The Exhaustingly Long (and Never Quite Finished) History of Brand New

Brand New’s origins can be traced back to 1998, when Jesse Lacey, Brian Lane and Garrett Tierney (you know, that guy everyone thinks is a tech) were together in a band called The Rookie Lot with Brandon Reilly (Movielife and Nightmare of You) and some guy named Alex Dunne (Crime in Stereo). TRL wrote some spectacularly awful songs, think Lifetime if Lifetime was actually, like, really fucking bad. I mean, they toured with Glassjaw and Saves The Day and all that, but I mean, come on, that was probably just a “we’re friends” thing, not a “your band is good” thing. They recorded a demo and did a split with a band called Yearly (which wasn’t really all that bad, Museums is a great song). They broke up in ’99, when Lacey hauled ass to play bass in Taking Back Sunday, who were kind of a big deal, having a hardcore scene lifer like Ed Reyes as a guitarist. Eddie, although extremely talented, obviously has shit luck finding decent band members. There was a guy named Antonio, who was unceremoniously thrown on his ass after Adam Lazzara came into the picture, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Okay, so Lacey is in Taking Back Sunday, right? He’s having a grand old time, playing music with his best friend means friends forever John Nolan and then… well, I’m not sure what happened, but Jesse apparently missed his Rookie Lot buddies, because he left Taking Back Sunday and started a new band with them, sans Brandon and that Alex guy. To add insult to injury, they even stole the band name from Brandon! He said if he ever started a new band, it would be called Brand New, and Jesse was just like “ha! Gotcha bitch!” (not a real quotation) and beat him to the punch, and stuck Brandon with the name Nightmare of You. Apparently Brandon didn’t hold it against him, because Brand New played at The Movielife’s “final show” in 2011. After Jesse left his best friend means friends forever John Nolan high and dry with no bassist, they found “bright eyed” Adam Lazzara (no really, Antonio said that in the TBS Oral History!). Apparently after Eddie lay eyes on this gorgeous boy, Antonio had to go because, much like Jesse, Adam Lazzara is not made for bass. He needs to be up front, where everyone can look at him, admire his beauty, etc.

Anyways, back to Brand New. While all of this was going down with Taking Back Sunday, Brand New were playing as a trio, which really didn’t suit them, as Jesse Lacey couldn’t play guitar for shit (he got better, thankfully). Instead of calling back Brandon and Alex, who were maybe already in other bands, I’m not entirely sure, they obviously said “we need someone who can play guitar like a god and also look really fucking hot while doing it” (not a real quotation). They apparently scoured other bands in Levittown, looking for attractive guitarists to steal, and they saw Vincent Accardi (superhero music!), guitarist in One Last Goodbye. “We basically stole him out of that band”, said Jesse. They played “The Shower Scene” for their pretty new guitarist, he loved it and thus, Brand New was complete. As Vincent was still jailbait (he was seventeen), they had to pick him up from school in their (hopefully not windowless) van for practices. They wrote and recorded Your Favorite Weapon, which was filled with songs about John Nolan, a model/masturbation, being friends with people who aren’t John Nolan and some unfortunate girl who probably still completely regrets that semester she spent in England, and shit got real.

While Brand New was in Levittown, tearing shit up and being awesome, Taking Back Sunday were in Amityville, being just as awesome, with their new solid as fuck totally-not-ever-gonna-split-because-our-singer-is-definitely-not-a-dick lineup of Shaun Cooper on bass, Adam Lazzara singing, John Nolan on guitar, Ed Reyes on other guitar, and Mark O’Connell  on drums. Now obviously, Jesse and John were no longer best friends means friends forever. They had been pitted against one another in the Long Island Hardcore battle… and John Nolan slept with Jesse’s girlfriend, which is totally a Best Friend move. Totally. According to the song “There’s No I In Team”, there was a nerd brawl slash fist fight. I quote “I’ve got a twenty dollar bill/ that says you’re up late night starting fist fights versus fences in your back yard/ wearing your black eye like a badge of honor, soaking in sympathy/ from friends who never loved you/ nearly half as much as me”. Now, it is unclear how Jesse actually got the black eye. One would assume John hit him, and if that mental image isn’t funny enough, here’s another. In a fit of flaily, awkward nerd-rage, Jesse could’ve accidentally hit himself while beating up that poor fence in his backyard, and then when asked about it, told everyone it was John. I bet it was John Nolan, though, he looks like he could pack a mean punch.

So Brand New and Taking Back Sunday feuded like no one had ever feuded before.  TBS was angry because bands were taking out Brand New and not them (Shaun’s still kind of angry, check the Oral History of TBS if you don’t believe me), Brand New were angry because John Nolan existed… and then it ended. They were all best friends (and you know what that means)! They toured together and all that jazz, but then something awful (or awesome, depending on your view on Where You Want To Be/Louder Now) happened.

