Bringing in the String Section with Bob Nanna (Braid)
Musicians with grand plans aren’t generally known for their fantastic humility. And no artiste in general wants to admit that any part of his or her unrelentingly sterling output was ill-conceived, painfully trendy, or borne of some drug-fueled experience at whichever Mercury Lounge afterparty Ryan Gosling’s slutty girlfriend was Hoovering mounds of cocaine.
After all, how can mundane turds drop out of the otherwise gleaming, sainted assholes of our favorite musicians? Perish the thought!
But revisiting artistic failures is about more than public shaming, or wallowing in bad choices. It’s about acknowledging fallibility, owning past mistakes, and sifting through the smoldering pile to see what, under different conditions, might have survived the freakish birthing process.
That brings us to the second installment of Bringing in the String Section, a.k.a. What The Fuck Was Your Band Thinking? We talk to musicians about the worst songs and records of their career. Simple as that.
The “string section” here could be more than an ambitious but botched idea, like an orchestral turn in the studio. It could be a new lead singer, a whole new band (nice one, Axl), a detour into radio-friendliness (Liz Phair, Lupe Fiasco, etc.), or the adorable notion that you’re creating some kind of lasting art (there there, Radiohead).
You reached for the stars and all you grasped was the sweet pube-mound of infinite failure. Accept it.
And yes, getting out of one’s comfort zone into the blinding realm of possibility is often a great and necessary thing. Just know that not everything you do is going to be gold. Or even pyrite.
Finding a musician who would reopen old wounds and rub tasty rock salt into their squishy crevices is not easy. But for Bob Nanna, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. His influential post-hardcore band Braid was formed in 1993 and put on ice in 2004, but they recently returned to the touring and recording circuit—giving him a choice perspective on his early work.
Nanna is the longtime guitarist and singer for Braid (now on Polyvinyl Records), but also leader of the relatively short-lived emo upstarts Hey Mercedes. So, you know, dude’s got some experience.
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