The Brook & The Bluff: On Touring, Recording and Venn Diagrams

The Brook & The Bluff are your new favorite band. Formed in Alabama, the band has developed their sound and solidified their group dynamic. When it comes to how they met, lead singer Joseph Settine says “normally, we’d have a Venn diagram to show you because our collective stories of how we met… overlap in a really weird way. It’s like a bunch of different timelines.” Sans Venn diagram, Settine and guitarist Alec Bolton met first, forming what was essentially a cover band in Birmingham. Then, drummer John Canada joined the band, forging the beginnings of The Brook & The Bluff. Bassist Fred Lankford joined most recently, and has been an integral part of the band since their recent move to Nashville.

While their own sound is self-described as pop-folk, Nashville has influenced them in ways beyond genre. “There’s people that we play with like Stephen Day and Jordy Searcy, that we’ve already had little relationships with, but now that we’ve moved, it’s like we found a community,” said Settine. “There’s a lot of musicians to be inspired by because everybody is so good and everybody’s doing their thing,” Canada elaborated.

Their history isn’t their only aspect that requires a Venn diagram: their music tastes are wide ranging, but overlap in the most interesting places. Their individual music tastes range from musical soundtracks to John Mayer to Amos Lee. They listen to Kacey Musgraves and Frank Ocean the most “together, in the car,” and with their upcoming tour schedule, they’re going to be spending a lot of time with those albums.

After recently purchasing a new van, traveling is a lot smoother, which is great for their upcoming schedule. “Our tours are becoming longer and longer. We used to do just do little weekend gigs and one-offs, which we still do, but we have actually recently signed on with a booking agency, Paradigm, and they are helping our touring be a lot more consistent and now we’re getting a lot more consistent practice on the road. We’ll be doing our first national tour with a band called Ripe in 2019. That’s gonna be the first time where we’re gone for like, 2 ½ months,” said Canada. “Getting to play a bunch of shows, you just get better,” Settine added.

Right now though, the band is focused on their studio time for the creation of their new album. “We’ve found a really creative studio environment,” says Bolton, “the guy producing us brings the best out of all of us. Like, we’re able to explore random ideas and waste a bunch of time if it’s something that could sound cool; it makes you feel so much less stressed out and worried about time and all that stuff.” To Settine, the main goal is “to make the best album that we can. I want something that I’m super proud of in the studio, that I can walk out and listen to. I hate listening to myself personally, but now with these new songs we’ve been doing, I listen to them all the time. It’s actually fun because it’s like a product I’m really proud of… We just want to make the best possible art that we can. So someone that pushes us to our limits is exactly what we need.”

Even as the newest member of the band, Lankford can see that this recent studio time is a definitive aspect of the band progression: “that was my first time being in there with them and it was just so amazing to really be ourselves, there was no sort of agenda like, we have to satisfy X, Y, Z. It just kind of all happened. So that’s what that means to me, and it really allows you to be expressive, and we hope that our listeners and fans will feel that.” Their songwriting process is steeped in their bond as a band. “Our process works better if we start small and expand out,” says Settine. This process works though, because they all believe that “any good song has something that you can connect to on a deep, deep personal level.” Their approach is, “say what you want to say and hope it connects.”

“And here’s the thing,” Bolton said, “the fact that we all listen to very different types of music, if all of us like something a lot, it’s probably pretty good.” And judging from their live show, he’s right.

When the band opened for local band SondorBlue at the Purple Buffalo, no one in the audience could stand still. People were singing along, hugging their friends, and dancing to every song. Clearly, The Brook & The Bluff are doing something right. They’ll be returning to Charleston with Ripe on February 22, 2019, and tickets can be purchased on Songkick. If you want to be able to sing along to every word, you can check out their music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

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Callista Milligan, music editor, is a Senior arts management major from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In her free time, you can find her in Second State Coffee with a cold brew in hand.


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