JULY 10th 2016
BRAVE EXCLUSIVE

 

As you know Metal Titans covers bands that span the various sub-genres of hard rock and metal. The proggy, symphonic, Celtic Washington, D.C. based act BRAVE landed on my radar several years ago while writing for another site. The band is fronted by Michelle Schrotz who took some time to talk with Metal Titans. “We will begin recording our next studio album this summer and we hope to have either a full length or EP available by early 2017,” says Schrotz. Until then you can check the band out www.bravemusic.com/ or on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bravejamdc

Ruben Mosqueda

Metal Titans: Somewhere along the way I reviewed your music for another publication. Brave has been ‘duking it out’ for a bit; where have you drawn your inspiration to press forward where others have not?

Michelle Schrotz: Yes we certainly have been ‘duking it out’ for many years now!  Nearly 20…we started as ‘Arise from Thorns’ back in 1997 and then changed the name to BRAVE in 2000.  Inspiration definitely comes and goes, but in the end this is all what we love to do.  We have such a great lineup and have so much fun together, so it’s much more than just writing music together.  It really is family like, literally.  I am married to drummer Trevor Schrotz and guitarist Scott Loose is my brother.  We’ve been together with the other band members, Suvo Sur, Ben Kelly and Matt Kozar for over 10 years now.  So our music is really a way of life at this point and the chemistry between us is perfect.

Metal Titans: When you watch the crop of acts that get their break from television talent shows or Youtube or nontraditional means does that bug you?  Do you think people see through that or do you think it has something to do with people’s short attention span these days?

Michelle Schrotz: Great question, I definitely agree that in general most people have a short attention span and the majority of these acts won’t be around long term.  But really YouTube, social media, etc. is such a great platform to showcase your music. So many creative ways to get your band heard.  I would not say it bugs me, but the scene has changed a lot in 20 years for sure.  I remember hauling huge bags of cassette tape demos to the post office to send out for promo back in the late ‘90’s.  Now it’s just easier to upload and boom you are online and out there.  But then you have to get creative on how you find people to listen to your music, because there is so much out there.

Metal Titans: Music has become somewhat disposable and there’s no personal attachment to it anymore. How has this affected you as an independent artist that doesn’t have the budget and the backing of a label?

Michelle Schrotz: We’ve basically been an independent band from day one.  We’ve had some smaller label support here and there, but never experienced what it’s like to have major support.  I wouldn’t say this has affected us really; it’s just what we know and have dealt with.  Sure I’d love major backing and tour support, but at some point long ago I thought to myself that the odds against us really, there are so many bands out there to compete with.  That didn’t make me want to quit music, really we do this because we love it and if people can hear our music and enjoy it and find meaning in it then that is a major bonus!

Metal Titans: There’s a progressive rock vibe to BRAVE’s sound the Celtic influence sets you apart. That’s unique especially for an American band. Where or when did that come into the mix? Was it by design?

Michelle Schrotz: Our sound has never been intentional or by design, it really just comes out that way!  I can’t say I listen to any Celtic type of music, none of us do really, but when you add violin and my voice (which I get a lot of comparison to Delores from the Cranberries), it does sound Celtic at times.  But our sound has always been very instinctual; we don’t really strive to sound like anything.  We just write, usually Scott has a guitar riff and we develop it from there with no expectations or ideas of where we are going with something or how it should sound.  We are definitely all prog fans, Rush, King Crimson, Genesis, Anathema, etc. so yes they are influences for all of us.

Metal Titans: I believe the last thing you recorded were “Surrounds Me” and “Three Ravens” back in 2014, right?  What’s the backstory on those two tracks?

Michelle Schrotz: We had these two songs completed for what seemed like ages, and we really liked them.  We decided to do a single for “Surrounds Me” and recorded at Assembly Line Studios in Vienna, Virginia where we recorded “Waist Deep in Dark Waters,” “Searching for the Sun” and where “Monuments” was mixed.  We missed the studio experience and wanted to do something with this song. So we recorded “Surrounds Me” there and intended to release just that song, but we also had “Three Ravens” completed and decided to add that as a “B” side.  Three Ravens was originally a heavy song, but we stripped it down, made it more acoustic and lighter and for the first time we recorded at home, with our own gear.  Sonically we knew we could not match the power of “Surrounds Me” recorded at a professional studio, so the stripped down version of “Three Ravens” was a good first song to try out recording and mixing on our own.  I think now we have more confidence going forward to try for bigger sounds at home now, big drums, guitars, etc.

Metal Titans: I assume you’re constantly recording; what do you have in the works?  Do you record in a home studio or do you book studio time on your own dime?

Michelle Schrotz: We are now trying the home studio route…a few of us have recording skills (I can’t say that I’m one of them).  It’s just so expensive to record (we pay out of our own pockets) but we do love going to the studio.  The home set up is nice; we can really take our time, play around with different arrangements and not be “on the clock.”

Metal Titans: In 2016 it’s not surprising to see a woman fronting a band on the heavier side. Who were your heroes musically growing up? I assume some of them might be women? 

Michelle Schrotz: Definitely had several female icons growing up but not really from a heavy genre.  My main influences were and still are Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Ann Wilson and Lisa Gerrard.  More recently (well like in the last 10 years or so) I really got into The Gathering and Lacuna Coil, so I would include them as well.

Metal Titans: Will there come a time when we won’t see the gender of the person fronting or playing in the band you think? 

Michelle Schrotz: I personally feel like that time is now.  I personally don’t really think about what the gender of the singer is, I really just notice what the music and overall sound is like.  It is so much more commonplace to have women singing now in heavier music (more common that it was 20 plus years ago) so I think it’s much more common place these days.

Metal Titans: What are five albums that you have on regular rotation?

Great question!  Hard to choose just 5 but here goes;

  • •         While Heaven Wept “Suspended at Aphelion”
  • •         Fates Warning “Pleasant Shade of Gray”
  • •         Anathema “Weather Systems”
  • •         Tori Amos “Boys for Pele”
  • •         Anneke van Giersbergen “Drive”

Metal Titans: You’ve opened or shared the stage with numerous acts through the years. Who were you most excited to share the stage with and why

Michelle Schrotz: Probably opening up for Fates Warning on their Pleasant Shade of Gray was the most memorable show.  We were still a young band and they were (and still our) one of our biggest influences.  It was one of our best shows ever and to date still one of my favorite albums (as mentioned above!)  Was a great experience--we were lucky enough to open for them again on the ‘Firefly’ tour.  Other honorable mentions just because we are huge fans of the music included opening for Cynic, Lacuna Coil, and Devin Townsend.  I wish we could have opened for Anathema when they toured back in 2013, but we had the Fates Warning show shortly after they played in our area, so we didn’t pursue the Anathema show.

Metal Titans: Care to share a funny story about a time when you had a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment?

Michelle Schrotz: Great question! We have many ‘Spinal Tap’ moments…not so much getting lost back stage, but just weird stuff happening.  Like the time we played Sudsy Malone’s in Cincinnati, a laundry service place and live music venue (seems like a common theme, right?)  Or the time we played on top of a pool table in Chicago.  There was no stage, so they put a piece of plywood over a pool table to extend the stage that was already very tiny.   There have been so many good memories that we’ve had over the last nearly 20 years.  Hopefully we’ll keep at this for another 20 years.