This interview also marks my first live interview which I transcribed. (Note: this is edited somewhat because the 3 of us say "like" in between other words kind of a lot.)
I feel like I don't need to tell you that I love brick mower and Kristin and Eric to pieces but well, I just said it. Now you know. Here it is! Enjoy!
Miranda: Hey. Here we are with Brick Mower.
M: Well, I should say Kristin and Eric and not all of brick mower. That was obnoxious.
K: That’s obnoxious, Miranda.
M: THIS IS OVER! Just kidding. So, how did you guys meet?
E: Oh, boy. How did we meet?
K: We met at Montclair State, and we both went to a floor meeting for, like, “the holiday season is coming so you have to unplug your fridge”.
E: Clean out your rooms.
K: That’s how we met.
E: I never went to the floor meetings before that. First time!
K: Yeah, me too.
M: Destiny, man, at work.
E: I needed a pen to sign the sheet and say I was there.
K: And I was like, “This guy is really annoying”, but the next day I realized he was apparently very drunk, and was like, “Sorry I was so drunk” and then I was like, “Ok, he’s cool.” He didn’t seem drunk, he was just knocking on my door every five minutes.
E: Trying to give you CDs.
K: He was like, “Hey, uh, I burned this Jawbreaker mix for you.” It was very nice. That’s how we met.
E: Yup, that’s the big story.
M: That was your first impressions? You noticed each other for sure.
K: Yeah, definitely.
M: Ok. When did you guys decide to start doing music together?
E: I was doing home recordings, stuff on a four-track, and I asked Kristin if she wanted to play bass. She mentioned she could play a little piano, which I still can’t play two keys at the same time on the piano… so I said “Ok maybe we could do something on a song that I’m recording, you can play piano or you wanna play bass?”
K: And Eric was in a couple bands at that point…
M: And what were those bands?
K: Paris Gun
E: Paris Gun was a band and then our band was Network of Halos, but that was our recording thing we eventually started playing live.
M: How long had you been seeing each other before that happened?
K: 6 Months?
E: Hmmm, it was in October…we played our first show 9 or 10 months after we met and Kristin recorded some stuff about 6 months after we met. So within half a year we were playing some music together.
M: That’s awesome. Kristin, what other bands were you in? Or were you in any bands before this?
K: No! NONE of my friends played anything unless it was just absolute like, metal. People in bands that I knew were in the kinds of bands that would just terrify me. I couldn’t even think about it. I was just a weird emo kid.
E: Bands would play a weird show at club Krome, and be like “Yeah, we were 1 of 7 bands to open up for Converge.”
K: It was all like hardcore, metal kids. And that’s fine…
M: Not your jam…
K: Yeah, not my jam.
M: And I mean had you always wanted to play? Or were you just like yeah I’ll play bass whatever…
K: I guess I always wanted to play. I was gonna be a musical theater kid. That’s what I was into. I liked punk, I loved the same kind of bands that I like now, but I was just like, I’m going to go listen to some Broadway songs (laughing)
M: (laughing) Yeah I’m gonna be in “Cats” anyway so who cares?
K: (laughing) Yeah, exactly
E: And speaking of musical theater, I thought it was cool that she could hit some notes or had some sort of idea of how to sing, where I still don’t have any idea how to sing.
K: But then I spent all my effort into trying not to sing like that…like it is almost like a detriment. You don’t want to sing like a Disney Princess when you’re singing in a band. You wanna sound like, “cool.” It sounds a little out of place.
M: So how did actual brick mower start, was that after Network of Halos?
K: We did Network of Halos. We played shows. We were like, here’s this thing we recorded, let’s play this café…we were under 21 or had just turned 21.
E: My brother was playing drums and he had just turned 14. Then our friend Mike, who turned to a life of graffiti and eventual arrests… great guy… no last names. Cool guy. He lives in another state now. But yeah he played guitar. My brother who was 14 played drums. He had a notebook of beats that I would write it out. It was really great.
