Interview: Brooke Brown - A Rising Alabama Force
Hopefully, you saw my recent review of Brooke Brown’s excellent new album ‘Troubled Heart.’ These first songs reveal Brown to be an amazing up and coming singer/ songwriter who deserves a much wider audience in the world. Brown recently took the time to tell us a bit more about her background, music, and ingenuity in playing the guitar after a serious accident.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us here at 3 Songs & Out. Alabama has introduced me to some incredible artists such as Allison Moorer, the Drive-By Truckers, and another up and comer Ella Langley. Tell us a bit about where you’re from in Alabama and how it has influenced you?
Out of the three you mentioned, I personally know Ella, and she is as genuine as it gets! Alabama is full of great artists, who aren’t just talented, they’re some of the best people you could ever meet... I grew up a lot different than most kids. I was lucky. Being surrounded by dirt roads, having horses and four wheelers, riding in the bucket of daddy’s tractor, having a creek with a rope swing, nothing but pine trees for miles, climbing the tallest ones, looking out feeling like I was on top of the world ...and dreaming of seeing it all. My imagination has always ran so wild, that I literally lived in the middle of nowhere but never remember being bored.. I basically lived in an amusement park. I learned how to make a lot out of a little. I learned how to be thankful for what I had. I learned how to make the best out of any situation. We didn’t have a lot of money but I never knew that. I loved playing in the dirt in my new “hand me downs” . . . I never realized I was training to become a musician... (laughter)
Your album ‘Troubled Heart’ collects your previous singles and some new songs. Was there a plan to eventually release them as an album together, or how did that come together?
To be completely honest, for me at least (not that I know what I’m doing) it was all about marketing and trying to grow a following. Before I released any music last year, I had less than 1000 followers. I knew I had to start putting out music, it was just a matter of how much change I had in my pocket at the time. So I saved up and recorded enough songs to put out 2 EP’s. I decided to put out singles instead, obviously. Everything has been experimental for me, I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong way to do anything.. But at least I’m doing something and I’m trying..I thought that releasing singles would help me to stay relevant, give my fans something to look forward to, and help me gain a following and it did. I didn’t think releasing an album (that cost more than my car) to only 1k followers would give me as good of results but if I had it to do all over... I would’ve just released my album first and put out music videos throughout the year. My crappy, low quality, homemade, music videos are what actually helped me gain followers. I’m not so much worried about my following now as I am in just getting my music out into the world. It’s simpler than I was making it. Put out good music and the people will come.
In my review, I comment several times that I love the narratives you create in your lyrics. I would point out specific songs, but all of them are excellent. Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
I’ve always loved writing, when I was in high school, English class was my favorite. I loved being given a topic to write about and being able to spin the story any way I wanted. Life has given me plenty of topics to write about and there’s still nothing wrong with “spinning the story” a little. I write about life experiences- whether it’s something that happened to me, something someone said in a conversation, or something I observed. A lot of times I’ll hear someone say something or I’ll say something really random and it will spark a song idea. I never force out my song ideas I just grab them from my surroundings whenever the time is right.
You have also made several videos already with another one on the way. Do you come up with the concepts behind them?
I basically force people to hold cameras, bark orders, and yell at them for bad angle shots. (laughter)
What artists have influenced you and in what way?
* Jerome John Garcia.
* Jean “Django” Reinhardt.
* Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr.
* Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor.
* Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi.
* Rick Allen
* Les Paul
Why you might ask... because they all have two things in common, they lost the use of valuable digits, yet kept on rockin. That makes them all bad asses.
What are some of your desert island albums?
1. Chris Stapleton- Traveler
2. Steelwoods - Straw in the Wind
3. The Band- The Last Waltz
4. Guy Clark- some days the song writes you
5. Cody Jinks- I’m not the devil
6. Shovel and Rope- O be joyful
7. Ashley McBryde- Girl Going No Where
8. Cross Canadian ragweed - Garage
9. Stoney larue - Velvet
10. Chris knight - A Pretty Good Guy
Based on what I have seen and learned from you through social media, it seems fair to say you have always been creative. When did music first grab you?
My dad has always tried to teach me, but I never cared to learn how to play the guitar until my Ag. teacher in high school told me that the Oak Ridge Boys went to our school and got their start in the FFA string band competitions. A few months later, I was banging on my dad’s old guitar and performing for the first time with a guitar on stage in front of hundreds of people.. My knees were shaking the entire time. I almost defecated on myself. I thought I might pass out, throw up, cry, or all the above at the same time, but I did it! We placed 9th out of 15 other bands, and I was confident that it was my band members fault that we didn’t place in the top 5 and that I did so amazing that it must be my calling. (laughter) Honestly, they were awesome I was a disaster.
On Easter, you posted a video of you spontaneously learning a new musical instrument. Is that something common for you to do?
If I spent as much time actually learning one instrument as I’ve spent half ass learning every instrument I can get my hands on.. I would probably be a pretty decent musician.
When it comes to live performances, what is that like for you? What’s your favorite part?
My favorite part is getting paid… kidding… but seriously.. Okay, okay, I’ll answer correctly (laughing) So I’m at this weird stage in my journey now, where people are actually requesting my original work and are singing along. The bar owners don’t hassle me about my set list. I’m not getting boo’d off stage. I haven’t been hit with a rotten tomato in a while... at least since we’ve been quarantined... and people are starting to really dig my songs and listen even if sometimes I have to lie and tell them I wrote this song to be on Miranda Lambert’s next album. My favorite part is when I sing one of my originals, and someone buys me a beer because they related to every word in my song.
What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
In 2016 I lost most of my right hand in a firework accident. I struggle with movement and intense inflammation. I also suffer hearing loss as well. My pinky and ring finger are very mangled, and I have half of a thumb. I was hospitalized for a month and 2 days because of it. I couldn’t play the guitar for over a year, and it just about killed me I was so depressed. Although I cannot bend my fingers I can now move my wrist and found a way to play again. I literally duct tape a plastic banjo pick to my ring finger. Most of my fans don’t realize until i get off stage and they come up to shake my hand.
‘Troubled Heart’ is available now. Read our review here.
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