Southern California punk rock band Brigadiers have established a strong base of followers with their melodic yet mosh-worthy music. The five members join forces to deliver socially relevant songs with catchy choruses that listeners can sing along to. Brigadiers played in support of The Cadillac Tramps at The Gaslamp in Long Beach on August 24. By the Barricade was on hand to talk with all five members about their inspiration and future. Learn more in the interview transcripts that follow:
John Guido- Vocals Kevin Last- Guitar Travis Eaves – Guitar Rico Godoy– Bass Chris Madigral– Drums
By the Barricade:What or who inspired you to play music and when did you begin? Rico Godoy: I was about 14 when I first started. I had been going to shows from the time I was about 12 with my sister. I met Chris through my sister and I saw him play and some of my other friends playing. It got me to pick up an instrument, get with my buddies and just jam. It ended up being something I really enjoy doing. After I played for a while, I met these guys and they asked me to try out. By the Barricade: Was bass the first instrument that you played? Rico Godoy: No, I played guitar but it was mostly just rhythm we didn’t have a bass player so I ended up buying a bass and switching over. Since then I’ve been stuck on bass. Travis Eaves: I’ve been playing since I was 13 or 14 and I’ve always played guitar but I have branched out. I play bass and drums. As soon as I got into the punk scene when I was 13 or 14 it always clicked. It was always something I wanted to do. You can have a band and have a family with a band where there is no pressure. You are not trying to be mainstream; you are out there to make a scene and make a sound and bring your own originality. That is the cool thing about the punk scene, you have the freedom to play your type of music. We have had this project going on about two years now. Chris Madigral: For me playing drums was really an outlet. I started skateboarding when I was five and then I started getting interested in punk music through skateboarding. I started listening to skate punk bands like Millencolin, NOFX, and grew up on that. Being the age I am now, I’ve listened to a lot of other genres of punk but that was what really inspired me to get into playing. Kevin Last: I was raised on rock ‘n’ roll as a kid. Both of my parents were kind of hippies. I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel records, The Rolling Stones, the classic bands. Once I was about 10, I had been exposed to some punk bands and some skate punk bands like the ones Chris was mentioning. I immediately took a liking to it and started going to shows. The first time I went to a real punk show, I just knew that I had to play it. The energy was right, I loved the aggression. It was perfectly expressive to me as a teenager who felt a little bit alienated. It spoke to me and from that day on I taught myself how to play guitar, started studying music theory and it was off to the races. John Guido: It is kind of a funny story for me. I’ve actually always been really involved in punk music; it’s always been a part of my life. As far as being in a band it was never an option and I never had the opportunity to do it until I met this group of guys. They were looking for a singer and it took a few tryouts to get on board, but they liked what they heard so I jumped into it. Music influences for me were skate punk; Black Flag and Minor Threat were huge on my playlist. I listened to a lot of hip hop and was a break dancer for ten years. This whole thing is kind of cool because I’ve been in that industry and now I have this industry. I always got looks from a lot of my friends because I listened to punk rock. They were into hip hop and for them you could only listen to one thing. In your youth you kept with the same demographic. I was always different, I listened to different music, I listened to a lot of classic rock and I have been very diverse with my music options. To jump in with these guys has been quite the learning experience, they are very talented. We have been able to write a lot of good stuff together and I am really looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. By the Barricade:You are described as a working class punk band what would you be doing if you weren’t playing or when you aren’t playing? Chris Madigral: When I’m not playing and we aren’t jamming out on Sundays or at a show, I do tower work for cell phone towers. Travis Eaves: Like Chris said, this is a release for all of us. I am a manager of a Fresh & Easy grocery store so I have a lot of animosity and aggression from all of things I deal with in retail on a daily basis. When I’m not with the band and I’m not working, I’m with my wife and my son. I still skateboard and I just got off an injury. The cool thing about this band is that we have been jamming together on and off for the last 10-15 years. Now for the most part we are all in committed relationships and all the girls are friends, we are all friends and our kids all get along. Instead of going out and being that rock star, we will play and have a barbeque for everyone. John Guido: We have really just expanded our family. Chris Madigral: Going back to that working class part of your question, our families are very important to us. We are not 20 years old anymore who are wanting to go out and mess things up and are angry at the world. The influences are there, but we are the adults who have this as our hobby, this is what we do for fun but our home is our career. It works out really well how we balance everything. Our kids are always here, our kids go to practices. Kevin Last: Our families are in the band just as much as we are. We love playing and doing shows but having our loved ones there to support us and to be there waiting for us when we get off the stage, that is what makes it all worthwhile