We checked in with Brenna Red (The Last Gang) and Jason Hall (Western Addiction) on how they spent 2020, what they learned, and their thoughts and hopes for what 2021 will hold, as part of our New Year Evolutions Series!
Brenna Red – The Last Gang
Brenna Red of the Last Gang is looking forward to touring and ugly crying when this thing is all over, but for now is keeping busy with cooking, writing, and turning her downed wine into candles.
We’d been in a writing fit for the most of 2020, sending tracks back and forth. Our catalogue has been growing and growing, including a few covers. A couple of times we’ve been able to get together and rehearse safely. But we’re trying to stay as positive as possible and wade through what can become a heavy blanket of depression. Busy hands and high energy keep my mind at peace.
We’re taking advantage of every opportunity that has come our way. I covered Bikini Kill’s “Carnival” with Incorrect Thoughts for an online mash-up.
Ken played guitar for an Asian Spades video with Linh of Bad Cop/Bad Cop.
Oh, and we’ve also released an online set with Live To Win Media, up on Youtube now.
The night we recorded that we were overwhelmed with the biggest rush of endorphins! We probably played hella sloppy and too fast, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. We’re going to be recording and releasing more online sets in the next couple months. We just have to wait ‘til So Cal isn’t a hot bed for COVID. It’s hard to not oversaturate with online video content, so again we’ve been focused a lot on writing and creating songs through email.
Our funds have almost been completely depleted. Luckily, we haven’t had too many band expenses this last year, just the typical website payments, van insurance, and shipping for odds and ends.
But we’re gonna be doing some things that need funding soon, so we’ll be selling some limited edition TLG merch. I’m in the middle of making candles out of my empty bottles of red wine that I’ll drink, black wax with dried red rose petals sprinkled in. Hand signed by the band and numbered. They’ll be available soon.
I’ve reignited my passion for cooking. New recipes, hard recipes, classic recipes. When we’re on the road I usually take our night off to cook for the whole camp. I’m all about that kitchen life. When we have vocal rehearsals, I’ll have the guys spread out around my house waiting for dinner (Vegan Feast as we’ve dubbed it). As I cook, they’ll play the acoustic and we’ll all sing out loud, me from the kitchen and them from the living room. Dialing in our harmonies. It’s actually really fucking cute!
I’m not sure what normal will be, but I desperately hope we’ll be touring again like before. Long serene van rides. Goofy inside jokes with my guys. Being on stage, singing with the black shadow of a swirling crowd. The peace that settles after a night of 100% pure high energy and meeting so many new people. I predict that I will be crying a lot at shows— with happiness of course. No joke, I’ll be overwhelmed with emotions and it WILL come gushing out. So be prepared for ugly racoon eyes crying face.
Image courtesy of Brenna Red.
Jason Hall – Western Addiction
For Jason Hall of Western Addiction, despite not getting to go out on the road with some of his heroes, the pause and pace has been a gift of sorts.
I don’t have any problem being alone and isolated. Sadly, I’m an introvert. I enjoy the simple aspects of life. Today, my daughter and I went water-coloring by the ocean and that’s all I really need out of life.
I did spend the year living with radical political fatigue. I can’t look away because each day is more outrageous than the previous and none of it makes sense to me.
I’m trying to see the unintended benefit of isolation. If you think about it, the world has given you one year to do exactly what you want, learn what you want, watch what you want, be alone, be selfish. I really enjoy making songs so I’m halfway through our next record.
Our new record, Frail Bray, came out last May. Normally we would be playing shows but those were all cancelled. Therefore, I did the “admin” of rock and roll with 50+ interviews, etc.
It was nice to be able to work on promotion even though we couldn’t play with Propagandhi, Bad Religion, etc. Those cancellations hurt. That’s not a cool answer, but it’s absolutely part of being in a band. Sometimes it’s glory and sweat, sometimes it’s typing.
It is with incredible sorrow that we must announce our show with @propagandhi and Torso on May 22nd at @GAMH is canceled. This one was gonna be a show for the ages. Let’s ditch this virus and get back to some rock n’ roll. Stay safe everyone. pic.twitter.com/d5RLF6hFlt— WESTERN ADDICTION (@WSTRNADDICTION) March 26, 2020
We were incredibly lucky that I was able to keep working. I have a day job that I’m able to do from home. My wife’s business has been closed down several times and we are currently enduring another shutdown. It is frustrating but we are ok for the time being. I try not to complain, in general, when I have food money, shelter, and a loving family, and when so many are suffering. It feels small to even mention. I’ve already seen the light in terms of capitalism destroying the Earth so I’m all for the planet forcing equilibrium on humans. We are the pest.
I learned, well, it reinforced that you don’t need to buy so many items and you spend a lot of time doing things that are very unimportant. I’m shocked at all the things I do for other people and for no reason. Those tasks have been eliminated and I don’t miss it. I’m lucky because I really like making songs in general. I spend my free time, pandemic or not, trying to uncover the secrets of songwriting. I haven’t figured it out yet, but the quest is joyous.
I have no doubt that the human race will snap to the same unnecessary pace and consumption. I feel fortunate to be alive and healthy so I’m going to do my best to remember that. I keep hearing how people are upset about masks and how the pandemic is hindering their life, but I can never understand how they don’t understand that death is so much worse than being uncomfortable.
I do hope that there is a joy and celebration of music and simply being together. I never take music for granted and I hope that sentiment is reverberated when I can stand in the crowd and watch a ripping band. I’ve seen some TV shows where a band playing and I miss everything about it, the chatting, the smell, the energy, and the excitement.
I’m hoping that there will be an explosion of music, art, film, and romance. If you are in a band, you should cherish this time and make songs. When is there another time in existence where the world hits pause and you can make songs.
Get your record ready. I can’t wait to hear it.
Image courtesy of Jason Hall.