Brazil (band)

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Brazil
Origin Indiana, USA
Genres Post-hardcore, Progressive rock, Indie rock
Years active 2002–2007
Labels Immortal Records
Members Jonathon Newby
Nic Newby
Aaron Smith
E. Johnson
James Sefchek
Philip Williams

Brazil was an Indiana rock band. Although the band eschews labels and are often categorized with the punk and post-hardcore music scenes, that is mostly due to association. The music itself is more akin to progressive rock with indie rock roots. The line-up as of 2006 release is Jonathon Newby, Nicholas Newby, Aaron Smith, Eric Johnson, James Sefchek, and Philip Williams. They are known for complex song arrangements and intellectual subject matter, and cite influences as diverse as Pink Floyd, Queen, and The Cure. Brazil have released two full length albums and two EPs.

Band history[edit]

The band London formed in the summer of 2000 with brothers Jonathon and Nicholas Newby. After assembling the initial lineup, they recorded the first of a series of homemade demos and played three Muncie, Indiana shows in late 2000. In early 2001, London renamed themselves Brazil and began small bouts of weekend touring. Self-releasing their debut eponymous EP early summer 2001, Brazil embarked on a defining 3-week tour that took them to the East Coast and the South and tested the band's physical and mental limits with a self-imposed itinerary that had them traveling for days at a time in a run down minivan. More frequent small tours followed as the members finished their schooling. During this time, the band wrote and performed CONQUER, a three part collaboration with members of the Ball State University Symphony Orchestra. In 2002, Brazil signed a small contract with California label Fearless Records, who released the band’s second EP, Dasein. The band toured on the EP for approximately five months before returning home to write A Hostage and the Meaning of Life, their debut full length album of 2004, also released by Fearless Records. Hostage was released in September of that year and the band embarked on a tour lasting nearly fourteen months, completing approximately 4 circuits of the United States and four entries into Canada with bands such as Coheed and Cambria, Sparta, Rise Against and the Vans Warped Tour. Upon returning home, the band found themselves without funding for their next record but were able to quickly secure a deal with California label Immortal Records, who released the band’s second album The Philosophy of Velocity. The band began touring promotion in August 2006. In August 2007, lead singer and songwriter Jonathon Newby decided to quit the band, which resulted in the decision of the entire band to end. Their final show was performed on August 18, 2007. However, they've recently gotten back together and recorded an Ep entitled "ere I am J.H.".

Present and Past Members[edit]

Jonathon Newby- Founding member and singer. Newby played drums for Brazil before switching to vocals prior to the Dasein EP session. He does most of his writing on the piano, where he had formal training for several years. He recorded vocals on all Brazil releases through 2006, and recorded drums on The Lost EP and the early demos. As of August 18, 2007, Jonathon Newby announced he was no longer a member of Brazil. He gave no reason for his leaving other than citing "personal reasons".

Nic Newby- Founding member, keyboard player, and occasional tour manager. Nic played on all Brazil releases through 2006. Interestingly, Brazil is the only band Nic has ever been a member of. In 2006, Nic was forced off tour for court-ordered therapy involving charges never formally announced. He returned to the road in late October.

Aaron Smith- Founding member and guitarist. Smith is known for his non-technical and intuitive approach to playing guitar, often eschewing theory and technique for expression and energy. He was the band’s original bass player. Smith also sang in political punk band American Youth, and played guitar in art noise band Pharmacy Liquor. He recorded guitar on all Brazil releases through 2006.

Eric Johnson- Guitarist. Johnson joined just before the recording of the Dasein EP, making Brazil a 2-guitar band for the first time. He’s known for his very precise and consistent style which, when juxtaposed against Smith’s expressionistic approach, creates much of the unique tension that comprises Brazil’s sound. Johnson has also recorded with renowned Chicago engineer Steve Albini, and currently plays in saababanks, a band often compared to noisy and rhythm-heavy bands such as Shellac, June of 44, and The Jesus Lizard. He recorded guitar on Dasein, The Lost EP, the Wrapped Around Your Finger cover, A Hostage and the Meaning of Life, and The Philosophy of Velocity.

James Sefchek- Drummer. Sefchek joined in 2003 after responding to the band’s advertisement looking for new drummer. He recorded drums on A Hostage and the Meaning of Life, the Wrapped Around Your Finger cover, and The Philosophy of Velocity.

Philip Williams- Bassist. Williams joined in 2004, and played bass for Asian Man Records artist Johnny Socko and indie pop group Pravada with members of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s prior to joining Brazil. He recorded bass on The Philosophy of Velocity and the Wrapped Around Your Finger cover.

Matt Miller- Founding member and guitarist. Miller rehearsed with the band and helped write very early material shortly before dropping out for personal commitments, although he toured briefly as a substitute in 2002. Miller now does much of the band’s pre-production recording.

Jonny (Aquadora) Richardson- Founding member, guitarist, vocalist. Richardson wrote/recorded guitar and vocals on the early demos and the debut self-titled EP, and toured with the band as lead singer/guitarist in 2000 and 2001. He now lives in Brooklyn, NY, and leads noise rock band Aquadora [1], as well as being a founder/owner of the Brooklyn rock venue XPO 929 [2]. Notable side projects include SpiderSnake [3], Silent Painters, and Fire The Cannons. He has also toured and recorded as bassist/drummer/vocalist for experimental noise rock duo Magicsparkle [4] during 2007-2009.