Yes, I’m talking about when John Nolan left Taking Back Sunday. He left because Adam was a total fuckboy to Michelle, John’s perfect sister (no sarcasm, I am in love with this woman) and he was a drunkard to boot. John Nolan, being a serious musician (and Brother of the Year for ten years running), wasn’t even gonna take that shit. He went to Shaun, who by that time was all but completely bald and apparently wanted to say something profound to make up for his lack in the hair department, because he said “let’s commit career suicide”, which I’m sure at the time sounded totally cool but now seems kind of lame. They tried to settle their differences and continue with TBS, but John, still not taking Adam’s shit, said “I have never seen such a  lack of character” about Adam and walked away. He formed Straylight Run and obviously Jesse came out of the woodwork to be best friends means friends forever again and take up for John in his time of need, which according to Adam, included “being very vocal [about how terrible I am], and I was like ‘Why’s he doing this? Why’s he trying to get all these people mad at me?’ I guess what he was trying to do was make it to where I’d just go away…”, and shirts. Yes… they made honest-to-God shirts, because nothing says “fuck you, you cheating, drunken douchelord” like a shirt woven of mockery and contempt. Brand New’s hell-fire like burn said “because mics are for singing, not swinging”, which as everyone knows is a swipe at Adam’s habit of swinging the microphone around his head at shows. It used to be on MerchDirect, but I think you’ll have to find it on eBay (also in jacket and tote bag form, for when you want your spite to keep you warm and/or hold your things!). Taking Back Sunday countered with “proudly swinging since ‘99”, sad not only its overall suckishness, but its inaccuracy as well, as Adam had technically only been swinging mics since ’01, when he became the singer. Jesse’s fight to rid the world (or at least Long Island) of Adam Lazzara also included the best album ever to exist, Deja Entendu.

Deja Entendu as a record is flawless. It includes the most beautiful and heartbreaking works of music ever to be composed. Everyone loves it and if they don’t, they’re either deaf or a member of Taking Back Sunday. In support for this record, they actually tour (don’t get used it, they’ll stop for what feels like forever). Support for this tour is none other than the band Eisley, whose keyboardist/singer/whatever this broad does is Sherri Dupree. Is this ringing any sort of bells for you people? Yeah, she’s that Sherri Dupree. Jesse dates Sherri, and they split shortly thereafter because of reasons I literally cannot find. There are so many rumors, it’s impossible to know which is the truth. Although, it’s probably because he told that “the Morrissey you, the more I love you” joke too many  times and she ran for the hills (by the hills, I totally mean Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory), and left Jesse alone and lovesick. He wrote The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and all songs are about Sherri until proven otherwise (at least if you ask the fans).

The Devil and God was released in November of 2006, and it’s second most loved (next to Deja, of course). The title comes from a quote from Daniel Johnston, who, when asked about his schizophrenia, said it felt like the devil and God were raging inside him. It includes a lot of darkness and religious themes and is generally a great record all round. On a song called “Untitled”, it is said you can hear someone (allegedly Jesse) break down in tears around the 45 second mark, and someone (allegedly Vincent), saying “It’ll be alright, man”. I’ve heard the song is in reverse though, so the validity of this claim is in question (it definitely sounds like it, though). There is also a pre-gap hidden track called “The Devil and God Are Baking Cupcakes”, not even kidding. At least that’s what my car stereo called it when I rushed out there to play it at 5 AM after finding the information on a message board (give me a break, I don’t have a stereo, this isn’t 2001). It’s a bunch of voicemails, not a recipe for Mama Lacey’s Famous Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, so don’t freak out trying to find it online if you don’t have a physical copy of the record. You aren’t missing anything. Also, the album features “Handcuffs”, which is Vincent’s most famous songwriting contribution, pretty much because of the line about drowning babies, which I sincerely hope is a metaphor for something.

Parts of TDAG got leaked online before the record was even finished, and came to be named Fight Off Your Demons, which was supposed to be the title of TDAG. It was nine songs long and featured “Brothers”, “Found A Good Man”, and a few rough demo/alternate versions of songs that actually made the record (“Luca” and “Sowing Season”). The leak pretty much ruined the record for Jesse, who said it made the record “feel incomplete” without those songs, and that it would always be incomplete for him (melodramatic, much?). The demos have since been released in cassette and digital download form by the band, as well as reworked and released on vinyl, and the new version of “Brothers” sounds like a Jimmy Buffett/Robert Smith collaboration and I’ve ruined it for you forever.

