As the end of the year looms, 2015 has yet to conjure a song more infections than the one I wrote about in August 2014 by BRONCHO, “Class Historian” (Broncho’s new single: the catchiest indie rock song I’ve heard in years). Jump through the title of the article to hear it for yourself. It’s a brilliant, post-punk-inspired bauble. If anyone can find a catchier song, I invite you to share a link to it in the comment section.

Since then, the Norman, Oklahoma band has been on a long on and off tour supporting its second album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman. It’s an energetic, smartly constructed record of 11 songs rooted in the hooks and swagger of early-‘80s post-punk that’s only 32 minutes long. You can hear the entire album for yourself on the band’s soundcloud here:

BRONCHO features guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lindsey, guitarist Ben King, bassist Penny Hill, and drummer Nathan Price. I spoke to the band’s frontman via phone ahead of BRONCHO’s first South Florida appearance opening up for The Growlers at the Culture Room. Naturally, I had to ask him about the magic behind “Class Historian,” and how he writes his music, specifically where did that long stuttering hook in “Class Historian” come from?

“When I first started playing that song, probably the very first time I played it, I came up with the idea,” he reveals. “I was thinking that that would be an instrument playing that part, but when I play by myself, I vocalize a lot of parts, and it just kind of stuck. It made more sense, so I just kept singing it rather than finding something else to play it. A lot of times stuff will happen that way, whether it be vocally or if I’m thinking about putting a part somewhere, I’d just be singing it and that, lots of times, will just turn into a verse or something.”

So words and lyrics, therefore, are a bit secondary to melody and music for Lindsey. Lindsey says they come to him from spontaneous moments of melodies popping into his head. He also finds words and their structure by following the music. “Lyrically, I’ll come up with ideas through singing through songs,” he says. “There’ll be a word that makes sense with the rhythm of the song, and then I’ll try to build the rest of it off of that, and then we kind of fill the blanks during the recording, try to figure out the rest and make sense of it.”

With “Class Historian,” I made a big deal in last year’s post of Lindsey’s phrasing and how he chooses to reinvent the accents of parts of words. Particularly the way he extends the first syllable of the word “historian” and rushes the rest of it, sort of nonchalantly tossing the word off. “I think you can get away with simple stuff,” he muses. “If you mess around with the really simple things and chop ’em up, I think, for one, it feels good rhythmically, and it adds a little rhythm to an otherwise really simple part. I think mixing that in as much as possible feels better to me. It’s more something I would want to sing and more something I would want to hear.”

When it comes to finding the words, he credits guitarist Ben King for helping out. “I’ll basically bring a chunk of ideas that I have, and on the last record Ben really helped me fill in the gaps … he wrote a bunch of lines, too, so most of the time it’s Ben and I working on the lyrics. As far as the band goes, it’s kind of a mix, but Ben’s a great person to work with on lyrics. He’s the only guy in the band with a degree,” Lindsey adds with a laugh.

Lindsey was at a recording studio in the band’s hometown, while taking a break from touring, when we spoke. Asked if he is writing while on tour, he replies, “Kind of. It happens sometimes on tour or when I’m home. If an idea comes to me, I’ll start singing. I’ll sing it in my head for a while and sometimes play it randomly. I’ll just think about it and come up with a lot of ideas prior to playing through it, and then I’ll start playing through stuff and see what makes sense. It’s pretty casual, really. Sitting down and like really saying, ‘I need to write a song,’ it sounds really stressful to do that.”

During the band’s tour for its first album, Can’t Get Past the Lips (2011), the group mixed in several new songs that wound up on its 2014 album. Lindsey sounds a bit surprised at himself when he admits that none of BRONCHO’s new material has appeared on its current set lists. “For the last record we played a pretty good chunk of the songs live for a while,” he says. “We played ‘Kurt’ and ‘It’s On’ for a long time and then ‘Class Historian’ we played for a while before we recorded it.”

He says the band’s current tour has felt so breakneck, it has even disoriented Lindsey’s sense of time. The last album is over a year old at this point, and the touring has been unrelenting for band members. Dates recently included festival appearances at SXSW and the Firefly Music Festival in Denver, among others. “It’s been a real blur,” admits Lindsey. “Like I just ran into a friend last night, and I hadn’t seen him since January, but I thought I saw him like a month ago,” he says with a laugh, “so it’s all a blur. It’s like a dream state.”

*  *  *

For PureHoney Magazine, I wrote about the band’s evolution in its sound between this record and its 2011 debut, which had a rawer, garage rock sound. Lindsey and I also spoke about the song “Deena,” another wry cut that speaks to the band’s post-punk influence. He was real happy to talk about that song, which you will hear and be able to download as an mp3 for a limited time when you jump through the image below. He told me, “It’s nice hearing people talk about ‘Deena’ because I don’t hear very many people bringing that song up, but that was one of my favorite songs on the record.” You can check that out by jumping through the PureHoney logo below:

pure honey

Hans Morgenstern

BRONCHO and The Growlers are touring Florida right now. They will be in our South Florida area this Tuesday, Nov. 3. BRONCHO will play an in-store performance at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale for free (plus free pizza) at 5 p.m. that day (details). Then they warm up the stage for The Growlers at The Culture Room, whose doors open at 7 p.m. (tickets here). The tour continues northbound, the following day, in Orlando (visit the band’s website for all dates, which continue through Nov. 21 in California). Photo of BRONCHO by Rozette Rago, provided by the band.

