Ryan of Music Matters was privileged to be able to chat with Brian McKenzie last week. Brian McKenzie is a singer songwriter and a highly talented one at that. Brian is a former member of Kilgore (metal rock band) and ventured out into….wait no you need to just find out from Brian himself below!
Ryan: Let’s start off by talking about your background in music.
Brian: I originally came from metal believe it or not. That’s where I started. I was in a band (Kilgore) and we were signed to a division of Warner Brothers. Toured the country, ate ham and cheese sandwich’s in grocery store parking lots. We toured for a few years; They went on to do pretty good. I had left the band at that point and they went on to play at Ozzfest and tour with bands like Slayer when I left I decided to go the singer songwriter route.
‘Bruised From The Fall’ is actually the third album I have released. I have also released two demos before that. Music is my passion. My passion is 100% singer songwriter material.
Ryan: Coming from metal to singer songwriter isn’t achievable for everyone. Was this a difficult fet?
Brian: Even when we were touring to get away from all the metal every night ( it was a lot of metal since Brian and the band Kilgore was singed when Brian was only 19) so to get away from all that I used to listen to a bunch of different types of music to take me away from that. I really got into the whole singer songwriter thing. It still had the emotion just without the loudness and clashing guitars. It really wasn’t hard once I left the band I just went with it. Looking back now, I’ve been doing this longer than I did the metal music with Kilgore.
Ryan: In the music video for “Higher Than This” you play the guitar. Do you play any other instruments?
Brian: Mostly guitar. On the record I do some percussion I do some keyboards but for the most part I stick to guitar and vocals.
Ryan: You said music is your passion so let’s dive into that. How did you find your way into music and your love for it?
Brian: When I was growing up my mother was a musician. She played piano so there was always music in the house and people singing. I was always around music quite a bit and then in the mid 80’s MTV was going and I started loving everything that was happening there.
One day my parents walked into my bed room and caught me standing on the bed blaring Cinderella’s first record playing guitar with a bat mitten racket. So at that point my mother said “I think it’s time we get you a guitar” so I was like “ALRIGHT!”
Ryan: Do you have to work with your vocals to get them to where they’re at? When I first heard you I could easily compare you to James Blunt with the way he can hit different ranges without missing a beat?
Brian: First of all, Thank you that’s a huge complement. I know we are all our own worst critic’s but I will say I am proud listening to the vocals on this album compared to two albums ago. Some time you look back and you cringe a little bit. I’m pretty happy with this record and I’m pretty happy with my vocals but its a quest to always be better and its something im still working on. I don’t cringe when I listen to this so it’s a good thing.
Ryan: You’ve put out 3 albums, plus two demos. When you sit down to write do you have a mission, an emotion you are trying to achieve and convey to a listener or do you sit down and just see what comes out?
Brian: It kind of depends. Sometimes you feel like writing a song and mess around and see what you come up with. It kind of depends on the mood I’m in. I think the cool thing about being a musician is were all nuts so we go through a lot of emotions so we tend to be magnets for all sorts of emotions and drama so in a way I think we crave that because that inspires you to write your best stuff. A lot of my songs I hate to say is the ones you end up writing your best because its what your feeling. I tend to do better when its something in my life and use it into a music format.
Ryan: Are there any artist that inspire you for a certain format or direction?
Brian: One of my favorite bands is Toad The Wet Sprocket. They have so many songs besides just their hits. They were big in the 90’s. To master the formula of songs is fantastic. They do a great job of writing a song that can really make you feel. Each person in that band are so good at what they do. Todd Nichols the guitar player. What he does with his guitar lines is basically the icing on the cake so nothing is too much, everything is complete. There’s always a great bridge in the song. There’s a specific formal they use I like to think and that’s how I tend to write. I am a big fan of a song with a bridge in the and something that takes you back to the chorus and back again and keeps the song going strong. I don’t think it should be flat from beginning to end.
Ryan: How long has the music video for “Higher Than This” been released?
Brian: About two weeks. It’s pretty new.
Ryan: How has the reaction been?
Brian: Pretty good. Believe it or not we threw it all together. I think we took two days to shoot and it came together pretty fast.
Ryan: What are your hobbies away from music?
Brian: When im not doing music I actually work on film. I work on film sets in New England of all the major motion pictures that come here.
Ryan: Since we are Music Matters Magazine, Do you feel like music matters?
Brian: (laughs) 100%, I don’t know what I would do without it. I would just be a shell.
Ryan: Our random question is: Do Americans or English drive on the right side of the road?
Brian: Well I heard a story that the correct way would be the British way because back in the medieval days when the knights were jousting on horses and were predominately right handed, so they would be coming at each other with lances in their right hand so that’s where the driving came from then. Whether it’s true or not I have no idea.
We want to thank Brian McKenzie for his time to sit down and chat with us. We wish him all the best with his music in the future and his endeavors now. Be sure to check out his website here
Check out Brian’s new recently released single ‘Higher Than This’. This song is a testament of his abilities to write a song to perfection and carry it out instrumentally and vocally in a way that gives you chills. Leave your comments below on your thoughts!