Broloaf's Ben Brah on Being the Best, The Vandals, and Straight Edge Kids
Jocks chugging beer bongs, snorting lines of cocaine, and hazing nerds on stage -- welcome to the magic that is a Broloaf show. The Scottsdale punk band that has been entertaining the Valley with wild on-stage antics for the past three years and will do so again when they open for The Meatmen on Monday, April 18.
As always, the Yucca Tap Room show will be free. We recently caught up with "Ben Brah" to discuss being the best, The Vandals, and straight edge kids.
Up on the Sun: You guys formed through the AZPunk contest Thrash of the Titans. What did that entail and what was the experience like?
Ben Brah: Basically, what they did was take enough people to fill up six bands. They put your name in a hat, and they said you're going to be the singer of this band, here's the guitar player, here's the bass player, here's the drummer, maybe people you don't know. I happened to know one of them, and the other two I didn't really know.
It turned into a contest at AZPunk.com, and at the time there was a message board and massive shit talking ensued. Of course, when I met the other three people, everybody had the same goal -- we wanted to win. We weren't in this competition to lose. We decided right then and there we're going to win. By the end of it, there were six bands, three of them were pretty much not too good, two of them didn't really do too much. Then there was us, and we won. It was great to be the first winner of the Thrash of the Titans.
UOTS: Were you assigned random roles, or instruments you knew how to play?
BB: No, you signed up and they drew from people that were already in bands around town. They did a second contest, I think they kinda opened it up a little more to people who weren't necessarily in bands. I was actually in a wedding when that went down, but we had some Broloaf people there. The band who's playing this show, Double Fisted Cunt Punch, are the winners of the second Thrash of the Titans.
UOTS: How long ago was this?
BB: December 10, 2007. What we did was we turned the very first show into our CD release. We made it our own little party. Quite honestly, I didn't know what was going to come out of this. We had our friend ask us to play his birthday show -- Tyler King -- so we made that our second CD release show, that was our second show. Then it snowballed from there. People seemed to really enjoy it. I mean, yeah, there's people that hate it, but this is our 19th show.
UOTS: What bands were you guys in when you formed?
BB: I'm in Casket Life. Johnny was in a band, I believe they had just broken up, they were called the Mystery Pissers. He's in Casket Life now as well. Kevin was in The Earps, and then Bernice was in Standard Deviance and Pop Gestapo. She's from Tucson. We kinda had a little bit rougher of a hand dealt because it was a two-month period from when you were notified to when the show was. You had to come up with an all-original set and one cover, and then Bernice went on tour for two or three weeks and she was in Tucson. And Kevin went on tour for two weeks, so for us to practice and win, it just shows hands down that we were the best because she was driving up from Tucson and we just made it happen, we pulled it all together.
UOTS: What was your cover and do you still play it?
BB: Oh no, we did a cover of "Broken" by Pennywise, a one time only kinda thing. We don't really play too many covers, every once in a blue moon, we might bust them out for a very special occasion. For the Fourth of July show, we played a couple pro-American songs for covers. There's a couple songs that work out, but for the most part we prefer our own songs because they're the best anyway.
UOTS: How did you come up with the bro concept?
BB: I can't remember the kid's name, but people made up names and put them all in a hat. We got selected the name Broloaf. The name was given to us and someone said, "What the fuck is a Broloaf?" and I'm like, "I know what a Broloaf is." I'm a big pro wrestling fan, so I kinda took that and merged the two together because I like punk rock music and I've been playing in bands over half my life. You gotta play, especially for that show, we knew who the judges were, we knew who was gonna be there, and we knew what we wanted to do, so, we kinda made it its own definition I guess.
UOTS: What are the various stage names you have and the personalities that go along with those names?
BB: We have Todd the Bod on guitar, we have Johnny Deuces on guitar, we have Troy on bass, we have So Cal Steve on drums, we have Junior on vocals, and I'm Ben Brah on vocals as well. We have a few other characters that make appearances. We have friends, we have a lot of foes, a lot of enemies that just show up randomly, they hate Broloaf. Haters gonna hate, that's just how it goes.
