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Published: 2012/08/24
by Jim Murray

The Brew Abides

So when Aaron Zaroulis set up his kit as the last audition for new drummer and boldly proclaimed that was the wunderkind from years back and that he knew all the songs, the three members of the Brew were at first taken aback, and quickly blown away.

“He says, ‘name a song’. So we start naming and playing ‘em, and he’s killing it. Immediately it felt better than it ever was before,” offers Drouin. The first time we played ‘Control’, I immediately thought: this is twice as good as it ever was. And I talk to Chris and Joe about this sometimes, it just feels like destiny.”

“They had asked me to learn two songs at the time, but I had listened to all the records, anything I could get my hands on,” says Zaroulis. “I took it serious. I mean, it was an audition, I might as well have been prepared!”

It was an enormous sigh of relief from a band that desperately needed one. As for Zaroulis?

“I got the call that I was in, went back up to school and dropped out. Put my shit in trashbags and headed out, straight for New Mexico.”

With that mammoth hurdle cleared, the band headed out to stamp out the stress, and showcase the new songs to newer crowds. The tour saw the band make a return to familiar haunts in the Midwest, as well as swing out into newer places like Santa Fe, Taos, Sedona and Denver.

“One of the great things that has happened to us is that we’ve been very generously supported by AAA radio, so when we show up to Knoxville or Santa Fe or something, we’ve been on the radio there,” acknowledges Chris Plante. “These independent music stations are playing our music not because ClearChannel or anyone else told them to, but because we sent our music out and they have the free will to pick the music they want to play. We end up meeting the people that love music the most in whatever town we’re going to. We’ve been very blessed with that support.”

It’s a fine balance between harness and restraint that the Brew so masterfully captures on record, but in the live setting, it’s a different story altogether. And it doesn’t matter if they’re playing for larger crowds at festivals or in front of a handful of people at a club, the mission remains the same. The songs are stretched, the risks are greater, and the rewards plentiful.

The transformation is right there to witness: on this rainy night in Providence, challenged by some competing local festivals, the band threw down in front of a less than stellar showing, but it was impossible to tell the difference. It was a band of brothers happy enough to play in front of fifty as it would fifteen hundred, and probably just as content by themselves somewhere gassing in a garage.

It’s a happy angst found in the Brew’s art that reflects that optimism against all the odds. It has certainly defined them in a year of promise met with turbulence, but has also strengthened the purpose of their mission.

But the obstacles remain. Just a month or so ago, Plante had nerve damage in his arm which led to surgery and rendered him unable to play his keyboards. They were able to recruit a buddy to fill in on keys in order to fulfill the dates they had booked. It was a momentary scare, and a reminder both to challenges bested and those that lie ahead.

“We’re always eternally optimistic,” declares Drouin. “In this band you have to be. And that goes for any band, wherever they are in their career. Jedi mentality. If you’re don’t have it, it’ll be over before it began.”

The latest and last installment of Triptych, Hard Enough to Break, will be released at the Lowell Summer Music Concert Series at the end of the month on August 31. Last year for the same show, The Brew were scheduled to open up for rock icon Gregg Allman before he cancelled for health reasons; this year, they got the call to headline.

“Should be the biggest gig we’ve ever done,” smiles Plante.

It’s easy to say that good things come to those who wait. But this is a band that doesn’t have time to wait around. They’re too busy writing even more new songs, making even bigger plans.

Just four guys out to have some fun making music.

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