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Bridesmaid interview with Bob Brinkman

I’m a guitar guy usually, so when I read a description of Bridesmaid’s music I wasn’t actually sure how they were going to sound, let alone if I was going to like it all.  In fact, all I knew for sure was that it was instrumental drum and bass.  In the end, I’m actually glad I went in with very little idea of what I was going to hear as it allowed me to be more open-minded when checking out their stuff in the end, and thank all that’s holy I was.  It only took one prolonged dosage to Bridesmaid’s toxic brand of instrumental sludge and I was hooked.  Pummeling walls of low-end distortion clash and explode in fits of muddy chaotic noise, almost threatening to drown out the drums at times in the heady psychedelic brew of gnarled and twisted music.  Bridesmaid truly is an epically heavy band in more ways than one.  Featuring dual drummers and dual bassists, Bridesmaid probably doesn’t sound quite like anything else that you’re listening to.  Instead of trying to sound like anyone else they’re busy building new inlets, exploring the murky haze of mystique and mystery that surrounds the instrumental psychedelic, rock and metal genres.  Songs like “Count Of Monte Fristoe” are seriously infectious dosages of sludge-ridden psychedelic proto-metal, I mean, at least I think they are.  I’m actually still not exactly quite sure what the hell to call what Bridesmaid does other than fucking awesome.  Their debut 12-inch, the brilliantly titled Breakfast At Riffany’s, pivots effortlessly back and forth from the deepest pits of the heaviest and bleakest valleys of the desolate and annihilated metal landscape where much of their sound seems to be drawn from, and these awesome psychedelic explorations into that very outer limits of more varied rocky and garage-esque takes on the stripped-down and brutal sound that Bridesmaid produce.  Hell, it’s almost easy to forget that there isn’t a guitar on some of their tracks, which I will admit surprised the hell out of me on first listen.  The call and return on “Ralpha Centauri” is on par with some of the amazing live antics that earned Cliff Burton a place on my list of personal bass heroes and one of the greatest bassist of the last century; and if you know me, you know I don’t toss around Cliff Burton or John Entwistle comparisons often, as in like, at all.  There’s just something about the way Scott Hyatt and Bob Brinkman approach composition and arrangement that not only elevates them out of the would-be kitschy bass and drum sub-category labeling that’d be so extremely easy to force on them, but cements their place as one the most savagely interesting and original bands happening right now.  I could go on and on about the wicked, gnarled, distorted, and dystopian sounds that Bridesmaid’s music seems to excrete forever, but I’ve whinged on enough at this point.  Instead, I’m just going to urge you to click on the link below and check out “Baron Von Mitchousen” for yourself.  The six-minute long all-out assault on the senses revs up to a blistering volcanic eruption of sound before stalling out in mid-air like a suicidal fighter pilot executing some insanely dangerous aerial maneuver mid-battle plummeting towards the frigid waters below before pulling up at the last minute and obliterating the enemy plane he was avoiding.  And perhaps more than any other song I’ve come across “Baron Von Mitchousen” personifies Bridesmaid’s incomparable abilities in conjuring some seriously sinister sonic lethargy as well as equally devastating blows of devastatingly fuzzed out and maniacal metal.  So treat yourself to some music at the link below, join the coven and soon you’ll be just like your Uncle Jerk brothers and sisters, just another empty vessel with one single goal, to preach the wisdom and word of Bridesmaid - like me.  So I ask you, can you dig it!?!  I said can you dig it!?!
- Listen while you read:

I know you all have been around for a while.  What’s the lineup in Bridesmaid at this point?  Have you all gone through any lineup chances since you started or is this the original lineup?

Bob Brinkman, Bass - Scott Hyatt, Bass - Ricky Thompson, Drums – Adam Boehm, Drums.  The original drummer was Cory Barnt, but he moved recently.  During the transition period we did shows with two drummers, Ricky and Cory.  We liked it so much we added Boehm.  

Are any of you in any other bands or do you have side projects going on?

I’m in Drose and sometimes Axebmober and Battle Axe, but these bands are only sporadically active.  Scott has Ves, Before the Eyewall who are touring, and Siouxplex, and Ricky is in Barely Eagle, Muscle Puzzle, and Drose.

Have any of you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

All my bands have at least recorded demos at some point, but nothing as official as the Bridesmaid stuff.  Drose does have a record coming up but the details are still being finalized, though.

How old are you and where are you originally from? 

I'm thirty-four and from Lima, Ohio.

What was your home like when you were a kid?  Was there a lot of music around or anything?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music?  

My hometown was pretty depressing, not much in the way of job prospects.  My parents made my sisters and I take piano lessons but I never stuck with it.  One of my cousins played piano for the first president Bush.  In high school there were a lot of grindcore shows/DIY punk shows and I saw a lot of bands from all over the world as a result.

