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May 14th, 2016
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  1. THE NAGAHAMA SUSHI restaurant in Long Beach, Long Island, is only half an hour drive from New York, yet you could be practically anywhere in America, such is the spread of "strip-malls" and surburban greyness here. On one side of our table, Brand new's quiff-sporting frontman Jesse Lacey is earnestly explaining how his belief in God has been the one bedrock of stability throughout his life. On the other side, bassist Garrett Tierney is, more clumsily than comically, trying to "snort" the icing sugar off his bandmate Brian Lace's fried bananas. It goes everywhere.
  2. "You blew all the sugar off my banana!" guffaws Lane.
  3. "Eat it with a fork man," smiles Lacey, shaking his head and attempting to resume his monologue as his two bandmates wrestle with forks, plates and mouthfuls of deep-fried banana.
  5. YOU'D THINK ALL THIS COMMOTION might be a nuisance to the serious business of conducting an interview, but it's actually refreshing to see Brand New behave like the normal, early twenty-somethings they most certainly are. Because all afternoon they've been walking around as in a daze, unresponsive in the extreme to the directions of K! snapper Byrne. Brand New are polite, as most American bands are, but nothing more than that. Predictably, they've heard it all before. That they're "boring" to interview and photograph - a topic they themselves bring up when I lose my train of thought at the end of one of Lacey's lengthy, thoughtful answers. Apparently, they get it a lot. So much so that it's become a band in-joke.
  6. "You can sense it in people," explains Lacey over sushi, tempura and a terrifying dish guitarist Vin Accardi is attempting to force on everyone, featuring quail's egg yolk and fish roe. "Especially with photoshoots, you can tell that people want to kill you. But we were never signed on for being in a photoshoot. I know people want to be able to put a face to the music, but I don't know what face to make in pictures. It kinda sucks, because we think "Is this going to be detrimental to us, that we're going to be boring?"
  7. Actually, they're not that boring. This is a band who once plied Finch's tour bus with mouldy fish, and recently sent a stripper disguised as a cop to teenage support band Eisley's dressing room to "arrest" them for indulging in under-age drinking.
  8. "The stripper was Hot Rod Circuit's idea. We don't have very much experience with strippers," grins Lacey hammily. "For the record."
  9. "Brian does," chirps Tierney, his mouth full of chicken yakitori.
  10. "No I don't. I actually don't think any of us really enjoy strip clubs," splutters the drummer, turning a shade between tomato and beetroot. "If my girlfriend reads it then she's going to think there's some inside joke going on."
  11. "That's why he loves them in Vegas, that's why he goes there all the time. Hahaha!" persists Tierney.
  12. "People want all these stories," continues Lacey. "We don't have exciting stories. But exciting things do happen to us. I ate cake once with Michael Stipe! And he looks really cool. He had this awesom blue streak of eyeliner. I wish I had make-up... Wow, she's beautiful!" He suddenly interrupts himself to ogle a stunning blonde his bandmates have been eyeing up.
  13. "I love you," mouths Tierney - a man who, according to his bandmates, has a stable relationship with his motorcycle - to the girl exiting the restaurant, and their lives, forever.
  14. "We're pretty normal," offers Jesse by way of a conclusion to his much-interrupted train of thought. "We haven't bought into a lot of the extravagancies that come along with being in a band."
  16. HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE FACTS ABOUT BRAND NEW. THEY ALL COME FROM Long Island, a conglomeration of middle-class towns just outside New York. They love their families and their families love them. One of seven siblings, Lacey grew up - between church choir and trombone lessons at school - in a musical home. Lane's first induction to music were the Barry Banilow records his babysitter used to bring over. Before spending three years training to be a teacher, Lacey worked at Gap, a skate and bike shop, plus MacDonald's for two days before quitting after being told that "sexual harrassment is going to happen, so get used to it." Tierney and Lane, meanwhile, were getting drunk on a nightly basis as roadies for one DJ Jeff, a local Bar-Mitzvah fixture.
  17. Inspired by the area's DIY hardcore scene, which has also thrown up Glassjaw and Taking back Sunday, it wasn't long before the foursome were in a band together, despite Tierney being unable to play a single note on the bass. Today they're one of the most talked about new bands in America, gracing magazine covers across the board. Brand New are set to be huge - a prospect they view with enthusiasm, but also a lot of trepidation. They wouldn't, they say, want to be huge for the wrong reasons.
  18. "I hate it," spits Lacey, when asked how he feels about having become a heart-throb to thousands of teenagers since the release of sophomore album Deja Entendu. "I don't want anyone listening to our music because they think I'm cute. That's absolutely terrible. Horrific. We're hoping for things to go in a Radiohead way instead of a Justin Timberlake way. We want to be known for our music."
  19. For a man who came home this Christmas to find a gaggle of fans waiting for him on the doorstep of his parental home, the barrier between what is and what isn't available for public consumption has quickly become a sore point for Jesse Lacey. He hasn't yet turned into a self-imposed safehouse of Maynard James Keenan-esque proportions, but you can imagine something similar a couple of years down the line. Still, it must be comforting for Lacey to know that his bandmates will be there to take some of the burden. Lane finishes his sentences whenever there's a pause, while Accardi chips in with "jokes" of his own. For example, during another of Lacey's pensive considerations about how eager the band are to break out of the emo/post-hardcore trend that brought them to the fore, the guitarist will casually mutter, "Okay, I have to go home to do an ounce of coke."
  20. Words that obviously prompt a rapid attention shift from me, to which Brand New respond with a fit of laughter.
  21. "I just wanted to see if that really works," Accardi giggles. "To prove my theory. Your conversation, which was a good one, just totally ended... I'm only ****ing with you."
  23. THE BAND'S NEW MAJOR LABEL HOME WILL SURELY WORK AGAINST THEIR lofty ideals and seek to promote Lacey, his youthful good looks and his penchant for strummed melancholia, as another Chris Carrabba. What's more interesting perhaps, is how Lacey himself is already thinking outside that pigeonhole. The band's debut, 2001's Your Favorite Weapon, an album they are already somewhat ashamed of, may well be a fairly typical page out of the emo "How-To" book, but their singer has higher aims than to be this week's genre poster-boy.
  24. "I think emo started on this single-faceted idea of, 'I was hurt by someone else'," he explains as dinner draws to a close. "There were some great songs written about heartache or unrequited love, but it's only a small part of the entire spectrum of emotion that people go through. Unfortunately, the struggle against this trend of music we were grouped in with has become a large part of our band. Now we have to fight against this trend and make sure we're remembered when it's gone."
  25. With a frontman as talented as Jesse Lacey, it's a battle they're well placed to win.
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