UOTS: Who are the haters?
BB: There's a Scottsdale detective by the name of Detective Lancer who's been hassling us, he shows up at our shows and likes to give us a hard time. He's tried to throw us in jail a few times. He thinks he knows what he's doing, he's usually out of his jurisdiction. He's got a crony or two. We also have Taliban Tim, who's a freedom-hating terrorist. He tries to kill us at our shows or blow us up, but he fails miserably like usual.
UOTS: Your first show turned into a CD release show. Did you have the full theatrics?
BB: Well, I think the first show around, we were getting an idea of what we were doing. Looking back at what it's morphed into from that show, they don't even compare. It was throwing some fun stuff together and making it happen, yeah there was theatrics but it's not like it is now. There's been a lot of money and effort and production put into it.
Other bands just wanna get out there and play. They think they're something special, but it's just a bunch of jerks, and it's boring. We bring the thunder and we're not afraid to tell anybody about it, because when you're the best band around, you gotta be able to tell everybody about it.
UOTS: What kind of preparation goes into each show, and how long does it take usually?
BB: Those are trade secrets. I can't really say, I'll just say a lot of preparation, more than most anybody can probably imagine. You gotta show up to the show to see what we're talking about on that.
UOTS: How would you describe your performances?
BB: We do what we do. We play hardcore punk rock, sometimes thrash music. We just fuck shit up.
UOTS: Do you try to do something new each time? You have some recurring characters...
BB: Yeah, we have some recurring people that show up, but we try to make every show different from the last. If someone thinks they've seen Broloaf five or six times and they've enjoyed it, and they think, "Oh it's gonna be the same thing," well, they're wrong. There's always something new and it's always something exciting.
I've been playing in bands for a very long time and I've never gotten the response that I've gotten out of people at after a Broloaf show. Every time we play, I've had people come up to me and tell me that was the most amazing thing they've ever seen. Not just once, not just twice, not just three times, but it always happens. I don't know why that is, maybe there's not enough fun bands out there, but people are blown away by what we do.
UOTS: That must be a great feeling.
BB: Yeah, it's pretty nice. I guess it would be nicer if there were more money in my hand, but yeah, it is what it is because that stuff costs a lot of money. It gets pricey, but it's worth it, it's fun. That's what it's all about is fun, really.
What is the old adage? If you want a real show, give me $100, give me $10,000 I'll give you a show. For what we do on a shoestring budget, it's quite amazing. If I ever had a real budget, watch out, GWAR would be running for their lives.
UOTS: How often do you play? You've done a handful of shows since you got started.
BB: I don't like to play more than every two to three months in town. We've gone out of town a few times for different things, but yeah, it started at that first show and I didn't really know where it was gonna go. Then there was a second show, and a third show, and it just started snowballing, and by the time there was the fourth show, we had the more definitive line up of what we have now. The only original members are me and Johnny Deuces. Todd, Steve, Roy, and JR weren't originally in the band. The way it all came together clicks.
UOTS: I saw on your bio that you have members from Vision, Roger Miret and the Disasters...how did you find those people, are they friends?
BB: Troy, or Roy, he's in Casket Life, he's also in Roger Miret's band. He's also in a slew of other bands. Todd the Bod was a member of Vision and he was also in Warzone, classic New York hardcore band. It all just came ahead. I met Todd through mutual friends and he expressed interest in Broloaf.
UOTS: How many people do you usually have on stage at a given time? How ridiculous does it get?
BB: It's been up to 20 at a time.
UOTS: Even at a place like the Yucca?
BB: At a place like the Yucca, probably 15 or 16. It gets retarded. Lots. It's gotten pretty wild.
UOTS: Do you rehearse who goes where, or just see what happens?
BB: Nothing like that. It's a free for all. We're just out there having a good time doing our thing.
UOTS: How have venues reacted to your performances? What about bands on the same ticket?
