Go West, Young Fan: The Broken West play the El Rey June 26, opening for the National.
Broke and Beautiful: The Broken Wests musical DNA contains elements of the Beatles, the Byrds, the Kinks, Teenage Fanclub and Big Star. All the bands we get compared to we completely love, admits singer-guitarist Ross Flournoy, adding wryly, Two years ago, I would have been flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as any of those. Now its another goddamn Big Star comparison.
Emotional, Not Emo: When Flournoy sings Im reaching for the brass ring far too late on the Broken Wests breakout debut, I Cant Go On, Ill Go On (Merge Records), he obviously isnt singing about his bands prospects. Their shimmery SoCal guitar pop fortified by buoyant keyboards and a muscular rhythm section sidesteps Weezers emo-adored self-consciousness, Beachwood Sparks cosmic cowboy ramblings and the Tydes postmodern cleverness. Intensely hummable tunes like Down in the Valley, So It Goes and Slow make for a perfect window-down, highway-cruising (or stuck-in-traffic) soundtrack.
Busted!: The band was originally called the Brokedowns, but dropped the s after discovering an Illinois ska band with the same name. After theyd self-released an EP in 2005 (The Dutchmans Gold), the other Brokedowns sent them a cease-and-desist order. As Flournoy recalls, The week before, [our lawyer] said, I bet you that this will be a problem, and I said it wouldnt be. The moral? According to Flournoy, its Always trust lawyers. (Several Merge Recordslabel interns also eventually suffered, being forced to handwrite The Broken West over The Brokedown on a thousand promo discs.)
How the West Was Born: The Santa Barbarabred Flournoy started the band in the summer of 2004 with his high school buddy, keyboardist Scott Claassen. After some lineup changes (and Scotts departure), the band now includes guitarist Dan Iead, drummer Rob McCorkindale, bassist Brian Whelan (whom they wooed from the Eugene Edwards Band) and touring keyboardist Jon Shaw.
But Does He Have Cowbell Fever?: Bassist Whelan does an incredible Christopher Walken impression.
Dreaming of Dwight Twilley: Sharing a bill with Tom Petty, Wilco and Teenage Fanclub is Flournoys dream, while he says Ieads ideal lineup would feature Dwight Twilley and power poppers Sloan. According to Flournoy, Dan loves Sloan with the love that dares not speak its name.
Mystery Matchmaker: One way the people at Merge learned about the band was from their realtor, whose daughter worked with Iead at the Echo Park eatery Auntie Ems.
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Eastside Pride: The quartet all live on L.A.s Eastside, either in Silver Lake or Echo Park. Flournoy asserts: People who dismiss L.A. out of hand probably havent been to Echo Park and Silver Lake. The industry scene gives L.A. a bad name. We try to stay clear of that as best as we can. Their favorite hangouts include the Short Stop bar, the Alegria restaurant and the soon-to-be-shuttered Sea Level Records.
Five-Year Plan: Flournoy would love the bands career to be like the Decemberists selling 150,000 records, playing two nights at the Wiltern and having a very loyal fan base who appreciate what youre doing.
Westward Ho!: The Broken boys recently co-headlined a tour with the Comas, then opened for Fountains of Wayne through the Midwest; their date with the National marks their return to the West Coast.