“Someone once told me that a true musician never quits...
they die,” asserts Todd Stewart, one-third of Calgary, Alberta-
based rock brigade Brocade.
Boasting fiery eyes, wildly gesturing hands and a voice
dripping with passion, if the vocalist/guitarist and mates
Weeze Brown (bass) and Nate Giebelhaus (drums) were
any more alive, their electrified vitality would torch everything
Yet as Stewart asserts, despite Brocade’s joie de vivre, it’s
the inherently interwoven elements of respect, vitality and
impeccable ability that has resulted in brilliant independent
debut full-length Like You Were Here.
“The Gospel of this band is wanting this to be bigger than
anything we could do on our own,” he continues excitedly.
“Everything about us—even our name which refers to
an intricately woven fabric—is based on our energy. You
really feel that in our live show. We’re a power trio that
sounds like five people onstage. We’re admittedly selfish
about loving everything we do up there. We’re indulgent,
but that’s what keeps us honed on our goals.”
Formed in 2009, the triumvirate actually boast roots planted
over a decade ago. Cutting young teeth in various acts
together, Stewart, Brown and Giebelhaus continually felt
pulled towards one another; compelled to share a unified
musical vision, eventually resulting in Like You Were Here.
“I was working on this album in 2009,” Stewart reveals.
“I had known Nate through other gigs, seeing him around
town and meeting through mutual friends. There was always
an interest in working together. He came on board
but we needed a bassist. Weeze was an old band mate and
friend that has the same musical drive as me. I asked him
to fly out from Vancouver for one New Year’s Eve gig. You
hear those stories about shows where it’s easy to play together
and there’s an undeniable instant chemistry? That
was us. Eventually he moved back to Calgary for good.”
Honing that unbridled energy, ability and conviction into
one focal point, some two years after that fateful gig, Brocade
celebrate Like You Were Here, an impacting and exciting,
blunt yet inspired and imaginative affair forged on an
unusual amalgam of genres. Pulling from vast influences
including classic rock and old country yet expanding into
individual favourites such as Wilco and stripped-down folk,
Like You Were Here cements the dogma of diverse inspiration
into the singular sound that is Brocade.
“A library of an artist’s work has a common thread...you
can hear our own character in this album,” Stewart declares.
“We’re not rewriting the foundation of music but
neither are we replicating one thing. This album is roots,
alternative rock, pop...you name it. We love so many styles
of music, there’s a lot placed and layered in our sound.
We’re not vain enough to start our own genre. To us, songwriting
trumps everything and spans genres. There’s a bit
of genre-jumping going on here because of our diverse
interests. Wherever the sound needs to be is where it goes.
We’re the moderators of that idea and it’s our responsibility
to bring it to life. We pay attention to what’s great about
the song at hand and pay respect to it.”
Recorded in their own home-built studio and well under
way before bringing in acclaimed producer Shawn Cole
(Pride Tiger, You Say Party, Yukon Blonde, Bend Sinister)
to add finishing touches, from the compelling essence of
“Riot, Riot” through to “Three Days Wiser” with its heartfelt
reflection and the pointed menace of “Hungry,” Like
You Were Here is a perfect document of three fertile musicians
creating unforgettable, dynamic rock.
“I had written most of these songs before the band was
formed,” Stewart reveals about the patience founded in
Like You Were Here. “But I knew they needed a stronger
live dynamic, so we took a year of playing together to
figure each other out and apply it to each track, moving
around arrangements and bringing it to a fresh level.”
“Nate and Weeze added their hand-prints to the songs,
making something really unique,” he continues. “Our sensibilities,
styles and ideas are what define Brocade. Being
honest is an element that’s always been in our favourite
bands, so it had to be in us. When listening to music, you
can tell if people are faking it. You can fake it but you
can’t succeed. It has to be genuine. There can never be a
formula. We’re as organic as possible with what we do.”
Shining through in lyrics that range from politicallymotivated
barnstormers through to rueful heartache and
nostalgic reflection, Like You Were Here’s themes are as
encompassing as its sound.
Regardless of influence, context or subject matter however,
Stewart strips away all pretence, defining the core of both
Brocade and Like You Were Here in one simple statement.
“We didn’t learn to play to impress. This is about how everyone
has a journey in life and Like You Were Here is
ours. That’s the goal of this band: doing everything and
going for it without ego. We’re about being a part of something
bigger. We back our words and we’re passionate. We
might be starving and sacrificing a lot but that’s because
we’re consumed with this; creating, playing and being what
we truly are: Brocade.”
Band MembersTodd Stewart - Vocals/Guitar
Weezee Brown - Bass/Vocals
Nate Giebelhaus - Drums