What happens when a Holy-rollin' Baptist questions his faith, and begins keeping company with a one-handed conspiracy theorist and an insurance salesman? What does it sound like when a folk singer/songwriter plays music with a progressive rock and...
What happens when a Holy-rollin' Baptist questions his faith, and begins keeping company with a one-handed conspiracy theorist and an insurance salesman? What does it sound like when a folk singer/songwriter plays music with a progressive rock and jazz/fusion bassist and a drummer who doesn't use much more than a kick and a snare? Both questions can be answered by listening to Branden Mann and The Reprimand of Kalamazoo, MI.
Branden Mann's folk and blues rock songwriting, inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Ben Harper, and Jeff Tweedy, is supported by bassist Bill Clements' frenetic, original one-handed playing style, and the solid tempo-ed, simple-yet-complex beats created by Tommy Ufkes with his stripped-down kit and his homemade drumsticks. Branden Mann and The Reprimand are proud to find themselves being compared to acts such as The Dave Matthews Band, Beck, The Decemberists, and Kings of Leon. Such comparisons are often followed by the words "but original" or "but unique", which is encouraging to the band as they strive to create an authentic and sincere sound.
BM&TR recorded a demo CD in 2008 entitled "Songs From The Soggy Basement", which features early versions of five of the band's original songs. As the band began playing more shows, and gaining popularity in their hometown, they decided a new recording that captured the sound and spontaneity of a live show was in order. "Get Down To Business" was recorded on June 26, 2009 at Louie's Trophy House Grill in Kalamazoo, MI, and released on November 20. This 13+ song recording showcases the diversity of the band's sound and the energy of their live show.
Whether it is in relating to the words of Mann's songs, being inspired by Clements' utter destruction of the odds, or being mesmerized by Ufkes' impeccable rhythmic support, each live show is a unique memorable experience for everyone. With the new live CD, the band has made it possible for fans to have an accurate recording of the subtle complexity of a live show by Branden Mann and The Reprimand.
Kalamazoo Gazette : CD Release Article by Kalamazoo Gazette Kalamazoo's Branden Mann & The Reprimand to 'Get Down to Business' at Louie's Trophy House GrillBy John Liberty | Kalamazoo GazetteNovember 12, 2009, KALAMAZOO — The members of the Kalamazoo...
Kalamazoo Gazette : CD Release Article by Kalamazoo Gazette Kalamazoo's Branden Mann & The Reprimand to 'Get Down to Business' at Louie's Trophy House Grill
By John Liberty | Kalamazoo Gazette
November 12, 2009, KALAMAZOO — The members of the Kalamazoo pop-rock-blues trio Branden Mann & The Reprimand can come from such different places musically, a studio album might not do them justice.
Plus, none of the band’s songs are “cut-and-dry” and each member will drop in different parts at certain times based on their sense of the set or song. It’s almost like a math problem, Mann said.
So in an effort to share the band’s varied styles, frontman Branden Mann decided to record a live performance and release it to the public. At the end of June, and very near his 31st birthday, guitarist/vocalist Mann, drummer Tommy Ufkes and bassist Bill Clements plugged in at Louie’s Trophy House Grill and played a 90-minute set.
The group whittled the set down to 13 songs and will release the live album, “Get Down To Business: Live at Louie’s,” starting at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at Louie’s, 440 E. North St., with opener Brother Bill. Kalamazoo's Stacy Koviak provided a photograph for the album. Admission is $3.
“Most of the time we play, it sounds different every time, because each one of us have such drastically different styles,” Mann said. “ ... Bill will be really anxious and I’ll be more laid back. We wanted to capture it live. I guess it sort of has an improvisational feel to it.”
So did the band feel more pressure knowing it was being recorded?
“Not really,” Mann said. “A lot of times I’ll bring along my recording stuff, so I have something to mess around with. It was like one of those, but someone else was doing it. It was more relaxed, I didn’t have to stress myself out over it.”
That someone else was Mike Schuur of Kalamazoo’s Sun Spot Recording. After the performance, Mann went over the material and selected the best songs, or those without too many mistakes. The result shows BM&TR’s range — from soulful acoustic to rhythm-driven rock.
The rhythm portion shouldn’t be a surprise. In 2005, shortly after moving to Kalamazoo, Mann teamed up with longtime local musicians drummer Ufkes and bassist Clements after a conversation about music at a local bookstore.
Mann said he told Clements he used to play saxophone and Clements invited him to jam with his band, the Bill Clements Group. In 2006, Mann had what he calls a “dramatic theological shift” and began writing songs — some about religion, as well as other topics. Mann, 31, was raised Baptist in Eckhart, Ind., and went to college to become a youth minister, but said he is now an atheist.
He said he believes there is “no one answer” when it comes to religion. He touches on the topic on the album’s final track, which actually combines two songs, Mann said. It’s called “Staring Down a Barrel of Monkeys” and the latter portion, “Bang, Bang.”
“Monkeys” starts off from the point of view of a suicidal person, but evolves into song with a positive message, Mann said. It’s “about living your life ... and not getting stuck in psychological holes.”
“Bang Bang” is inspired by a post-9/11 religious atmosphere where, it seemed to Mann, members of some Western religions were condoning violence against Muslims and Islamists because of the attack.
He said it felt like people were “forced to give up our convictions to be a part of the whole” — if you didn’t berate Muslims or Islamists, you weren’t American enough, Mann said.
In keeping with its shifting style, the song sounds like a country song and evolves tying in a range of genres, including hip-hop, Mann said.
“It tends to be — not to toot my own horn — a crowd-pleaser,” he said.