Solstice, the debut EP from Alpha Brodega, sounds like the last two decades of rock in a nutshell. Opener “The Dreamer Opens His Eyes” emulates the glossy stadium-rock that brought Muse to fame, the dichotomy of melody and distortion on “Makes Us Alive” brings to mind a late 90s Smashing Pumpkins, and the manic fury of “You Must Bleed” sounds like a marriage between System of a Down with a touch of Blink-182 (and maybe some My Chemical Romance for good measure). In a music scene and musical state where minimalism has gone from a unique trait of music to the norm, the sheer brashness of Alpha Brodega—whether it be their sounds, personality, or even their name—is a welcome throwback to the mosh pits of yore.
We meet Alpha Brodega’s frontman—who opts to just go by Brodega, his nickname—on the steps of Robson Square, while this reporter was finishing a burrito. Over the course of this interview, we discuss the band’s show at Joe’s Apartment this Friday, May 1st, the formation of the band, and the dichotomy of life, all the while fighting off a rogue goose that was trying to eat the aforementioned burrito.
So, what is Alpha Brodega?
The idea is complex music you can sing along to—if Rush, Blink 182, and System of a Down were crossing the street and Beethoven hit them with a 1969 roadrunner. I really like the idea of Beethoven in a Roadrunner, actually—sitting next to Steve McQueen or something.
On the cover of Solstice, we see the motif of someone’s head exploding—is this a motif for the band as a whole ?
That’s my illustration, actually. Usually what happens whenever I get in front of a piece of paper, my drawing centers around that—decay, galaxies, humans. It’s kinda evolving into the mascot, I suppose… the inspiration was the Carl Sagan stardust thing. We’re decaying, but at the same time we’re made of materials that were cooked in a star; it’s a real juxtaposition on the horrible beauty of life. Even the shit we have to deal with everyday—see that cigarette over there? Even it is made of stardust. It really captures the dichotomy of life.
Is that dichotomy something you like to bring into your music?
I like to bring some of the weirder aspects of music and combine it with things that have more mainstream tendencies. You can’t sit and listen to noisecore all day—you want to listen to something you can share and experience with others.
You’ve mentioned a few bands like System of a Down that have a similar outlook. What are some artists, for you, that capture that imagination?
Classical stuff really gets to me—Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, especially. My musical tastes are really broad. I listen to everything except for mainstream country. Every song is “I ran over my dog with my truck and I lost my favorite hat, and then my girl left me because I lost my hat.”
You play guitar, sing, and paint—where does this artistic background come from?
To be honest, I only decided to make a career out of music last winter—it was like someone flipped a switch, and I realized that everything I had done in my life pointed here. I had taken to painting at a young age, I knew how to make websites, I knew how to manage finances, and it was a strange point. Did you ever see that one video of Jim Carrey talking at a college about taking the “safe job” and his dad taking one, and he finishes with “if you can fail at something you hate, why not try something you love?” I was going to be an electrician, but I’m gonna die one day, and I don’t want to die as an electrician.
You’re playing at Joe’s Apartment soon—what are some local bands you’re excited to play with in the future?
I really like Lovely Sinners—not sure if they’re doing much anymore. Within Rust and Ocean Full of Fins are also great ones. Boomsday is a cool hip-hop artist, I met him at a show he did. Look at this goose hanging out. Welcome to Canada, man.
[The aforementioned goose took this chance to lunge for this writer’s burrito, which prompted a brief struggle and a minor heart attack]
Go away goose, we’re trying to work here.
I’m ready to fight that goose. I will defend the burrito.
Jesus, it keeps on coming. He’s going for the crumbs now. Half this interview is us talking about the goose.
Well if you notice, the goose has the same colours on its head that I used for our poster.
Okay, fun question now. If you could be sitting here with any musician from the past, who would it be?
Well I would say Beethoven, but he was deaf, so I don’t know if yelling at him would be much of a conversation. I think John Lennon would be nice.
And my last question: a lot of bands go through a lot of terrible names before they find one they like. What’s the worst name you’ve ever played under ?
I’ve been using Brodega for a long time, actually. I was working in a restaurant, and had just been promoted to working with the cooks, and I walked on the line and the sous-chef looked at me and said “BRODEGA!” And it just stuck…. And it had a weird way of following me—other friend groups started calling me it, whether it was from word of mouth or just a feeling.
Anything you wanna say to the crowd out there regarding the show on Friday?
Get your ass out there, because it’s gonna be a goddamn party. I will make sure of it.
Alpha Brodega is playing with a host of others at Joes’s Apartment on Friday, May 1st. Doors at 7:30. $12 at the door, 10$ advance. Tickets and more info available at alphabrodega.com.
If you are interested in seeing any of Brodega’s artwork, we point you to our “arts”, “books”, “theatre”, and “music” tags, which he generously designed for our website.