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THE BROOK AND THE BLUFF

THE BROOK AND THE BLUFF
PHOTOS BY JOSEPH SETTINE & NOAH TIDDMORE
INTERVIEW BY TOMMY MOORE

Based in Nashville, TN, The Brook and The Bluff are making their mark on both the local and national music scene. Their provocative blend of vocal harmony, soulful air, and groovitational pull remains unmatched. Their debut full length album, First Place, is out now.

 

@brookandbluff

brookandbluff.com

Tommy Moore: So you guys were actually supposed to be up here this weekend I think.

 

John Canada: Yeah! It was this weekend!

 

TM: I saw and was planning on going, and well, everything just shut down. So how’d you all find each other?

 

Joseph Settine: So it all started with Alec and Fred living next door to each other.

 

Alec Bolton: Yeah, Fred and I grew up living next door to each other. I’ve known him since I was like five years old and we always used to play music together. We were in a church band together in high school and stuff like that. Then Fred, John and I were all in the choir together in high school. Then we all went separate ways for college, and then that’s when I met Joseph who went to Hoover, which is pretty close to Mountain Brook and Birmingham as well. 

 

JS: Yeah, if Birmingham had been a little bit more connected we probably could have met earlier. 

 

TM: Did you guys start recording in college then?

 

JS: We started writing music together in college, but we didn’t actually record anything until we had graduated. We recorded our first thing in 2015 or maybe beginning of 2016. We went into the studio of the music little mom and pop music store that we were working at, and then we just recorded three songs in one day, asked for a mix at the end of the session—which we now know is not normal—and I put them on SoundCloud that night.

 

AB: Straight to SoundCloud.

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JC: The cover was a snapchat photo of an angel statue that was found in an abandoned antique store in rural Alabama. We called it The Rough Cuts.

 

JC: It was great, and I can say that as someone who was not involved in making it. I saw Alec and Joseph playing at a bar in Auburn, and then a short while after that I picked up a copy of The Rough Cuts and started listening to it in my car, and was just like, ‘This is super cool guys. What are you doing?’

 

Fred Lankford: I started filling in for the guy who was with him who had his own schedule to keep.  I kept playing more and more and eventually the spot became available and I was available. 

 

JS: Tricked him into living in Nashville.

 

TM: Once you were all in Nashville and started touring, was that the first time you guys had seen all those places and traveled out West?

 

JC: Yeah, a lot of them.

 

JS: I think all of them for me, except for San Francisco. I had been to San Francisco one time previously, but I’d never been to the Northwest

 

AB: Same and like Montana and random places like that. It’s just so cool.

 

TM: How much of the new album came after that then? I know the Golden Gate is in the cover photo.

 

JS: So the actual the music had kind of been written for the album before that tour that we went on, but one of the themes involves traveling and being somewhere that isn’t home. We wanted to incorporate that into the cover somehow and we ended up using a bunch of pictures that I had taken on tour--cutting and pasting them and splicing them all together to make that collage. I think it was that connection there, that kind of like feeling away from home, that was similar to the theme in first place.

TM: Yeah, as a whole it has a very road trippy vibe. Whenever I hear it, I think of the lake. Everything on it reminds me of being at the lake. Did you guys grow up with a lot of outdoor stuff around you?

 

JS: I did for sure. My mom is from Monroeville, Alabama, which is just the middle of nowhere, and we would go every year for Thanksgiving. We’d go out to Furman, Alabama which is even smaller than Monroe. There’s this house that my family has where there’s acres and acres of land, and we’d kind of just run around in the woods every year for Thanksgiving. 

 

AB: I spent every summer for eight years up in the mountains in New Hampshire at this camp. 

 

JS: I mean, Alec was a ski instructor in Switzerland.

 

AB: Yeah, that’s right. I went to Switzerland for three months right after we released The Rough Cuts. I was living there and working for this program where I took take care of kids and skied and stuff like that.

 

JS: But as far as outdoor stuff, you were talking about you want to listen to the album on a road trip or at the lake or something. I think that’s may not have been an exact goal that we wrote out during the process of making the album, but my favorite albums are those kind of road trip albums. I think that will kind of always be a subconscious goal to make music that feels like a sunset drive. 

 

AB: Those songs that capture experiences—that let you experience how an experience felt.

 

TM: Yeah the new album is smooth enough where you can just listen to the whole thing through and it just doesn’t really click until it flips back around and you get that first track again. You’re, like you said, driving at sunset and 40 minutes later it’s like, ‘oh shit.” The sun’s finally down and you’re back on the second or third track.

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JS: We’re actually trying new things for this album. We’ve all been coming up with stuff and we just haven’t really taken enough time. We just haven’t really gotten together and been like, “Hey, I’ve got this idea.” We’ve shown it, but we haven’t sat down and really worked on it yet. I think just because, honestly, for me the beginning of quarantine is just kind of a bummer. I’m just not in the mood and I would rather learn these Beatles songs then.

 

TM: It’s hard to be creative when you’re forced to be.

 

JC: Yeah, but then after a month or so I think, at least over here we all started writing more to stay sane. Because if we weren’t writing music, then we’re just sitting here doing nothing. 

 

FL: I think there is something to be said when there’s no schedule for the future. When you’re not anticipating being on the road you kind of feel all that free time and you want to take more advantage of it. The fact that we don’t have a tour to look forward to at this point kind of makes the free time feel a little more dense and like we can get more out of it. Usually I feel like the year for us is being on the road, or waiting to be on the road.

 

AB: And before the quarantine, we took a weekend and went out to a mountain house. It was just the four of us and we sat down for three days just with the intention of writing music. And that’s where three or four of the ones that we have now in the works have come from. Who knows, maybe that it’ll happen again in the summer? There’s something really special about getting out of the setting you’re really used to and getting into like a new cool setting. It’s inspirational and easier to focus.

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