It’s a dark and stormy night as I sit on the floor with Brewer in an upstairs flat in East London. Between the cans of cheap polish beer and multiple ashtrays we settle down to discuss how they’ve grown over the last couple of years, their complicated relationship with Debowe and their upcoming gig at the Vatican…
How did Brewer form?
Tom: We were in Brick Lane and I asked Oz if he wanted to start an angry band because I was very angry and sad, and we needed to play music that was angry and sad.
Oz: No, it was before that! It was my 19th birthday and we wanted to start a band that was really garage but afterwards things got angry and sad.
Tom: We started practicing in Ilford and drinking from 10am and walking about.
Oz: We recorded our first song that first day. That was done quite quickly. That was the last of us recording quite well on the spot.
When did everyone else join the band?
Stella: I joined around October of the same year. We had a friend in common who said Brewer were looking for a bassist. I was desperate to be in a band, never had been before, so I turned up and I could barely play bass. I had an emergency lesson before I came. I turned up and I couldn’t play the songs and they said, “it’s fine you will be able to”.
Omar: I started at like the end of summer last year. I was just going to fill in for one gig and then they told me their other drummer wasn’t coming back.
Tom: When we first practiced with Omar it was such a bigger sound. It was so much faster, louder… it was exactly what we needed to be.
Jack: I joined about a year ago. Omar asked me to come and do some trumpet solos. I went to one rehearsal and then we went to the pub afterwards and I thought “these guys are going to be drinking quite hard”. I was downing my pints but then you guys were just nursing pints and Oz just had a coffee. I didn’t know what was going on.
How integral is drinking to Brewer?
Oz: No, no, let’s not go down that route… I mean it’s not integral!
Stella: We drink at every band practice, I’ve never had a sober rehearsal.
Tom: I think it is kind of integral, the name’s Brewer but it doesn’t come from enjoying beer or anything.
Where does the name Brewer come from?
Tom: It comes from a John Updike book called ‘Rabbit, Run’. It’s about a guy in the mid-50s in backwater America who runs away from his family and the town he lives in is called Brewer.
What one word summarises your experience of Brewer?
Tom: It’s much more difficult to do that now, before it would just be drunk. Noisy just sounds really lame doesn’t it? Most bands are noisy…
Oz: There’s a word that Iggy Pop made up to describe The Stooges called Dionysiac. Dionisius is the God of wine, food, partying. Just a bit fun, messy, chaotic… but not too crazy because this is still Ancient Greece we’re talking about you know.
As Brewer has gotten tighter as band do you think it’s also sobered up?
Stella: Yeah definitely, we still drink every time but it’s a lot less. It’s not urgent, like we have to get drunk and then we’ll make some music.
Oz: We don’t drink Debowe anymore, we drink real beer now. We were all very poor and Debowe was being sold for £1.
Tom: When we were practicing in Ilford that’s all we would drink from 10am through till the evening.
Oz: We’d be finished by 6pm with a hangover.
How has your sound changed over the last couple of years?
Jack: When I first joined I was just playing random shit on the trumpet to the beat but now I kind of know what I’m doing.
Oz: We’ve had a couple of songs we’ve all written together, and we know our bits but it’s only recently were we’ve actually started to think about what we’re playing and go back through the songs and change them.
Tom: I think we used to rely on the attitude that we could play as shit as we were, and we’d just deal with whether people liked it or not. We were pretending not to care to a certain extent, but it is good to sound good. It’s nice to sound good and know what you’re doing when you’re playing.
Can you explain the relationship between Bootprint, Bootfest and Brewer?
Oz: We started Bootprint after Brewer. Bootprint is a hub for musicians to come together, play gigs together, record together.
Jack: It’s a network of people who are really interested in new music. We’ll all promote other bands.
Oz: Bootfest started out as a show and tell for everything we’ve done as Bootprint. It started out in a little squat in Edgware but then we moved on to New River Studios. The last one was over 3 days and it was really successful, we got some artists to put on a mini exhibition and bands from Bootprint played. This year Bootfest is going to be on for 5 days so that we can put on everyone who’s been involved with Bootprint previously. We’ve got artists, videographers, animators, graphic designers all coming to create a multi-media festival.
What’s your favourite song on your upcoming EP?
Jack: Debowe! I can’t stop listening to it.
Tom: It’s a good example for understanding how our sound has changed because with Jack’s organ we’ve got a different dynamic. It’s not as rough anymore but still with the same energy. It’s sounding a bit sort of seaside sometimes.
What’s coming up next for Brewer?
Omar: Gonna buy some new recording gear and get some sexy sounds from it.
Oz: We’re going to get a milk float and record and play live from the milk float.
Jack: We’re going to serve milk as well! We’re going to have milk in bottles, boozey milk… basically Baileys.
Finally, where does Brewer see themselves in 5 years’ time?
Omar: In our shipping container studio.
Tom: Crying in a bedroom in Dagenham.
Oz: We’ll actually have our own island, and a church of course. Jack did say he wanted to buy a church.
Jack: You guys are all welcome in the church, you can live there. It’ll have a studio and my bed is going to be where the alter is. We’re going to play a gig on the moon in 5 years too.
Oz: We emailed NASA about this and we got a reply.
Jack: I asked if we could play a gig on the moon, or at least in space. They were like “thank you so much for this email but we cannot do this at this moment in time”, so they’re definitely thinking about it.
Oz: We’re going to ask to play at the Vatican too. We’re writing a letter in Latin to the Pope to see if we can play at the Vatican.
Stella: I just want to go on tour and I’d like to play 3 gigs in a night.
Tom: If we can play anywhere and have people turn up to our gigs that’s the dream.
Brewer is comprised of Oz (vocals and guitar), Tom (vocals and guitar), Stella (bass), Jack (keys and trumpet) and Omar (drums). Fulfil Brewer’s dream by checking them out on Friday the 6th of April at The Plough & Harrow and on Saturday the 7th of April at The Gunners.