Meet The Band: Brazen Tongue

The international duo Brazen Tongue step into this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. Their debut album is Of Crackling Embers and Sorrows Drowned. Vocalist/guitarist keyboardist Scott Skopec and guitarist Ethan Gifford introduce us to their band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Brazen Tongue.
Ethan Gifford: Scott and I are currently the only two permanent members. Frank Lato, from Scott’s previous band Polyptych, played session bass on the album. For drums we hired Kevin Paradis of Benighted. Brazen Tongue started in 2016 as basically the two of us rebooting our musical partnership that had been dormant since about 2008 when I moved from Chicago to Sweden. Before that we played together in another band for about four years.

Describe the songwriting process for Of Crackling Embers & Sorrows Drowned.
Scott Skopec: Prior to Brazen Tongue, I played in a progressive death metal band called Polyptych, and the last record we did had kind of a difficult songwriting process. I’m mostly proud of that record, but it burned me out and I wanted to go back to basics. Less technicality, more emotion, more hooks, more of a classic/thrash vibe. I wrote the first single, “The Weight of Self,” in maybe a day or two, initially thinking this would be a solo project. As I kept writing, I started to realize I was tapping a similar creative vein as my first band with Ethan back in the day, so I asked him to collaborate on it.

Ethan: After Scott laid most of the groundwork, I added a lot of extra riffs, leads, melodies, harmonies, and in a few cases a new structure to something. My biggest riff contribution was probably the final song on the album, “The Maddening Symmetries,” which I wrote the intro and outro. Lyrically, it’s about a 50/50 split. Some songs we knew exactly what the topic was going to be before we wrote the music, and in other cases the lyrics came after.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Scott: The first day tracking guitars, the roof started leaking directly onto the console, and we lost half a day moving it and covering it with a tarp. I took this as a sign the universe really didn’t want this record getting made, because Ethan and I have been encountering these sorts of obstacles for as long as we’ve known each other, but in the end, the universe lost. Tracking vocals with Andy Nelson was a lot of fun, because I went in there not knowing if we were going to use clean vocals, and ended up writing and recording a whole bunch of vocal harmonies on the spot, which was a first for me in any of my projects.

Ethan: I recorded my guitars in a jam space with Greg Livas who currently runs Slamlord Studios. He was Scott’s roommate at the time and we basically recorded my guitars before anything else (very weird approach) since I happened to be in Chicago before anything else could be done, and I am not there very often these days. Afterwards we went and got some killer Chicago style hotdogs so that was probably the most memorable thing.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Scott: The long-distance thing was tricky. Neither of us are sound engineers or have much experience with DAWs, so tracking demos across the pond wasn’t really going to happen. Ethan was tabbing out his parts and basically, we were just hoping it would all gel in the end. Luckily it did, or at least we think so!

Ethan: For me it was the time zone, and not being able to jam together and work out parts. We had to rely entirely on things like GuitarPro for writing together. Luckily this type of music software has come a long way since our previous band.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Scott: I’m not sure what I’d call it from a subgenre standpoint. Ethan and I love a lot of extreme metal and there are aspects like growls and crazy Kevin Paradis blast beats. On the other hand, we also love classic stuff like old Metallica and King Diamond and that sort of thing, so there are thrashy parts, twin guitar harmonies and clean vocals too. Maybe there’s a touch of symphonic black metal with the synths and a few black metal riffs. I dunno man, it’s just fuckin’ metal!

Ethan: When I listen to this album I hear pretty much all of our influences mixed with our own spin on the genre, so it’s hard to pick genre tags. It’s definitely more death metal than black or thrash metal, but it’s also very melodic at times, but I wouldn’t call it melodic death metal by any stretch. Then again you have a song like “Last Train To Myrdal” which is not very death metal at all. It’s almost more like an Agalloch vibe or some of those more mellow Watain songs from like 15 years ago.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Scott: For the most part it’s pretty grounded stuff. There is a lot of personal experience on the record, some social commentary, maybe a little bit of the fantastical here and there, but we tried not to overdo it and leave something to the imagination. A running theme seemed to emerge of coping with the passage of time and learning to live with one’s decisions and mistakes.

What inspired the album title?
Ethan: The title is taken from the lyrics/chorus of one of the songs “Walking the Parapets.” That particular lyric – and the song in general – is about looking down on a disaster that one has been essentially an architect in creating. We felt this line tied well into the overall theme and feel of the album. Making mistakes, and hopefully but not always learning from them, and coming to terms with life’s seemingly brutal twists and turns over which one basically has no agency. Of crackling embers and sorrows drowned is sort of, the aftermath of this. It’s a bit bleak, but a lot of these lyrics were derived from that type of territory.

