Bracket talk about new album ‘Too Old to Die Young’
August 19, 2019
I guess my first question is the most obvious one. Bracket released their new album ‘Too Old to Die Young’ on May 31st through Fat Wreck Chords. It’s your first album on Fat Wreck Chords since 2000’s ‘When All Else Fails.’ How does it feel to be back on your old label?
It feels great, and really satisfying. Everyone at the label has been so nice and supportive and genuinely excited for us.
Back in 2005 we didn’t leave by choice, and we were pretty bitter about Requiem getting rejected. But at the same time, I think it actually became a blessing for us, creatively. Once we were over the shock/disappointment of leaving fat, we remembered that we had made a really cool record, and we were really proud of it! And once we got got back to writing and recording again a few years later, we made two more pretty experimental albums (2014 HYA and 2016 TLP) that wouldn’t have happened if we were worried about what a label might think. We are proud of all (well, most) of what we’ve done, but those three were a vital period for us as a band, creatively. Which then, naturally and very story-book ending-like, brought us back around to join fat again, with a more straight forward album. We wouldn’t have been ready to make TOTDY 15 years ago, but at this point it was exciting/challenging to try to NOT overthink it (which we did for about 3 years hahahaha)
This album is a lot more stripped down than your previous albums and ‘The Last Page’ and ‘Hold Your Applause.’ Was that approach intentional? What did you do differently this time?
A lot was different. After those albums it was a different challenge to simplify some of our more experimental tendencies. It may have been Fat Mike planting a seed that we should try to make a punkier album, but when we thought about it, it sounded fun and inspiring to give that a try. So the goal was to take a different approach than the last three albums and not “overthink” everything, which didn’t really happen haha!
We wrote a lot of the parts of the songs together. We wrote all the lyrics together at Marty’s house in his living room. Angelo sang two songs and Zack sang one. We decided to leave the ukuleles and mandolins alone. We wanted a more rough, raw sound sonically and stylistically. It was actually harder than it sounds! Probably hardest part was recording the screaming “SLOW DOWN AND LIVE” vocals at the beginning of warren part 29. We didn’t want to scare Marty’s neighbors (or his family) so we got in his car and drove to what we hoped was an abandoned parking lot at about midnight. In true punk fashion, we were scared we were gonna get arrested for trespassing and screaming at the top of our lungs. We had to edit out most of the nervous laughter between takes!
Do you find more straightforward pop-punk vs more layered music to be creatively satisfying in different ways?
Yes. Differently creatively satisfying. Honestly, it was probably the perfect time for us creatively to make this album. After making hold your applause and the last page back to back I think we were kind of exhausted. We love recording, we love pushing ourselves and trying new things musically. But with how much time and effort we put into those albums, the response was kind of quiet. Not a lot of people heard the last page…it was a turn off to some people that it was 70 minutes and one track. And also, self releasing and self promoting (when not able to tour) it kinda fell on deaf ears. So it was disappointing. And the thought of trying something more straight forward and punky (with label support) was exciting. And writing songs that focused on the feeling/energy, rather than pushing to be as musically adventurous as possible. I think Too Old turned out as a good combo of simplified song writing approach, with some of the weird chord changes and harmonies that we love to do. But having said that, we are probably most proud of HYA and TLP “creatively.”
Do you think your lyrical approach was different from the last two albums as well?
Yes for sure. Marty, Zack, and I wrote all the lyrics together. Some of it was serious, some was to make each other laugh, and some was just squeezing rejected album title ideas into lyrics. Zack keeps a list that we add to all the time of potential album titles, and we sued a lot of those ideas to build on for songs. What’s interesting to me is that kind of by accident, a lot of the songs still turned out to be sad, bitter, cynical songs about ourselves.
On The Last Page album, why did you decide to make it one long song?
Because 100 little songs seemed dumb. One long song was the idea from the beginning. No, I guess we felt like it was an exciting challenge and that’s what inspired us. Like “how can we make this work?” Plus the nature of it lent itself to getting away with some pretty non-bracket-ish music.
I think it’s cool you guys have managed to released 3 albums in such a short time. Are you guys always writing new songs?
No, not always. I mean the last page probably had maybe 80-ish actual “potential” songs that could have been saved and fleshed out for later albums. I think when we get the spark of inspiration, either due to an idea for an album, or a direction we’re excited to go in, then the songs start coming.