PREMIERE: Brick + Mortar’s Brandon Asraf walks us through new LP ‘Meta Meta Etc.’

Brick + Mortar Meta
Photo credit: Matthew Lyons

There are a lot of things I love when I get my hands on a new album. Obviously there’s listening to it and letting the sonic waves wash over me. I always have to identify the tastiest riffs and coolest musical tricks that are employed. There’s also never a bad time to pick new songs that I use to flex the dance moves. All that being said, I really adore digging deep into the lyrics and themes of an album to identify what an artist is talking about and what their views are of the world. New Jersey band Brick + Mortar have always been a group that I’ve thought had some interesting messages and ways to express them in their music. That continues on their new album Meta Meta Etc., which is out today.

Musically, Meta Meta Etc. finds Brick + Mortar–made up of Brandon Asraf and John Tacon–incorporating a wide variety of sounds and techniques across the 13 song journey. Spacey, epic synths exist alongside percussion breakdowns, spoken word segments, and gripping rock tunes. It’s no exaggeration to say that there is a song for everyone on Meta Meta Etc. no matter what your musical tastes may be.

To dive deeper into the musical ideas and the lyrical content on Meta Meta Etc., we decided to go straight to the source. Brandon Asraf has taken the time to explain the genesis of each and every track on the new album exclusively here on Substream. You can listen to Meta Meta Etc. through Spotify via the link just below this paragraph. As you listen along, read Asraf’s thoughts on each song after the jump.

“True”
“I made this experimental song on my first 4 track recorder when I was 19. The speech is by Newton Minow and it always rang true to me. I grew up like the ‘The Cable Guy.’ I learned how to be a person not from my parents but from my TV set. I still have an addiction to TV and movies. It’s my comfort zone but I know the dangers of brainwashing myself in the warm glow of the television.

“All Alone”
“This song goes out to those moments we all contemplate the big sleep. Depression is an ugly one and sometimes it feels like you are driving down this road we call life with no direction and no copilot. The vibes can be overwhelming so ‘All Alone’ is a song that addresses that big scary sleep with an up tempo attitude. I guess in the end that’s how I deal with my own fears and mental issues; I let the melody show.”

“Fiend”
“We have toured all over the country and we see the same thing no matter what city we end up in. Homelessness, drug addiction, despair… I noticed that most people think very highly of themselves. They think they are so strong and could never fall so far to end up on the street or addicted. The truth is everyone is only a couple unlucky moments or a few painful experiences away from falling straight to the ground. You never know what painful moments people are running from. ‘Addicted to addiction, yeah, I know what you mean, everything is easy when you know what you need.’ These lines sum up the song for me personally. After you listen, I hope you leave with a bit of compassion for those you see at the bottom.”

“Friends”
“Corporations are NOT your friends! At the time of writing this song, I found myself watching a lot of Adam Curtis documentaries like Hypernormalisation and Century of Self. I began to see propaganda literally everywhere on the news, television, and movies. I couldn’t seem to get around the feelings that corporations run our country and act as both the devil and the saint; creating a mess and then coming in as the savior to clean it up. At the same time you can’t avoid these corporations and I know I am part of the system. So this is my own personal protest, my own personalized 90’s teenage angst ridden fuck you saying ‘I see what you are and we ain’t friends.’”

“New Road”
I didn’t grow up with any direction nor did I have anyone to steer me ‘straight.’ At one point in my life I found myself living for distraction; Fucking around all day just to keep my sanity. I reached a point where I was sick of myself and my own self imposed failures. I decided to make my own road. I decided that I would be something more than I was. ‘New Road’ is that anthem vibe, my own personal pep talk when I feel like wasting my time with drugs and self pity. Time is a thief, always looking to steal your dreams so don’t sleep on life.

“Original Sin”
“This track was inspired by ‘Personal Jesus’ by Depeche Mode. I just really loved the sound of that song and wanted a twangy, dark industrial tinged song touching on my relationship with God or lack thereof. ‘Do I have a soul? I hope so,’ that’s the core of ‘Original Sin.’ I just love the creepy industrial country vibe we achieved.

“Tear Me Apart”
“I wrote this song years ago. It’s the most direct song on the record. At the time, I was dating a girl who left me while I was on tour, stole all the rent for 2 months, and left with the dog–Banjo–I raised. I was touring so I couldn’t do much so I wrote a song about what a terrible experience it was. The best revenge is to make someone’s shitty actions into a good song.”

“Saturday Night”
“This is my ode to drug culture. The all-American live fast, stay high, feel rich, and don’t die attitude we all love so much. People are overprescribed and overindulgent just like pop culture wants us to be; hungry to avoid ourselves. We all want to live like we are somewhere in between Entourage and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The problem is in real life you OD on Friday getting high. So be careful out there, kids!”

“Rich Man”
“My father was a con man. He headed up a diamond smuggling ring then fled the country when I was 10 and became an international fugitive. This mythical father figure left me with a criminal chip on my shoulder and when I was a teenager. I started stealing because I felt the world owed me something. I had the classic Biggie lyric ‘birthdays were the worst days’ in my head and felt like my life was unfair ‘cause I was on welfare while kids in school treated me like a low class loser. So I decided that the world owes me and spent some time taking what I needed from big business. I had my own set of delusional morals, like only steal from big corporation, never Mom and Pop. I told myself I wasn’t hurting anyone and I deserve what all the kids I knew had. That was bullshit in the end and the truth brought me down. I had to face that the future is real so you must choose who to be because life it ain’t free. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. P.S. the singing style I went for on this song was my attempt to be Bowie-esque.”

“Fear Of Failure”
“If you could live 1000 years, would you? What would you do? I would meet everyone that I could and be who I am. I am proud of the shoes I walk in and this song is about determination. I never stop creeping forward to achieve my dreams. Sonically this track is one that I really got to let loose and belt the chorus out on and I dig the sound I achieved vocally. Tacon’s voice is also so fucking beautiful on this track with solid block harmony sent straight from the imaginary heavens.”

“Strange Bird”
“’Give me dark what I can taste’ this track is the unofficial pt. 2 to ‘All Alone.’ It’s as if the same character is running from his fear now that the shit has hit the fucking fan. Running back to all the themes this record has touched upon; addiction, sloth, self-loathing, and delusional excess. All to avoid the creeping death clock that hangs above.”

“Question”
I spend my life looking for the big question, for some answer or symbol of meaning for that
reason I stare out my window. Some people can just enjoy life as it comes and never question their meaning or worth. Nothing is wrong with that, but it’s not me. I have a desperate need to find a reason for this messy thing we call life. I am no good at putting the brutal realities of the universe out of my head. It’s kind of like a Rick and Morty attitude towards life if that makes sense. In the end, I find myself quoting Morty ‘Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.’”

“Hate Thy Neighbor”
“Hate is taught, so be careful who you follow. Kids don’t decide to hate each other, they learn from the very people who love them. This song is a warning. The character within it is a kid who was looking for someone to follow, a kid who had no one that loved him so he just went for the first sign of acceptance. Ironically, sometimes the reason people hate is because they are searching for acceptance. Hate groups prey upon people down on their luck, who need love and acceptance so like I said, be careful of who you follow and think for yourself.”