Are you looking for a little break from reality with a dash of 90s nostalgia? If you are, Rent to Own by Brites just might be the album you are looking for. Using their unapologetic attitude and well-blended sound, Chad Hamilton, Michelle Leman, Tim Schlemmer and Davy Bick want to take you on a musical boat ride you will not soon forget. We sat down with Brites to talk about the new album, pack animals, their creative process, music and much more!
OSR: How did the band first get together?
Brites: Dang. We’re talking an 11-year history at this point but we’ll keep it brief. Way back in 2008, Chad and Michelle met in high school and started playing music together at local coffee shops. Fast forward a few years and Michelle meets a big-haired, sax wielding, fellow art student at college named Tim and it takes years to convince him to move in with us. In 2017, all three of us decided to move to Seattle where we met Dave. Dave had played in some London based bands and is one of our best friends so we asked him to join after only playing 2 shows with us. No offence to all past members unmentioned.
OSR: Did you have an idea of the sound you wanted when you started or has this evolved over time?
Brites: We started as a straight-up folk band but loved music more broadly. The sound has definitely evolved over time. Each album sounds different but you can always tell it’s us. The albums’ sounds really depend on our favourite bands and music at the moment. A lot of the sound is influenced by the instrumentation of the current members. No single-instrument members allowed.
OSR: Your new album Rent to Own is a taste of 90s nostalgia and a break from reality. What was the inspiration for this?
Brites: Definitely inspired by 90s music in general. Felt like a happier time. More care-free. Maybe a bit of escapism.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you have a single concept or track that you worked around?
Brites: Usually, Chad brings the lyrics and rhythm guitar and then we each add our parts, based on our own inspirations. There is no single voice or goal guiding the sound. We all bring what we want to the table and rarely is someone voted off the island. Ironically, this album started with the song ‘Don’t Call it a Western’ but that song is now the definite outlier sonically. Many of these songs were stand-alone tracks that we collected into an album almost by accident.
OSR: If people could listen to only one song from the album, which one would you suggest?
Michelle: ‘Don’t Call It a Western’ because the music video is the bomb and consumed my life for a year and a half, I hand drew all of it.
Chad, Dave, and Tim agree.
OSR: Who do you feel is the biggest influence on your music?
Brites: Paul Simon and Talking Heads are consistent influences but we are always trying to write something unique, something we find exciting and interesting.
OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would you be and why?
Brites: A pack of penguins: We come together for warmth, we face the frigid cold together and we aspire to never be underdressed. Tim says he is a Southern Rockhopper.
OSR: How do you feel this album compares to your last?
Brites: We always feel like the most recent album we’ve made is the best one, for sure, and this is no exception. This one is a lot more relatable lyrically and the songs are just more fun. Less dark.
OSR: How has the pandemic affected how you make music?
Brites: At the beginning of quarantine we started making pseudo-live videos of new and old songs and we were putting them out once a week. But that changed when the BLM movement picked up and suddenly promoting videos of ourselves didn’t feel as important. We took about a month or so off before coming back together to finish Rent to Own. It was honestly perfect timing and the album feels like a nice escape while still touching on some of the social issues we all feel.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Brites: No doubt, more music videos. Maybe a Halloween album. It’s all speculative at this point. We’re always writing stuff and laying down tracks. Sometimes they turn into songs. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s 2020.