Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Bondbreakr.
G: Bondbreakr formed in September 2018 at ABGB in Austin, TX over a frothy pitcher of crisp pale ale. Before that, Patrick and I were in a punk band named Sugar Pill, where we played standard punk rock riffs and runs. Wanting to break with that tradition, we asked Ciaràn if he’d like help us make some tunes. He agreed, and what started out as a power-driving trio later formed into today’s quartet – adding bass for texture and to round out the sound.
Ciaran: After Sugar Pill dissolved in 2018, Patrick, G and I wanted to continue making hard-driving music, but with more of an unorthodox approach that was a true reflection of our personalities and influences. When it came time to round out the lineup, I thought my old friend Pete would be a perfect fit, given his extensive history with metal, hardcore punk and math rock. Thankfully he agreed, allowing us to make quick progress toward the initial run of shows.
Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled debut.
Ciaran: The songs came together very organically in Pete’s rehearsal space. We all contributed initial ideas – whether it was Patrick playing a riff on the guitar, G playing a melody on the clarinet, Pete contributing a bass idea, etc. – and then we just kept playing the arrangements until they felt right. Thankfully we also had the chance to hone each of the songs in the live arena before recording them.
G: All the lyrics are journal entries I wrote over the past few years. It’s been a therapeutic way to hold up a mirror to myself, observing who and what I’ve become in the context of societal constructs. Most times, the lyrical content comes out in smarting bursts and gnashing fits. Patrick, Pete, and Ciaràn’s musicianship add sonic depth to my feelings.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
G: Sweating like a can of Coke in the booth. And watching the dudes record their parts like their lives depended on it. There’s nothing like watching your favorite mates do what they love with all their heart. Shit’s electric!
Ciaran: There are many, but one of the clearest is listening to a very animated Pete give G a detailed demonstration of how best to track vocals in the booth. Thankfully we recorded the entirety of his demonstration, and eventually decided to use it as the intro to “Kill Your Gods” (we have it listed as a separate track called “The Shaman”). It was just too absurd and wonderful to toss into the outtakes bin.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
G: Assertive. Gritty. Mean.
Ciaran: Yes, all of the above — basically our interpretation of hardcore punk, imbued with elements of noise rock, extreme metal, hard rock and our own strange personalities.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
G: Varied flavors of the politicked off masses, racism in all its insidous clusterfuckery, social media being used as a weapon versus a meaningful tool, and cats. Lovely, sweet, ferocious cats.
What led you to go the independent route for release?
Ciaran: We talked through this initially and came to the conclusion that we have everything we need to successfully launch the band, but we are absolutely open to the possibility of partnering with a label that can help push us forward.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
G: That people give it a listen and find a bit of catharsis in it.
What has been your most memorable Bondbreakr live show?
G: The Kick Butt Cafe gig that Nature Ganganbaigal attended. Nature was the founder of Mongolian metal band Tengger Cavalry, a legendary throat singer, and an inconceivably lovely human. It was our second show, and he sent me a message right before we started setting up for soundcheck. I stepped onstage and messaged him back, telling him we were about to start playing. He raced over as fast as he could to see us. We played hard and fast; the adrenaline flowing as freely as the whiskey. It was so much fun!!
After the set, Nature was by the side of the stage giving us all high fives and pats on the back, and telling us that he couldn’t wait to post a video he’d taken of the set to his personal Facebook account. He was really happy for us. I was just happy to see him. And that smile, that hug–to have that kind of support from such a good human being had me on an energy high for days, making me want to write and sing more. I was inspired. The fact that he was right there rocking out to our music…that’s a moment I treasure. And I wish that I could tell him again how much his presence meant to me. That’s a show, a night I’ll never, ever forget.
Ciaran: Agreed with the above. We were flattered and thrilled to see the forefather of Mongolian metal at our gig! It was our last time to see him before he passed away a few months later, which is a loss that is still deeply felt over a year later.
When do you think live shows will be able to return?
G: So hard to project, you know? There are several badass ATX and SATX bands gigging safely right now, but gigging in the form that we once knew it… that might not come back for quite some time. Fingers crossed for spring 2021.
Austin is such a live music mecca. Will its venues be able to bounce back better than other cities whose scenes aren’t as strong?
G: If city officials gave a shit, sure. Since they’ve been twiddling their thumbs on staying true to the “Live Music Blah Blah Blah of the Spinning Rock” I’d say that all of our venues are in immediate trouble and need as much support as possible. Austin is going to look like a city that used to could, not a musical mecca. It’s truly awful.
How has the pandemic affected the band, and you personally?
Ciaran: When it became clear that rehearsal was no longer an option, it forced me into the realization that learning how to use home recording software would be the only way that we could continue making progress on the songwriting front. Thankfully I had been wanting to do this anyway, so I was able to move quickly and we now have about a full-length album’s worth of material written. We definitely miss our friends in the punk community and the visceral intensity of a live show, but in general the pandemic has been very fruitful for us in terms of creativity.
G: Indeed. We’re more focused on composition and how we would like to express our strengths as a unit. Personally, it’s helped me become more conscientious and less of a wrecking ball. Well… a little bit less.
What was the best thing you binge-watched?
G: Schitt’s Creek.
Ciaran: The first season of “True Detective.”
Your EP will be released shortly before the election. Do you think Trump gets re-elected, or will Biden win?
Ciaran: Trump will probably secure an early lead with in person voting, but this will be completely overtaken by Biden’s much stronger showing among mail-in voters, which will be enough to secure an electoral college victory. Trump and his legal team will do everything within their power to contest this victory, and he will fail, which will then prompt a violent uprising amongst his vigilante poll-watching militias. The constitutional crisis and ensuing chaos in the streets will be unlike anything this country has ever seen.
G: Agreed. I think that people will feel the need to vote in their best interests, and the Electoral College (which should absolutely be abolished) will either listen and respect us or fuck us over. Since we’re still voting in an antiquated, broken system, I think that Americans will get exactly what we deserve, no matter who ends up in the White House.
(interview published October 24, 2020)