By Wal Reid
“Forgive me” I ask quizzically beginning the interview. “I may be blind but I’ve never seen any reference to the acronym L.A.F? ...Loose as fuck? Really? Cool.”
Caleb Nott half the brother-sister duo Broods is pretty chilled when I ring him at his home base in L.A. I ask him what he thinks about Donald Trump taking out the elections and how crazy it is there right now. He reluctantly confesses “I try and stay out of it really, it’s pretty bloody stupid to be honest”.
The outspoken Kiwi who is admits he “Didn’t know what he was doing” as far as the technical aspect went on their first album Evergreen, is upbeat about their sophomore offering Conscious. “Recovery and Full Blown Love took quite a while to get the production and it feeling and sounding right. Sometimes you’ll listen to the song on a different day and know exactly what to do with it with fresh ears.”
Conscious the latest pop-tartlet has seen the Kiwi duo tour extensively overseas, supporting Pop demi-gods Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith and appearances on the Late Late Show with talk show mega-host James Corden have helped propel the group to international status.
Broods has organically morphed musically and personally, in some ways it’s a journey that has seen the talented Kiwi pair outgrow their own pop persona, maturing from being a ‘breakthrough’ artist into an international force majeure.
The group has been nominated for five awards at this years Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, last year they cleaned up scooping five awards including Album of the Year, I jokingly add “Isn’t it time you gave somebody else a chance?”. “Nah” he drolly says, tongue in cheek.
The talented pair are about to embark on a tour with long time personal favourites Two Door Cinema Club before heading back to these shores, they have European passports and are ready “to crack it” with a new band sporting a Yank in the line up.
“We’ve got a token American on stage now. Its pretty scary for her entering a whole touring party of Kiwis, she’s had to learn the accent very quickly. Nott is quick to add. “It will always be a majority Kiwi for sure”.
He laughs saying he gets mistaken for Aussie singer Jarryd James. Recalling once walking around a venue post Jarryd James gig to calls of “good gig bro...” “Everybody reckons we look the same.” (laughter)
James also guested this year on stage with Broods at their Vector Arena gig singing his latest single 1000x. “He’s probably the nicest man you’ll ever meet, super talented and the most humble dude.”
Even though the pair are out on the road or touring overseas they still hold in high regard their New Zealand upbringing, it’s an experience that keeps them grounded as he says keeps them from “not getting too big for your boots.”
“I think it’s how we’ve been brought up by our parents,” he says. “We travel a lot with family as well. I’ve got people like my cousin and Georgia, we’ve been hanging out since we were babies. We just have full on fist fights mate (laughter).
“We hardly ever disagree on anything, we’re pretty good like that and because we’re family and we’ve known each other for so long we know when to leave each other alone and when not to. You can be a lot more to the point with family. No beating around the bush you can be blunt and everyone respects each other.”
He goes on to recall the time his mum “embedded in our brains” the idea to become a mini-Corrs “We’re one brother and three sisters, so there’s still time to be a Corrs cover band once Broods is all finished.”
The obvious signs of homesickness are gauged by food and the odd reference to back home, its no different it seems even living half way around the world.
“Yeah meat pies,” he says almost relishing the thought. “They don’t have them, but there’s an Aussie bakery we get frozen pies from and bring them home and cook them up when you’re feeling under the weather, maybe after a night out, that’s when you want your meat pie."
“There’s no Pavs but they have pretty much everything else, L&P and Pineapple Lumps. It just costs through the roof so when family come over we get everything. We’ve had the Whittakers K Bar chocolate, we’ve tried that out and get Squiggles sent over.”
Broods are quickly learning that getting noticed isn’t as easy as you may think in America, as Nott says “It’s either super busy or sitting around twiddling your thumbs.” It seems however that hard work and regular touring gets you noticed, even by Swedish pop star Tove Lo, who appears on their latest album on the track Freak of Nature.
“Tove made a big impression on us both of us,” he says. “We love working and hanging with her because she’s so real. She’s quite different to everyone else in the Pop industry. She’s more like us, a little bit mental and doesn’t really give a shit about anyone else (laughter). She’s just doing what she’s doing."
“We’re on the same festival circuit around America, we’d hang out after we perform and we played her a demo of Freak and she said “I really like that one”. We said “Do you want to sing on it?” and she said “yes” and she did it – that simple.”
Compared to Swede Lo’s promiscuous lyrics, Nott says they’re “pretty boring” however he admits the song writing process is more organic citing a shift from the ‘darker’ earlier Brood singles to the pop-edge style of latest album Conscious. “Usually we just write from scratch, most of the songs we write in a day. If it’s good it should be written in a day. Freak of Nature we revisited a year and a half after we first wrote it and then finished it.
“We’ve been touring a lot,” he adds. “I think while you’re touring and playing all these live shows you end up writing with that in mind, you start writing songs that have a bit more energy in them because you want to play them live. Also we’re a lot happier these days, there’s not so much depressing shit on the album. We’re not like poor University kids who put $5 into the car every time they go to the petrol station you know?”
Conscious has been well received outside of Aotearoa, the sweet sounding infectious Pop Electronica hits all the right notes. Broods twee pop formula hitting the listener square in the eyes with memorable effect. The album also boasts collaborations with Tove Lo and our own Lorde on the track Heartlines.
Conscious was met with generally positive reviews with one reviewer noting “Conscious bears the growing pains of a band seeking arena-size additions to the set.” It debuted at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the New Zealand and Australian album charts. In the US, the album charted lower than Evergreen on the Billboard 200 at 52 but reached career highs on the Rock and Alternative charts.
“Yeah it’s good. Aussie and New Zealand are really good,” he tells. “Aussie have taken it and run with it a lot more than the first album and it’s quite nice to have that support there. Over here in the US it’s been really good it’s just lot slower, it will take a lot longer to build up."
“Europe we’re still trying to crack that egg so we’ll hopefully head over there in the next six months and tour around a bit and play to these people that have been waiting three years to see us play live – should be fun.”
Speaking of which, the group is set to return here soon with concerts over the New Year with Electric Coastline with Kings and Theia, plus a couple of free acoustic gigs thrown in for good measure.
“Yeah we’re coming back to NZ for a couple of weeks for Christmas then after that we’re doing The Falls Tour over New Years for those festivals in Australia, and then some Kiwi shows.”
Anyway, let’s get back to the start of the interview. What’s with L.A.F?
“Loose as fuck.” Nott says nailing it. “It was the working title, then we tried to change it, but then we thought “no fuck it, L.A.F"”.
“You’ll see it on the Air NZ quiz next time you’re on there.” (laughter)