K: Yeah we would play shows and he would have his composition notebook that he would look at while he was playing.
E: And it was really just 1,2,3,4… 1,2,3,4
E: Yeah we played under 20 shows like 17 or 18 shows…we wanted to crack 20 shows.
K: We played Maxwell’s which seemed terrifying at the time… and that was pretty cool but it wasn’t
such a big deal…It was that someone had rented it out. But that was cool. That was our biggest show.
E: We just made cd’s and put out a tape and a bunch of releases in like 2 years that maybe 30 people have. And then we decided to break up. A band with my brother and our friend Mike was tough at the time. So we were like, let’s just break up. What was that 2007?
K: That was 2007 and then I graduated college. And then that was when I was like, OK let’s do a real band.
E: We had talked about doing a real band for a while and we were just putting it off. I started playing drums in other bands. We were kicking the idea around. And we lived in Bellville up in north Jersey for a year. Then we moved back to Keansburg and Kristin was like, “We should really start a band, like we aren’t doing anything.” I was playing drums and that’s fine, but I was getting bored with that too. I wanted to do something else. One night Kristin was like, “Let’s just do what we said we were gonna do for the last year and a half and just like… play.” I was like, “OK! Let’s do it.”
M: And what year was this?
E: This is 2009. We started talking about it in and got into gear in June 2009. We started putting songs together. I called my friend Eric Gieg who has a recording studio in his basement, he went to school for audio engineering, and I was in a band with him at the time. And I said, “Can you just do some demos? I’ll play drums, Kristin’s gonna play the bass, and I’ll record the guitar over it.” And then we recorded our first EP, the Floors EP, just the 2 of us, in August 2009. We did our first show 2009. So from June to October, we just slapped it together.
M: Who are some inspirations for you guys at that time? Who were you into?
E: Well, it’s pretty evident we both like Superchunk. And we get that comparison all the time.
K: I mean that’s kind of the reason I did this band…that’s a huge huge influence and it’s not really a secret!
E: In like 2008 Kristin got super into Superchunk
K: Maybe too much…
K: There are a ton of influences that we didn’t and don’t sound anything like. I LOVE the band Mclusky too. And I’m never gonna be in a band as good as Mclusky ever…nobody is! But I can’t listen to those records and not wanna do something.
E: Yeah we don’t sound anything like that band but you listen to those records and it’s an inspiring thing.
K: Yeah there are things that I take from it like I like dirty bass…
E: And I was also getting into home recording and stuff, which Guided by Voices and Sebadoh were a big inspiration. But I don’t know if that’s a detriment to how I like to work. Sometimes it seems like, “Ok we finished it. It’s done! Move onto the next thing.” Only, without smoothing things out. We’ve a gotten a little bit better at that. But even on the first EP, we went and did those songs quickly and put them out. We just throw it out there and see what sticks.
M: Yeah I feel you should never overdo it. So what made you wanna be in a band and not just watch? What made you want to participate instead of being a fan. I always say that and feel bad because it sounds like I’m putting down being a fan and I’m not...but what is the difference for you guys?
E: No, I know what you mean.
K: Yeah…I don’t know! I think about that a lot. I can watch and enjoy something but I’m not the kind of person who can just say “Well that was nice,” and walk away from that. If I really was moved by something, I have to be a part of that in SOME way. And I don’t know why…I don’t know what it is that makes me not satisfied?
E: Yeah I agree with that too. If you’re taking in and appreciating some kind of art it should be for a reason. I guess eventually I personally wanna start participating and put something out. Even if I go through some sort of lull or I’m not really motivated. Eventually, if I read enough, listen to enough stuff, watch enough movies I’m like, “Ok now I’m kind of bored,” and the wheels start spinning again. It’s like I gotta get out there and DO it.