Jonathan May- Guitarist. May rehearsed with the band briefly in 2001, but dropped out before performing live or doing any studio work. He executed the tape loop sound experiments during the CONQUER performance. He is also known for his guitar work in the Muncie surf-rock band The H-Men, and the punk rock band The Retreads. He currently performs in Union Chapel.

Benjamin Hunt- Bass. Hunt joined in 2001, taking the bass position from Aaron Smith. He toured and recorded with Brazil for 3 years before leaving the band in 2004, recording bass on Dasein, The Lost EP and A Hostage and the Meaning of Life. He played in Indianapolis hardcore bands Horizon and Anthem Boy prior to joining Brazil. He currently lives in Indianapolis, IN as a web / graphic designer and currently has a musical project: maravich with Indianapolis native Jim Rawlinson (EIC, Jim Fix) and Jim Shaffer (Loretta).

Jason Bradley- Drums. Bradley toured briefly in 2003 before leaving the band.

Alex Bond- Drums. Bond played two concerts with the band in 2002 before leaving the band. He went on to play for Initial Records band Black Cross.

Scott Freeman- Drums. Freeman tracked all drums on the Dasein EP, as well as toured during 2002 before leaving the band. He also played for Thick Records artist Sullen, touring frequently with Chicago hard rock band Local H.

James Cole- Drums. Cole toured with Brazil in 2003 before joining Invisible Records artist Tubring.

Nater Kane- Drums. Kane toured briefly in 2003 and works as a software and design consultant, in Brooklyn, NY

Andrew Gaub- Drums. Gaub played locally in 2001 before joining metal band Hospital, then for the art noise band Pharmacy Liquor (see "Aaron" above). He then drummed for the Bloomington quartet Terremoto. He is now an assistant to an international dealer of rare books outside Philadelphia.

Tim Hardy- Drums. Hardy played on the My Chemical Romance/UnderOATH radiotakeover.com Tour in 2002. The tour also included the bands Dredg and Codeseven on select dates. Hardy also played drums for the Rock band Bi-Level and recorded and toured for the Album [5]The Songbird (AmpSTL Records) in 2004. Tim also performed and recorded in the Instrumental/Visual prog rock Band MotherFather and currently lives in St. Louis.

Brandon Beaver- Drums. Beaver toured during 2003 before leaving the band. He now plays drums in Indianapolis band We Are Hex.

Chris Swinney- Bass. Swinney toured during 2004 before leaving the band. He now plays guitar in The Ataris.

The name[edit]

The name Brazil was chosen randomly from a map in January 2000. The band watched Brazil, the 1985 science fiction film by Terry Gilliam, a few months later, and became further enamoured of the name. Prior to being called Brazil, they were called London, however once they realized that there had been many London (heavy metal band) before them, they felt the need to change their name.

Discography[edit]

Studio[edit]

Release date Album
September 17, 2002 Dasein
Never The Lost EP
April 20, 2004 A Hostage and the Meaning of Life
October 3, 2006 The Philosophy of Velocity

Singles & Compilations[edit]

Brazil has recorded a handful of one-off tracks and demos. In 2005, Brazil recorded a cover of The Police’s Wrapped Around Your Finger for the Fearless Record’s Punk Goes 80s Compilation. Additionally, the band recently recorded an original track called Cities Made of Snow for Immortal Records Santa Cause Benefit Compilation, released for the 2006 holiday season. Several demoed songs also exist that did not make it onto the albums. One track was left over after the Hostage sessions, and six tracks were left over after the Philosophy sessions. The band is currently recording acoustic versions of some album tracks for future release, as well as demos for new material.

Post-mortem EP[edit]

The band self-released a post-mortem EP called 'Ere I Am J.H.' in June. No touring took place for this release.

Criticism[edit]

Brazil have often been compared to the now defunct band At the Drive-In, a comparison the band goes to great lengths to distance themselves from. A few factors play a part in the oft-cited comparison of the two bands. Namely, both bands released their formative records on Southern California record label Fearless Records, both bands recorded early records with Los Angeles producer Alex Newport, and both band’s vocalists have similar ranges. Ironically, only one member of Brazil has admitted to being a fan of the late El Paso, Texas based 5-piece[citation needed], though the other members appreciate their reputation and contribution to music in the early ‘00s. The band has often bemoaned the idea of being grouped solely with bands from the punk genre, a scenario often repeated on tours and with record labels, preferring instead to be regarded as simply a modern rock band.

A song from the Dasein EP called "It Keeps the Machine Running" samples a portion of "Sea" by solo pianist George Winston. Winston is not credited in the liner notes.

The Ministry[edit]

The Ministry is a loose community of fans who follow Brazil closely and help disseminate information regarding the band and their activities. Most are long-time acquaintances of the band in various parts of the world with whom the band keeps in close contact via telephone, although membership is not exclusive. The Ministry also participates in secretive endeavors, such as the revealing of hidden websites involving the band’s work, and the organization of ‘Pataphysical Odd Occurrences, or P.O.O. - grassroots reading circles devoted to the literary work of Jonathon Newby.

Post-Brazil endeavors[edit]

Singer Jonathon Newby now writes and records under the name Autobody. He also owns a publishing company and record label called Young Tobacco, devoted exclusively to the release of his own material. Guitarist Aaron Smith now writes and records mainly guitar and drum programming tracks in the vein of Four Tet and Swod. Pianist Nic Newby works as an International Education Specialist at a Big Ten university. The remaining members are still writing music but have no current plans to record or tour. James Sefchek is in Seaside Caves.

External links[edit]