Bronze Radio Return | Wonder No More

bronzeradio sq“It’s really about connecting with people.”

 

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Bronze Radio Return is not your typical revival rock band. The sextet hails from Hartford, Conn., where four of the members graduated from the Hartt School of Music. Despite their obvious education on the subject of music, they resist sounding formulaic, and their most recent album, their sophomore release SHAKE!SHAKE!SHAKE!, is by turns twangy, bouncy, gritty, and fun. There’s obviously a roots influence there, but they haven’t totally abandoned the allure of a really good pop hook, as evidenced in their songs “Down There” and the title track.

I knew all of this going into my interview with lead singer and primary songwriter Chris Henderson. Much like the album, Henderson was a mixture of fun and intelligence, and it’s easy to see where the record got at least part of its charm. This isn’t to say that the band is simply a vessel for Henderson: He makes it clear that this is not a one-man-show. He obviously respects his bandmates—friends—and it becomes apparent that he’s still in love with the life they lead as musicians, be it while songwriting, recording, or hitting the road.

They’re doing a lot of that now, with spending six weeks recording a third album in a studio in a barn—and the band staying in a small apartment above it. I had to ask, of course, how sux men in their mid- to late 20s managed to keep in such close proximity for so long. “Surprisingly, there were no fights, no wrestling matches,” Henderson informs me, sounding genuinely impressed. He says they all, knock on wood, seem to get along very well. They’ve learned when to give each other space.

As much as Henderson likes the other guys in the band, when it comes to songwriting, it starts off more solitary. “Generally how it works is I’ll start at my house and scratch out a demo, which will be me stomping on the floor or hitting some spoons on a windowsill, playing acoustic guitar, and kind of get a loose structure. Most of the time I’ll write the lyrical content then, too.” Next, the demos are disseminated to the other guys in the band, and once they’ve had a chance to absorb them, they all meet to hash out the versions of the songs we eventually hear. “Sometimes we’ll drop a verse or change a chorus—it becomes much more of a collective songwriting process at that point.”

Perhaps their ability to work together is what is letting them be heard over the flood of new music out there. With the resources available to bands now—things like Facebook that didn’t exist 10 years ago—it can be difficult to stand out. Henderson makes it clear that the band doesn’t employ a passive approach to tools such as Facebook and Twitter. He says, and is no doubt correct, that simply having the page isn’t enough. “It’s really about connecting with people, and talking to other people. The more we’ve done it, the more we’ve learned how to better connect with people through social networking.”

Social networking is not, of course, ever going to be a replacement for the live show. So after the years on the road they’ve had so far, is it still fun to get up and play music, or is it just a job now? It may be a job—he talked about how they’re always rehearsing and always trying to fine-tune the live performance—but it’s also his favorite part of the day, albeit the shortest. He says, with an obvious enthusiasm in his voice, “You get on stage, play music with your friends, and kind of remind yourself ‘This is why I’m doing this.’”

Not to throw a wet towel on Henderson’s enthusiasm for his craft, but I was curious if there was ever a time when he couldn’t remember why he was doing it. “To be honest, no. I’ve tried to think of what else I could be doing right now, and it’s just a blank page.” He continues, “I really couldn’t imagine doing anything other than what we’re doing right now, and for that I feel really fortunate.” | Teresa Montgomery

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