E: But for a long time I put off writing songs. I would be like “Oh I’m 18. I should be on tour by now! Well, I have no idea how to do that. Now I’m 20 and I’m too old to tour because I’m not 18 anymore. Now I’m 22 and that’s too old to write a SONG!” So finally when I was 24 I started writing songs. I thought “Ok… I’m not too old. I’ll never be too old.” What the hell was I thinking!? I was just putting things off.
K: It was just an excuse.
E: It was an excuse to say I couldn’t. There are always excuses.
M: Yeah. Well eventually it happened, that’s what matters.
E: Did that answer the question?
M: Yeah that was one of the better answers! It’s hard to explain, I know.
K: I can look at a painting and be like “That’s beautiful,” but it doesn’t make me wanna paint. But when I was 12 and I listened to a record I thought was awesome, and I said “God… one day I’m gonna do that.”
M: All of it is fairly inexplicable. It’s hard to be like “HERE’S how it happened.”
K: I think that proves it is what you’re supposed to be doing.
M: Yeah. I think all of my favorites are people who CANNOT explain why. They’re like “I dunno, I gotta.”
K: There was an interview with Fugazi, and I don’t remember it exactly, but they asked “What makes you wanna do it?” And the answer was “I dunno. I try not to think about it.” He was saying like, why break it down?
M: Yeah there’s no NEED to break it down, but I’m curious!
K: It’s kind of fascinating!
E: From an outsider’s point of view, it probably seems crazy.
K: Well sometimes, you’ll think “What are we doing? We’re playing for people…when you think about it, it’s SO WEIRD.”
M: It is SO weird!
K: I guess that’s true of anything.
E: It doesn’t make any sense! I guess I’m not putting any SUPER great importance on it but it’s like, it’s GREAT. I dunno.
M: Well once you do it and you’re like “Well, that ruled!” It’s pretty hard to be like, “I’m never doing that again!” You kinda want to repeat.
E: I hear so many people say “Well, when I hit a certain age I’m not gonna do it anymore,” but I couldn’t think of not doing SOMETHING in music anymore.
M: Yeah then maybe we’re not doing it for the same reasons.
K: Exactly. There have definitely been people who have been in bands and then been like “That was great…it’s over now!” What!? How can you say that?
M: How and why!
K: Yeah I dunno. It’s different.
M: So talk about the importance of touring and its effects on a band. I mean we all know that it is really useful to like, LEAVE NJ…
E: For a second I thought you were gonna say “useless…”
M: Oh yeah we all know it’s useless and a waste of time and money!
K: Completely unimportant and a silly thing to do.
M: But I mean you guys toured a lot last year and I’m curious about how you feel it affected your band.
E: We definitely got people to actually listen to the music. Nowadays with the internet, someone will just put something out and then suddenly have this big following. That is a different route to getting “popular.”
K: Touring is almost like an investment. You don’t see it right away but…
E: …it starts to pick up.
K: Yeah. Like the other day Eric got a text from someone we met in Chicago just to say they saw our sticker up somewhere! Stupid stuff like that.
E: That’s small and on a personal level.
K: It is very small. But yeah, in terms of the importance that touring has on a band, it’s the time that you put in. At first you may not even feel any type of reward. But after some time, you start to see it and it starts to build.
E: Yeah and it’s what we as a band are comfortable doing. Like I’m sure there are other avenues to take- like maybe there’s a way around touring in order to get your music out there. But this is what we are geared towards.
K: And you meet a lot people that are awesome.
E: The country seems so much smaller. Out here, people complain about driving an hour somewhere. I guess it’s relative if you’re living in a smaller state.
K: And I also think it’s important to do something that, at first, seems crazy and impossible. Then you realize that you can totally do it. Once you get over it, you see how completely accessible it all is.
M: And what about in terms of your playing? I always feel at the end of a tour I feel insanely comfortable playing a set.