What about the local scene where you grew up?  Did you get very involved in the scene there or see a lot of shows or anything like that?  Do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way you perform at this point?

It introduced me to the whole DIY ethos.  I don't think the local scene did much to shape my current tastes, though, other than getting me involved in music and understanding that anyone can do it if they want to.    

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Probably playing with Legos while my older sisters watched MTV.  There was quite an age gap and they were in high school while I was in elementary school.  

If you were to pick a moment, or a small series of moments, that opened your minds to the infinite possibilities of music and changed everything for you, what would it be?

I think one of the biggest things was getting over the notion that music had to be ‘cool’ or in certain genres.  There's no such thing as a guilty pleasure or embarrassing record to own.  If music’s good, listen to it.  

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Piano, I was forced by my parents.

When did you decide to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or was it more of just a natural reflex to being given a new opportunity and outlet to create something of your own and express yourself in a new way?

When I started playing bass in high school, at fourteen.  I knew right away I wanted to start a band, but it took another couple of years before I had one.

How and when did the members of Bridesmaid originally meet?

Cory and I were in our first high school punk band together, Suburban Mayhem.  Scott I knew from playing shows with one of his old bands, Locusta.  Ricky and Boehm we knew from around the local Columbus scene as well.

When and what led to the formation of Bridesmaid?

Cory moved to Columbus, and I knew Scott was in to amp hording and sludgy/droney music.  I had just lost a job and gotten out of an unstable relationship, so I had a lot of free time on my hands.

What does the name Bridesmaid mean or refer in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing the name?  Are there any close seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

We sat around making metal poses and saying words until we couldn't stop giggling, Bridesmaid was the one that sounded the funniest when you said it while doing the “I'm holding an invisible orange” pose and grimacing.

Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by, spoken or unspoken?

Not to take ourselves too seriously.

Where’s Bridesmaid located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene there?

Bridesmaid is in Columbus, Ohio.  It’s a college-town with one of the only radio stations left that isn't owned by Clear Channel.  There's a pretty lively music scene with something for everyone, and most of the people involved in it are approachable and fun to be around.  

Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene where you’re at?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

I book a lot of shows, my attendance has fallen off recently though.  I need to get better about going to shows that I didn't book or aren't playing to stay in-touch with the other bands around town. 

Has the local scene where you’re at played an integral role in the sound, evolution or history of Bridesmaid or do you feel like you would be doing basically what you are and sound pretty much like you do regardless of where you were at or surrounded by?

The support from local bars and media has been huge in letting us tour and keep it going; Carabar in particular pays bands a share of the bar's take that night instead of charging a cover.  This lets me hook up all the bands that help us on the road, as well as drum up some extra cash for tours of our own.  Ace of Cups and a newer venue, Spacebar, have been hugely helpful as well.  There are also some decent punk houses on campus.  

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music besides your own/Bridesmaid’s?  Are you involved in any labels or anything like that?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that here briefly?

Drose has two albums worth of material that I’m somewhat involved in, though Dustin from Drose writes it all.  It’s his baby.  I can't say much about what’s going on with the record that’s on-deck to be released other than I’m excited about it.  I was a fan-boy that weaseled my way in to the band during a lineup change.  

How would you describe Bridesmaid’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

Sludgey riffs that go from heavy to something you can bob your head to, depending on our mood.  

You all seem to draw influence from a ton of different places and the more I listen to your stuff the more I can pick out.  I’m curious who you’d cite as some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

I mostly listen to stuff from the 70s, a lot of prog rock and proto-metal.  I listen to a lot of new stuff too, but my favorite stuff usually ends up being tied to music from the 70s.  As a band about the only thing we ever agree on in the car is The Medea Connection's Bell Ringer or old Motown stuff.

What’s the songwriting process like for Bridesmaid?  Do you all get together and just kind of kick ideas back and forth or jam until you hit on something that you’re all interested in working on and refining, or is there someone who usually comes in to the rest of the band with a riff or an idea for a song to work out with the rest of you?

Scott and I bring in riffs or whole songs, then we refine them as a group.

What about recording?  I mean, I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into recording and releasing an album when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands.  But getting to that point has been the death of man a great band over the years.  Even seemingly small things like getting the recordings mixed and mastered properly can prove to be excruciating to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Bridesmaid?

Cory did most of our mixing, and will probably continue to do so even though he isn't technically in the band anymore.  We generally try to record most of the stuff analog, then do digital overdubs and mixing.  The last record was mastered at The Boiler Room in Chicago and it was a wonderful experience.  You don't understand how good your music can sound until you hear it in a mastering studio.

Do you all like to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most of ht technical aspects of things on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else?  Or do you like to head into a studio and let someone else get behind the board and tackle that headache so that you can concentrate on getting things to sound the way you want them to from the very start?

