An interview with Cary Brothers.
By Melody Alderman
P.S.: You have the EP out now, All the Rage. Is the full length record finished yet?
CARY: I've been in the studio for the last three weeks. We're kind of in the mixing stage right now. We were so close to the finishing phase but now I have to go do the tour. But then I'll basically finish up the first two weeks of April with the full length. I'm so excited. It's the album I've wanted to make since I was thirteen years old.
P.S.: It was an unusual situation for me preparing to interview you being that I could only hear four of your songs. Yet, you've been a part of a Grammy Award winning project. How many people can say that?
CARY: I've been doing this for so long on my own that I'm kind of at this point now where the world is kind of collapsing on me. I was able to do it on my own without anybody in my way for so long. Now, I'm having to think business. Everything changes now. I went ahead and did the record myself though because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I made the record I wanted to make.
P.S.: Did you produce it?
CARY: No, Chad (Fischer) who is my drummer, produced it. I kind of co-produced it. My whole thing is to keep moving forward. Just move forward and if a label or whatever gets involved, then that's great but I've just seen so many friends who are in bands who are relying on a label to come and take their hand and rescue them. I don't want to be rescued. If anything, I want a partner. I don't want anyone to come in and save me at all. The thing about it is that when I started playing at the Hotel Cafe, everything just seemed so natural. The Hotel in L.A. is like Cheers for music. You walk in and everybody knows everybody. It's such a comfortable atmosphere. So I try to keep that alive in what I'm doing and keep it under control. I'll sacrifice a little money for control right now. Rent and bills and music, that's what it's about. If I can get a little cash one day, that's great but for now, this is enough.
P.S.: I would imagine you're itching to release more songs.
CARY: I was putting a song per week on the website but now with being in the studio, it kind of got stalled a bit. But it's been such a great thing. I'm of the mindset of... Jeff Tweedy talks about it a lot. Once you make the song, it's gone. It's no longer yours. If people are going to trade it, then for someone in my position, that's great exposure. Hopefully enough people, a percentage of them that download it for free off a site or whatever, enough of them will go buy the record and tell their friends, then it's worth it. That's so important to me right now that the music gets out. Eventually, hopefully the money will come at some point.
P.S.: I really believe that word of mouth is so much more substantial than marketing when it comes to longevity.
CARY: That's what I care about. Like last fall when everything started happening with the soundtrack, I started getting approached by labels. I told my manager at that point that I wanted to take it easy because I was just planning on getting the distribution rolling. Now, I'm getting more and more emails and more and more hits on the website and I can see that it's growing. When I was ten and I'd go into a record store in Nashville, that's where I loved finding something that I felt was mine. It wasn't being shoved down my throat like everything else. So there's a period of time when hopefully some kid will get my record and feel like it's theirs and they can tell their friends about it. That's the response I've been getting is, "I've been listening to your record and I'm telling my friends." That's my dream because that was me. So I freak out when I get those kind of emails.
P.S.: Have you signed with a label as of yet?
CARY: No, I put the EP out with Redeye Distribution in North Carolina. It's in stores nationwide. It's out there and I'm letting it grow. I just went ahead and got enough money to afford to do the record myself. So now I almost have the record done and I have a lot going on. Either I'll put it out myself or somebody will make me a cool offer that sounds nice. I'm just moving forward.
P.S.: You're in a very fortunate position with the success of Garden State because a lot more people know who you are. You don't really have to compromise at this point.
CARY: I'm not really good with authority and I'm not very good at kicking anybody's ass. I'm unwilling to do that. Like I said, I want a partner. I don't want to bow anybody. I've been writing songs on my own as therapy basically since I was sixteen years old. I never thought that I could really make money and be a musician. To me it was the writing of the song and the completion of the song was the end of the process. I would write a song, record it, stack it in a pile. Doing that for ten or twelve years, one day you realize this stuff might be valuable and maybe I can do something with it. I am at the point now of letting go of the fear and putting it out in the world. You just cross your fingers and hope people dig it.
