INTRO – The typical view of the path to musical success sends the enterprising young musician into one of our country’s media centers… New York or L.A. For the members of Asheville’s The Broadcast, they’re taking a road less traveled in an effort to establish a musical career. George Olsen spoke with the band’s lead singer Caitlin Krisko and has this.
I’ve long jokingly said that I’m still deciding what it is I want to be when I grow up. At 50+, the joke is getting old… as am I, for that matter. Still, there’s some truth behind the joke, which may be why I’ve always had a deep respect for anyone who determines what it is they want to be and pursue it doggedly with no doubt, no regrets. Among those now with my deep respect… Caitlin Krisko and her band mates in the band The Broadcast.
“And being in NYC we realized financially speaking we couldn’t afford to do that. We couldn’t afford to pay our rent and be on the road 150 days a year without spraining our back trying to get people to sublet our apartments and finding odd jobs in the city when we were in town, it was really stressful to us. And then on a personal level, having grown up in New York I had never really left home before or after college, and I realized I needed a new experience and a lot of us realized we needed a new experience in order to be inspired creatively.”
So the band packed up the van and moved to Asheville, with everyone moving into the same house so they could keep expenses down as they try to follow a path they felt had been blazed by those who had musical success before them.
“And so we started looking at the careers of bands we love, and when we were looking at the history of music we noticed the pattern, and the pattern was no matter what generation or decade it was, the greatest bands came from touring, and literally sacrificing their lives to tour full time, bringing music similarly to a circus or a gypsy act, you bring your music to town and introduce your creative work to people and hope they respond to it.”
There’s an expression “how are you going to keep them on the farm once they’ve seen the bright lights of the big city.” To some degree, Caitlin Krisko and the Broadcast had the bright lights, opted for the farm. They chose to take the road traveled most, just in reverse. Caitlin also got some against-the-grain advice while receiving training at Circle in the Square… a respected New York theatre arts school… that prodded her to consider a different path.
“I had always intended to pursue musical theatre in my life, and had always planned on going the Broadway route. I had a great music theory teacher in college Mary Ann Ivin who I’ll always call out in interviews because she was such a pivotal moment to me and planted a seed after my freshman year in college and said, I think you should be a rock star rather than a musical theatre geek. No one had ever told me that before and it was that “a-ha” moment that totally changed the direction of my life.”
The rest of the members of the Broadcast may have gotten similar advice in the past. In scanning biographies of the band’s members it seemed I came upon the word “conservatory” pretty regularly to the point I half-wondered if the Broadcast was the revenge of the music-room nerds. Caitlin didn’t disagree.
“With Michael Davis our drummer, he was one of the star performer drummers at the Manhattan School of Music. He’s one of the best jazz drummers I’ve heard in my life. He’s got a great side-project, a trio called the Enormous Trio that is mind boggling. And he’s the go-to jazz drummer in Asheville. And it's really funny that his passion project and his real focus is this rock and roll band that we’ve created. I think that there’s nothing quite like the Broadcast shows bring to all of us. We all do sort of side projects here and there just for fun and we always come back to the Broadcast because it’s a work horse.”
The virtuosity that might come from a conservatory education isn’t immediately obvious in the Broadcast’s new CD “Dodge the Arrow.” It’s well performed but there’s not a lot of what I’ve always termed “give the drummer some” moments… extended instrumental breaks that seem to say more about the performer’s skill than its fit with the song. And that was the idea on “Dodge the Arrow”… much as they emulated the road warrior-ness of band’s they admired they also wanted to model what they heard on their recordings.
“When we listened to albums that we love and when we all started listening to albums that meant a lot to us personally, they were pretty cut-and-dried records. If you listen to Led Zeppelin IV, it’s a rock-and-roll record but there’s not a whole lot of jamming. When you listen to the Beatles Abbey Road or really any of the Beatles records there’s not a lot of jamming going on… or even Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. There records meant a lot to us and we started to see a common thread. We just didn’t want to be long-winded with this record. I wanted to get to the point.”
And they do. “Dodge the Arrow” is brevity defined… eight songs, running about 30 minutes, it’s a paean to getting to the point and a realization of the times the Broadcast is trying to survive in.
“Let’s be serious, people have very short attention spans now, and we can argue that and we can say it’s not true and we can ignore it or we can embrace it and work with it. We can learn how to get people’s attention enough in a way where they don’t suddenly start skipping songs in the record. I wanted people to turn on Dodge the Arrow and, on the last note of the last song get upset that the record is over and want to turn it back on again.”
… or better yet, go see a show. There’s plenty of opportunity to do that. The band is constantly travelling, with Caitlin estimating since their move to Asheville in 2010 they average around 150 shows a year. The band is “all in” … from that commitment to touring whenever-and-wherever to sharing living space, a decision Caitlin says has proven “magical” and which she expects to reminisce on fondly in later years. They’re all-in in another way as well. In the band’s New York incarnation, they were Caitlin Krisko and the Broadcast... Caitlin the head-liner, the Broadcast backing her up. Today, no more.
“It was actually my suggestion to drop my name from the title. It was important to me to show unification. We’re a family and every single person has sacrificed enormously in order to pursue this career, and I thought it was really important that each person was represented in the title of what we were setting out to do.”
Again, all in.
The new CD from Asheville’s The Broadcast is entitled “Dodge the Arrow.” I’m George Olsen.