We find people we’re comfortable working with, then involve them in the process as much as possible.  We don't own enough equipment, or at this point know-how, to do it all on our own and get the results we want.  The mixing is really the only thing done all in-house.  We're hoping to go to a studio in town for the next batch of songs which has twenty-four tracks of tape to work with, which will be amazing since previously we only had sixteen for the record, and eight for the 7-inch.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly how the arrangement and composition is going to be before a song’s recorded, with everything locked in and airtight, or do you all like to get more of a decent skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like while allowing for some evolution and change during the recording process where you feel necessary or prudent?

This is kinda backwards from other bands, but we road test everything.  By the time a song ends up recorded we’ve probably played it in three or four cities, including our own.  Once it's locked in its' pretty much set, except for a little bit of studio trickery.  

I think a lot of people don’t exactly know how to take this question, but I swear I don’t mean this in any insulting or demeaning way.  People have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs and alcohol produce for the purposes of creating art for thousands of years at this point, and despite what I believe to be ass-backwards laws around the globe at this point, I’m always curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consume.  Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Bridesmaid?

Scott is straight edge, I love hallucinogenic drugs.  So drugs don't really come in to play in Bridesmaid, other than I prefer to play music relatively sober since I like to jump around and be high energy while I play; I’ve noticed being out of my skull isn't conducive to that.  My record collection is pretty much built around dropping acid though.  Ricky and Boehm are closer to me in their views on drugs.  

Tell me a little bit about recording your back catalog for a minute here.  In 2011 you all dropped the 7-inch split with Sun Splitter for Bastard Sloth Records.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where would that have been at?  Who recorded it?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all at that point or more of a painful unnerving prospect at that point?  What kind of equipment was used?

We recorded our part of the 7-inch at Columbus Discount Recordings with our friend Andrew.  He asked us to come in as part of his internship.  It was recorded in a day on 8-track tape.  There were breaks to pick up fancy hotdogs from Dirty Frank's.  

You also self-released The Davy Jones Industrial Average CD in 2011 as well; just awesome title by the way!  Was the recording of the material for The Davy Jones Industrial Average very different than the session(s) for the earlier Sun Splitter single?  Who recorded the Davy Jones material?  When and where would that have been at?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?

It's around this time that we started naming all our songs after our friends; we would just make terrible puns on their names.  Davy Jones got a whole EP out of it, he's on the cover.  Some of it was from the same session as the 7-inch and some of it was live recordings of us doing a student radio thing in Cleveland at Case Western University.

A while back in 2013 you all self-released the Breakfast At Riffany’s 12-inch which also happens to sport one of the best names I’ve come across in a long while!  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material that would make it onto your first full-length vinyl release?  Where was that material recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used this time around and when would that have been?

The songs have gotten shorter and more up-tempo.  We used a 16-track tape machine, I forget the model, whole racks of crazy preamps only the studio could probably tell you about, and some Pro Tools.  This was our first time with guest spots too, and we lucked out as far as that went.  Dallas is from a band called The Swan King in Chicago, and is also now in Pelican.  Aaron performs under the name Nyodene D and is well known and respected in noise circles.  Scott and I both use 2x15 bass cabs that are copied from Sunn 215bh cabs that our buddy Joel builds, along with 4x12 guitar cabs.  Our amps at the time were a mix of Acoustic Control Corp and Sunn stuff; all solid state.  I've recently switched over to tube amps, so the next record may sound a bit different.  

Recorded by Brian Simakis and Travis Lautenschlager at Club Sandwich in Columbus. 
Additional recording by our old drummer Cory Barnt. 
Mixed by Cory Barnt. 
Mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room in Chicago.
Dallas Thomas plays guitar on “Francis with Wolves”. 
Aaron Vilk plays synthesizer on “Francis with Wolves”. 

Does Bridesmaid have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a demo, a single or a song on a compilation that I might not know about?

There was the first demos recorded in 2009-ish, you can find them on some torrent sites, but the quality is pretty low and personally, I think the songs are boring compared to what we do now.  It was fun at the time but there were a lot of droning/slow riffs.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Hyatari is one of my favorite bands, they kill at that kind of stuff; we didn't.

With the release of Breakfast At Riffany’s a while back at this point in 2013, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Bridesmaid at this point that you can tell us about?

We should be recording in June or July, it's not scheduled yet.  Then, hopefully a release over the winter and a spring tour to follow that up.

Where’s the best place for our interested readers in the US to pick up copies of your stuff at?

You can order them from or come to our shows.  Some record stores in Chicago and Columbus will have them too, but we don't really have any distribution.

With the completely bat shit international postage rates these days I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score your stuff?

We’ll ship records to anyone overseas, I have no problem doing it, but as you said it's kind of insane.  I feel bad charging like twenty bucks for shipping, but that’s what it costs us.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Bridesmaid like upcoming shows and album releases be at?

