Good Peeps: Brian Offredi on being Golden B.C.
Many of you have never heard of the artist Golden B.C. but some of you may have seen him on stage at the Ironwood or Café Koi playing brooding acoustic sets.
Brian Offredi is one of those hard working local musicians, just waiting to breakout and I think it’s time you all got to know him.
Just last month he celebrated the release of his newest album Just Take It – a dark concept piece that really brings me back to albums I loved as a teenager. He’s currently working on dates for the New Year, releasing more songs including a double single slated for December 20 and hitting the stage for open mic nights including December 4 at Café Koi and December 5 at the Ironwood.
After listening to his newest offering, I got a chance to chat with him about the album, the process and why the name Golden B.C.
Q: This is NOT your first album. How many have you released and what makes this one different?
A: Just Take It is technically the third album I’ve put out as Golden B.C., but it feels like I’ve finally gotten to where I wanted to go musically. Between the last record and this one, I had started to get into a lot of stranger music which started to influence how I write my songs. What started with a Tom Waits obsession led to Captain Beefheart, Nick Cave, and Scott Walker. I wanted to start giving a darker edge to my music, especially considering the subject matter I was using for the lyrics on this album which was the death of a junkie.
So, I suppose the main thing that is different on this record is a more narrative approach to the lyrics that I used to try to string the songs together in some way without having to come out and say “And then ‘this’ happened” or remaking the The Wall. Subtlety is largely lost when most bands try to make a concept album but I do my best.
Q: Tell me about the recording process.
A: I spent the better part of two years in my bedroom writing and recording the songs simultaneously on my computer. The great thing about building your own makeshift studio is that you can experiment infinitely without having to worry about wasting your studio time. On a song like The Idiots for example, I recorded an entirely different song from what you hear on the record, then scrapped everything but the drums and rebuilt it around an ominous sounding bass line. That might sound like an incredible waste of a song. But I think the song that resulted is far better than the original because I blew it up and found something more interesting. And that’s the way most of the songs were written: by destroying my initial instincts and rebuilding away from them.
Q: Just Take It follows a loose story line. Could you describe it to me and where the idea came from?
A: The story line follows a group of addicts as one of the girls in the group overdoses and is dumped in a lake by her friends. Each song picks up from the perspective of someone different in the group, like the morally conflicted one on Nothing Wrong, or the dealer on Afraid to Wake Up.
Now, the idea for the story is partially based in reality. There was a very similar incident with a girl I went to high school with that has always stayed in the back of my mind. I could never wrap my head around how someone could be so uncaring toward a dying person, refusing to even drop them on the steps of a hospital. So when I decided to write about this, I wanted to do it in the most respectful, least exploitive way which was to fictionalize certain elements to distance my songs from the real case. The album exists to explore the depths of human indecency by jumping in feet first and looking at it from the “bad guy’s” point of view. It all ends with one of the friends resigned to a life of guilt because there’s no way to take back what they’ve done.
Q: You can buy it now online with an upcoming physical release date. Any ideas when that would be?
A: Actually, the CDs have arrived and are now up for sale on Bandcamp. I’ll also be carrying them around with me a times so if anyone spots a bearded man with thick rimmed glasses in Calgary; it’s either me or a million other similar looking dudes. But if it’s me, I’ll sell you a copy and probably develop some kind of cool handshake with you. Or we can slow dance.
Q: Where did the name Golden B.C. come from?
A: Some people have thought that it was meant as an anti-religious statement, which is way off. I’m not that excited about confronting people on their beliefs that I’d name my whole band around it. Instead, I chose it after remembering a family vacation when I was a kid where we got to Golden, B.C. at about 1am and every hotel was booked up. My parents, sister and I all slept in the minivan in a truck stop and it was creepy and cramped, but it was always a pretty fond memory of mine. I decided I would give a little nod to my family, and to the town that couldn’t quite accommodate us that night. I still like Golden, though. No hard feelings, thanks for the name.
Q: Your website says that you started writing music due to an illness that forced you to do so. Can you explain that a bit and how did it influence your album?
A: What I meant (but said in an overly dramatic way) was that I spent hours and hours sitting at a computer obsessing over guitar sounds and drums, reworking songs endlessly to the point where I thought I might quit music altogether. I remember hearing an interview with Sam Roberts a few years back where he said something like every time he fails at writing a song or can’t produce anything when he tries; he feels like he’s done, he’s finished. When I heard that I thought “God, I feel like that all the time.” But about a year ago I thought it might finally be true, that I would be finished before anyone could hear this grand statement I wanted to make. I felt very defeated but I’m so glad I didn’t quit. I think it’s just something every artist goes through when they’re passionate about a project and can’t figure out how to make it work. But eventually, you figure it out.
Here he is preforming Memories Lie live from the Ironwood Stage on Nov. 7, 2012.
Video courtesy of Golden B.C. via YouTube
Q: How has the response been so far?
A: Well, I have yet to be booed. [Laughter]. But it’s been pretty great actually. I’ve been sending it around to people, and playing some of the songs live. The response has been really positive. The hardest part, I think, for any band nowadays is just getting someone to click that link and listen to your music because there’s just so much out that people get tired of being asked. It really makes you appreciate every complement or kind word you get because those are the people that took the time to become fans.
Q: Anything else you think I need to know about you?
A: I’m currently getting a solo acoustic set together so that I can play the album in a stripped down fashion. Obviously, that won’t work for every song but luckily I have a reasonable body of work to draw from.
But, expect some show announcements in the New Year and if you see me cutting my teeth at an open mic night at Café Koi or the Ironwood, come say hello and I’ll hook you up with a download card for an exclusive EP. Because I’m just a very giving gentleman.
Q: And last, but not least, what makes Calgary awesome?
A: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and answer is always the obvious one: the people. I grew up here, so I have so many memories of how great Calgarians can be. One in particular would be going to the Red Mile when the Flames made their cup run. I was 16 and with my friends, we watched Game Six on a small TV this guy had on the back of his truck. We lost that game but the feeling of celebration was already in the fans that crowded the Red Mile that night and everyone partied and celebrated how far they had come. There were no fights or bad vibes (that I saw anyway), just a party for the people who loved to represent their team and their city. That, to me anyway, shows how awesome Calgarians can be.
So, if you’re curious about Golden B.C. and Just Take It, the whole album is streaming in full over on Bandcamp. You can also pick up a physical or digital copy of the album for $5. And if you want to have a live listen, check him out at one of his upcoming open mic performances.
Photo courtesy of Golden B.C.