Earlier this month, Brand New quietly dropped its highly anticipated fifth album by sending out 500 hand-numbered CDs to a group of fans that had pre-ordered the album on vinyl. The enigmatic nature of the album release gave rise to a number of conspiracy theories about the band's intentions, but it wasn't long before Brand New confirmed that the album was Science Fiction, its first full-length record in 8 years. This put an end to many of the conspiracy theories surrounding the album release, but last weekend fans found themselves confronted with a brand new Brand New mystery.
The latest point of intrigue centers around a post titled "72" that was posted to r/BrandNew on Saturday by the account ax20fb0a7, which had been created earlier that day. The original content of the post has since been removed, but ax20fb0a7 left a comment linking to the website knowgodsjustwork.com (there is also a mirror of the website at knwgdsjstwrk.com). Here, visitors will find a collection of 7 apparently random numbers and little else.
The post quickly galvanized a group of Brand New-loving redditors dedicated to solving the mystery, and they've created a log of their accomplishments in a separate post on the Brand New subreddit. As the redditors quickly discovered, the username of the original poster ax20fb0a7 can be decoded as 'November 6, 2017' in the following manner: A (1) x 2 = 11 * 0 + F (6) = 06 * B(2) + 0 = 20 * A(1)+7=17. This might seem like a stretch given the number of code changes in the username, but the theory that the username itself is referencing 11/06/2017 is bolstered by the 7 numbers on the actual website.
The first code posted to the website on Saturday looked like this: .19726 / 2.36712 / 10.28571 / 72 / 1728 / 103680 / 6220800. As the redditors discovered, if each of these numbers are mapped to years/months/weeks/days/hours/minutes/seconds, they all equal 72 days—and 72 days from the date of the original posting is November 6, 2017. Each day, the numbers on the website update so that they count down to November 6.
After a tour through the website's directories and domains, the redditors discovered that the landing page is also accompanied by a host of other enigmatic pages, such as this one. Here, visitors will find a seemingly blank page that actually hides a bunch of morse code in white text. When this morse code is mapped to binary and then plain text, it results in—you guessed it—November 6, 2017.
Another page consisting of a collection of radio buttons next to highlighted letters of the alphabet is here. When the radio buttons are used to spell 'fightoyurdemns,' it results in an image by Thobias Faldt—the same photographer who made the album cover for Science Fiction. Here's where it gets weirder: when the image is inverted, it reveals a long cryptographic hash. When this hash is entered as a subdomain on the website, it produces a short string of numbers: '361556198981918.'
Other codes, such as 'jawstheming' (which is a reference to the Brand New song, 'Jaws Theme Swimming' from the band's sophomore album, Deja Entendu) use each letter in a song name once, and also produce an image. When this image is inverted, it once again produces a code that takes the visitor to another subdomain where there are a string of numbers. These numbers can then be entered into the Terminal subdomain on the website to produce a unique character. In this case, the character is "9."
It is unclear whether or not this website is actually related to Brand New, or just an elaborate hoax cobbled together by a troll. In the Discord chat and Reddit posts dedicated to the mystery, this debate is alive and well. Noisey reached out to Brand New for comment but hasn't received a reply at the time of writing.
The evidence both for and against this website being a troll is compelling. On the one hand, Brand New is known for its penchant for cryptic announcements. To announce Science Fiction last year, the band's (equally mysterious) label Procrastinate! Music Traitors posted on Instagram with the caption: "Procrastinate! Music Traitors. Established in the year of Our Lord two thousand and four. Reveal thine own light. Know gods just work. 418."
This message resulted in an ongoing debate among Brand New fans about the significance of the number 418. Prior to the release of the band's third album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, a leaked demo—now known as Fight Off Your Demons—featured the number. Then when the official album was finally released, its accompanying lyric booklet had a conspicuous lack of lyrics, but it did encourage the listener to send $1 to an address for a set of lyrics. Anyone who took Brand New up on this strange offer was eventually rewarded with " Pogolith Issue #000 ," a complete lyric book that also poked fun at how the band's initial demo had been leaked by offering a cassette of the leaked demos. (This cassette and lyric books were actually released almost a decade later in 2015).
Importantly, Pogolith #000 also contained references to 418, although Pogolith #001, released in 2016 to accompany Kevin Devine's new album (whose records have also been released on Procrastinate! Music Traitors) did not contain any references to 418, suggesting that Pogolith is tied to the band's label, not to Brand New as a band.
It's unclear exactly what to make of this number. Some have hinted that it points to a possible 'break up' date for the band in April of 2018. This is hinted at by the band's own merch, which includes a t-shirt that reads "Brand New 2000-2018." Others have offered more mundane solutions, suggesting that 418 refers to the date of the Instagram post: April 18. In any case, the number makes a reappearance on the knowgodsjustwork site as the subdomain hosting the morse code.
Pogolith also occupies a strange place in the band's history. In 2014, Brand New changed their website landing page to announce they were in the studio. This was accompanied by the words "Procrastinate!," "PoGolith," and "Earth Sound Alliance," as well as a secret link to a music video for PPL MVR, a band that some have tried to argue is actually Brand New.
Shortly thereafter, these words were replaced on Brand New's website with 'NODE,' a hyperlink to a page on the bizarro Wikipedia called Fusion Anomaly that discussed the effects of radio waves on humans. The band had also linked to Fusion Anomaly in a post about their recording session for The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me back in 2005. Moreover, the album's producer, Mike Sapone, has mentioned #fusionanomaly on his Instagram a few times, according to SirBrothers. This has led some redditors to link Sapone to the reddit account u/fusionano. This user regularly posts cryptic messages about Brand New on subreddits like PogolithEarthSound, islandparkny, and terminalpasswords, which read like the makings of an Brand New-centered alternate reality game that never took off.
When taken altogether, it seems that Brand New has been leaving clues for its fans throughout its history as a band. But many remain skeptical about the website being anything more than an elaborate hoax.
"The big breaks seem to be coming from one person on Reddit, so I find that suspect," SirBrothers told me in a direct message. "I'm a skeptic. Until I have proof either way I'm just assuming it's a fun game"
Brand New has built a music career out of intentionally obscuring its intentions. So even if the latest website is just a convoluted scavenger hunt dreamt up by someone with a deep knowledge of Brand New lore, it's hard to imagine a more fitting tribute to the band.
Daniel Oberhaus is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. You can follow him on Twitter.