Hanging out at Elsewhere in Bushwick, Ryan Lindsey’s comfy in sweats and a giant T-Shirt, and Ben King vibes the Blues Brothers by wearing his sunglasses inside. This is their default mode as far as I can tell from Instagram, where I can also see that they’re most likely on the mend from an overload of JELL-O shots the night before. Penny Pitchlynn and Nathan Price pop in at various points in the discussion, holding shoes soaked by the rain or to grab a Tostito and a Modelo.
BRONCHO’s new album, Bad Behavior, is the natural result of the evolution of their sound over the years. It’s self-aware, precise, and (less-importantly but notably) often difficult to understand a fucking word Lindsey is saying. That’s the charm. A former choir boy, he’s figured out a way to use his voice that’s all at once playful, addictive, distinct, mean, soft, arguably sexy, and versatile. It’s the cherry on top of the clever compositions and satisfying songwriting that’s typical of BRONCHO.
Lindsey offered me a beer from the ice tub taking up the coffee table, and I gladly accepted. I’ve been listening for years and was honestly freaked out I’d come on too strong, but I can easily say it was the breeziest interview I’ve done – in part because he’d happily go on and on in a soft-spoken but sincere stream of consciousness even if I’d said nothing past the first question. Unfortunately, he was so soft-spoken that the music from the other room drowned out a lot of what he so intently said. These short answers aren’t indicative of what it’s like to sit down with Ryan, but the gist is still here. Just imagine every answer goes on for a paragraph or so.
King, Pitchlynn, and Price all seemed content with letting Lindsey take the reins as he held my phone to speak into the microphone and fidgeted with the pop-socket. This all pretty accurately mirrors their onstage dynamics, except that in person, Lindsey has a super refreshing way of slipping in a smile at almost everything. He’s got a way of making you comfy. On stage, he’s equally engaged, just with a meaner demeanor. He’ll intensely stare down the crowd, while 30 minutes before he was dancing through a quick photoshoot, shamelessly enjoying the spotlight.
Is that the new voice memo app?
I donno, is it?
It looks different than mine.
Maybe it’s time to update your phone!
It’s time to update!
Listening to this new album personally puts you guys into a more classic/refined or concise sound category that I’d thought of you before – there are songs on previous albums that have always stuck out to me as more playful. Was that intentional? Why do you think it turned out that way?
Yeah, for whatever reason this seemed to call for an overall dryer sound than our previous record.
I ask this of pretty much everyone, but how do you think being from Oklahoma has affected the kind of music you create? The whole nature vs. nurture, the sense of “home” and how it affects art, is really fascinating to me.
People come from all kinds of backgrounds where we grew up. My mom was classically trained, so I grew up doing a lot of classical lessons and was in the choir and all of that. Which I hated then but I love now because it taught me things that I actually use.
So many bands from bigger cities kind of live in this blue bubble, and they’re mad, but they’re not immediately surrounded by opposing opinions, necessarily. How does being from a red state affect your perspective?
Well, the cities we lived in are pretty well-rounded. We’re well connected to people that kind of think similarly so it doesn’t really affect daily life much. I don’t think it really affected how we write or anything, as long as we’re writing together it’s just gonna be what it is, although I can’t say for sure.
Yeah, it was good, we just invited our friends over and rearranged the furniture. It wasn’t until like halfway through that people realized they were at a show, I think some of them thought that the whole thing was a joke – they might still think that.
Do you feel like you’re a joke or do you feel like you’re real?
Yeah, I feel pretty real.
What’s the weirdest venue you’ve ever played?
I don’t know if it was the weirdest but one of my favorite moments that happened. We were setting up and there was this guy that came over and asked us if we would mind if he sat in on didgeridoo. And I sad… absolutely. And so I kind of forgot about it and then the sound guy started setting up a mic on the ground and I was like oh yeah! He played with us for the first couple of songs and I was really enjoying it.
Well, I feel like I’m the same. I can turn it on and stuff. I’m a mixture, I can be very introverted, I can be very extroverted. It’s really easy for me to be extroverted but I enjoy alone time.
How would you describe the feeling of performing live? If you were to make a visual for what it feels like what would it look like and what medium would it be?
Like a color or anything?
How about green?
Haha, ok cool, that works.
Well, we’ve been using a lot of red lately but I like green.
I was gonna ask about the video which definitely uses a lot of red. “Sandman” and “Boy’s Got to Go” are two of my favorite on the album and the video really beautifully highlights the opposition of the two – did you know that it’d be those two songs for a video when you were writing them? Was it all Pooneh Ghana [the director]’s idea?
We’ve known Pooneh for a while, she did a short tour video in Europe. That’s when we showed her “Sandman,” and she started thinking about it in terms of the video. Then when we showed her more of the record she knew she wanted to do two songs, and she knew which two. Everything in the video was her idea.
Were the cherries her idea?
No, actually we did the cover beforehand. I just really liked the way it looked kind of bloody and bubbling. So we set up for the shoot and were ready for a long haul, but then Penny wanted to see what they tasted like, so she leaned in and we got the shot like… ok, we’re good!
A YouTube comment on one of your live performances goes, “Taj Mahal was my least favorite initially but now I just can’t resist the grime – shit is pure filth” – is that what you’re going for? What do you want people to feel when they listen to your stuff? Another one was “rocks me out and feels fresh and free and dirty, I like it.”
That’s exactly what I want people to feel like. I want people to feel free. Fresh free and dirty.
Nice, so you’ve definitely achieved your goal on that one.
Yeah, we’ve achieved the dream, I guess we can go home now!
Was there a moment that you realized that people were connecting with your music?
When my mom said she liked it.
Are you close with your mom?
Yes. I love my mom.
How important is it to engage with the people that connect with your music, both fans and fellow musicians?
I think it can be strange because you can’t listen to every comment or opinion on what you make. Sometimes people get something different out of it than what was intended, but that’s also pretty cool.
Like once you put something out there it’s kind of up to them to decide what it means.
At this moment Lauren came in to say we’d run out of time, and Nathan came in wearing the same bright yellow rain jacket that I’d worn. I pointed out how we matched, and also pointed out how Ryan and I were both wearing Docs with yellow laces. It was lame as hell but they were both super sweet about it. Ryan put out his foot next to mine to humor me, and we all got up to take some quick photos in the next room. He was happy to keep the convo going after I’d stopped recording – I eventually had to ask him, “don’t you have to get to another interview?” And he smiled through, “yeah I do, but this one was better!” 10/10 band, 10/10 humans.