Brine Webb’s got melancholy magic
I don’t really get Brine Webb, but I figure that’s okay since he seems to be on the brink of finding himself, too. We had our interview on the roof of LiT Lounge a couple weeks ago after one of his shows. As the interviewed transpired, his vunerability streamed directly from his slightly-whiskey-saturated tongue into these eloquently explained mini-stories. When it was all said and done, it felt good to know the sweet melancholy that’s applied to songs like “Cigarette Tree” isn’t a facade—not by any stretch of the imagination.
SOPHIE ZINE: Your dad was a musician. Was he the one that originally taught you to play?
BRINE: My dad is not a musician in the traditional way. He did it more as a hobby, but he’s really good. The only reason he’s a hobby musician is because he decided to have a family and get a job, and because he has stage fright issues. I actually had played bass for a long time, and I decided I wanted to play guitar. Nobody really ever taught me how to play anything. I asked my dad to show me how to play, and he taught me three chords: an E, an A and B7, and that’s all he ever taught me.
SOPHIE ZINE: How long have you considered yourself to be real musician?
BRINE: It depends on what you mean by “real.” I guess I started for money and doing real things six years ago.
SOPHIE ZINE: How did you start?
BRINE: It was the classic,”I learned to play music at church.” I was playing this stuff, and it was really kind of crappy. I felt that I could make it better, like there was more that I could do to be a part of this. So I started working to make myself good.
SOPHIE ZINE: Have you actually released records before, or for right now, is just the demos?
BRINE: I had a band a long time ago called Jiminy Crime. We did an EP and sold a bunch actually. Looking back, it was pretty gross. I’ve grown so much. At the time, I was just playing bass. I actually started writing my own stuff around then.
SOPHIE ZINE: Now you are in the process of recording your first album. What’s the process been like for you?
BRINE: It’s been pretty long. All I initially wanted to do was to come in the middle of the night, and get some demos done. Jared got real excited about my songs and showed Chad. He got really excited, too. Over the past year, it’s gone from a shitty demo to a six-song legit EP that I could release. Then it turned into them wanting to get me an investor, and make it a real record. The investor thing would be them pulling their connections. Right now, I just plan on finishing recording the album after I graduate in December.
SOPHIE ZINE: Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?
BRINE: It comes from different places. For me, it’s not neccessarily happiness, because that’s not what I feel. A lot of the songs that I have are about… well, I thought was going to marry this girl, and it ended up horrible in the end. And then I was in love with a girl… and just things like that. I have this problem with feeling kind of unwelcome. It’s like I have a complex.
Or it’s just things that I feel and wonder about. Like I have a song that doesn’t have a name, but that I call “And the Midnight Shivers” because Samantha Crain sang on it. It’s not based on anything real, except that sometimes I think that I’m so fucked up that I can never get to heaven. Just all this evil is trying to get me. Not like a paranoia, but just like, that’s how I was feeling at the time. I feel like I’m not able to win no matter I do.
SOPHIE ZINE: What’s your creative process like?
BRINE: Sometimes, I’ll just be walking, or driving in my car, which is broken right now—I have a lot of songs about my car being broken—Sometimes I’ll just think of a lyric, and I’ll write it down or record it on my phone. Sometimes it’ll be a melody, or sometimes it’ll be a chord progression. Generally, I’ll have a lyric, and then another day I’ll have melody or chord progression, and put them together. Sometimes, I just don’t know where it comes from. I won’t be thinking I’m going to write a song, but I will. I’ll write it in 5 or 10 minutes, and it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I don’t really have a creative process. It just kind of happens.
SOPHIE ZINE: Who are your favorite songwriters?
BRINE: Paul Simon is definitely my number one. I don’t know if I really have a number two—but I have a lot of number twos, you know. There’s so many great songwriters: Bob Dylan, Neil Young. There’s a guy named Beau Jennings in a band called Cheyenne. You know, you’ll have friends who are in a band, and you have to like them because they’re your friends. But it’s weird: Beau is one of my favorite songwriters, and Cheyenne is one of my favorite bands. Sometimes Beau will call me, and tell me he likes something I did, and I’m star struck. I don’t normally get star struck, but I just really respect him as a songwriter. I just love that record.
SOPHIE ZINE: What’s the latest record you bought?
BRINE: The last record I bought was a Water Deep record, which is funny because they’re a Christian group. I don’t really get into that usually, but they have a record called “Sink or Swim” that to this day is one of my favorites of all time. The way he writes songs, he’s not bullshitting. He happens to be a Christian, so therefore that theme is there, but at the same time, he’s not bullshitting. I like that, because I’m a Christian, too.
SOPHIE ZINE: You are graduating from college next month. Do you feel like that’s been holding you back?
BRINE: Absolutely. I started college in 2001. I fucked around, and I failed out basically because I never went to class. I was out for a year, and I’ve been in and out just doing various things. I’m glad that I’m almost done. A couple of years ago I had to make that decision. I had these opportunities coming up to play and travel, but I made the decision to make college a priority since I had been doing it for so long. And it’s a valuable thing to have. Not that it’s a backup plan really, but it’s something that I can use—not really that I’ve learned a lot of information, because I’m an English major—but it’s really opened my eyes to other things that I’ve never thought of. Obviously that sounds like cliché bull shit, but that’s a legitimate reason why I like college. I’m just learning about the world. I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Just writing stories and movies and plays has given me a better grasp on how to say what I want to say. And I’m really smart, [he laughs] so…
SOPHIE ZINE: What’s next after you graduate?
BRINE: After I graduate, I’m just going to finish this record, and then try to get all the shows I can. I don’t have the delusion that I’m going to “make it.” I would love it if that would happen, and it’s not impossible, but it’s improbable—it’s probably not going to happen. I had a big long talk with Beau Jennings last time I was in New York City. We ended up just talking, and he’s such an amazing songwriter, but he’s not a “big deal.” It depresses me because he can have that level of talent and that level of success in the indie scene, yet he still has to work another job. That’s sad because he’s so much more talented than me. It’s all about luck and having the right thing at the right time. We were talking about for a long time, and we kind of agreed that you have to do this because you love it. I don’t expect to make it, but I would love it if that were to happen. I have kind of made peace with that. I’m going to make a living the way I can, which right now is making music. I’m going to be poor. My parents are always on my case. My mother always gets onto me because I’m not looking for a real job. It’s frustrating me. All my life my parents were like, “Find what you love to do, and do it.” Now, it’s not good enough. To them, playing music is not a legitimate job. I’m not rich by any means, but I make as much as my friends who have gotten jobs. They have to work full time, and they hate it. I get to do what I love. If I ever want to settle down and have a family someday, then it might be a different deal. I’m nowhere near that. I’d love it if I was—love it if I were, proper English, I’m an English major—but I’m not. I’m not worried about what happens five years ago. I want to do what I do. It’s a cliché, but life is short. I’m 24 years old, but how much longer am I going to live? Twice as long, three times as long? I’d rather do what I want to do than waste my life away.
SOPHIE ZINE: What are you looking for the most from this point forward?
BRINE: I feel like my life is getting ready to start. I feel like I’m getting ready to be born. I’m close, just a few more weeks. When I get done, I’ve got free time, and that’s all I have. I can just sit and write songs and work and play shows, and not worry about getting a job or about getting back to class on time.