Are there any major plans or goals that Bridesmaid is looking to accomplish in 2015?

Get the follow-up record recorded. 

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?

We're heading to Texas and back next week, then a few sporadic out-of-town and in-town shows for the rest of spring.  We’re playing a metal fest camp out in Pennsylvania in the fall, Shadow Woods Metal Fest.  There won't be any tours over a few days until the next record’s done.  Two weeks on the road at a time is kind of our max.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  What’s life like on the road for Bridesmaid?  Do you enjoy spending time on tour?

We have a blast for the most part.  You meet a lot of nice folks along the way.  The shows don't always go as planned, but they’re always fun.  It's hard getting people out to see an unsigned instrumental band on a Tuesday night in a city you've never been in.

Do you remember what the first song that Bridesmaid ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?

It was in November 2009, at a bar Called Hal and Al's in Columbus.  It's not there anymore, no clue what song was first though.  Scott might remember.  That was back when we just picked random lines from The Ten Commandments and used them as song titles.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?

I love The Proselyte and The Swan King both as bands and people.  Sun Splitter, obviously, Hellbender ripped when they were around, and we did a show with Elder in Boston once that was a real treat.  I think they’re going to be blowing up soon, if they aren't already.  The best part about going to Texas is playing more shows with Lechuguillas and Terminator 2.  I really wish I could just write a list of all the bands that help us and play shows with us, because we couldn't do this with out them.  

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, and cover artwork?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of Bridesmaid?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side of Bridesmaid?

We let Ralph Walters run wild with the dumbest shit we can think up.  He's amazing.  The first logos were done by an old band-mate, Artie.  He's also really talented and I love the lettering he does on his flyers, but he's more of a traditional metal-art kind of guy.  Ralph's silliness just fits better with us though, and we’re glad he's willing to work with us as much as he does.  He does a lot of artwork for stoner and doom bands, and some commercial artwork for a brewery.  

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, what is it and can you tell us a little bit about why?

Digital and vinyl for both release and personal use.  I like digital for the portability and ease of use, I like vinyl for the whole experience of opening up the packaging and thumbing through the art, actually having something to hold in your hands.  I got rid of my CDs a long time ago, after I ripped them all to MP3s.  I’m kinda meh* to the whole tape movement.    
[*Editor’s Note:  ‘meh’ is an interjection used as an expression of indifference or boredom.  It may also mean "be it as it may".  It is often regarded as a verbal shrug of the shoulders.  The use of the term "meh" shows that the speaker is apathetic, uninterested, or indifferent to the question or subject at hand.  It is occasionally used as an adjective, meaning something is mediocre or unremarkable.]

I grew up around a pretty massive collection of killer music and I was encouraged to listen to just about anything I wanted to from a pretty young age.  My dad would take me out to the local shops and pick me up stuff on the weekend and I developed a whole ritual for listening to music which has led to what some people call a lifelong love, and others often refer to as an obsession with, physically released music.  There’s just something about having an object to hold in my hands that I know is concretely connected to what I’m hearing which offers a rare and brief glimpse into the mind of the artists that created in and has always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

That goes back to what I was saying about vinyl, it's great to look through all the different packaging and colors.  The weight and feel of it is great too.  

Like it or not right now digital music is here in a big way.  I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg really though, I mean when you toss the internet into the equation, then you have something really interesting on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s facilitated a completely unprecedented level of communication between bands and their fans.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this amazing music most of them aren’t really that interested in paying for it.  I think a lot of people have either begun to see music as a disposable form of entertainment or free soundtrack to their lives, which will be there either way, whether they pay for it or not.  As a musician during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Since I never had the illusion of being able to make a living off my music I’m all for it, it lets what I’m making be heard by people that never would have otherwise.  I can understand why some people who were staking their livelihood on record sales would be upset, but I look at it as free advertising.  The downside though, of course is that there’s a ton of stuff getting put up on the web now.  It's hard to get some one to pay attention to you right away when there’re millions of other people trying to do the same thing.  

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I possibly can but there’s not enough time to sift through all the links that are floating around out there.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

Hiram Maxim is a new band from Cleveland that I was impressed by.  Lo Pan are the undisputed kings of the Columbus road dogs at the moment. 

What about nationally and internationally?

Sardonis is really good in my opinion, and if you don't know about Circulus, Follakzoid or Litmus already I would look in to them, that is some serious drug doin' music.  

(2011)  Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter – Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter split – 7” – Bastard Sloth Records (Gold Wax Vinyl limited to 100 copies, Black Wax Vinyl limited to 400 copies)
(2011)  Bridesmaid – The Davy Jones Industrial Average – CD – Self-Released
(2013)  Bridesmaid – Breakfast At Riffany’s – 12” – Self-Released

 Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
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