Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
Hidden somewhere in nearly every Braid song could be this subliminal message that lead singer Bob Nanna wrote and made as non-subliminal as he could in the song, " My Baby Smokes," the first track off the band's 1996 album, "The Age of Octeen."
"We drink up the anger
laced with sugar
I cough and I choke
these are the things that make us laugh
these are the things that make us cry
these are the things that make our knees shake
for fear's sake
and make our hearts break."
A Braid song can be artsy, but it's rarely subtle. The guitars are swooning and loud. The bass and drums are aggressive and Nanna pens lines that cut straight through to the bone and sometimes, brilliantly slice halfway into the bone, going deeper than you ever suspected they would. That line about drinking up the anger that's in the room, in the air, in our tongues, "line wine laced with sugar and smoke," is substantial. It's colossal in that there's not an ounce of bullshit in it. It might be a flowery way of saying that we take it all down, that we absorb our lumps like dickheads sometimes, but it is the perfect description for how we do it. We do it with our eyes wide open, with that sigh that we forget we're making. We try to comply with the norm - stunting the vibrancy of the affair and letting it roll as much as we can, thinking that we're better off drinking and smoking it down. We live to fight another day because we know that the same things that can make us cry one day tend to make us laugh some day afterward and there's no telling what of the anger we drink up is going to become that.
Nanna, bassist Todd Bell, guitarist/vocalist Chris Broach and drummer Damon Atkinson luxuriate the frustrated times of youth and likely of what it was like as a young man growing older in Champaign, Illinois, when the band was just getting going. It pioneered what would become the formidable Midwestern emo scene, when the genre was being led by literate boys and girls who had a lot of John Hughes-like stuff to say, but wanted to do so in a new way, in a way that got a bunch of kids in basements thinking.
Braid Official Site