BB: That's an interesting question, it all kinda varies. To see the look of horror on another band's face after we've trashed the stage they're about to play on is quite hilarious. People enjoy it but, man, when they see what we've done to the stage and the floor, I don't think they're too happy.
Following us isn't always the easiest thing. If you're the best and someone has to follow you, that's a pretty rough spot to be in. we've opened up for some killer national bands before, so for seasoned pros like Valient Thorr, it isn't a problem for them, they always bring it to the next level. When you play with bands like that, it just builds the whole show, it's like a giant pyramid, each band outdoes the next, and they just get better and better and the night is a great success.
We still play shows where we show up and just blow up the place and the people who are up next don't know what to do. It's like they almost need to forget their songs and go home. They're just scared at that point.
UOTS: Do you prefer being an opening band or a closing band?
BB: I guess it just depends on the show. Usually, I would have to say we make the best headliner because when it's our show you can't really top what we do. But when we're playing with national talented acts, more power to them. We only have so many shows compared to other national bands with a thousand shows under their belt, so there's a bit of a difference, but we're all very serious people in that field.
We're playing with The Meatmen April 18, and I couldn't imagine that any other way than opening for The Meatmen. It's gonna be a great show, that's a Tyler King Presents right there.
UOTS: How long does it take you guys to clean up the mess you make on the stage?
BB: You'll have to ask the security guards about that.
UOTS: You leave it to them?
BB: Yeah, pretty much.
UOTS: So, they must REALLY love you.
BB: Yeah...it's not fun, we'll just put it that way.
UOTS: You guys play at the Yucca often, so I'm sure certain places are more receptive than others.
BB: We're friends with all those guys up there, so we'll have minions that help out. You don't want to trash a place too bad and leave it wrecked because you wanna come back. We love Rodney and all the people at the Yucca, we have a nice mutual friendship and respect for each other. We're not gonna totally dump off a place and go, not those guys, but other places, we've played at some very crappy places, just a couple, and yeah, we're more than happy to trash a place and leave.
UOTS: Did you get the look of horror from those people?
BB: Oh yeah, you've gotta clean this up and blah, blah, blah. It doesn't always pan out in their favor.
UOTS: Have you guys been banned from anywhere?
BB: Probably. I don't have a mental list in front of me of where we played.
UOTS: What have been some of your best and worst show experiences?
BB: Let's see. Usually best the shows are the last shows we played. I don't know how we've been lucky, but for the most part in our run of shows, each show just keeps getting better and better.
That being said, we definitely had a strange show in Las Vegas one night. We didn't take the stage until after 4 A.M., when we were loading out, the sun was up. It was an interesting experience. When you roll into a bar at 4 A.M. and there's not a lot of people there and you have a megaphone and you're shouting in people's faces and they're like, "Fuck you shut up," you just tell them off, tell them to go fuck themselves, then five minutes later they're partying with you and drinking and rocking the fuck out. Some girl's got her shirt off because she loves your band so much, this is how people roll in Vegas at 4:30 in the morning, all right!
They hated us so much, but a few songs in they were doing beer bongs and snorting blow off the floor.
UOTS: How was The Vandals show?
BB: I thought their Christmas shenanigans were fucking lame. They were great if someone that was visiting The Clubhouse from a senior center to see the fucking Vandals, because they're all a bunch of old rich assholes anyway. What they know about punk rock nowadays? Psh, probably not too much.
I'm glad they had a crappy tree, but we had a fucking wasted ass Santa Claus, we brought the fucking thunder that night. Really, yeah I guess its nostalgic for old people and the new kids that pick up on The Vandals, because I mean shit, when I started listening to The Vandals I was 13 or 14 and they had been around for years and years at that point. Maybe it's something for kids to do, but to promise some Christmas spectacular and you just come out and sing a couple crappy Christmas songs and you've got a crappy Christmas sweater, that doesn't constitute a fucking Christmas party, that is a joke. Take your old rich asses back to orange county and reformulate your game plan because you're not Broloaf and you never will be.
UOTS: You have two EPs and this is your first full-length, correct?
