New 2 the Brain Interview
From Adam Harrington/Whisperin & Hollerin [U.K.]
I'd like to open this discussion with the song, "Politics Un Usual." What was the inspiration behind this track? Given the current presidential campaign fiasco with Obama and Clinton, it is incredibly timely.
Lawrence – “Politics Un Usual” was born from my frustration and feelings of inadequacy activated by our political process. It is a bit like being allergic to pollens. When the season comes around I start to itch. So instead of bitching , and succumbing to the feelings of inevitability, I asked myself what can I do, in my own way, to contribute to uplifting the process?
Wa- Through the vehicle of the song we wanted to create a perspective that would contrast the ever-present themes of fear, blaming, win at all costs partisan agenda, with the themes of personal responsibility and . . . “Let’s work this out”. Enough with the red state blue state mind state that dominates the political process. More cotton candy, or a marketplace of authentic ideas?
Lawrence – We don’t pretend to have the answers, but as artists we are compelled to express what we see is going on, adding our voices to the call for change, i.e. politics unusual.
There are two of you in this group. Who is responsible for what? How does the set-up work?
Wa- We share a ground of being, and perspective in our songwriting and as recording artists. Lawrence is largely responsible for the lyrical domain, and I am mostly responsible for the musical domain. However, ours is a collaboration, so while one of us will lead in one aspect of the creative process, the other will become the counterpoint. My job is to make his work better and his is to make mine better. One of us wears the hat of writer at any given time, and the other becomes the editor, critiquing the work. Then we switch hats, like playing catch.
Lawrence –For us writing and recording a song is akin to creating an abstract painting. We start with an theme or a musical idea as a canvas and start throwing sonic and lyrical paint at it. Then we stand back and say, wow, it looks like a cat climbing up a waterfall towards the sun. Then we throw more paint at it or rub some off. But let’s be clear about one thing, Wa has the musical chops, but I sure can play a mean cymbal crash…
There is an environmental theme that figures in some of the lyrics here, such as on "We're All In This Together." Are you both environmentally conscious? What triggered your feelings on the subject to begin with?
Lawrence – Our music is a way for us to grapple with issues that are important in our lives. The process of putting meaty concepts to music, challenges us to deal with aspects of life on this planet that we must each come to grips with. Our expression is to sing about them.
Wa - “New2theBrain” is one of a number of projects that we each have going on in our lives. We are not interested in being rock stars. I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are citizens of the planet, and we have a responsibility to care for it as best we can. Our music is a reflection of this caring. We want the music to make people think, to carry a resonance that is uplifting and hopefully inspire people to engage. The songs One Earth One Sky, To the Middle Of What Matters and Precious Water also speak to these issues.
The project was once called Beating Hearts. What prompted the change to New 2 the Brain?
Wa – We were talking with a mutual friend Michael Sutton, about our music, and he was commenting that this is music that requires one to actually listen to it, as opposed to background, or beat music. He said “yeah its kind of new to the brain”. Lawrence picked up on that statement, and penned out a lyric called New to the brain. He sent it to me and the music just erupted, like it had a life of its own. We realized that “New2theBrain” summed up who we are and what we are doing as recording artists and songwriters. So the name stuck.
Lawrence – “New2theBrain” is that ah ha moment, when in an instant you see life in a way that changes the way you see life.
What qualities on the CD do you feel are New 2 the Brain?
Wa – We like the challenge of creating a musical landscape that invites the listener to explore matters of consequence in, and we have around 4 minutes to do it. Some of the tracks like New to the Brain, Fresh Philosophy, Born Naked, and Politics UnUsual, are all adventurous. When recording we tend to throw caution to the wind and try sonic and lyrical ideas that are less predictable. In the middle of working a song in the studio there are moments we look at each with a “what was that” look on our faces.
Lawrence – That usually means we are on the right track – it’s “New2theBrain”.
The music on the album is layered and seems to be quite complex, somewhere between the Beatles and progressive rock. Would you find New 2 the Brain to be more of an intellectual as opposed to emotional exercise - or is it a combination of both?
Lawrence – Some of the songs are more straight-forward in their emotional landscapes. Songs like If Only He Could Cry and the song Now Your Gone, which is about a friend dying. Many of our other tracks take risks by exploring emotions that are beyond the familiar themes of hurt, anger, being happy and romantic love. Wa and I work to tap into other emotional dimensions that are experienced when we are touched at deep levels of being or spirit, like in the song, Love Will Find a Way.
We like dealing with multi-flavored subject matter, whose tastes grow the more you chew on it. We’re thought provokers. I’m a lyrical stir-fry, Wa’s a musical stew. We’re chefs who like to mix it up.
Wa –On the album cover it says - Warning: For mature audiences of all ages.
So, fasten your taste buds…