BRAT – Welcome to Bimboviolence

Sunday, 17th March 2024

Photo: Greta Gerstner

A whirlwind of grindcore, powerviolence, and death metal, BRAT hail from the incredible New Orleans heavy music scene – as a result developing a sound that is quite explosive as it is refreshing. Their debut album Social Grace gets in and out at an economical twenty minutes, they embrace an audience of outsiders who want to escape reality to join in the celebration of their craft. We reached out to vocalist Liz Selfish and guitarist Brenner Moate to learn more about how the band came together, the work behind the debut album while touring, thoughts on the influential New Orleans scene and how that impacts their work, where the term bimboviolence developed, how being a part of pageants aids the live stage performances, favorite bands/albums, and what’s on the horizon for touring.

Dead Rhetoric: BRAT started in early 2020, can you discuss the early days of the group, and is it true that you came together while taking in Mardi Gras? Did you know straight away the elements and style you wanted to develop?

Brenner Moate: We did start at Mardi Gras, but it wasn’t at a parade or anything like that. It was during a karaoke party that we were having for my birthday. It happened to be at the same time as Mardi Gras. The vision didn’t really come together immediately at the start. It gradually happened over the course of a year, a year and a half as we were getting all the songs written and the band together.

Liz Selfish: It was Brenner’s birthday and I remember doing A Day To Remember song – I tried to do the low parts, and it came out pretty good so I thought we should start a band. This was right before COVID, like a few weeks before COVID kicked in. We had plenty of time to work on things during that time.

Dead Rhetoric: You released two EPs over the next two years DIY during the pandemic. How do you feel about the recordings, those releases, and how was the band handling being more of a studio-driven outfit when the live venues were shut down?

Selfish: We actually recorded before we had ever announced that we were really a band, or anything. We were working on it silently. I wouldn’t say we were just a studio outfit at that point, we weren’t even out as a band yet.

Moate: It wasn’t as much of a studio thing as it was everything being under wraps. I feel great about those two EP’s – I still love them.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you end up getting on the radar of Prosthetic Records – what do you enjoy most about the staff, their roster, and their approach to promoting the band?

Selfish: They ended up hitting us up pretty early on, within the first year of us being a band. I think they had heard of us through word of mouth. We hadn’t really started touring, at least as far as support touring, so that was our focus at the time. We held off on that, and then when we started working on the first album, that’s when we decided we maybe wanted to shop it around and ended up working with Prosthetic. So far, it’s been great, they’ve been very attentive and helpful. We’ll really see once the album actually comes out.

Dead Rhetoric: Social Grace is the latest record for the band. What can you tell us about the songwriting and recording approach this time around – were there any specific challenges, obstacles, or surprises that came up during the process?

Moate: No real obstacles. Just that the first couple of EPs we wrote during the pandemic and lockdown, we had nothing but time. This record was written once we started touring, that was a new challenge to try to write in between tours, stuff like that.

Dead Rhetoric: Lyrically you often tackle psychological horror fiction-related themes – especially the work of Stephen King. What fuels the word outlook to match up so well to the furious music on display – have you always believed that heavy music and shock/horror-style themes go hand in hand?

Moate: Yes, I think that’s always been a classic thing. But I also think of our lyrics as like shock horror particular – nothing in our lyrics is particularly gory. To me it’s like writing poetry.

Dead Rhetoric: And Liz, how did you develop your vocal approach – it’s quite a mixture that can scare a lot of people on first impact?

Selfish: Yeah, thank you! Initially it was whatever came out when I opened my mouth. For me, when it comes to working on my vocals, it’s more about working on my stamina, particularly with touring. I’m at the point where practicing every day you can keep things up and in shape. It wasn’t like I tried to make my vocals sound like anything specific, it’s what came out at first. Now I have my style locked down and I’m much better with my stamina.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges currently facing BRAT at this point in your career?

Selfish: That’s a good question. I don’t know.

Moate: I don’t know. Just the normal stuff, I guess. Everybody getting off of work to tour.

Selfish: The competition for the same tours and the same festivals, everything with everyone else.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the band’s live performances and attitude/philosophy on stage – and what have been some of the most memorable shows you’ve done to date with the group?

