It’s OK to inhale: Roots rockers Bryce Clifford & Brother Superior release ‘Second Hand Smoke’
Bryce Clifford & Brother Superior may perform their unique brand of Americana with a wheels-may-come off passion and intensity – but they have a bona fide love song album on their hands with their forthcoming release, Rebounder, and its first single “Second Hand Smoke.”
Just don’t say that within ear’s reach of them.
Drawing on influences from bluegrass, honky tonk, post-punk and old school soul, the album capture’s Bryce’s storied 10-year sojourn to Austin, TX and back and the love gained, lost, and reconciled along the way.
“The song reflects the better times you had with somebody you possibly shouldn’t miss,” Bryce said of the new track. “Maybe it didn’t turn out right, and maybe it was bad for you even, but you went in eyes open and willing to accept the risk.
“It’s about throwing caution to the wind and trading your better angels for the experience.”
The single is the first to land ahead of Rebounder’s release, which is set for summer 2020.
“The story behind this album is a difficult one to talk about,” Bryce lamented. “Not because of the hard feelings behind the breakup, but for the regrettably trite scenario…
“I seethe at the idea of being lumped in with lame ‘singer-songwriter seclusion’ stories,” he continued, half-groaning, half-laughing. “In all seriousness, though, I hope it isn’t filed under ‘pain makes art,’ but something more like ‘art as survival.’”
That said, songs on some themes write themselves…
“The songs were written in a quick blast over the two weeks following a breakup,” Bryce confided. “It was a classic case of a ‘cheatin’ heart’ causing me to irrationally drop everything I had going for me in Austin — a good job, a good apartment, good friends — and get out of town the following day.
“Feeling as though the bottom had dropped out, I drove north to Canada with no plan except to mine the circumstances for a collection of songs.”
It had been 10 years since Bryce Clifford & Brother Superior’s debut LP, Hail Tapes (2010), and another four since the sophomore EP, Whatever Coach (2016). Armed with experience, the 2,500-odd kilometre drive back to Canada confirmed to Clifford two things: he had a record, and he couldn’t let it get away.
“I was afraid the adrenaline would wear off, so I worked on those songs nonstop for the first several weeks. Like a common cold, I knew I’d get better, so I had to chase the ideas while I was still on the bad side of symptoms.
“I set up recording gear in an unused RV my family had been storing on some empty farmland near London, ON. It was cold; I was completely surrounded by snow-covered cornfields, but it was perfect for silence and experimentation.
“Based on the overwhelming feelings I had, and my racing mind, the goal was to antidote a heart in free fall,” he continued. “This was neuron-firing creativity that had a way of absorbing the letdown, almost like a built-in defense mechanism.
“I relied on that.”
The result is a 12-track tome to a relationship that was, wasn’t and could be again.
“I think the songs do a good job of reflecting the mood swings in a person when the bottom drops out,” Bryce said of the release. “It documents a sort of manic confusion, and tangents from disbelief, to loss, to a ‘rock and roll’ defiance.”