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Published: 2009/12/28
by Mike Greenhaus

Marc Brownstein: Since the End of the Century

Photo by Kelsey Winterkorn

The past year has been a period of growth for the Disco Biscuits. The 14-year-old group headlined Red Rocks for the first time, made its biggest impression on the radio and even scored some airtime on mtvU thanks to the song “You and I.” The next few months should be even more exciting for the Philadelphia-based group as it puts the finishing touches on its long-awaited fifth studio album Planet Anthem, an infectious blend of rock, jam, electronica and hip hop that could score the band its biggest crossover success in both the rock and rap worlds. On the eve of the band’s five-night run at New York’s Nokia Theater, bassist Marc Brownstein reflects on the past twelve months, looks ahead to Planet Anthem’s release and discusses his new friendship with hip hop icon Damon Dash.

I was very pleasantly surprised to watch the Disco Biscuits’ new video for “You and I” on mtvU. The song entered mtvU rotation through an online contest, correct?

Yeah. We just pumped it really hard. We’ve proven in the past that when we pump it really hard our fans respond—we won a Jammy, you know? When we let our fans know something really matters to us, they just get behind us. It was unbelievable—the bands just kept jumping in front of each other and, ultimately, at 2 PM we were in the lead. None of those bands have 14 years of fans that can rally behind them. The video is getting added into rotation on mtvU and that’s huge. That station can get watched at thousands of colleges across the country.

Somebody said something to me the other day like, “Why are you guys trying to get on mtvU?” Honestly, I don’t even know how to answer that question. I guess for exposure, right? Any exposure is good exposure, but this was great exposure because over the course of the week…I don’t know how many people voted, but we put it out to the whole Relix list, out to our whole list and Facebook, and we were pumping really hard to tens of thousands of people. I just have voting in my blood from my dad being a politician. For me, it’s like any good election or contest—it gets exciting for me and competitive.

You’ve been working on Planet Anthem for a few years now and only recently started playing “You and I” this past summer. When was that song actually written?

I think “You and I” was probably about eighteen months ago—maybe a little bit before that…it came together really quickly. It was pretty new when we started playing it over the summer. I think we started writing it about a year and a half ago.

I know you were originally planning to hold off from playing any of Planet Anthem‘s songs until the album was officially released, but you’ve started ti roll them out in your live set along with the album’s advance EPs. Are you still trying to hold off from playing the Planet Anthem songs until they are officially released in some recorded capacity?

Definitely. The only reason any of them got played in the first place was because they were out [either as singles or part of a series of advance EPs]. The only exceptions were “Uber Glue”—which we hadn’t intended to put on the album, but we had been playing live and everyone really like it so we added it to the album—and “The City.” It’s just a song where the recording of it got so good that it just had to go on the album even though we’ve been playing it. And when people hear the recording, it sounds nothing like “The City” we play live. The idea was to hold back all these songs, and ultimately we did that. We accomplished what we wanted to do, which was let people hear the [recorded] song first and then play them live. We just wanted to let the songs be songs for a week or two, let people digest them and then we added the jams. So we played “You and I” on the radio to promote Red Rocks in Denver, and people obviously recorded that, and it just got out instantly. So we said, “Well, it’s out, so we might as well start playing it.” The version we did at the Electric Factory was a monster—it has come a long way since we started playing it in July.

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