Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Sit down with Boston native, Bryan McPherson!

Greetings! I hope everybody enjoyed their labor day weekend and had some time off for family, friends, and relaxation purposes.  I spent the weekend at two shows on Saturday and then Sunday and Monday at the Boston Tattoo Convention.  Before the Saturday double headers, I spent some time with a local musician and good friend, Bryan McPherson.  Bryan is a Boston native hailing from Dorchester, Massachusetts and currently resides in California, first moving to the Bay Area. He has recently spent some time in Los Angeles before taking in the open road which he is currently on. Bryan has been on tour for the last month and a half and thus far has had some successful runs with the likes of Tim Barry (from Avail) and Cory Branan.  He currently has two full length releases, "Fourteen Stories" and "American Boy, American Girl" which he released and established on State Line Records. Bryan has rerecorded his song, "OFD" for the Martin Richard Memorial Foundation in his hometown.  In the past, Bryan has played with two well respected local bands, the Dropkick Murphys and the Street Dogs.  Before he ends this leg of the tour, he will head far north up to Canada for the first time, as well.  Other then that, I will let Bryan do the rest!

Run Don't Walk: How’s it feel to be back after being on tour? How long have you been on tour  for? A month and a half or so?

Bryan McPherson: Yeah, about six or seven weeks at this point.

RDW:  Feel good to be back in Boston?

B McP: It always feels good to be back.  I can eat pizza! (laughs)

RDW: How successful has the tour been so far?  Better or worse than you thought?  Which states and cities have been the best?

B McP: This tour has been better than the last tour, which is better than the one before that, as far as shows go.  It’s great!  You got your cities that are more receptive than others. Chicago is really great and Boston is awesome, it’s always good to play in Boston.  New York City is great, and the whole East Coast is really good to me.  I’ve been doing great on the West Coast and the Mid-West.  Overall, it’s going pretty well.  

RDW: The second kick starter fund was for this tour correct?

B McP: No. For the van I did a kickstarter.  

RDW: Did it work out well for you?  Was it the same idea as you did for the last record?

B McP: Well the record I put out, I funded myself and then with Stateline Records.  I produced it and then Stateline came in and mixed it, mastered it and pressed it.  I worked with my friends at State Line on that.  The van came about with the Kickstarter campaign which was very successful.  I did that campaign when I was on tour in the North East in a little rental car and aimed for seven thousand dollars and got eight thousand dollars and was able to buy the van and insure the van for the last year and it needed a couple of repairs.  Since I was able to get the van, I’ve toured the United States three times (this being the third time), from San Francisco to Boston and heading up to Canada in a couple weeks and back and forth again.  So its been very successful. 

RDW: So what’s the experience been like working with Mark Lind and Doug Sullivan from the Ducky Boys at State Line Records?

B McP: Fucking Terrible! (Laughs) Great, those guys are awesome!  Always good to see them and certainly glad they came along and put “American Boy, American Girl” out!

RDW: Reaching way back when, what inspired you to play? What life experience helps you in writing?  

B McP: I just started.  I just knew I wanted to write songs and knew I could write songs, and poems about fucking pigeons and trash trucks and weird random shit I would see on the corner.  My friend as a teenager taught me how to play guitar so I could write "song songs" and write about the world and life and this crazy dream and getting out on the edge.  My writing is just my reflection of my experience and who I am as a person. Its half way opinionated songs kind of but they just come about from living life and wringing out the sponge. 

RDW: When you started playing shows locally, where in Boston and Cambridge did you get your start?  Did you play parties and friends here in Dorchester?

B McP: I started playing for parties and friends in Dorchester, and Club Passim in Cambridge, they do an open mic there with the whole folk crowd, I just started going there over ten years ago now.  I played my first show at Out Of The Blue Gallery in Central Square and then a couple years later, I got back around the Boston punk scene.  I started playing the Abbey Lounge and started played with Mark Lind and all those guys and then started playing all over Boston.  The Abbey Lounge and Club Passim were the early days.
RDW: Since we are milling around Dorchester right now, where in Dorchester did you grow up?  Did your upbringing and experiences here reflect on the songs you wrote?  On “Fourteen Stories” you have the songs such as “OFD”.  On the first album, did your neighborhood come out in certain songs more often?

