Old Bricks build a better foundation with a national release for City Lights
A dominant theme in Old Bricks’ music is resilience, and given the band’s history, that’s appropriate. Though both hail from Rocky Mount, the duo — composed of Stuart Edwards and Andy Holmes — didn’t meet until joining a band in Nashville. There, they bonded over shared musical obsessions. The Nashville experience turned toxic though — multiple factors resulted in the pair relocating to Carrboro. Since then, they’ve gained higher-profile fans like Kurt Vile, achieved a reputation for intense shows, and released two promising albums. Farmers, their 2009 debut, documented hardships overcome via a catharthis of haunting folk. Last year’s City Lights — which the band released nationally June 5 — departed from that aesthetic. With gleaming melodies in lieu of sparse, open-spaces, it displayed the band’s disdain of creative stagnation. Shuffle’s Sam Baltes recently caught up with the duo to discuss their backstory, and future plans.
Shuffle: You’re both from North Carolina, but it wasn’t until meeting up in Nashville that you began playing together— how’d that happen?
Stuart Edwards: I had been in Nashville for a couple of years already. Andy decided to move there to play music with me largely, I’m sure, to escape Rocky Mount. We got a small place on the outskirts of Nashville and formed a band with some other friends of ours.
Shuffle: What prompted the move back to N.C.?
SE: The band we were playing with was really fun and weird but didn’t necessarily satisfy either of us creatively. I wanted to play music that was more songwriting focused instead of trying to contort lyrics and melodies around whatever version of a song we had spontaneously created that week in practice. There were other factors as well. We were sick of the entire scene in general and were floating around on couches and hammocks — not having a home at the time —looking for any sign that we had anything left to stay for. None were found. After loosing a few friends, and feeling incredibly stagnant creatively and otherwise, we decided to move back. My dad was also sick at the time, and everything pointed towards getting out of there. Turned out to be the best decision we ever made.
SE: I was living in a cabin in Hillsborough where Farmers was recorded, but working in Carrboro, and needed to move into town. I was looking for a place when one of my friends who knew Mike Dillon, said he had an open room in the Lilac house. After a couple good hangs, I moved in. Most of the people in the house were local musicians — Chris Riddle (Motor Skills), Stu McLamb (The Love Language), Josh Lajoie (Shit Horse) and Justin Williams (12,000 armies). It was perfect for me at the time. Although, I’m glad some of us don’t live together anymore, I’m grateful I met all those dudes and remain friends with them now.
Shuffle: City Lights came out last year, why wait until this spring to give it a national push?
SE: Well, it wasn’t really intentional. We didn’t have a publicist or a booking agent and were obviously an unknown band anywhere outside of the Triangle. We tried a tour booked through a friend that included some extremely poorly promoted and thus poorly attended shows. One show in Boston wasn’t even booked at a venue. We arrived with all of our gear and there were no PA or microphones. Then, the “person in charge” told us that they couldn’t have loud music after 10 — so we didn’t even play. We did get to see a short but sweet acoustic Lonnie Walker set however. We’ve been fortunate enough to have Hoppie [Newton] help manage us and work out a deal with Team Clermont in more recent times. I’m glad we were at least given a chance for City Lights to see the light of day.
Shuffle: How did you get hooked up with a national publicist?
Andy Holmes: It’s something we’d been considering for a long time. We have known about Team Clermont for many years, but could never really afford to start a campaign on our own. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have so many great folks help us out with this campaign. Grip Tapes and Hoppie have been extraordinarily generous and helpful with getting all of that together for us.
Shuffle: Though live other musicians join you, essentially the band has remained a duo. Do you feel that you complement each other well, personality wise?
AH: Absolutely. Not just in music, but in life, as well. Though there are many times when we want to kill each other, nothing could terminate the friendship we’ve developed over the past several years. Eternal bros.
Shuffle: Has there been an effort to limit it just to you two?
SE: In the beginning of Old Bricks that was the idea. We wanted to record and play with just the two of us to really nail down what kind of sounds we were looking for without any outside influence. But it was always part of the plan to expand once those things had worked themselves out. I’m very happy with the lineup we have now (Tre Acklen, Eddie Sanchez) and hope for it to be as permanent as possible.
Shuffle: Last fall Andy joined The War on Drugs onstage in Raleigh, what was that experience like?
AH: Pretty fucking wild, actually. Stuart and I had met Adam Granduciel at a Kurt Vile show years prior and hit it off instantly with all of those dudes. We played a few shows with Kurt Vile and The Violators in the past, so it’s not like I was totally chosen at random. I talked with Adam before the show, but he didn’t mention pulling me on stage, so it was pretty shocking when it actually happened. Nothing but class running in that bunch.
Shuffle: What albums have y’all been stoked on lately?
SE: First Aid Kit — The Lions Roar, The Human Eyes — The Human Eyes, and Wye Oak — Civilian.
AH: I’ve been particularly amazed by the new Father John Misty record, and Royal Headache’s debut album is also an absolute masterpiece. Kelley Stoltz is another one who constantly impresses me — along with everything else that whole San Francisco scene is doing right now. Other than that, I’ve been listening to everything I can get my hands on: Broadcast, Iggy Pop, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Gillian Welch, John Vanderslice, Desaparecidos, Skeeter Davis, The Wipers, Elliott Smith, Blonde Redhead, They Might Be Giants, Townes Van Zandt, Whatever Brains, The Zombies, Wilderness, Destroyer, The Smiths, Built To Spill, Viking Moses, Ezra Furman, Francois Virot, The Veils, Method Actors… and countless others. I’m hoping one day that they’ll collectively form a supergroup and let me fill in on the Irish tin whistle.
Shuffle: What’s next for the band?
AH: We’re getting some dates together for the coming months, trying to do as much as we can do outside of North Carolina at the moment. It’s been a difficult process so far, but we’re doing everything we can.
Shuffle: Goals for the rest of the year?
AH: Stuart’s been writing a handful of new tunes that we’ve been working on, so there will definitely be another record in the works soon. I think we’d like to start the recording process before the end of the year. We’ve been playing a handful of the new jams at shows and gotten good responses, so we’re really stoked to get working on more.