What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
Ethan: We debated a lot about this between the two of us. At first we were convinced that we needed a label, but the more we learned about the modern music/metal industry, the less convinced we were of this. Also, we didn’t really think that a label would invest in an unknown band in 2024 without any track record. First, we were going to release a few singles and see if we could drum up some label interest, but in the end this seemed too open-ended and uncertain so we decided to just go it alone. Our friend Young from Headshrinker (which Scott also plays in) in Denver recommended hiring a PR firm to help with promotion while we pushed out our content on social media, etc., which is what we ended up doing. So far it has worked pretty well, but we’ll see what happens when the album comes out!

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Scott: I’m expecting to lose money on it. Joking aside, Ethan and I aren’t planning to quit our jobs and become full-time musicians. If there’s an opportunity we’d love to play this stuff live someday, but ultimately, we just made a record we think is pretty cool and wanted to share it with people and see what happens.

What has the response been to the singles you’ve released so far?
Ethan: From what I have seen, it has been pretty good. I was a bit surprised that Last Train from Myrdal was accepted by a lot of playlists, and even Spotify started putting it in algorithmic playlists for people. That was unexpected, because that song is over seven minutes long. People seem to like our stuff, but reaching and acquiring new fans via social media and the internet is very challenging, and that’s really all we have to work with at present.

Scott: My girlfriend’s 11-year-old son really likes them! He even sent me a drawing of part of the album cover. That was pretty cool.

Do you have any plans to play live?
Ethan: Currently, we don’t. But, who knows, anything could happen in the future. A lot depends on what the reception of the album looks like.

How did you get started in music?
Scott: I heard Ride the Lightning in 7th grade and my head exploded. Started learning guitar and went all the way down the metal rabbit hole shortly thereafter.

Ethan: I started playing music in like 5th grade. I played the clarinet. For some reason it was super trendy among 12-year-olds at the time. In my 6th grade band there were literally like 20 clarinet players. I switched to guitar at like 14 years old and have played since.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Scott: There was this cartoon called Dino-Riders featuring dinosaurs covered in military gear shooting lasers at each other, and since that’s the most metal thing ever, it had all these 80s guitar riffs in the soundtrack. I remember being like 5 years old and jumping off the couches and stuff when the T-Rex was introduced. That probably planted the seed.

Ethan: My dad used to play a lot of Dire Straits and Pink Floyd when I was little, so that was probably the first stuff I really heard and reacted to. I discovered rock and metal when I was like 10-11. My friend played me Manowar’s The Triumph of Steel and I think Savatage The Edge of Thorns. That shit blew my mind. Then I got into AC/DC, Metallica, and later Pantera. That kind of set me on the path.

What was your first band, and what type of music did they play?
Scott: My first band was Ethan and I’s blackened thrash band or whatever you want to call it that we started in like ‘04.

Ethan: The guys I played with in high school played metal. We didn’t write anything really, but we played covers of Pantera, Tool, Alice in Chains, Metallica, etc.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
Scott: Metallica in like ‘98.

Ethan: My first metal show was White Zombie back in 1996 in Anchorage, Alaska where I grew up. I was 14 at the time. I remember me and my friend were right at the gate to the floor seating, in the mezzanine, and halfway through the concert the gate broke and we all streamed onto the floor. That was to me amazing, but it was pure chaos as well for a 14 year old.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Scott: Too many to list, but exercise in lots of different forms is important to me. I try to travel a few times a year. Occasionally video games, but I keep it reasonable, so it takes me like years to beat anything.

Ethan: Fishing, hiking, also I was into gaming before I had a kid, but don’t really have time for that anymore.

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Scott: I don’t binge watch anything, I always pass out halfway through one episode unless the show is amazing, which doesn’t happen often.

Ethan: Fallout was pretty good, but I didn’t really binge it. The last show I would say I binged is probably Better Call Saul, which is a fantastic show of course.

What’s in your current heavy musical rotation?
Ethan: The new Black Sabbath Tony Martin remixes and remasters, High on Fire Cometh the Storm, Primordial How It Ends, Bruce Dickinson The Mandrake Project, I still listen to a lot of full albums.

Scott: Just checking my recent Spotify plays here I see Primordial’s new one (just saw them at MDF and it was awesome) and Aborted. The latter is fantastic lifting music.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Ethan: Anyone who likes what we do should also check out our other related projects, Polyptych (Scott and our session bassist Frank’s previous band), Headshrinker (Scott’s project with Young Werther – who was also in Polyptych), and Endmember (Our engineer Greg Livas’ band that also features our session bassist Frank). And of course Kevin Paradis, our session drummer, plays in Benighted, Ne Obliviscaris, and on many other great albums.

(interview published June 8, 2024)

Listen To Brazen Tongue – “Last Train From Myrdal”


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.