B McP: Yup! I’m just a product of my environment.  I grew up in Dorchester and the first record had a more Dorchester feel because I never really got out of Dorchester or out of Boston.  Definitely it’s on the new record too.  Songs like “Me, I Am Anger” is about being from Dorchester and growing up like a townie but also being different and a Clash, like going to the other side of the river in Cambridge because I have an accent.  Then here, being terrorized by other people you know because you are different.  It’s a tough neighborhood to grow up in, it’s a tough town.  Dorchester will always be a part of me, and I will always be a part of Dorchester.  Its on my arm now!

RDW: Since you have been out in California and the Bay Area, did you find other musicians whether or not they were from Boston, either in the punk scene, or the folk scene, or whatever the case may be?  

B Mc P: Yup! I got help from musicians all over the United States.  When I moved to the Bay Area, I hooked up with Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, I played some shows with Jason White, and Mystic Nights of the Cobra.  I got help from my friend, Jeff Samuels and his brother, Willie Samuels who helped me record. “American Boy, American Girl” and Emily Miller played cello on there and she’s from around the bay area. And now touring on it constantly, looking for musicians to help you and get shows, and visa verse.

RDW: What in your eyes did you do differently between “Fourteen Stories” and “American Boy, American Girl”?  Did you do anything differently other than working with Stateline?  Was it the same methodical approach or a different process?

B McP: The difference on this one is that I kind of knew what I was doing on this one.  On “Fourteen Stories” was my first experience working in a studio and worked with a producer on that.  On “American Boy, American Girl”, I basically spearheaded myself and “Fourteen Stories” took a year and a half to record.  On “American Boy, American Girl” we did it in three weekends and a couple week nights. It was really well rehearsed and knew everything I wanted to do on it and went in there and banged it out where on “Fourteen Stories”, I was like “Alright, what am I going to do here?” 

RDW: So it sounds like you were much more prepared so to speak?
B McP: I was more prepared and I knew what I wanted to do. I was older and obviously was recording on another coast. 

RDW: So what made you want to move out to California in the first place?
B McP: I just wanted to get out where I was from and see the world, you know?  I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

RDW: Has it been beneficial to you? 

B McP: It’s been painful and beneficial!  Well it’s the same thing that’s difficult about touring: you don’t realize how much your environment, the people you know, your friends play a part in your life until everybody is gone and it’s just you, and a new area everywhere you go.  You know you are not going to run into anybody you know. Nobody recognizes you when you walk down the street.  It’s like the Doors song, “People Are Strange”, “People are strange when you're a stranger, Faces look ugly when you're alone, Women seem wicked when you're unwanted, Streets are uneven when you're down”- It’s a lot like that. You start to feel like a ghost, you know?  Initially out there, it was that but then you meet friends and stuff like that.  Touring, I go to different places and I have friends in different towns.  There are still those stretches where it’s just me and my fucking van, driving through beautiful Oklahoma. 

RDW: As a musician, you have played for some well-known and respected Boston punk bands like Dropkick Murphys and the Street Dogs back in 2009.  What were those experiences like and what did that do for you? 

B McP: Those experiences were great!  I was a Dropkick Murphys fan so that was fucking rad. That basically made getting shows around Boston a lot easier after that.  I just did a bunch of shows back with Dropkick back in March too in New York and Boston at the TD Bank North Garden also known as the Boston Garden.  I just got back from tour with Cory Branan as well as Tim Barry who was in that band I really liked back in the nineties called Avail who is doing some awesome solo stuff now which is fucking cool.  It’s cool to play shows with people who you look up to and respect as well.  

RDW: What are your biggest goals for writing, and when do you go back to California?  Where exactly are you at in California right now? 

