Jonathan Jackson of Bravo, Max! Talks About Becoming a Trio and the Current State of the Dallas Music Scene
Bravo, Max! has been through a tumultuous few months. After releasing Dog's Light, the band's fantastic debut full-length, they suddenly lost two members. Johnny Beauford, Ben Gastright and Jonathan Jackson decided to charge ahead as a three-piece and, judging by recent songs such as "Sleepy Simon," the move is already paying off.
Speaking from an area dog park in anticipation of tonight's gig at the Common Table, drummer Jackson talked about the band's recent transition and how the reduction to a trio has affected the band's personality and perspective on making music.
How long have you been the drummer in Bravo, Max!?
It's been about a year. I was their producer. I produced their EP and then co-produced their LP. A week after the band got back from recording the album in California, the previous drummer, Eli [Stafford], had to quit. I knew the songs already. I've played drums for a long time and studied music so I jumped in and started playing.
The band was a five-piece and now it's a trio. Was that a difficult transition?
When I started working with them, in May of 2010 to do the first EP, there were actually seven people in the band. They lost a member and when we did the record, there were six. They lost another member in June last year. At the end of the year we lost our accordion player and rhythm guitarist. We've been a three-piece since November. The change worked out well. We are very happy with it. It was quite a transition.
Does it make practicing a lot easier?
How does it affect the sound?
It's more streamlined. I think with a power trio that definitely comes with the territory. It's not necessarily simplified. It's making every chord really count. It's so much different than working with four or five players. Now, we have to make every instrument really count. The new songs are edgier. Maybe, they are a little more aggressive than what the band has done in the past. I don't know if it's punkier, but it's definitely more intense.
Is it difficult to replicate the more intricate sound of the album as a trio?
I think we've done it pretty well. We've all been gung ho about it. We really haven't had too much difficulty transitioning those songs. Some of the songs had to be rearranged so they could fit better with our new format. Some of the songs have a totally new sound, a more evolved sound.
The album, Dog's Light, hasn't been out that long. Now that you guys are a trio, are you anxious to get back in the studio?
We're in the process of making another record right now. A lot of the new songs are up on SoundCloud. We are going to do another EP. We're going to release some B-sides within the next two or three months. And we will then turn our attention to another full-length.
After more recording, will the band do something like a summer tour?
How long have you been involved in the Dallas music scene?
I grew up here and I've pretty much been involved in the area music scene all of my life. I played in the original Prophet Bar when I was 13 years old.
What do you think of the current state of the music scene?
I love it and I think it is great. I've spent some time in New York City and Austin and I always love coming back home. The Dallas music scene, right now, is great. I've left and come back. I've been back in Dallas for about 10 years now. It's great to see Deep Ellum come back. There is some great talent being nurtured here. It's a pretty great time to be here.
What does the scene need?
I don't know what it needs. There are things that have helped nurture local bands. I think the Dallas Observer has been a part of that. In terms of what the scene is lacking, I am better at looking at what we have instead of what we lack. Out of all the cities I've lived in, the sense of camaraderie here is so strong.
Has Dallas always played second fiddle to Austin?
That's always been implied. Honestly, right now, I don't think Dallas is playing second fiddle to Austin. The scene here is strong. Austin had it going on in the '90s. I think part of being in Dallas is having this thing with Austin.
Bravo, Max! perform tonight at the Common Table.