These two guys from Portland, Oregon - Brandon Rush & Kyle Sears - had to sell their own blood plasma to make ends meet back in the day, built a recording studio from scratch at an abandoned cement factory, among other hardships of life, but their hard work and perseverance have paid off. They are now Warner Bros. Records’ latest signess, and will release their first major-label album in November. Priory's first single “Weekend” is an electronic-pop/rock anthem - for those who feel marginalized and feel the need to act to change that situation – that is catching on fast in the U.S. Its thousands of views and plays on YouTube and SoundCloud prove it. Even radios are loving Priory’s “Weekend”. Alt 98.7 FM called it “best new song of the year”. So if you haven’t gotten into the song yet, read our review first and then get to listen!
DirectLyrics.com caught up with Priory’s Brandon Rush & Kyle Sears last week for an exclusive interview. We discussed everything. From their beginnings, why they named themselves Priory, the evolution of their sound, signing to Warner, their upcoming album, and they even told us what kind of beer they like.
We recently heard your new single "Weekend" and posted a review about it on the website. The song sounds very anthem-like and we're pretty confident the lyrics are relatable to (almost) all young people.
Where did you get the inspiration to write this song? And what’s the message you want to put out with it? (Heard you’ve had a not very easy life! - Did you really feel like a 'whipping boy' at one time?)
Brandon: To me, ‘Weekend’ is a song about feeling marginalized and acting out in turn. I have definitely done my share of acting out. I think everyone feels oppressed by an authority figure at some point in life. It could be a strict parent, a boss at work or the standard forced upon us by western culture. We use escapism to feel momentarily empowered. Is this a healthy behavior, I don’t know, but it’s always been a part of my coping mechanism.
How did you come up with the stage name of Priory?
Brandon: The Priory is a rehab clinic in the UK. This had no bearing on our name choice. It’s also has religious connotation. This had no bearing either. To be honest, we just liked the word.
We read that you partly recorded you’re upcoming album in a studio built from the ground up in a former cement factory. How did that happen? – sounds like it was a very complicated task.
Brandon: Kyle and I had been touring on an album we had outgrown. We had been talking about the music we really wanted to make for years and both felt like the timing was right. We knew that the only way to get from point A to point B was to dive in head first. We already had most of the gear. The only thing standing in our way were our day jobs. So we quit them and decided to drop every non-essential obligation in our life and focus on building a studio and making this album. We bought a book on studio construction and went for it, everything from framing to sound isolation. We knew it was a huge risk, but it also felt like the only way to make a record we would be proud of. Outside of the studio, life was a bitch! We were completely broke, Kyle wrecked his fixie bicycle 4 times and we both had a parent diagnosed with cancer going through chemotherapy and radiation. We were going through some pretty rough stuff through process of making the album, but in some ways all the chaos helped us focus. It was do or die.
The old cement studio was great, but had some serious logistical issues, like being directly next to train track and also housing the bulk of Portland’s flourishing metal scene. We have since moved LOUDWAR studios to a new location which kicks way more ass. Owning a studio is like owning the ultimate treehouse for adults. We keep all of our toys and 1000+ record collection here. We spend more time at our studio than anywhere else, so it’s important that we feel good in that environment.
Is it true that you had to sell your own blood plasma to make ends meet back in the day? Did you meet people with terrible stories there?
Kyle: Yes indeed...the plasma center was crazy. I would see the strung out junkie who can barely stand next to the middle age upper class mom that wants to give back. It’s an exhausting 2 hour process that I don't miss, and would be quite content never to do again. It’s a story that I wear on my arm in the form of a (strategically placed on my plasma scar) dollar sign tattoo.
You’re upcoming album isn’t technically your debut. Priory released a first album in 2011 that was more folk-inspired. What are your thoughts on the Priory from three years ago? And what would you say to fans that actually loved that album and would have wanted Priory to stick to that sound forever?
Brandon: Music is a never ending pursuit. As we become better musicians, and songwriters our music is bound to change. When Kyle and I first began playing music together we spent hours talking about the sound aesthetic we wanted to create. This collection of songs is much closer to our original intent. Life is boring without change.
How exactly did you make the decision to pursue a more commercial sound? Or did it just happen naturally?