for us. I love music so much that I can share it with other people that may not have had an opportunity to be turned on to it. If I can get onstage and play an awesome song that turns someone on and gets them into punk it can change their life the same way it changed all of ours. That is really rewarding. By the Barricade: Are there any other Day Jobs you want to talk about? John Guido: I work two jobs and I take care of my kid, I am in insurance and I work in cosmetics doing retail events. All of us have really full schedules. It is not anything I plan on staying with forever but this is an outlet. We do our part to take care of our families and then we get together and play music. Hopefully people love our music to where we can share it with them as well and to continue to feed off that. Kevin Last: I’m an IT guy. I’m a certified nerd. Chris Madigral: He’s the smart one. John Guido: I’ve seen the certificate Travis Eaves: Bill Gates signed it. Kevin Last: I actually am Microsoft certified and I work in corporate IT. There are definitely not a lot of people out there like me who are professional computer geeks and then they go home and delve into their record collection, get a beer and even cook as well. Rico Godoy: Warehouse work. I’m just paying the bills. By the Barricade:You have had some lineup changes, how did the current band members come together? Chris Madigral: About a year and a half ago, Kevin and I were kicking back having some beers and we talked about starting a new project. Kevin thought that Travis would also be on board. I called Travis and at the time Travis knew our original bass player. Then we all started jamming. I knew someone who wanted to be on vocals but they didn’t work out the way we had planned it to. We went through a couple changes, we had to replace our first bass player because things just weren’t working out there. Then we had our second bass player about a year or so and he has been in other well-known bands. He’s been there and he’s done that. He had a million and one hobbies and we were like number 500. We are friends with him and he is still friends with us and supports us but it was just one of those things. I’ve known Rico for years as family friends so we brought him on board. John was introduced to us by the guy that does our merch. Kevin and I used to play with his older brother’s band. Everybody knew each other. John Guido: It’s a small world and it seems like it’s meant to be the way it worked out. Chris Madigral: This is our most solid line up. The dust is settling after the first year and a half. Shows are coming in and it feels pretty solid so it’s full steam ahead! Kevin Last: We’ve been able to generate a following and it’s good to look out and see people you don’t even know singing the lyrics to your songs. There is no greater feeling. Travis Eaves: All of our shows have been really successful and we already have a good amount of merch. We have our first EP out, have new material and we are looking to do our full length. We’ve got some things in the works. By the Barricade: That leads into my next question. You spent early part of the year recording EP Warriors. What was that process like? Travis Eaves: The smartest guy (Kevin) is also mastermind. He literally writes 90% of the music but the way we do it is he will either record it, or we will go to his house and do it acoustic. Chris Madigral: Or sometimes we will be in the studio and he’ll start playing something. I’ll start laying down the drums with a simple beat as we start writing the track and everyone just picks up. That is usually how we write most of our songs. We just start jamming a riff that Kevin comes up with and we start flowing with it and add a little salt and pepper to it. Travis Eaves: He’ll start the riff and then Chris decides the tempo that he thinks will be the most successful and then I’ll say, “While you are hitting that, I’m going to hit octaves or I’m going to be adding this and that.” We both play lead guitar so it is deciding if the song is my kind of lead style or if it is his. Kevin Last: we both are capable of doing leads but we like to alternate because we both have a pretty distinct style. Travis wails on some of the more aggressive stuff, the fast, hard-hitting pit songs and stuff because he’s got that shreddy stuff, he has chops. (At this point Travis sings what he plays on guitar and there is no way to transcribe that riff). *laughing Travis Eaves: Kevin does more of the harmonic pinches because he is more experienced in theory and can take the structure and decide he is going to go from B pentatonics straight into A and this and that. That makes sense to him. I need to rehearse and get a feel for it first then it is set in stone. That is how we balance out and we work on lyrics together. We all collaborate on current events and what is going on. Kevin Last: We like singing about real issues. We are not a joke band and we also aren’t a political band. We don’t want to be taken that way, we want to have a voice and we want to convey ideas that have substance to them and we want people to realize the kinds of things that are happening in the world. Chris Madigral: To elaborate on one of Kevin’s points, we do want to write about contemporary issues. We want people to be aware of what is going on. People are aware of the struggling economy and some of the songs are about working. John Guido: Also personal issues; your day to struggles. Chris Madigral: Sometimes lyrics are written that may not fit any one of us but it may touch someone that is going through depression or something. We definitely think about everybody. It is an outlet for us but we want to think about how others are going to soak in that information. By the Barricade:What lyrical subjects do your fans most relate to? Chris Madigral: Actually we have gotten a good response on every song. I have talked