A few weeks ago, I reviewed Broken Anchor’s awesome new album Fresh Lemonade. Fresh Lemonade will be released on August 20th. I recently caught up with Broken Anchor master-mind Austin Hartley-Leonard who shed some light on the making of the album.
You started out a solo performer. Why did you decide to start Broken Anchor and what’s the difference between a Broken Anchor song and one of your own songs?
The main difference is that Broken Anchor doesn’t suck. (Laughs). Around LA, I was doing singer-songwriter kind of music. I was going through a Wilco and Whiskey Town phase and was really inspired by their music. After a while, a couple of years ago, things got a little dark and I had to clean up. When that happened, I got sober and all the songs I had didn’t really work and I didn’t have any connection to it. So I started over, and I said goodbye to all of it. I had a couple of songs and I met Brian Gordon for coffee, and I wasn’t even totally confident. Once we did one song, it turned out totally fresh. And we ended up doing 12-13 songs. So that’s how it all started.
As a solo performer you’ve had lots of songs on different TV shows – “Teen Mom” “Burn Notice”, etc. Years ago – artists would have been opposed to that. Do you see it as necessary evil, or do you think the climate has changed so much that it doesn’t matter?
We’ve had Teen Mom and we’ve had a couple things on NBC. We’ve been kind of blessed. I don’t really view it as either. To me, it all sort of changed earlier than everyone thinks. Aerosmith was in a Gap commercial and Bob Dylan was in a Victoria’s Secret commercial – people forget that shit. I think that view is childish, whether or not your favorite artist pays their water bill by bar tending or putting a song on television show it doesn’t matter. I fucking hate bar tending and I did for a long time. Everyone has to pay the bills. People don’t buy music anymore. If my music is put out in front of 25 million people, I think I’d be a fool to turn my nose at it. It’s a question I get a lot and it’s totally valid. But no one has ever asked me to change my music to be on an ad or a television show. That would be a totally different story.
“Canada” is one of my favorite songs on the album. I was really drawn to that one. It seems to me that for a lot of people Canada is this representation of the great out-doors. Is that what you were going for on the track?
Actually, no. I just recently went to Canada and it was beyond gorgeous. I wish that had been the inspiration. But it’s a bit more childish than that. (Laughs.) It’s a bit more about a break up, and ‘why don’t you just take off’? Go away as far as you can. Go to Canada’. It’s an escape into obscurity.
“Fresh Lemonade” seems like a mix of My Morning Jacket and early ‘70s Neil Young along with Wilco. Were those two an inspiration while making the record?
A couple of cuts have this jangly quality, a Southern California sound. My Morning Jacket is a big influence, as is Band of Horses. My mother was also big into The Shirelles, I think that late 60’s lazy California sound came in. But I also love Minor Threat and Fugazi. The influences aren’t completely obvious. When I set out to make the record, I had no clue. If someone had said, “why did you make a record that sounds like The Beach Boys, but My Morning Jacket too?” I wouldn’t have a clue. But we just said, “Why don’t we add this guitar part here, or this one there.” I love big sounds and a lot of reverb – hence My Morning Jacket. Big drums, big beats – I’m very drawn to.
Now that the record is about to come out…any plans for a tour?
We’ve had a couple of setbacks. Our drummer quit and it was a bit unexpected and we had a 5-week tour planned. I’m in the process of re-arranging the live show. I was considering auditioning drummers. Our plan now is to try to get an opening slot. What I’m combining is a one-man show with samples on my control-pad. When it’s ready to go, it’ll be fucking killer. When the record comes out, we’ll go up and down the coast.
For more information on Broken Anchor, visit their web-site here.