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


Last year, Pinback returned after five years of recording silence with the new album: Information Retrieved. Even bigger for this writer is the San Diego-based band’s return to South Florida for a rare live appearance coming up this Wednesday at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. The show marks only the group’s second appearance this far south since 2004, in support of the duo’s third album, Summer in Abaddon. Back then, the band travelled as far south as Miami to a space called I/O (now Vagabond), skipping this area during support of its 2007 album Autumn of the Seraphs.

Pinback formed on a lark in 1998 when multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rob Crow and bassist/vocalist Armistead Burwell Smith IV’s found themselves with some downtime from other projects. The resulting catchy, crisp pop rock soon outshone any of their earlier bands in terms of interest and record sales. I spoke with Crow last month for a pair of stories in the “Broward-Palm Beach New Times.”

To read the print story, jump through the logo below:

Broward Palm Beach New Times logo

To read a nice, long rambling tangent we took on science fiction movies and Star Wars in particular, jump through the logo below for this left-field story in the paper’s music blog, “The County Grind”:

county_grind logo

As fun as it was to recall our mutual memories of watching the first Star Wars movies in the theater, I found it rather difficult to get Crow going about his music. Here is a back and forth that captures our repartee, where he recalls memories of the band’s first South Florida show, what to expect of the band live and his musical relationship with a man he calls Zack for short, and considers his opposite.

Hans Morgenstern: What do you remember about the Miami visit, the last time you were here, like 5 years now? This is your first return here since then, but in Fort Lauderdale.

Rob Crow: Yeah. We went swimming at dusk. I didn’t know why nobody else was in the water. It’s because it’s crawling with sharks.

That or everyone’s getting ready to hit the clubs. No partying for you guys?

Not for us. We’re the nice-guy band.

I was impressed with how well you captured these songs that are rather intricate and polished in a live setting.

I remember that room. If you could hear anything, that’d be amazing.

I’ve seen many bands there, and it’s always too loud, but I could actually hear the different parts.

(laughs) What a bonus when you can hear the parts!

How do you pull it off live now as a three-piece? 

They’ve been our best shows, as a three-piece, as everyone has wholly agreed.

No keyboards? 

Nope. They will still be there. They just won’t be seen. They’ll just be heard.

So they will be pre-recorded. I was sorry to hear about Terrin Durfey’s passing. How long was he a touring member of the band?

I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it in those terms. The timeline gets confusing for me, and depressing, to be honest, so I don’t dwell on it.

I cannot help but notice a sort of poetic tribute of you all touring as a three-piece, without a keyboardist. Is that a sort of tribute to Terrin or out of respect?

In some ways, like there’s some things we don’t do anymore because he did on the desks, and nobody could ever do that. But we had other people doing his parts as well for years, when he couldn’t do it anymore (coughs) and they were nice, great people and everything, but everything just works better for us as a three-piece.

There’s this clean sound you guys have that seems to harken back to the first polished rock records that really started coming out in the mid-’70s and up, like the Police.

I like the Police. I mean, when we were making our first album, it was one of the few bands that both of us liked, that we listened to while we were dicking around or whatever. He and I have very different views on almost anything, so when we agree on something it’s nice.

Like what views are different?

I don’t know. They’re all different.

How about musically?

He doesn’t own any records. He owns maybe five records, and I own, and I’m an archivist. (laughs)

There’s never any indulgence in feedback in your music, like dominating a whole song.

Zack’s always trying to do that on his bass. It doesn’t work for me.

So you stop him when he pulls that?

We both stop each other from doing stuff. Yeah, I’ve learned that it would be bad to do on guitar, and I just kinda get nauseous when it happens on the bass that much (laughs). That doesn’t mean we won’t do something that does that sometimes. That’d be great to figure out how to make it work.

Where was the new album recorded?

We had a studio that we were both working at [S.D.R.L. Studios, San Diego, California]. But he doesn’t work there anymore, and we both have home studios.

Do you record to tape at all?

No, we used to try to do that, but it was such a nightmare. We just gave up. We had a 16-track, big old giant thing and all this stuff, and were like, ugh, it doesn’t sound better. And we literally cannot afford to keep it in shape.

Ever think of going into a studio?

There’s no way that the two of us could go to a studio where you pay by the hour [He pauses to think about it, and his voice even sounds exhausted as he continues] because it’s just a nightmare. Everything we do is at a snail’s pace… Everything.

* * *

Here are Pinback’s current tour dates (including an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon:

March 12 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
March 13 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ The Culture Room
March 14 – Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
March 15 – West Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
March 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Canal Club
March 17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
March 19 – Late Night With Jimmy Fallon @ Rockefeller Plaza, NY (check local listings to watch the performance)
March 21 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
March 22 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
March 23 – Little Rock, AR @ Revolution Music Room

Finally, just for fun, here is all the room I had for the band’s first South Florida appearance in Miami, almost 10 years ago, which ran in print before web mattered as much as it does now. Again, jump through the image:

Miami New Times logo

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)