooting on old VHS camera. He edited that raw footage on an old Amiga 2000 video editing machine that was used for a lot of ’80s and ’90s videos. He actually found the Amiga 2000 on eBay and the machine was in Norman. We made an offer and bought it right away. He figured out how to use it, and so we use tape and old analog equipment. Later, we’ll throw it into ProTools and Final Cut Pro.
How did you choose the name Broncho?
It was a song lyric on “In a City”; I thought of it like a dude that smokes a lot of weed and lives in a fog. It seemed funny and like a joke, but it became our name. I think I know what Broncho means sometimes, and sometimes I don’t. [Laughs]
Are you recording while you’re off the road?
We’ve been off the road for a short amount of time, and it’s kind of nice to be home. I’m not recording, but I’m demoing some ideas. I kind of miss the road, but I also like to lock myself away and write or come up with new video ideas.
Do you receive airplay?
Yes, we did on the last record [Just Enough Hip to Be Woman; 2014]. The new record [Double Vanity] doesn’t seem to be connecting with radio as much as the last. It’s not really that much of a surprise. We like radio, and we know it’s a positive, but that’s life. We just keep pushing on and get out on the road. We hope that people like us, tell a friend, and bring a few new ones to each show. We’re kind of like traveling preachers.
Have you toured Europe extensively?
Three times already. Our second record got a lot of airplay in England on the BBC; a couple of popular DJs were playing it a lot. With the third record, it’s kind of thrown some people off. If they see us play live, they’ll understand.
Have you noticed any differences between the U.S. and European audiences?
Not really. Germany seemed a little laid back, but England was crazy. I guess it really depends on the night and the crowd. We played D.C. years ago, and it was a pretty chill show. The last time, however, the audience was crazy and really into it. I think our audiences are diverse in the same way.
Are you eager to record another record already?
I still like playing this album live and making videos to go along with it. I’m not in a hurry to jump to the next one yet. The great thing about having a third record is you can cut out some songs that you’re not as excited about but still play an hour-long show.
Are there any bands or producers you’d like to work with in the near future?
Yes, the Twin Peaks guys. We’re doing some touring with them already. I also want to tour with Bully from Nashville. We still like to record with our buddies, but we’re not opposed to working with someone outside of our immediate circle.
What do you notice about America as you tour from coast to coast?
Most of the places we play seem pretty normal, but then I watch the news, and it seems like there’s a whole different, violent world out there. The opposition to Black Lives Matter kind of bothers me. When people say all lives matter, they’re kind of missing the real point. Acting like there’s no real problem or it’s not reality is troubling: People are dying and getting killed. It seems like a lot of people are getting away from Jesus’s actual teachings. | Doug Tull
Broncho will be appearing as part of the Open Highway Musical Festival August 4 at Off Broadway in St. Louis. Also on the bill are American Wrestlers, Billy Changer, and Whoa Thunder. Full U.S. tour dates are below.
08.03 | Riot Room, Kansas City
08.04 | Off Broadway, St. Louis
08.05 | The Burl, Lexington KY
08.06 | The Hi-Fi, Indianapolis
08.07 | Zanzabar, Louisville
08.08 | The Basement, Columbus OH
08.09 | Club Café, Pittsburgh
08.10 | Majestic Café, Detroit
08.13 | Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa
08.14 | Trees, Dallas
08.16 | Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix
08.17 | Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach CA
08.19 | Telegram Ballroom, Los Angeles
08.22-23 | The Independent, San Francisco
08.26 | Neumos, Seattle
08.31 | First Avenue, Minneapolis
09.01 | Turner Hall, Milwaukee