Rockin’ Out: The Brew steps up to triple album challenge

Chris Plante, keyboardist and vocalist for the Massachuseetts band The Brew, admits that recording three albums over the course of two months might have been a little too much work for one band to handle. Not that it has slowed him or his bandmates (bassist Joe Plante, guitarist and singer Dave Drouin, and drummer Kelly Kane) down. It’s just made their lives a little… well, a lot crazy.

“If we’re not on the road, we’re in the studio. If we’re not in the studio, we’re rehearsing for a gig. If we’re not doing that, we’re sending hard drives of material down to the studio in Virginia,” said Plante. “We’re still finishing up the last album. It’s absolutely insane. But at the same time, it’s super rewarding.”

The Brew has amassed a huge following in New England over the past 10 years due to their high energy, crowd-friendly shows — they’re perennial favorites at Unity College, and at venues in Portland, and they played the KahBang Festival in Bangor in August 2011. They’ll release the second of their triptych of albums, “Light From Below,” with an 8 p.m. show on Friday, Dec. 9, at Port City Music Hall in Portland.

Their last studio album of all new material, “Back to the Woods,” came out in 2008. So a triple album, after a three year wait, wasn’t really such a crazy idea. But recording and mastering them all in less than four months probably was. The impetus to do that wasn’t out of some Spinal Tap level of bombast — rather, it was a collective decision to give all the songs the proper treatment and album placement they deserved.

“There were definitely three different overall kinds of sounds going on with all the songs we had,” said Plante. “We didn’t want to try to cram them all on one, or even two, and have it feel uneven. We wanted it to all sound right. We wanted to give our fans a little taste of everything.”

“A Garden in the Snow,” out now and available on iTunes, features The Brew at its most recognizable, playing a propulsive kind of keyboard-driven indie rock, with thoughtful lyrics and songwriting, that brings to mind everyone from Coldplay to Steely Dan to Wilco. “Light From Below” reveals their more improvisational, instrumental side, the one beloved by the The Brew’s core audience of jam band lovers. And album three, “Hard Enough to Break,” is an unabashed love letter to pop songwriting, bearing heavy witness to their appreciation of the Beatles and Elton John; it will be released on Dec. 17.

“Some of these songs we’ve been kind of sitting on for a long time,” said Plante. “The title track from ‘Light From Below’ is actually the first song we ever wrote as a band, when we were in high school. It’s a huge cross section of what we do.”

Once all three albums are out, The Brew plans to hit the road and tour the country for much of 2012, with the hopes of cultivating new fans in music hot spots like Austin, Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Madison, Wisconsin.

“We can’t wait to get this music out there and play for new people,” said Plante. “The process of recording this album has been really illuminating and challenging, and I think we’re ready to take it to the next level. We’re always thinking and writing and trying new things, all the time. We’re psyched.”

For more information on The Brew, visit thebrew.biz.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.