P.S.: Is it difficult as a writer to release it and once it's out there, allow other people to claim it?
CARY: Absolutely; That was the most important thing that I did. Somehow, you're going to let go of that fear and then once that's gone, and you're willing to accept criticism as well as compliments, you'll get to that point where you realize not everybody's going to like it but a lot of people will.
P.S.: How did you become involved with the Garden State soundtrack?
CARY: Zach (Braff) and I went to college together. Then, after we moved out to L.A., I was trying to play music and he was waiting tables. So we were always just really supportive. He was always into my music and I always really encouraged his writing. I was so psyched when he finally... Don't get me wrong, he's a brilliant actor, but I think his real gift is as a filmmaker. So I did everything I could in the process of him writing and putting Garden State together to help him out. Then he came to me and asked if he could use "Blue Eyes." Then, after that happened, we sat around and threw some music ideas out and that's how that soundtrack came about.
P.S.: It's a Grammy Award winning mixed tape.
CARY: (Laughs) Exactly, and it was just like any other little Indy film. Nobody had any idea what would happen and then it just blew up. It was definitely this really intimate, personal thing that went out into the world and did well. I'm so proud of him and so happy for everything that's happened. It also gave me a nice little boost, (Laughs). It's so funny now though how many movie companies are wanting to do a Garden State type soundtrack and the thing is, they won't. Just trying to do it, you're done. That was it's own thing. Try something else. Try a different energy. I've just seen so many soundtracks thrown together now with some of the same bands or sound. It's inauthentic.
P.S.: To be completely honest, when I first heard about Garden State, I was incredibly skeptical. I've never seen an episode of Scrubs in my life and I knew Zach had written it and my immediate reaction was, 'Okay, this guy's got some connections and was able to make a movie because of that.' I'm embarrassed to say that now but I definitely wasn't excited about seeing it. But then, I heard such amazing comments about the film, that I was curious enough to go see it and I completely fell in love with it. I think I've seen it twenty times. I took everyone I knew to go see it. I could feel how incredibly authentic it was. It was obvious that it was Zach's heart and soul up there. He wasn't phoning anything in.
CARY: When Zach was writing it, he gave me the first draft and when I read it, I thought it was amazing. Generationally, there hasn't been anything like it in a while. There's a whole generation of kids who never saw The Graduate or The Breakfast Club. So now they have this film. It's had this success with the cult vibe to it. It's a very personal movie to people.
P.S.: You and I share a common appreciation for Ben Gibbard.
CARY: Oh yes! I had my moment at Sundance. My manager said there was somebody who wanted to meet me. So I walk into this restaurant and Gibbard's sitting at this table and I got all nervous. I walk up to him and say, "Hi, I'm Cary." Evidently, he had just heard "Blue Eyes" for the first time flying on a plane. The Garden State soundtrack was playing on some airplane station. He tells me, "Great song man!" I was just like (in a high pitched voice) "Are you serious? Thank you." That's what really matters to me. I love when fans or music lovers give positive feedback but getting that kind of respect from an artist I admire means so much.
P.S.: And where were you just a year or two ago?
CARY: Two years ago I was broke as shit, (Laughs). I was playing shows at the Hotel Cafe. That was my refuge. That meant so much to me. I was doing odd jobs picking up trash, working at photo shoots picking up trash, whatever. It was all so I could finance the EP. Hopefully there's no more of me walking around with empty cans and big trash bags.
The scars of all I'll ever know
If I told you you were right
Would you take my hand tonight?
If I told you the reasons why
Would you leave your life and ride?"
Song * Ride
Album * Who You Are
But you can't point
the way to your heart
when the stars are aligned
But you don't know
You don't know
the greatness you are"
Song * Blue Eyes
Album * Garden State Soundtrack
Using up all my potions
and spells tonight
You will find out
When you pull through
That I fought too"
Song * Take Your Time
Album * Take Your Time Single
* Available on iTunes