K: Oh yeah totally. That’s another residual thing. Definitely after being on tour for 30 days, on day 30, you’re gonna be tight. And then even if you’re taking a break, once get back you still have that experience and comfort of playing with one another.
E: It has definitely helped tighten us up. I mean, we might still have some wonky shows here and there. Sometimes, I think about how I’d rather be taking a nap.
K: Also, not every show feels like the end of the world.
E: Yeah there’s always tomorrow.
M: That effect never occurred to me but I absolutely agree. You feel like, “OK. I messed up…that’s fine. I’m not gonna go hang myself.”
E: Right, not a big deal. There’ll be another show tomorrow…if it doesn’t get cancelled.
K: Whereas if you only play once in a while, every note you miss you will remember for months.
E: Sometimes I’ll see a band that only plays once in a while and I wonder if they put all their eggs in a basket for that single show. Are all the members of this band super pumped tonight because they haven’t played in 6 months and they might not play again in another 6 months?
M: Yeah totally.
M: Ok, talk about your parents.
E: My parents are funny people. My Dad is a state trooper and my Mom is a teacher. Both blue collar-ish. They got me a drum set when I was in 5th grade for Christmas. I told them it was the only thing I wanted. So we all opened our gifts and then the last gift I opened was a very beginner style drum-set that I didn’t know how to set up. That was cool. They’ve been supportive up to a point with my music, but after a certain point they don’t get what’s going on and I can’t fault them completely for that. They’re still together. I drop in sometimes. They ask me what I’m doing. Ask me when I’m gonna get a real job. Even though I work some real jobs… I’m not sure what they mean. I don’t know what kind of job they want me to work. I expressed interest in being a teacher years ago for the sole purposes of getting summers off and that’s come up a couple times. They ask, “Why don’t you want to pursue that?” I personally think you really need to be dedicated to be a teacher. So if my main goal is to get summers off -then maybe I shouldn’t be a teacher. But then they still don’t get that. I think they have our first record.
K: They’re like, “Why can’t I hear your vocals on this??”
E: Yeah. But they are great and very good parents.
M: And you Kristin…
K: Well, speaking of blue collar, my Mom is a nurse and my Dad was a police officer. My father died when I was in Middle school. We were super close. He was my Dad and my bud or whatever. He was actually super into music and he was a really good guitar player. And he wanted me to learn guitar. He also wanted me to be, like, a pro golfer. He just thought I could and should do whatever! He was like “Hey you wanna be a professional jump-roper??!!” He was super awesome. And in terms of music he was into weird country music. He used to say “I stopped listening to music after 1965!” Oh and both my parents are much older. They had me when they were in their mid-to late 40’s. It was awesome because it was like I was only child, but with 5 older siblings. My Mom’s really kooky and very supportive with absolutely everything. She thinks it’s really great that we have a band. I hear her talking to her sisters and she’s like “Oh yeah! Kristin’s band is great! They go all OVAH! It’s great!”
E: Where my parents are like, “Why do you leave? Why are you going places?”
K: Or like “Yeah you’ll go on tour and then you’ll settle down.” It’s like, what are you guys taking about? This is it!
M: Yeah like, this is settled as far as I’m concerned.
K: But yeah. I have/had great parents. I’m very, very, very, lucky.
M: That’s nice. That’s awesome. Yay. Ok so talk about your siblings.
E: I have one brother. We’re pretty close. Brian is 7 years younger than me. He’s the one who played drums in Network of Halos.
K: He’s the coolest.
E: He’s a cool kid. He’s really good at baseball. He’s the athletic one in the family, whereas I am NOT. He has a really warped sense of humor which he credits me with helping him shape but I think he might be even slightly more warped than I am. Like his boundaries are a little blurry.
K: His snapchats are ON POINT.
E: Sometimes his jokes, I don’t get them. They’re not “to get” sometimes. Yeah he’s a cool kid. So he’s playing all sides of the fence- as far as being an athletic kid, but then just totally out there. He’s a cool guy.
