I sat down for a Skype interview with the current members of Briar Rose. This eclectic band has been together for the better part of 26 years. A mainstay of the local New England metal scene, this band has never sought local attention, or played anything other than what they believed in. To the casual observer they would appear to be a band that doesn’t want to play a gig. To those who look behind the curtain, you will find a band positively prepared to propel its music into the future ,on its own terms ,at its own speed. They continue to stay true to themselves, their fans, and their own metal philosophy.
What is next on the plate for Briar Rose?
Next on the plate is writing the new album. We are recording new demos, writing new demos. Saying there is no way we are doing this and then calling it art. We called it art because Fred was already taken (laughing)
Back to England to record?
As far as we can see right now. There is only Chris who will touch the recording of this band. We get along with him. We make food for him and he makes us clean the studio. But he understands what we want to do. He believes in us and what we do. He is in tune with us. He wanted to work with us when he first heard us.
How did you connect with him?
He came to us in a dream (laughs) Actually I ran a magazine called Fault. There was a band called Glider. There demo was recorded by Chris and everyone said they sounded like Thin Lizzy. I said no way, nobody sounds like Thin Lizzy and sure enough after hearing it, the demo sounded like Thin Lizzy. So we got in contact with him. I sent him our second album and he wanted to work with us.
You guys make all the arrangements to travel to England?
Yes. We set it all up. We had some backers here and there. We fly over and get tormented by him
Actually it was 1988. Brideshead was a previous band that led to this one and that was in August 88. It has been 26 years of crazy torment. Our first US fan didn’t come to us until two years after the first album. It was mostly Germany, Denmark, England. Two years later we heard from someone in the US. We never geared anything we did toward the United States. It was always geared towards European metal style.
Is that why there are few Briar Rose performances locally?
Well we can go to England and play for three days to full houses. And then do the same thing in Germany. And we know we could play for a month in New Zealand. But if we want to play around here, we have to load half the set with covers. That is fine for someone who wants to make a living off of that. we never did. We never play cover songs We have been told by a club here that we were too “Metal”.
This has obviously worked out then because the longevity of the band is testament to your formula
Well we could have given in to it. There are plenty of chances to give in. We never bought into the idea of playing for exposure. I’m playing to sell a product to keep the band functioning. Manilla Road plays just about three times a year and they sell out in Europe. I knew our audience was not here. A lot of local bands fell in love with the mtv melodic metal style. And we didn’t. I did not need to play JR’s. If i have to change my set and compromise what I do. We would rather play to someone who wants to see us not as background music for someone who wants to get laid.
The Next album how is coming along?
This album is taking on a strange atmosphere. There is a lot of death references. That is not where it is going all the way. The way we work is absolute chaos. It hasn’t changed. We don’t look for a theme. Why can’t you variate what you do with your style? So you break it up. We need to be entertained. The songs are different. We have a dry erase board that says not counting new demos that we have enough material for ten albums. It’s raw but we can work with it.
I get asked to do a twitter but Im not actually thrilled with it. Facebook yes. It has to expand more. We are writing now so we don’t have a lot of time. It’s cool except for the paying end of it. Facebook asks too much to “boost” your posts.
Craziest thing you ever witnessed while performing?
I have seen everything. My favorite moment as a fan. Everyone says did you see Kiss play in Providence and then they say yeah. And you ask what happened to Leslie west that night when he opened for them. If you were there then you know his hair caught on fire during Mississippi Queen. That was the craziest thing I saw. Another band I am in, people started having sex with furniture. I got a chance to sing onstage with Wendy O Williams of the Plasmatics. She had her roadie pull me onstage during the song “Rock And Roll” at the Living Room In Providence. I miss Wendy everyday.
Will you continue this band for the long term?
We will be in wheelchairs still rolling up to the stage to Play. Like we said we have about ten albums worth of material. We won’t limit ourselves. It needs to be contemporary. It has our style but it connects with the modern.
The next local gig?
October. We will do our own show. We set it up. We feed you. The drinks are cheap. We are having some crazy friends up from virginia. We will play all sorts of songs. It’s not a club. We will decorate it ourselves. We know our fans will go. Friends and family. They will show up. We control the lights, the parking, the sound. It’s cheap. You will be entertained. We will do covers that night. Ones we want to play.
Anything you want to tell your fans?
Thank you. We promise new music and to continue on. Now if each and every one of you could send in one dollar.......