BrilOC rockers Bril are gaining momentum
By Dave Schwartz 

Dateline 19 November 2005, Martini Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Featured artist: Bril. Latest effort: "Airless Alarm" due out February 14th, 2006

For those enduring yet another frigid winter in the Midwest, the phrase "Southern California" invites visions of tiny beach towns nestled by the ocean. As you spend countless days staring out your window at the snowdrifts, surfers spend months searching for the perfect wave in places where blondes litter the beach as far as the eyes can see. After all Southern California is a place where, even in January, a sunny day in the 70s isn't too much to ask for.

San Clemente is one of those tiny beach towns. It's not quite Gidget and Moondoggie, but the scenic spot drips with a sandy sort of charm that greets you like a large beach towel and a bottle of tanning lotion. As you soak up rays near the north pier, the occasional Amtrak train rolls past taking vacationers and the odd businessman to the next stop somewhere up the coast. Houses with 180-degree views of the water sprawl across the rolling hillsides like wildflowers. San Clemente is a bedroom community but itís also a place where suburbia and the beach become one.

So now you're asking yourself, "Self, where in the hell is he going with this? What does San Clemente have to do with music?" Well, as far as I know, absolutely nothing. San Clemente is so far removed from the typical rock haunts that I would wager a week's worth of DaBelly bucks that there are no bands of note in San Clemente. But we could check wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/) just to make sure. Hold on, still searching. Wait a minute, Bril? What in theÖ Well I guess that's why they pay me in DaBelly bucks. What was I thinking? If I were me I would investigate.

Fast-forward a couple weeks and I find myself standing on the corner of Scottsdale and Main in the Old Town district of Scottsdale, Arizona. Confusing isn't it! Sorry, but I'll remind you that segues were never my strong suit. And besides, bands tour, they don't just sit home in San Clemente on beaches full of litter. Anyway, Ra Sushi appears to be doing brisk business. There's a line out the door and that spells trouble for me. Bril has grabbed themselves a table somewhere toward the back and I'm stuck on the outside. A quick call to Dave Starr (singer, guitarist, keyboards) and suddenly he emerges at the front door to rescue me.

As we struggle to place another chair at the table, a representative of Kirtland Records introduces Bril. Along with Starr, we have bassist Scott Nelson and the brothers, guitarist Kris Winrich and drummer Kelly Winrich. The banter amongst the band is free and easy as I dig my recorder from my bag and prepare for the interview. I'm greeted with smiles as I offer congratulations on the new album.

"The record comes out Valentines Day, February 14," Starr acknowledges.

Let's started from the beginning, "San Clemente?" I ask. OK, I was poking some fun too. Having spent a lot of years in Southern California I knew a little bit about their hometown.

Bril"Nobody knows where it is basically," Kelly agrees. "It's Orange County. There are so many bands that came out of Orange County. I think there's a lot of good stuff happening there right now."

Kelly has a great point. Orange County has lived in the shadow of Hollywood for a couple of forevers, but over the past decade it has emerged as a happening scene. There have always been some really cool bands playing there, yet the challenge was to get noticed. The challenge was also to go to Hollywood and play. Still many of the promoters wouldn't touch the OC bands fearing that they wouldn't pull a draw. These days life is a little easier with the success of bands like The Offspring and No Doubt and cool venues like the Galaxy Theater going off.

I ask about recording the new record, "Airless Alarm," and get an answer I don't expect.

"This is a timeline record," Kelly says. "We first started recording about a year and a half ago. Basically a majority of the songs were recorded a year and a half ago. And then the songs were re-recorded in groups of three."

Starr leans across the table to add, "Actually our single ('Far Away') was recorded most recently."

"We tried to do them in batches of three when we re-tracked," Kelly continues. "There are songs that represent us a year and a half ago, then there are the songs that represent us now."

In early 2004, after landing a record deal with Kirtland Records, Bril traveled to Toronto to begin the recording process with award winning producer Justin Gray (Joss Stone, Sugar Jones). But like the creation of any art form, many challenges and obstacles filled the path to its completion. After returning home, Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam) was brought in to mix only three of the songs, but upon working with the band, he fell in love with the music and wanted to lend his craft to the entire album. Unfortunately, Palmer was committed to other projects at the time, which ultimately contributed to the extended recording process.

Given the timeline of the recording process, it's apparent that some of the songs have had a chance to mature and evolve, while others are relatively fresh. I ask which songs the band feels are most indicative of them today.

After a short discussion a consensus is reached.

"'Sold Yourself To Luxury' is the most dramatic. I think it best represents us. It's my favorite song to play," Kelly replies.

"You have to keep in mind that we're always progressing," Starr explains. "This song may represent us today, but tomorrow something new will. That's how we approaching every song we record. But I would agree, the last song on the record represents us most."

As I speak with Bril, I note that they are in the middle of a very short promotional tour.

"Right now we're doing radio promotion and setting up the record. Many of the shows are for radio. Rather than going down to the station and playing for the DJs we book a show at a local club. Like tonight, we have radio coming to the show to watch us. Sitting and playing an acoustic guitar in front of four people can be a little awkward," Starr confides.

BrilVideo?

"We do have a video for 'Far Away' we filmed with director Pamela Littke. It was shot in LA." Kelly shares.

The video is a performance piece featuring the band playing their single. The footage is entwined with images of people holding up que cards depicting lost relationships with people that were unavailable for many reasons.

"It's about people changing and going different directions, letting circumstance overcome who they really are," Starr says.

First listen of the album, "Airless Alarm," suggests a true dichotomy of song writing. Whereas many of the songs are upbeat with a hint of improvisation, the remaining can better be described as moody.

Starr smiles, "I like moody. I could play moody all night."

Perhaps the album's title track best demonstrates. The song began life more as an acoustic sketch and was recorded by Starr on his laptop. Months later, "Airless Alarm" became a last minute addition to a set. That night on stage the band, in a sense, discovered the song allowing it to come to life in front of the unsuspecting crowd.

As the food was about to be served, it was clear our interview was coming to an end. Later that night I met up with Bril over at the Martini Ranch. They put on a scorching set that caught many an innocent bystander by surprise. It was moody, yet sonically full of energy and while photographing the show, several fans stopped me to inquire about the band. If Bril has it their way, you will be hearing much more from them. Keep your eyes open for a tour in early 2006 and ears glued to the radio.

Check out their Web site: www.brilband.com

Book yourself a vacation to San Clemente.

Oh and if you find any of that blonde litter on the beach, you can send it to my house!

Return to DaBelly