BB: We have an EP out called Shit's Tight, that was the one we released for AZPunk's Thrash of the Titans. We also did another EP called Weekend Warriors, that was for TK's birthday. This is our first full length, we recorded it with Byron Filson at Villain Recording, fucking awesome dude, awesome studio. He's recorded all the best bands in town, he's recorded a bunch of national acts. If there's anyone who wants to get a solid product, he's the man to do it up. We've spent a lot of time on this one, it sounds really good. We did the right thing, we didn't rush anything, we took our time, so for this to finally come out, it's really exciting.
UOTS: How's your full length different from previous material?
BB: Sound quality is a million times better, it's professional. With the other ones, they turned out good, it's just...there's a big difference when you work on something over some time and you craft something other than okay we've got two days to do freakin' eight songs, let's bust it out, let's push through it, here's all this shit, let's just go, go, go as opposed to sitting back and getting proper sounds on everything. If something sucks, let's toss it out and do it again. We spent so much time, I mean, it is a great album.
UOTS: How long have you had the current line-up?
BB: I'd say closing in on about two years. But, like I said, we only play once every couple months. You can't be like every other local band in town playing every two weekends at Joe's Grotto.
UOTS: Do you really throw out beer? Or is it fake?
BB: Oh yeah, we like our audience to get as drunk as we do. We figure that the only way that a bunch of broke ass motherfuckers to show up to a free show are gonna get drunk is if they drink off our beer. We're Broloaf, we wanna party with everyone. We're down to share, throw out some fresh rails, thrown down some brews, it don't matter.
We want everyone to have a good time, that's really the most important thing for us. People can hate, they don't like Broloaf, they're too hardcore, they're too crazy, they do too many drugs, whatever their reasons are, they probably just don't like to have fun.
UOTS: If you had an offer to play with a straight edge band, would you take it?
BB: Abso-fucking-lutely. Especially if they were straight edge vegan, I'd make an aluminum foil hat and cover it with raw meat. I actually know a lot of straight edge kids that are cool as fuck. We don't have a problem with straight edge people, we just have a problem with people that give us shit for what we do because they think they morals are so much more defined and better than ours...please.
Just because we know how to have fun, don't fucking jump down my back because I like to eat at Arby's and drink fucking Pabst Blue Ribbon. There might be some diehards out there that hold on to that shit until they're old, but I'm sorry you had to be so god damn angry and aggressive your whole live. You should have kicked back, burned a fucking joint and relaxed a bit because at some point, like 95% of those fucking kids turn into what we all do, which is adults and they fucking drink that shit.
I saw a koozie the other day that said "straight edge for life". It had a straight edge kid on it holding a beer and "life" was crossed out, and it said straight edge for a while. To me, I know a lot of people who can drink that were straight edge when they were kids. When you're a kid, maybe it's something you can grab on to. I'm not out there saying that kids should be doing any dumb shit because most of us were kids doing all kinds shit we shouldn't have been. If you found something out there that you can grasp onto and its keeping you clean and sober, then by all means...but you gotta grow up sometime. And if you don't, that's more power to you, but don't hate on us for fucking enjoying what Americans enjoy the most and what Broloaf enjoys the most, fucking freedom.
UOTS: What are your plans for this year?
BB: First, we have The Meatmen show April 18 at the Yucca Tap Room, that's a Monday night, it's for free. Anyone who doesn't know The Meatmen needs to fucking look through their punk rock history book and check them out. That's gonna be a killer show.
We're gonna shoot for a summer tour. We're a very pro-American patriotic band, so people who have qualms with this great country that they live in need to pack their shit and get the fuck out because it's really the best. We're gonna hopefully release a 7-inch around Fourth of July. We do a killer Fourth of July show, we did it last year and are probably gonna do it again this year. It's all about celebrating the freedom of the greatest nation on earth, America.
UOTS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
BB: If you've seen us before and think you're gonna see the same shit, you'll be surprised when you come out. If you haven't seen us, you don't know what the fuck you're missing, so come check it out and have a good time. I promise nothing but smiles, drunk memories, and a fucking blast.