Selfish: Our first and foremost goal is to keep it really fun with the live show. With the pop samples, the really high energy. As far as the best shows we’ve done…

Moate: What sticks out most in my mind is the best shows on the last tour we did. They are most recent in mind – Chicago, Portland, Maine, Detroit.

Dead Rhetoric: You also have a special color-scheme going on with your merchandise – can you discuss the thought process behind this?

Selfish: We don’t have anything specific as far as what we want to do with merch. There’s a lot of pink, obviously – we keep it fun. And even now as we are thinking about new merch designs, we want to keep it dynamic, having a lot of different styles. Keeping a good variety, something for everyone.

Dead Rhetoric: Is this how the term ‘bimboviolence’ came into play to describe the group?

Selfish: The bimboviolence thing I came up with because I just thought it was funny, the pop samples and the pink that contrast with our music. That’s where that came from.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s special in your eyes about the Louisiana scene that you are a part of – do you believe the melting pot of styles and influences helps shape the bands/artists to strive for their own sound?

Selfish: We love being from a city that has so much incredible music. Even if we don’t sound like the traditional, New Orleans metal sound, we still take a lot of influence from those bands and look up to those artists. Eyehategod, Exhorder, Crowbar, Goatwhore. We’ve written songs like… the end of “Social Grace”, the slower riff at the end we wrote after our tour with Eyehategod, as a direct influence just from touring with them.

Dead Rhetoric: For Liz, do you believe there are aspects of your previous pageant work that helped prepare you better for the stages fronting this outfit?

Selfish: Kind of, yeah. It’s a performance at the end of the day, it’s a different type of performance but I still try to bring to life the campy energy that you would have for a pageant, I bring that to BRAT.

Dead Rhetoric: How do the members of BRAT handle the work / music life/ relationship balance that must take place? Do you have the proper support and understanding from friends and family when it comes to your music endeavors?

Moate: Yeah, I’d say so – well enough, at least. We can get out on the road a few months a year.

Selfish: It is a little bit of a tricky balance, but it’s been good for the most part.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you each remember your own personal journeys in discovering heavy music to then perform as artists?

Selfish: I started to listen to punk music in middle school. I had an older sister into punk at the time. From there it progressed, and I started delving into different genres. High school I started to listen to metalcore and hardcore, when I was eighteen, I moved to New Orleans and I started listening to Eyehategod, a lot more doom metal, thrash and grind. That led me down the path to where I am now. I feel like I have a lot of appreciation for genres and subgenres because I dipped my toe into each of them at a different point in my life.

Moate: Very similar thing. When I was four years old, I stole my older brother’s Rancid CD from him, my siblings are much older than me. My sister dated all the dudes in punk bands, brought that music into our music. I was really into punk and ska growing up, and then in later years I started getting into metal. I was playing in my first band when I was fifteen, I’ve been performing for a long time. Take from all these different genres, and it comes out in how diverse and dynamic our music sounds. Branching out into so many different genres of metal.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider three of the most important records that helped shape your outlook on heavy music – and what’s the best show that you’ve witnessed personally, plus what made that show so special to you?

Moate: Oh man.

Selfish: When anybody asks me about favorite albums, I have no idea what to pick. Favorite show?

Moate: My favorite metal albums – I can think of two. One would be Power Trip – Manifest Decimation. Probably Mammoth Grinder – Underworlds. I can’t think of a third one. It’s so hard to narrow it down like that. Favorite show – the most recent one that comes to mind is seeing Power Trip in Dallas in 2020, a couple of months before COVID, which was one of the last shows they played before Riley died. I’d seen them several times before that, but that one was memorable for me.

Selfish: The first thing that comes to mind are the few times I’ve seen High On Fire – they are one of the best bands to see live. The energy they have, that’s probably some of my favorite shows that I’ve seen. Power Trip is an important band to my outlook on the genre – Black Sabbath would be up there as well. I may also say Escuela Grind, seeing them inspired me to want to start a band.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for BRAT over the next year or so to promote the record?

Moate: We are currently lining up some tours, some fests. That will be announced in the coming months.

Selfish: We have a four-day run coming up in March, but we will have more tours and fests later this year.

Moate: We also have four dates announced with Millions of Dead Cops that we will be doing, and we are going to do a much larger tour around that, so that will be announced pretty soon.

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