Dissertation on Punk Theory

"See, lots of bands make the same record over and over again without even really realizing it," says Breather Resist singer Evan Patterson philosophically. "I think it’s the byproduct of having been in a band together for such a long time. Bad Religion is an example of that. Here’s a band that, on their early records, hit upon something that really resonated within the audience that they were trying to reach and they were so flattered that they kept making the same album—with only minor variations—for the next 20 years. I wouldn’t begrudge them that, it just doesn’t work for me. When you get stuck in a creative rut like that, it’s very easy to lose your audience. Again, Bad Religion went through about a ten–year slump and when they bounced back it was because their original, core fans had forgotten about them and one of their cookie cutter records caught with a whole new audience. It was a gamble that just happened to work out for them but—let’s be honest here—lots of bands aren’t so lucky. I don’t think anyone in Breather Resist wants to take that risk. From a sound perspective, the distance between our first EP and Charmer could, I think, be measured in light years. That’s what we’re trying to do—we’re trying to move with our audience so we don’t get stale as much for ourselves as for our fans. Even so, we’re not just creative for creativity’s sake though. We’ve begun writing for the new record already and started taking cues from the groovier tracks on Charmer like "Midas In Reverse", "As Far As Goodbyes Go" or "Loose Lipped Error" and pressed in that direction because it was new to us. A lot of the time we’re all still doing our own thing on those songs, but they’re also tighter and they’ve got a groove; we’ve created a backbone in each one and then the sparks jump off of it, but there’s still that centre. The new stuff we’ve written so far has a sort of Jon Spencer or Jesus Lizard mid tempo vibe which is an extension of one aspect of what we were doing before. We’re pretty excited about it and it’s interesting for us. That’s really the standing rule of thumb in this band. We ask ourselves ‘Hey, that’s pretty interesting, but can we listen to it every day?’ If we can’t, or at least can’t listen to it for the period of time that we’re touring behind it, then we’re doing something wrong." When Pulse spoke to Patterson it became very clear early on in the conversation how best to interview the husky voiced lead singer of Kentucky’s Breather Resist: if you turn your tape recorder on and just let Patterson start talking, you’ll get the best interview out of him. Like the music of the band he fronts, the best results come if you stay out of his way. Breather Resist is currently back out on the road promoting their newest, self–released seven–inch apart from their label, Jade Tree Records, and to tease up interest before hitting the studio again to record a follow-up full–length album. The band’s set list on this tour is actually an incredible indicator for how the band has chosen to operate: with their debut EP now out of print, the band is only playing the new material from the 7–inch and tracks from Charmer according to the singer, "because [they] don’t see any point in going back to the old material because it’s not who [they] are anymore." To wit, "Move forward or get left behind." In listening to Charmer, it has now become difficult—with the band’s evolution from its modest beginnings—to quantify their sound. On Charmer, the band defines itself as a completely separate generic entity; embodying the traits of hardcore, metal and screamo bands but defying simple classification into any single one. With a lyric sheet torn straight out of a Charles Bukowski day dream and a voice that drips battery acid, Patterson snarls and grunts his way through all 11 bruisers on Charmer. The bluster, however, is all on the surface; peeling back the layers reveals wild structural and timbre shifts in the music that are a mercurial thing of beauty. "While some may lump us into being a hardcore band, I really think we’re more punk rock," explains Patterson pensively. "Well, I think we’re more punk rock in the sense that all truly independent music is punk rock, as opposed to one ‘sound’ having a trademark on the term. When most people think of punk they think of Rancid or one of those bands, but I think the term is more about attitude and ethics. If we were to mimic one certain style it would get boring for everyone and it doesn’t make any sense to us to do that. Punk rock is both much simpler and much more complicated now than it used to be—you have the ‘punk rock’ bands on the radio that are all doing it the same way and you have the bands that are in the underground or generally below the radar that are creating new ideas and doing it their own way. …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead is a perfect example of that. I’m a big fan of them because I think they’re a punk rock band without what’s become the prescribed sound of a punk rock band. Each of their records progresses in exactly the ways it should and you can actually follow them—to a certain degree—from the beginning to end of each. There’s a destination and an arrival each time." According to Patterson, the fact that Breather Resist has released another 7–inch prior to entering the studio to record a follow–up to Charmer was the result of watching Trail Of Dead’s course through their career as well. The singer makes the point that, before each new album, Trail of Dead has released a single with a few teaser tracks prior to each new album in order to give fans a taste and wet their appetite; an idea that Patterson says Breather Resist thoroughly plan on following. "It’s not that we want to be Trail of Dead; we wouldn’t even try to be. However their idea on how they release their material makes good sense. After this tour, we’re going to be holed up in the studio working on a new record and demo–ing the hell out of new songs all winter and it’s a dangerous thing to run the risk of falling off of peoples’ minds. We want to make sure we’ve left something more that will keep our fans waiting for us and, by next August we want to have out next record out. I think that, with Charmer, we had more time to write and that helped the songs flow together more naturally. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out when we got in the studio but I feel that those songs generally had a better flow than anything we’d written prior to them. Because it worked so well, we’d like to do it the same way again. We’ve already got five songs written and that’s obviously not enough but we’re already at least on our way. With what we’re planning on doing for this next record, we’re going to need the extra time."

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