Brandon: Kyle and I never consciously made a decision to make the music sound like anything specific. We just began writing and recording 10 hours a day. Even when we felt uninspired, we still showed up and gave it our all. Kyle and I spent a solid year writing and recording these songs. If we came up with a good idea we would record it that moment. This approach gave us the ability to critically listen to the songs elements in context. This process works for us but is often tedious because we are continually reevaluating and re-recording elements. I’m sure from the outside the way we operate in the studio would seem schizophrenic. But we have acclimated to our version of ‘crazy.’ We will often go hours in the studio barely saying a word to each other. It’s a blur of grabbing instruments, positioning microphones, and Pro Tools short key commands.
You were originally signed to an independent label, and one day you got the call from Warner Bros. Records - you're current home. How did Warner discover you?
Brandon: Gary Gersh from The Artist Organization got his hands on our music and flew up to Portland to meet us. We were floored to have someone of his echelon take interest. We actually were pursued by quite a few labels but chose Warner Brothers because of their rich heritage and the people we made relationships with there.
In your 2011 debut album you had total control over the project - we believe you wrote and produced the 12 songs in it. Did you ask Warner for that same freedom when signing with them? Did you have any concerns at all before inking your signature on the contract?
Brandon: We were guaranteed complete control of our creative process. We were basically told we could do whatever we want. They put it in writing and they have stood by it.
What did you do the day you were officially part of the Warner family? And, did you have the feeling of ‘our lives are about to change – all the hard work’s paid off’?
Brandon: Well, obviously we drank good whiskey! The whole thing was surreal. We had often said before that moment, if it doesn’t get better than this, it’s still the best life for us. This was the best possible scenario and we’re still kinda freaking out.
"Weekend" has sort of an electronic-pop/rock sound. Is this indicative of the overall sound of your upcoming album?
Brandon: We love the juxtaposition between raw organic instrumentation, nasty old synths, and drum machines. Both Kyle and I will scour second-hand stores looking for old Casio keyboards and alike in an attempt to find something weird to incorporate into our songwriting. The album has intentional recurring themes but several different sound palettes.
Is the new album fully done? And please tell us, what’s the release date?
Brandon: The album is done now. We were fortunate enough to have mixed the album in London with Spike Stent. He is an amazing guy and we really bonded with him and his family- amazing people. It will be out in November.
You premiered the lyric video for “Weekend” last month. Will an official music video follow soon? If so (or not), what do you imagine the treatment of the video to be?
Brandon: We are actually going to film it this weekend in LA. We are working with David Wolf, an amazing director and Scot Armstrong (The guy who wrote Old School and The Hangover Part II) It’s gonna get weird.
"Weekend" is an incredible first single, but do you already have the second single in mind? If so, what can you tell us about it without revealing the title if you can't?
Brandon: We can’t say yet, but it will have nasty bass synths, tight vocal harmonies, and a ton of swagger.
We have a strong belief Priory will be a huge deal one day. And there's a high probability you’ll have to permanently move out of Portland. What are the things you’d miss the most about the city?
Brandon: Never! Portland born and raised. I think hiding out in our studio here in the NW will keep us a healthy distance from the unimportant stuff.
What are Priory’s Top 5 songs of the moment?
Death from above 1979 (trainwreck)
De La Sol (Dog Eat Dog)
Royal Blood (Out Of The Black)
Sam Smith (Money on my mind)
Tove Lo (Stay High) Habits Remix
Portugal The Man. (Modern Jesus)
Phantogram (Fall In Love)
Bleachers (I wanna get better)
MO (don't wanna dance)
We watched your introduction video on your YouTube channel. You seem to enjoy beer a lot. What's your favourite beer brand and type?
Brandon: Dogfish Head, 120min IPA, and (local) Loowit Brewing,Master splinter Oak aged IPA.
Kyle: Gigantic IPA
Where are you answering this Q&A from and what’s your day been like?
Brandon: The day started with Stumptown coffee. We then had a 6 hr practice, and now… happy hour at Low Bar, best greyhound in town. The secret is fresh squeezed grapefruit.
Thank you so much for your time, Priory! Best of luck with everything. Any last thing you would like to share with our readers at Direct Lyrics?
Our Pleasure, LOVE UNTIL IT HURTS!
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