Vancouver’s Rococode are pretty much everything I like in a band: boy/girl vocals, a reasonable grasp on cinema history… and a debut album called Guns, Sex & Glory… Rococode are a four-piece who seem to grasp the brightest and darkest forms of beauty to be found in postmodern music… and seem to know how to avoid all of the lamest forms of brightness and darkness as well… They released their debut this February and spent much of March touring the states. Interview described their debut as “Equal parts sophisticated uptown polished pop princess and downtown grunge prince,” referring to vocalists Laura Smith and Andrew Braun. Rococode seems to know exactly when it’s time to have fun and exactly when it’s time to be in-love with their sadness… like a cabaret lounge take on Garbage, or a more organic Shiny Toy Guns… I recently got a chance to chat with Andrew Braun about all of this and just exactly what the band has planned for the future.
Izzy Cihak: You recently released your debut album, Guns, Sex & Glory. I quite like the album (and its name). What were the album’s biggest influences and inspirations, whether musical or otherwise?
Andrew Braun: The songs were written over a period of three or four years, so a lot of the influences are quite varied. That’s certainly part of the reason why the album ventures to so many different places. We didn’t really have a band at the time they were written, either… so there really was no template for what the songs could/should do. Musical influences ranged from St. Vincent to J.S. Bach to Radiohead to our time in jazz school… It’s all tucked away in there somewhere….
IC: Do you have a particular favorite track, or one which you feel best exemplifies your current musical mindset? I’m hugely into “Empire.”
AB: I think “Empire” is a great example of our mandate when we were making the record. We took the simplest of songs and tried to present it in a very strange way. From baritone guitars to tenor sax to auto-tuned feedback… We just tried to develop our ideas in a backward kind of way that still sounded straightforward. As far as recordings go… I think we’re all still very fond of “Ghost I/Ghost II.” That sound went through such a drastic evolution throughout the recording process and we feel like there are some magical moments in that one.
IC: You’ve released a number of really cool music videos. Do you have any particularly prominent cinematic influences? I’m a total cinephile and could spend all day talking about cinema.
AB: I feel our music is somewhat stylistically reminiscent of someone like Tim Burton or Jean Pierre Jeunet… It is big and often somewhat uplifting in subject matter, but all the while is shrouded in darkness. I feel like both these directors have mastered the art of telling a universal (and often bordering on cheesy) story in a beautiful, imaginative, and creepy way. That’s definitely something we strive for in our music — keep the pop packaging, but try to keep in on the dark side.
IC: I really love a lot of contemporary male/female dual-vocal bands. Do you have any peers, in that sense, that you’re especially fond of or find to be especially interesting?
AB: We made our album with Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother — who is a master of the boy/girl vocal in his own band, so that was certainly a major influence. When we wrote the album, it was very much a “Laura song/Andrew song” scenario… so the dual vocal thing is something that we’re still trying to maximize. It’s a bit of a fine line… because you never want anything to sound like a classic duet… but we are trying more and more to figure out the best way to use both voices in every song — and to allow the dual-vocal to become the voice of the band. The next record will certainly sound more and more like two simultaneous singers, as opposed to alternating leads… but, like I said, it’s something we are still working on figuring out.
IC: You did a handful of US dates recently. What were the highlights? Any favorite venues or experiences?
AB: We had a great time at all the US shows. We’ve toured back and forth across Canada for a while now and it was super exciting to be on some different highways and new clubs and things. I think our standouts would have been: Mahalls in Lakewood, OH (just outside of Cleveland) because it is also a bowling alley… which is just awesome. Piano’s in NYC — New York as a whole was a real highlight… had a few days off there and it’s always an adventurous place to inhabit for a few days. We also had a super fun and super sweaty show at Piano’s. The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ — turned up on a Tuesday night after a day dealing with van trouble and had very low expectations if anyone would actually come out. However… we were greeted with a room full of local music lovers who came and paid cover just to see a band they’d never heard of… such a rare case in this musical climate… and it certainly boosted morale after a shitty day sitting in Dunkin Donuts, waiting to see how much money we’d have to pay to fix our van.
IC: What are your hopes and plans for the rest of 2013?
AB: We are going to finish up this tour of Canada at the end of April and play some festival stuff throughout the summer. In the gaps we are going to be writing/demoing like mad. The main priority at this point is getting an album’s worth of material ready to record by the end of the year. We’ve batted around the idea of a West Coast US tour in the fall… but, for the moment, we’re trying to focus our energy toward the creative process.