M: And Kristin-all of your 40 siblings? Go ahead.
E: Yeah it’s like Kristin’s army.
K: Yeah, like I said, I was the “later in life” baby. I have 4 brothers: Drew, Dave, Doug, and Russ. And I have one sister, Denise. My 2nd oldest brother is insane and hilarious and one of the funniest people. I’ll meet people and say my last name and they’ll be like “Oh do you know Dave??” Everyone knows him and he is hilarious. He’s out of his mind. The 2 older ones think they have to be the guardians of the family. And then I have Doug who is wonderfully insane and I love him. He’s like the most offensive yet most lovable person you’ll ever meet in your life. He’s a crazy fuckin’ rebel.
M: Alright. I got one more question, guys.
K: Uh huh…
M: I feel like you know what’s coming…
K: I don’t think that I do…
M: (drum roll on the table) Do you have any… GHOST STORIES!? Now Kristin, I know you have hours of scary conversation for us so just hit us with the worst, most intense one.
K: OK. I always say, if it didn’t happen to me I would absolutely not believe it. I’m very artsy farts-y, but then I’m also very logical. So I totally get that people don’t believe me when I tell this story. BUT, my scariest, creepiest story is this: The house I grew up in used to be an old boarding house back when people would actually vacation in Keansburg. The house is in books about the history of Keansburg. I was about 8 years old. I had already heard stuff, been terrified by stuff, and I just knew the house was different and that I wasn’t just making myself scared. One night, I was sleeping and all of a sudden –out of NOWHERE in the middle of the night- I was 100% awake, like someone had shaken me. And I was like, “Why am I absolutely shitting my pants scared right now?” I had a daybed against the wall and I looked over by the daybed and there was a pitch black figure with fucking red eyes. It’s ridiculous even saying it. It was like a movie moment where the person cleans their glasses. I was like “No that CANNOT be what I’m seeing.” I was just lying there, staring at it, and so scared. Eventually, I was just like “I have to get out of here.” So I held my breath and ran through the bathroom that adjoined my room with my parents’ room. I went to my Mom’s side of the bed and shook her awake and was like “Move over and let me go under the covers.” I got the courage to peek out to see if it was there. I saw the figure standing in the bathroom doorway as if it had followed me. And then, like it was out of a movie, it dissipated. I never talked about it with my parents. I thought, “If I say it, it is gonna happen again. It’s gonna come back.” Talking about it made it real, and I couldn’t relive it.
K: A LOT of other stuff happened in that house. One day after we had moved out, I was talking with my Mom and she was like “Remember that one time there was that thing that looked like Darth Vader in the doorway??” I was just like “WHAT??” And she was like “Remember you woke me up and I looked and that thing was there and then it just disappeared!” It was exactly how it happened. I already knew it happened but then there was confirmation.
M: UGH. It’s so scary. I have heard you talk about this before and every time it freaks me the fuck out.
Ok Eric! Yours!
E: OK. I was recording in my parents’ house by myself on a 4 track in the basement. I had come up with 5 song ideas and I was hitting record and drumming for each track. Before each one I’d be like, “This is track 1, this is track 2,” for reference. At one point I lost count and I said “This is either track 4 or track 5” and the ANOTHER voice said “It’s 5.” And it was 5.
K: Yeah and it WAS track 5!
M: WHOAAAAA! Somebody was hanging out!
E: It’s low but it was very clear. It wasn’t me. It didn’t sound like me. I played it for someone else and they were like, “That doesn’t sound like you.”
K: Eric’s roommate at the time hated scary stuff sooo much. And Eric played it for him and he threw his headphones off and ran outta the room. He was like “FUCK THIS SHIT!!!”
M: That’s my kind of guy!
E: That was the only thing that happened.
M: Hey. I love you guys. You’re the best. That was awesome. You’re the best.
THANKS YOU GUYS. Check out brick mower here. <3