Music Interview: Andrew Braun of Rococode

Published on February 25, 2012

By Max Hirtz

Rococode released their debut album, Guns, Sex & Glory, about three weeks ago and just began their Canadian tour, so we thought it would be best to check in on them and, well, see what’s up. Andrew Braun was on his way to Nelson with the rest of the band when he donated his time to speak to the Polyphonic Pixel over the phone. Braun, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, cowrote all of the songs on the album. He studied music at Vancouver’s Capilano University, which is where he met Laura Smith, Rococode’s other main songwriter and vocalist.

For a relatively new group, the Vancouver/Victoria band has been getting a lot of buzz. They made it into the top 20 of the last Peak Performance Project, supported Mother Mother on their last Canadian tour, and had their songs “Ghost I” and “Ghost II” featured in the North American version of the T.V. show Being Human.

Hear the title track off Guns, Sex & Glory

Rococode’s current tour will end with a show in Vancouver at the Electric Owl on April 4 and a show in Victoria at Lucky Bar on April 6. You can stream or purchase their music on their Bandcamp.

The Polyphonic Pixel: Is this your second Canada-wide tour, not counting supporting Mother Mother?

Andrew Braun: Well, we sort of made our way across most of the country last year. We did a little Western Canada thing, and then we did the east with Mother Mother. And that was kind of the extent of it last year. It worked out to be some nice coverage in the end.

PP: What was that like, supporting Mother Mother? How many gigs did you do with them?

AB: We did a bunch, actually. In the East, we did about six, I think. And then, at other times last year, we did one in Vancouver and two in Victoria. And it was always fantastic. They’re really great people, and good friends, and their crowd is very welcoming for us. It’s definitely a good musical match, for sure. And it’s incredibly luxurious to show up in towns where you’ve never been and play for five or six hundred enthusiastic people.

PP: You guys were in the Peak Performance Project. That must have been pretty soon after you guys were formed, right? What was that like?

AB: It was really a lot of work. It was really a big challenge. They definitely put us through our paces, in terms of a workload. It felt kind of like a full-time job for those couple of months. There was just so much to do, in terms of getting your music ready, doing all these challenges and all the paperwork that ensued. It was a ton of work, but I think it was really great for us as a new band to grow a lot in a hurry, and sort of figure out what we needed to do and who’s best suited to do it, in terms of inter-band dynamic and those kinds of things. There’s all these things that you should be doing, and it’s great to have the push. It was really great to have that push behind us, and for us to get all that under our belts before putting out our record.

PP: Who would you say are the biggest influences on your sound?

AB: I’m kind of one of those Radiohead geeks. So that’s definitely been a part of my musical tastes since, you know, forever. So that is going to inevitably seep in. We’ve all really gotten into the last couple of albums by St. Vincent. Those ones are really influential. We even ended up getting the guy who produced that to mix most of our record, so that was pretty interesting. We all listen to a lot of Patrick Watson and Arcade Fire.

PP: Would you say this is the biggest project you’ve been involved in, in terms of how much time it’s taken up and how much success you’ve had?

AB: I think so, yeah. Much our musical experience has been backing up other people. And so, we’ve sort of been around some pretty successful endeavors and bigger tours and those kinds of things. But when you’re in that kind of situation, you’re just not as involved in the details and things like that. This is our first time steering the ship. It’s definitely a bigger project, in terms of workload, than any of us have ever really been close to.

PP: How much do you think your traditional music theory training has come into play with your songwriting and your performing?

AB: It’s the kind of thing where you spend a lot learning it, and then you try to forget it all. And you try to keep it in reserve somewhere, sort of. I think when you’re trying to be creative, you don’t want to think about the rules, and what should happen or what shouldn’t happen. I definitely spent a lot of time working hard on absorbing music theory stuff, and now I try to ignore it. You can use it to get you out of a jam or something, you know? To me, it seems just like a part of your creative tool belt, so to speak.

PP: How does the songwriting process work in Rococode? Is it kind of split between you and Laura?

AB: The songs on the record are split between me and Laura, and there are a few that are cowrites with Ryan, but I think since then we’ve tried to branch it out into more of a band endeavor and involve all the four of us. Basically, Laura and I will start out with an idea sometimes, just a little snippet or sometimes more of a full song, and then we take it to the band and work on it in a rehearsal or something, and record an iPhone version. And then, from there, it kind of goes back to the individual, me or Laura, and we tidy it up and sort out all the details, and then back to the band again for another kind of involvement of everyone. So, it goes back and forth between working on individual details and then taking it to the band and making sure everyone has their own voice in the music and their own contribution to the arrangements.

PP: Why did you decide to name the album Guns, Sex & Glory?

AB: I think I kind of meant it as more of a joke, and a lot of the times it’s been taken a little too seriously in reviews and things like that. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek. And then, it kind of encompasses a lot of the subject matter of the record, because I think most of the songs are about big, grand ideas, and I think those three things are pretty prevalent in the world these days, in terms of things that shape what we see and what happens around us. So, it kind of works on a serious level, and it kind of works on an ironic level, I hope.

PP: How’s the response been to the album so far?

AB: It seems pretty good. It’s kind of hard to tell from your own isolated little bubble. We’re kind of excited to be able to be playing live when it’s out there and people have heard the songs, because we’ve been playing most of the songs for the last year or so. I think we’re interested to see if it’s different now that people have heard them and that the record is out. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

PP: What’s your next step after this current tour?

AB: I think we’re going to keep playing in Canada, and I think we’ll do some festivals in the summer. Probably another big tour in the fall, and probably in the holes we’ll start taking steps towards album number two.

Max Hirtz is the founder and editor-in-chief at the Polyphonic Pixel. He specializes in photography and video. This site is his child.