By Charlie Malcolm-McKay
Photography: Frank Roper Photography
After taking a short break Yorkshire based psych-grunge trio Brooders returned with all guns blazing for their second annually curated RIFFFEST one day festival. It was an afternoon of ‘riffy, screamy, heavy, scuzzy, fuzzy chaos’ that exhibited a wealth of talent from the UK’s growing heavy-metal underground scene, with the likes of Crows, Strange Bones, Calva Louise, Dead Naked Hippies, Dense, 99% Cobra and of course hosts Brooders themselves all taking to the stage of the celebrated Belgrave Music Hall.
Following the explosiveness of Calva Louise’s set Brooder’s quickly emerged for their preliminary soundcheck. It was the calm before the storm. A rare moment of quietness and order amid the evening’s scenes of rage, uproar and chaos. There was a distinct air of eager anticipation as the band even in their setup seemed to be working in sync, with their name suitably echoing the German translation for brothers (brüder). Witnessing the composure, concentration and harmony between the group was the perfect start to a flawless performance.
No sooner had Brooders disappeared from the spotlight than they were storming towards it full of an electrifying energy and aggression. Their fiery vigour was contagious with the audience swarming the stage in a riot-esque fashion. Taking their positions lead singer, Adam Bairstow, strummed a short, spacey riff that reverberated from wall to wall provoking the ever-raucous crowd to stir and cheer. It was only then a matter of seconds before the band erupted into their first song ‘Lie’, a grunge-punk fusion of heavy bass and eerie vocals.
In maintaining the upbeat rhythm that ‘Lie’ had set the trio eloquently transitioned into the recently released ‘Caged’, that sprinkled their heart-pounding tempo with a psychedelic tinge. The track’s first live performance was as ferocious as it was anarchic and its faultless execution highlighted the band’s growing maturity. Before heading into one of their most popular song ‘Haze’ taken from their debut EP ‘Brooders’, the audience was teased with a sneak preview of ‘Drone’, another riff-heavy track set to be released at some stage of this month.
What was perhaps most impressive about the rest of Brooders set, that included the gut-punching, hard-hitting performances of ‘Mindfield’ and ‘More’, was their ability to appeal to both young and old. There aren’t many genres or bands for that matter that can bring two generations together in the form of the mosh pit mayhem that ensued throughout the duration of their show. With the audience breathless and visibly drained the band concluded with the immersive more sonically experimental ‘Melancholy’. As one of my personal highlights of the night the distinctively slower track showcased Brooders natural versatility and potential for greatness. The hazy instrumental interlude combined with Adam’s merciless, impassioned vocals to create a truly unforgettable moment that capped off an all-round breath-taking performance.
After the show I was delighted to catch-up with Adam (guitar/vocals), Liam (drums) and Adam (bass) where we spoke more on RIFFEST and what to expect from the rest of their winter tour:
First of all could you tell me a little bit about RIFFEST and how it came about?
Adam: Well it all began as an idea we had last year, where we wanted to showcase some of the UK’s most talented underground artists.
Liam: We wanted to celebrate what’s going on in the heavy music scene at the moment.
Adam: Yeah exactly we wanted to bring together some heavy metal bands and make sure they were represented all in one venue, at one time, in one space. And that’s what we did! We just sort of plotted it and planned it all on our own and then it all started at Lending Room with the first RIFFEST last year. So we were really happy to go again this year and to be working with SUPER Friendz.
How does this performance tonight compare to last year’s show and your other live performances?
Liam: It’s been great, I loved it, I really loved it. I feel like we probably had the best energy tonight we’ve had for a long time if not ever. Our last time playing together publicly was about 2/3 months ago so it was great to be at it again. We’ve been practising hard and shaped up, we’ve got some new songs in the works, we’re on form and we’re loving it.
The last song on your setlist, ‘Melancholy’ was one of my personal highlights, what inspired this song? And if you could describe it in three words what would they be?
Liam: Three words from him! Ahaha…
Adam: There’s no such thing as three words from me, but if I had to they’d be, sad, trippy and fucked. That’ll do.
Liam: We like to leave it relatively open to the audience’s interpretation
Adam: Yeah, I don’t delve too much into meaning.
You get quite a mix of old and young people enjoying your music, what do you think the multigenerational appeal of it is?
Adam: We always get told we have a bit of an 80s grunge pumpkin sort of sound and I think people who come to our gigs always feed off of that. We have a nice blend of modern music and then some throwback to the classics as well, which I think is where the appeal comes from.
You’ve got a few more shows coming up as part of your winter tour, what can we expect from them?
Liam: Hopefully more of the same, just keep the momentum going. This has been a perfect start to say the least.
Adam: You can definitely expect a few more bags under our eyes.
You’ve released six singles in the last year, can we expect another EP or album in the works?
Adam: We refuse to answer that, ahaha, no seriously we are not saying anything.
Liam: We have some ideas, expect music to come but for now we’re keeping it cryptic.
Is there anything else you wanted to say or plug?
Adam: If anyone can recommend a good Chinese takeaway in Leeds please do, because I’ve not been able to find one in the five years I’ve been here.
Brooders newest single ‘Drone’ is set to be released on all streaming platforms by the end of this month and you can catch the band at their next live show at 229 The Venue, London on the 7th of February 2020.
Photo credits: Frank Roper Photography (https://www.facebook.com/frankroperphotography/)