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By Tom Murphy
Cecil Bailey and Chris Garrow first played together in the stoner-rock band Core of the Earth. As fashionable as that musical style was a few years back, Core stood out from the pack for having good, solid songs. During their time in the band, Bailey and Garrow started up a friendship with Module Overload Studios engineer Jamie Hillyer, who has produced their work ever since.
When Core dissolved, Bailey and Garrow put Bronze together with the goal of shedding the excesses of sludge metal in favor of leaner and, frankly, more cohesive songs. With drummer Joaquin Armstrong and bassist Steve Waltman as the rhythm section, Bronze has a focused yet sinuous sound that finds vivid expression on its latest release, Snake Oil. We sat down with Bailey to talk about the expanded significance of Bronze's name and how the group's sound has evolved since its previous album.
Westword: Is it true that the name of the band has a link to the Mad Max films?
Cecil Bailey: I always liked U.K. and Australian slang and how different it was from American slang. They had all these clever sayings. In Mad Max they called the cops "bronze" because of their badges. The fact that bronze is an old metal was also a cool parallel, because we are not today's metal. Let's go back to 1978. What is metal then? It's Thin Lizzy, it's Judas Priest, it's Kiss — which is very much what we're closer to than Avenged Sevenfold, or whatever today's deal is.
Back then it was called "metal" because that was about as heavy as it got. That music has stood the test of time. Whereas a lot of the hair metal, you thought that was cool when you were a kid, but you were just a kid eating the spoonfed crap that MTV was giving you. Then you go back and think, "That was just marketing, not musicianship." We'd like to think we're more based in that '70s metal. But at the same time, we've still got an element of Melvins-y, Queens of the Stone Age, not totally retro, not totally blues-based rock.
In what way is this album heavier than your last album?
It's just a different feel. The last album had a little more swing to it. This one's a little more close to a straight-ahead vibe. We became more concise. We continue to grow as songwriters, and we've trimmed the fat and gotten away from the over-indulgent stoner-rock repetitive thing. It's more the "less is more" approach. You don't need to do the guitar riff again; we don't need to do another four measures of the riff. You already got it. Let's get to the verse and get it under way. Growing as a songwriter often means trying to cut out that indulgence and trying to have a bigger kick to what you do.