Interview: BRAT Smash Societal Norms on Debut Full-Length ‘Social Grace’

BRAT definitely had me at “barbiegrind” and “bimboviolence,” but they really won me over with their latest record, Social Grace, out March 15 via Prosthetic. The record is raw, heavy, and deals with themes of gender, class, and overall societal oppression.

Lyrically, the band do not hold back from critiquing myriad societal issues in a tongue-in-cheek way, and we chatted with drummer Dustin Eagan about their first offering and the themes that come up on the record.

What was the writing and recording process like for recording Social Grace, and how did it differ from previous recording sessions? 

When we started writing the album, we were also touring quite often. So we had to balance writing, rehearsing, and tracking in between tours. This was quite different from the EPs. Brenner (guitar) writes the majority of the music and lyrics, including most of the drums and bass; then we take his demos and whittle them into shape adding each of our own touches to our parts. Then we track as soon as the songs are ready. For the album, we tracked two or three songs at a time. For our two EPs, all of the songs were written, recorded, and mastered before we were even announced as a band.

What are some of the big lyrical and thematic messages you’re trying to convey with this record? 

Again, Brenner writes the majority of the lyrics for BRAT. I know he draws a lot of inspiration from Stephen King novels. There is definitely a dark energy in the lyrics, a lot about the futility of man and our struggles within the human condition. Classism, ecological plight, yearning for the big sleep. It’s really funny because he’s one of the most positive people I know.

You got your start very DIY and are now on a bigger label—What has it been like working with Prosthetic, and how did that change things for this record? 

Prosthetic has been great to work with. I think they understand our aesthetic ideas and where we want to take things with the band and the record, which is a huge bode of confidence for us. We actually finished the record before signing with them, even though we had been in talks prior. At that time we felt the band was still a bit young to commit to anything like that. But once we had a couple tours under our belt and a record in hand, we felt it was the right move to step forward into that arena. As far as DIY goes, we are very much still connected to that scene. We will still pull up under a bridge and rip a generator show or play a punk house. We love doing the big theaters and the crusty stuff the same. That’s the New Orleans in us.

Hailing from New Orleans and playing grind, you don’t sound like other NOLA bands but still come from a rich tradition. What bands globally are you most into right now, and what is the scene like where you’re from? 

Firstly, shout out Morning Call for letting us shoot our music video there, epically badass. The landscape of the New Orleans metal and punk scene is vast. We are lucky to be part of a very eclectic and diverse city. New Orleans is a bit smaller than most major cities, so there isn’t really one main influence going on. Some cities are strictly beatdown hardcore, or metalcore, or punk, or whatever it may be, but in New Orleans there is such a collage of people and styles that it becomes a true mix of everything. (Shout out to NOLA legends Hollise Murphy and YOKO.) 

We see a lot of mixed bills at New Orleans shows, which in my opinion makes for a more entertaining and memorable time. As far as bands we’re into, while we’re on tour we really listen to everything imaginable in the van. Some notable bands would be Black Market Stem Cells, Dracula, Congealed Putrescence, Torture Garden, Decoy, Totem, 610 Split, Wasted, Brass Tongue, No/Mas, ACxDC, Slugcrust, Come Mierda, Bonginator, Take Offense, Escuela Grind, Slut Bomb, Ween. The list is endless.

It seems to be that a theme that BRAT have always been pushing back on societal norms, specifically that of being “ladylike” if you’re a femme person. Is that accurate, and is that something you’re still trying to convey with this?

I don’t know if we ever set out to challenge the boundaries of social norms, but we fully understand and embrace our juxtaposition to the norms of metal culture. Honestly, the fact that sporting pink and blasting pop samples in between our songs challenges anything in 2024 is almost comical to think about. Our main goal is and has always been to have fun making and playing our music, to get people in on the schtick, and to include people who may feel they’re not represented in their scene.

When Liz takes the stage, people light up; there’s a lightbulb that goes off when we’re blaring Backstreet Boys in your face when people realize, “Oh, this is why they’re BRAT” and arms start to uncross, the hips start to sway; heads begin to bang, and fun happens. It’s wild and it’s beautiful! As far as being lady-like, if that suits you, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t! Whatever you do, whoever you are, get your ass to the BRAT show, and have some fun.

Are there any touring or live plans you want to share?

We are currently on tour with Bonginator and Take Offense, supporting Escuela Grind. We have some dates to be announced around North West Terror Fest in late spring. We will definitely be touring a good bit this year in support of the record coming out, so keep an eye on our socials for future announcements! 

I know it’s early days, but is there anything you can share about the next record after this one?

We have just barely started conceptualizing some new songs, very early demos. We of course want to keep pushing ourselves musically while still incorporating a lot of the elements that make us BRAT. So we will see how those shape up, but nothing major has happened yet! 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you to everyone who has been preordering, buying, streaming our music and showing us love. Everyone who’s come to the shows and gotten rocked in the pit. It means the world to us to be able to do this. Our first full-length Social Grace is out on March 15; you can pick it up at one of our shows, through Bandcamp, or on the Prosthetic website! Let’s rock, baby!

Photo courtesy of Greta Gerstner

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