After The Devil and God came Daisy, and with no one to fight with over his friends, or girls to hurt his feelings, Jesse had writer’s block. Thus, he let Vin have more control than usual with writing. It’s pretty evenly split between Jesse and Vin, both writing four songs alone and three together. One reviewer called Vin’s lyrical style “vomit-inducing”. I’m not sure how they meant it, vomit-inducing as in awful or vomit-inducing as in the subject matter made you puke? Either way, Daisy is by far the least loved Brand New record to date, being experimental and all out weird, including hymns and sermons and creepy children as well as having the distinguishing characteristic of being the first full length Brand New album not to feature an acoustic track as the closer. On a brighter note, it includes Bought a Bride, the greatest song ever, and You Stole, which probably should’ve closed the record but whatever. I’m not in Brand New, I don’t make the decisions. People either love Daisy or hate it, there really isn’t an in between (personally, I love it, but Brand New could read me the phone book while playing a banjo and I’d love it).

With Daisy came The Daisy Sessions, which was just Brand New playing songs off of Daisy and The Devil and God acoustic, adding a couple of verses to a few of the songs. Oh, and Kevin Devine fucks—I mean folks—up “Jesus”.

In May of 2012, completely contradicting everything else he’d said thus far, Jesse did an interview by phone and said that he didn’t know how much longer Brand New could go on. They reportedly used the studio time they had booked for Brand New for “other things”. The “other things” turned out to be Brian and Vin’s side project, Shone. It is scary and dark and horrifying and most fans feared for Brian Lane’s sanity, as he came up with “Levi”, the possibly dead but still creepy alter ego that posted to social media the day the world was supposed to end. Remember that? Homie had kids digging holes for demos and shit. Mind you, no one would’ve have given anything that smacked of a shit if it didn’t possibly involve Brand New.

Speaking of digging holes and weird shit: sometime in 2015, Brand New finally sent out those lyric booklets we all sent off for when TDAG came out. I’m holding to the theory that Jesse meant to send out the Monthly Lacey Newsletter but grabbed the wrong stack of mail. They were glorious, everything we could have hoped for and more, and they had a page in them instructing people to one: Nancy Drew their fanatical asses around a tower and two: leave a blood sacrifice. I wish I was joking. Brand New, as it turns out, were joking, and the thing that was being advertised was the Leaked Demos cassette, which people actually bought despite having had the songs for ten years. Around this time, “Mene”, the band’s first new song is literal years, was released. It’s pronounced “meenie” like what you call Jesse Lacey for not taking a photo with you. The song is amazing, and the band is better than ever. Following “Mene” was the not so officially released “Sealed To Me”, a lovely song that Jesse wrote for his equally lovely wife (he got married! They have a baby!). On the heels of their tour with Modest Mouse (be still, my Jesse Lacey covering “Trailer Trash” loving heart!), the band released “I Am a Nightmare”, a lyrically confusing jam that everyone loves.

In extremely Brand New fashion, the band dropped their fifth and final album, Science Fiction, into our laps and it was everything we hoped it would be, even if the title is weird. None of the previously released songs were on it. Not even Sealed To Me. Instead we got weird dream therapy snippets, lyrical callbacks to their past albums, and the goddamn greatest instrumental in the entire universe at the end of “No Control”. If you can think Brand New is just Jesse fucking Lacey after that, you’re a bunch of backwoods savage morons. Science Fiction is this band’s goodbye, this is them planning their own funeral, down to the words we’ll speak to eulogize them. Except they didn’t plan to be immortal, which is what their albums, their career– from the opening of “The Shower Scene” to the end of “Batter Up”– has made them. They’ll live forever in our headphones and music libraries, in the message boards filled with conspiracy. In our hearts and minds and that shrine to Vin Accardi I definitely do not have in my closet please don’t look.

In closing, we do not nor did we ever deserve this band. We don’t deserve that sweet guitar solo in “137”. We don’t deserve Science Fiction, except that one bit with the chanting and the creepy laughing. We probably deserve that.

 

 

Note: My sources for information include: The Long Island Music Scene Wikia Page (quit fucking with it, you dicks), The Alternative Press Oral History of Taking Back Sunday (and the Altpress.com extras pertaining to the Oral History), the December 2003 issue of Alternative Press featuring Brand New, various band Facebook and Twitter pages, and a couple of Brand New fan Tumblrs for the little tidbits about TDAG/who wrote what on Daisy. I tried to stay away from rumors as much as I could, and if I couldn’t, it’s noted (allegedly, supposedly, etc.). If you take out the weird jokes and all of that nonsense, you’ll have a pretty accurate (as accurate as I could make it, I’m still afraid I fucked up some of the dates) picture of Brand New’s history. If there is a glaring mistake, please let me know and I will correct it to the best of my ability.

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