Interview with Brenna Red
By John B. Moore
Orange County’s Fiction Reform put out an amazing debut last year, but it turns out they were simply warming up. The just-released follow up, Take Your Truth, takes a bigger booted step forward with a more cohesive sound, stronger guitars and lyrics that punch hard.
The band has spent the better part of the year, sleeping on floors across the country, playing clubs (sometimes getting stiffed for their efforts) and promoting the gospel of SoCal punk rock. And it shows, with a more confident, comfortable sound.
Brenna Red spoke recently about how this record came together, lessons learned from a year on the road, and what’s next for the group.
There are a lot of differences in the creation of this album compared to the last. In particular, you have a singer. What were some of your goals?
We started this record with the intention of raising the bar. For local DIY bands, for punk music, for ourselves, we wanted to raise the bar. Unlike our last album, which was written without any singer involved in the process, the four of us massaged these songs over and over for the last year. It’s got more of our personalities in it. “Jimmy” and “(Don’t) Keep At Your Distance” highlight the catchy up-tempo style I associate myself with, while “Shellac & Vinyl” is more of a hardcore progression which Danny (Baeza) relates to. One of Danielle (Lehman’s) favorite songs is “Who’s To Blame” which makes sense, seeing as two of her favorite bands are Bad Religion and The Descendants. And Aaron had a huge effect on making the songs differ from one to the next by layering each with melodic guitar riffs over some aggressive chords. We worked on many songs for this album, but obviously some didn’t make it. We weeded out what didn’t make sense to us. Every song has a unique purpose on the album and we didn’t want any filler. Some songs came along easily, such as “One Minute More.” The name was an easy creation, the lyrics spilt onto paper fluently; pauses, riffs, harmonies, and scales all were a natural progression into the final product. That’s why we felt this was undoubtedly the single… Until we heard the rest of the album from front to back. EVERY song could be the single. Each one has the quality to carry the album. That’s why I keep saying that this is the best rock album that has come out in the last ten years. I know that sounds a bit cocky, but I’m absolutely in love with this record.
How different or difficult was it coming into an already half written situation and bringing your ideas on the first album?
Our first record was a musical first. Danny and Aaron (Chabak) wrote Revelation entirely of chords and beats, no melodies or words. They had no clue what was in store for them when I came in to put a bow on the album and lay down the lyrics. I finished all ten songs without them knowing what to expect. While it was a great record and it came out well received, it reminds me of a first date in comparison to Take Your Truth. It was awkward, a bit contrived. We sat eating dinner not sure of what the other is thinking. At the end of the date you’re wondering if that’s it, or if there’s much more between you. You’re curious what if any kind of connection you’ll make. But now we’re a newly married couple. This band thinks alike, meshes so well, and is a solid team. We love writing music together now because we’re more intuitive with the other person. This new album is a great representation of that bond. I know when Danny’s gonna want to go four on the floor and the vocals need to be more percussive. Danielle knows when to fill space as Aaron chords become spacey. We’ve got a great connection that really helps us get all of our ideas out of our head and intertwined into an amazing collaboration.
So it’s fair to say you changed the way you went about writing the songs for this one?
We completely changed it up. We had the time and energy to evolve into a music making machine. Well- oiled and functioning at a productive pace. We understand how each member becomes inspired ad how each becomes frustrated. I like figuring out a song’s main personality before we hammer out the structure while Aaron likes to do the exact opposite. True that can lead to some friction, but we get a great result. We get a song that we’re passionate about. We put so much of ourselves into this record, much more than the first. Since we had a chance to manipulate each beat and chord from the very beginning, we all have a piece of us in each song.
Any lineup changes since Revelation?
We added Danielle at the beginning of Take Your Truth’s inception. I personally say this is the greatest thing that has happened to us. As far as the relationship between us, I have so much fun with her on stage. She’s as silly as I am with her sweet Beavis and Butthead dance moves. When you see us on stage, you’ll often see us cracking up from just being dumb. I know Danny and Aaron love her because they talk nothing but sports and stats at practice. While I have no clue what they’re talking about it hilarious when they get into arguments about their fantasy football league- Cutler this and Manning that. She’s an amazing friend to have. But on a professional note, she works harder than anything! We’ve gained so much support from new fans just from her alone. She believes in this band as much as we do. She takes the same pride as the original two, Danny and Aaron. We’re all so lucky to have her.
Have you started to set up tour plans around this one yet?
We have plans to do what I call the “L” shaped tour- up and down the West Coast and out to New Mexico and back. We are also aiming to hit Texas. We’re all doing it grassroots style, all DIY. Since we’re not on a big booking agent’s rooster or on a big fat label, it’s hard to get put onto a national bill. We still have the aspirations for it. We know that we’re ready for it, but while we wait for someone to take a chance on us, we’re hitting the grindstone ourselves. The Bay area in March. And we’re going back and forth with people in Europe. Nothing close to official, just seeing what’s possible. We get a lot of fans asking us to hit up New York, France, Ohio, Canada, the UK, etc…. but we’ve got to focus on the West Coast while we’re doing the DIY route. Let’s make enough of a buzz here so that we do land a national tour. That’s our goal.