to people at my work that are into a different genre like metalcore and something else and there is one particular song. They say, “I really like ‘Warriors’, that one song, it speaks to me.” John Guido: My favorite too. Chris Madigral: It’s really cool because when Kevin and I talked on the first day about the band we said that we wanted to appeal to everybody. It didn’t matter if you were a traditional skinhead or a punk rocker, psychobilly kid or a rockabilly kid, there is something you can relate to. It’s cool to be able to write that into our music and actually get that feedback from people that weren’t there with us. Kevin Last: The feedback from people that we meet will almost reiterate verbatim the things that Chris and I were talking about when we had the first conversation. We wanted to sing about real things. Sometimes it’s hard to live the daily grind and it is frustrating. Everyone has their own daily problems and there is a lot of monotony in that. There is hardship and turmoil and we want to sing about that we want to sing about things that actually matter. By the Barricade:What do you want your fans to take away from your shows? Kevin Last: if we were able to play for someone who had never been to a punk show and had never seen us and they say, “I love this.” They buy a CD and go home and put it on repeat for three weeks. That was how I was when I was a kid and if we can do that for somebody else. John Guido: I would go to a show, see a band, love that tune, buy that record and listen to it over and over. The next time you saw them you were front row. By the Barricade:You are family first, work first, but do you have a desire to tour? Chris Madigral: We have all talked about it. That is another thing we discussed from day one. We always say that number one is family. The way it is looking right now would be a west coast two week tour because it will have to be paid for by us. We are not signed and we are completely independent and do everything ourselves. Kevin Last: We would have to use our vacation time. John Guido: It’s definitely in the books. Chris Madigral: We talk about it a lot and are working toward that. It will happen. By the Barricade:If you could create a dream line up to play with, who would make the list? Travis Eaves: Cock Sparrer Chris Madigral: That is really hard to answer because there are so many influences. John Guido: We would have to have 100 people on stage. Chris Madigral: For me, I grew up listening to Millencolin, Pulley, NOFX, and we are actually going to be playing with Pulley in a couple months (November 9 at the Gaslamp in Long Beach). But getting older as a teenager it got a little more angry with street punk like U.K. Subs. I had the privilege of playing British Invasion about 10 years ago. That was a treat to see Charlie Harper from U.K. Subs come into our dressing room eating sandwiches. It is hard to answer that question because it would be everyone who ever influenced me and that list is a vast. Travis Eaves: If we were to pick all the bands that we want to play with it would have to be a month long festival. There are quite a few. We’ve been able to go to British Invasion or Holidays in the Sun. We have done all these festivals we’ve played with a lot of our idols and I wouldn’t trade any band that we play with. Honestly from now moving forward, we want to play with every single band that we can. Kevin Last: If you’re just looking for a few names for us to pick up off the floor. Travis hit the nail on the head, Cock Sparrer. I would love to share the stage with them. I have only seen them one time in my life, but when I saw them I cried like a 15 year old girl. Cock Sparrer, Oxymoron, The Krays, External Menace… I could go on. John Guido: it could go on for days. By the Barricade:Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to tell the readers of By the Barricade? Chris Madigral: Always stay positive. Given the right state of mind, music is always an outlet that can be positive no matter what you listen to. It doesn’t matter what the lyrics say, it can always put you in a better mood. I know I’ve gone through stuff in my life and music has always been there for me and continues to be there for me. Rough times and good times music is always there and never goes away. Inspire the younger kids to get into music and the arts. John Guido: We are all very positive. I preach a lot of positivity to my friends on social media because everybody probably knows someone having a bad day and they can preach what I preach to them to bring them up. That is a lot of what we try to do in our music as well. We all are positive and we try to go in a positive direction and send a better message. Kevin Last: One thing that is really important is that a lot of the people that listen to this music are kids and a lot are teenagers without a lot of guidance. It’s important to preserve the punk rock scene in Southern California, I can’t speak to other parts of the country, but for sure the punk rockers ruined their own scene. There were not a lot of venues that would have punk shows and when they did you had kids outside drinking, smashing bottles, getting into trouble, getting into fights, literally ruining their own scene. The police show up the venue gets screwed, the promoter gets screwed and they can’t keep doing punk shows anymore. Then the punk rockers start bitching that there aren’t any shows. They ruined it for all the venues. Why would they want you back? Respect the venues, respect the scene, love the music! Chris Madigral: there is nothing wrong with being angry. People are angry, but it is how you channel that anger in a positive way to get your message across. Come here, jump in the pit, but be respectful of other people. Don’t give yourself a bad name. Whatever it is you stand for, you want to make sure you maintain that dignity for what you believe in.