B McP: That’s a good question, Nick!  Right now I have a storage unit and P.O Box in Los Angeles.  My plan right now is to go back out there to see how it feels. I will be shifting my focus from touring to recording because I’m a songwriter and I am always writing songs.  I have written a lot of songs and I want to make another record.  Touring and booking tours takes an unbelievable amount of time for me as I do a lot of it.  So I’ll be thinking where I want to settle down for a minute and make another record and I have no idea where it’s going to be.  I’m sort of feeling it out and seeing wherever the wind blows on this one.  

RDW: Looking back on your time in the Bay Area, was it overall a great experience?  Obviously we talked about the culture shock factor but was it a positive experience?

B McP: Bay area is great!  It’s a great music scene and a lot of good musicians.  I experienced Occupy Oakland there which was a big huge deal, kind of internationally.  I was inspired- “I See A Flag” was about my first experiences in the Bay Area.  It’s about the murder of Oscar Grant on the BART train by the BART police while he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and just kind of the injustice that was going on with that.  It was just all the random shit that was going on culturally in the Bay Area in my first days.  There’s where I was able to figure out how to do this stuff.  I was like left to my own devices and was out of my comfort zone.  It was like “how do I do another record?” and had to figure that out. Then “How do I put out another record” Stateline came along and then “How do I go on tour” and said “Oh, I got to get a van” and then I got a van. And then “How do I go on tour?” and then figure out how to book stuff.  It was good on how to figure out how I want to do it.  

RDW: Were you working any day jobs when you first got out there? What’s the worst you have had?

B McP: Yeah man!  I drove a truck for a little bit and I was driving out around.  There’s a lot of farm land out in the Central Valley and I had to leave at four o’clock in the morning, it was pretty awful.  I wrote “Long Lost American” the day before and I was twanging along on the chorus and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do.  Out there watching the sun come up, I was singing the chorus and said “Oh shit, that’s it! There’s the chorus to that song!”  Then I worked selling rental cars to tourists and young professionals on the streets of San Francisco and we would stand at this table and people would theoretically ask about this great service and we would tell them about how awesome it was.  We would basically stand there and watch fucked up shit happen because fucked up shit happens in the Bay Area. I watched a homeless women piss five times in the middle of the street.  It’s not something I want to see and I’m traumatized by this.  You can do whatever the fuck you want in San Francisco but the down side of that is that anybody can do whatever the fuck they want so you have this random acts of pissing or whatever.  So if you go there, you won’t be shocked and surprised!

RDW: While growing up here in Boston, I assume you went to a lot of punk and hardcore shows?  Did you get involved in the scene that way too?  What were some of your favorites growing up and coming out now?  What about outside of the scene here in Boston but who were/are some of the bands you loved?

B McP: Little bit.  Boston- back in those days it was like Showcase Showdown were one of my  favorites. Yeah, “Fuck You, Norway!” and all that shit. They were big around here, and then the Dropkick Murphys, Ducky Boys, Mung, and a bunch of other bands.  Those were the ones who still resonate in my head when asked about it. I listen to all kinds of music now but I was into bands from wherever as long as they were fucking good. 

RDW: Any final words? 

B McP: Final words!  We’re going to Quincy! 

RDW: Any upcoming shows? You’re playing at Great Scott this week, tell us about that!

B McP: Great Scott with Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One with Jason Anderson and its going to be fucking rad!  It starts at 8 with the three of us.  Lenny will have his squad and Jason will have his band and I will be acoustic.  It’s going be a great show! There are people coming up from New York and Pennsylvania so I suggest going to it!  

Bryan McPherson Offical Website
Bryan McPherson Facebook Page
State Line Records Offical Page
State Line Records Facebook Page
Buy Bryan's releases, and merch here!

Bryan McPherson also rerecorded his song, "OFD" from his first release, "Fourteen Stories".  All of the proceeds go to the Martin Richard Memorial Foundation which was put in place by Martin's school. All the information can be found and purchased on the link below:

"Originally From Dorchester" for Martin Richard Memorial Foundation.

Upcoming Shows:
September 5th, 2013
Great Scott
8pm, and 18+ (With VALID ID)
with Lenny Lashley's Gang Of One and Jason Anderson

More tour dates can be found here!


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