Philosophy major Kyle Teese finishes a day of classes, hops on his bike, and rides out to the Mission to practice with his band. Though many students are members of local bands, few have the same bragging rights as Teese, who drums for local band, Before the Brave.
Before the Brave has made a striking debut in the music scene. They released an EP in November that’s rated four-and-a-half stars on iTunes, they were featured as an “Artist of the Month” on NoiseTrade, and are set to play a show in the Noise Pop Festival next month. Now in its 21st year, the Noise Pop Festival is a six-day indie music, arts and film festival known for bringing early exposure to emerging artists.
The band started when Teese and his roommate Jason Stevens decided to play music together and pursue Stevens’ idea for a band, The Sundance Kids, with friend Nicholas Morawiecki. After a series of lineup changes, the band decided to take a break before they found their other current members and were reborn as Before the Brave.
“A lot of us knew each other through Reality — the church we’re apart of in the city — and just all shared a love for music. It was one of those things where doors just opened up. I think the band started — I say, when I write about it — on the bedroom floor. We really liked what he had initially started off with and kind of ran with it,” Teese said.
Prior to becoming Before the Brave, the original trio played their first show at Matching Half in NOPA (short for the San Francisco district “North of the Panhandle”) to about 90 people.
“I went to their first concert at Matching Half and I was in love. I really fell in love the first time I heard them play. It wasn’t just because like ‘Oh, I just love the people in the band,’ it was like the sound was something that so many people could connect with. The sound is very easy to wrap your arms around and a lot of people can connect with the music,” English literature major Kayla Pero said.
Before the Brave finalized their lineup with the addition of Beth Garber in July, was when she played her first show with them at the Elbo Room.
“That’s when things kind of really solidified,” Stevens said.
Shortly after the addition of Garber and Steven Binnquist, the band started recording music and released their debut EP, “Great Spirit,” this past November. The EP was released on NoiseTrade first, then on Spotify and iTunes a couple weeks later. It wasn’t until after the online releases that Before the Brave made physical copies of their record, as is the case with many modern bands in the digital era.
“I think we’re still learning how to use the Internet as an interface to interact with people because everything is digital now. We eventually did make EPs, we have hard copies and merch and stuff, but I think the majority of today’s bands are getting known through the Internet,” Teese said.
After releasing Great Spirit on NoiseTrade, the band was featured as an Artist of the Month. NoiseTrade is a relatively new music site that allows bands to post their music for free download to fans, who supply their email and zip code in exchange.
“NoiseTrade has been awesome because bands right now in the early stage — the goal is not to make money, the goal is to build a fan base, and that’s what NoiseTrade does,” Stevens said. “People can donate if they’d like and you can encourage your fans to do that, but NoiseTrade has just been this really rad tool for early bands to kind of kickstart their fan base.”
The EP spread quickly and Before the Brave gained fame in the Bay Area and beyond, helping them in their quest to play the Noise Pop Festival. The band announced Feb. 7 they would be playing a show in the festival headlined by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. The journey to their March 2 show wasn’t so easy, though.
“We got in through the back door, really. We were actually denied through Noise Pop’s application process, they denied us, but we knew a guy through ASCAP — this is like an ASCAP-Noise Pop show and a majority of us are signed to license with ASCAP — and they liked our music and the guy kind of put us on. He was like ‘Hey, you guys got the show.’ We’re making like $100 on the show, which is cool, but we get to play the Great American Music Hall, which is great,” Stevens said.
Notable musicians such as the White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Bright Eyes have all played Noise Pop Festival in the past, and booking a slot in the festival is a huge break for new bands.
“I feel like there’s this allure to it — it’s kind of this weird thing where, on one hand, a lot of people don’t know the bands that are there but because of the bands the festival has outputted throughout the years, people look at it like, ‘Those are the next big bands.’ I think people are kind of just thinking, ‘This is the next thing,'” said Teese.
The March 2 Noise Pop show has already sold out, but students can get a taste of the band on campus this Friday, March 1, at The Depot.
From 12 to 3 p.m., International Justice Mission will host a free (donations optional, but recommended) benefit show for their cause. Band members will be there to support their vocalist, Jason Perry Stevens, who may surprise attendees with a couple Before the Brave songs.