It is a rare occasion that an alternative-country band comes along and brings something new that has never quite been heard before.
Seven months ago, Total Brick formed as two friends got together in hopes of making music with a bit of “twang” and a lot of “fun”. Devin O’Rourke had moved to Los Angeles from Texas and was influenced by the music that filled his days during his time in college at UT. Jason “Doc” Carter was a close friend of Devin’s, also from Austin, who was previously in another band that had more of a pop sound.
Together, they fused together all that they had known and loved about music to form a sound completely their own – which they chose to name “Total Brick” after an inside joke amongst friends. Regarding his song writing influences and inspirational style of the band, Devin states, “The alt-country bands that came out in the mid 90s like Old 97′s, Wilco and Whiskeytown/Ryan Adams definitely became embedded into my songwriting DNA. And growing up in Texas, that sound was pretty much unavoidable. When it came to recording, Rich and I both used Tom Petty’s ‘Full Moon Fever’ as a reference point.”
Total Brick recorded their first EP, titled Don’t Stare, over the span of five months under the guidance of Rich McCulley who helped produce the band and also developed much of the guitar arrangements and bass lines. Devin wrote all of the songs, played rhythm guitar, sang the lead vocals, and even played additional harmonica and piano on some of the tracks. Jason co-produced the album, played drums throughout the EP and occasionally the piano as well. With help from a few others, the band completed their EP within 10 total recording days. It is now featured online for all listeners to preview and you can click here to stream and download.
The final product is nothing short of delightful as each track gives you a new reason to tap your feet and grab a friend to dance with. The twang is there, the pop is there, and the fun that country music often brings is definitely there.
The EP starts off with a track called “On Your Side” which is has an uplifting and cheery sound. Devin’s voice reminds me of the charming friend that you’ve always wanted to fall for. It is nicely melodic and one of those songs that you can’t help but smile to.
My favorite track on this album is titled “Way Back Home” and it definitely left an impression on me. As the singer sings about his hometown of Austin, I yearned to be teleported there to see all of the lovely things he tells us of. He then reveals that he has moved to Los Angeles, something which he himself can not even believe. The culture shock of LA, paired with the frequent reminiscing of home is something many of us young adults in this town can certainly relate to. As a first time listener, I loved that about this song. The background acoustics on the track are also beautiful and hard to ignore. It has been a long time since a song has made me feel this good on the first listen, and it brings me to love Don’t Stare even more. This EP keeps the listener happy and engaged as each song plays through until the end.
The EP moves on to “Goodnight Rain” which is a more mellow ballad – perfect for listening to on a comfy night in with a glass of wine (or a bottle of your favorite beer). The fifth song, “Mama Got Drunk” brings back the energetic tunes and wraps up the record perfectly.
Total Brick brings a sound that fuses the carefree and dynamic culture of California with the whole-hearted twang of Texas. By the end of the first listen, I was smitten with the band and feeling like I had just visited both states in one sitting!
They have since brought on Sam Smyers and Noah Trevino as lead guitarist and guitarist, respectively. “Noah, meanwhile, has played in punk bands and even though he didn’t play on the record, he brings that spirit to our live show. I’ve always thought there was a fine line between country and punk and the main difference is attitude. Sam, meanwhile, is a great technical mind and a great guitarist. So I’m excited about these combination of influences going forward,” says Devin.
Noah is equally as excited to be part of the band. When questioned about his favorite thing about being in Total Brick, he stated, “I like how open everything is. Devin has a really laid back personality which is good for me because I am too for the most part. From the very start he has been open. That’s how I joined the band. I was just going to show up to watch and then he said “You can bring your guitar and come play with us tonight. Or you can play percussion. Whatever you want.” I thought it was going to be just a one-off thing but I’ve been playing with them ever since.”
Another large aspect of the band is the live shows which they perform. This is Total Brick’s way of intimately connecting with fans, and working together as a band to exude that fun and feet tapping energy through their music and performances. “The greatest challenge we have faced, and most likely for any local act, is having support at shows. Shows should be fun, but many times you have to worry if there are going to be enough people there and that you’re not just playing for the sound guy. We are a young band, however, and I only see great things to come as more people come support us, hang out with friends, and have a drink or two or ten,” says Sam. Undoubtedly, they will gain a loyal following as the shows go on because every one loves enjoying a beer with great music from a band that is so likable.
Total Brick is currently in the works for their second EP. “I am very positive about our future and cannot wait to see what four unique and creative minds come up with going forward,” says Jason. Needless to say, we too can hardly wait for the new release!
*Total Brick plays live shows regularly in different areas of Los Angeles. Join me at their next show at Silverlake Lounge on Feburary 20th – 8pm!