“Our band has been through an evolution these last couple years,” says The Brevet frontman Aric Chase Damm. “We absolutely love the writing and recording process, butsomewhere along the way, our focus shifted more towards touring and performing live, and the music we were creating just naturally started to reflect that energy. The road more than anything helped us grow and mature into the band we’ve become.”
Nowhere is that growth and maturity more evident than LEGS, The Brevet’s explosive, ambitious new album. Recorded at the band’s own studio in their native Orange County, California, the collection is the five-piece’s most deeply personal and lyrically sophisticated yet, tackling perception and identity in the digital age with both subtle nuance and blunt force. The songs remain as cinematic as ever, full of rousing choruses and sing-along hooks, but they carry more weight here, propelled inexorably forward by thunderous percussion and blazing electric guitars that blend rock and roll snarl with R&B swagger. LEGS is an album unafraid to face down the unknowable, and Damm found himself mining his personal life more than ever before during the writing process, taking an unflinching look inwards to examine the dark alleys and existential dead ends that often sidetrack us in the pursuit of happiness.
“I feel like we live in this cloud of social media right now that’s so focused on projecting and consuming that it stifles our creativity,” reflects Damm. “A lot of the songs on this record deal with the search for something real: true relationships, true happiness, true identity.”
The Brevet’s quest for truth, ironically, began with fiction. The band’s roots stretch back to Damm’s college days, when he began writing scores for student films and discovered he had a knack for crafting the kind of evocative music that yields unforgettable on-screen moments. Those early songs led to a licensing deal that would eventually find The Brevet’s tracks everywhere from major films like Ashby (Paramount)and The Good Lie (Warner Bros) to TV shows like Lucifer and American Idol. The band’s contagious energy proved an ideal fit for sports channels like the MLB Network and ESPN’s SEC Network, and the group even landed a coveted Apple placement. Songs from their two independent albums (2013’s ‘Battle of the Heart’ and 2017’s ‘American Novel’) racked up more than nine million streams on Spotify and earned coverage from Paste, The LA Times, OC Weekly, Pop Matters, and more.
With all of The Brevet’s success on screen, the group—Damm, drummer David Aguiar, guitarist John Kingsley, keyboardist Greg Burroughs, and bassist Julian Johnson—was more than ready to get out of the studio and onto the stage. Over the course of the last year, they hit the road for the most intense touring of their career, performing a slew of headline shows alongside support dates with Magic Giant and festival appearances from BottleRock to Firefly. The changes were subtle at first, but with each run of shows, The Brevet found themselves honing in on something new and exhilarating.
“There’s nothing like the feel and energy you get from a live show,” explains Damm, “and there’s no more honest reaction you can get than from an audience that’s never heard something before. We decided to start playing these new songs live before they were out, and the crowds’ responses were just so cool and inspiring.”
One listen and it’s clear that LEGS represents a major leap for The Brevet, one that synthesizes the raucous energy of their live show with sonic precision of their extensive studio history. The album opens with the infectious groove of “Pretend City,” a stirring call to arms for truth and honesty, not only with each other but with ourselves. “What are we doing pretending?” Damm asks, his baritone voice bordering on a growl at points in the song as he decries the superficial and performative nature of modern life. The acerbic “All These Kids” celebrates individuality in a world of imitation, while the slow-burning “Sweet Water” questions what happens when everyone drinks from the same metaphorical well, and the unyielding “So Long” eschews the materialistic in favor of a more lasting source of satisfaction.
“That song is about searching for your purpose,” explains Damm. “Whatever it is that makes you happy—family, love, career, faith, mental health—some people find it right away, and other people spend their whole lives looking for it.”
Throughout the album, Damm finds his most profound moments of happiness in the experiences he’s able to share with others and the lessons he’s able to learn from them. The tender “Gateway Drug” revels in the overwhelming love and joy brought on by his recent marriage, while the ecstatic “Locked & Loaded” pays tribute to a late mentor who lived every day to its fullest, and the stripped-down “Silver and Gold” finds fulfillment in each step of the journey. Damm is perhaps at his most explicit, though, on “All You Need To Know,” a searing rocker sung from the perspective of a higher power as Judgment Day approaches.
“That song is a dialogue with either God or the Grim Reaper,” he explains. “He’s asking the tough questions. Are you living out the purpose of your life? If everything ended tomorrow, would you be proud of who you were and what you stood for?”
LEGS actually stands for “Like Every Great Story,” and the album (and its anthemic title track) indeed contain all the elements of any memorable tale: struggle and success, tension and release, conflict and resolution. The band faced countless roadblocks and hurdles during the album’s year-long recording process, but their music insists on a relentless optimism, a defiant belief in the power of positivity in the face of darkness and doubt. Every great story has a hero, after all, and heroes never give up, even when the going gets tough. That’s what The Brevet is all about.
“The Brevet was a rank given out largely during the Civil War,” explains Damm, who’s traced his family’s lineage back through centuries of American history and even discovered a relative’s journal from that bloody era. “If a general died, someone else would need to step up and take on those responsibilities even though they wouldn’t get paid for it. It was a selfless title that came with a lot of sacrifice, but it was one of honor and duty. When I read about that, I felt a kinship with the attitude of our band,” he continues. “We’re doing this because we love it. We love to create and we love to inspire, and we could sit here and focus on all the negative things that we struggle with in order to do that or we can choose to step up and celebrate the positive and create our own great story.”
In that regard, The Brevet more than live up to their name, and LEGS is just the latest chapter in a tale that only promises to get better and better.