Talking to This Broken Beat main man Julio Perez about the beginnings of his two-piece is an unusual experience. Sure, there are some similarities to other bands' stories: The project came together two years ago when Perez, then a solo artist, found himself working on tracks that he felt would better fit a collaborative dynamic; he began working with some locals, initially a full band that was whittled down to a pairing, and This Broken Beat was born.
But there’s something different about how Perez tells the story, especially in the current climate, when negativity and cynicism hang over us all. Perez seems to see the world through a window of joy. To say that he’s wearing rose-tinted glasses would be patronizing and, in fact, inaccurate; the guy simply knows how to see the good in things, and people.
“We come from a background of faith and hope,” Perez says. “It might be subliminal, but every show has a happy atmosphere. People come to have a good time, and our goal is to see that grow.”
Yep, it all sounds a little hokey and hippie-dippie, but Perez is very convincing when he talks. There’s simply no obvious dark side to him, or the music that he makes. His debut full-length studio album, What’s on Your Mind?, is being released this week, and it’s a stunning collection of alt-pop tunes that are as uplifting as they are honest and poignant. Even a simple strum-along such as “I Heard You Lost Your Smile,” with a title that suggests something more downbeat, is an arms-in-the-air song to the angels.
Perez, who recently changed drummers (Kenny Korsen is the new man), describes the music of This Broken Beat as pop-alternative, though he’s keen to point out that he’s as happy rapping as he is singing.
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“There are hardcore breakdowns and also acoustic dynamics,” he says. “I want it to be versatile. I want to create music that can work in a variety of environments. A lot of people say that they can hear the influence of 21 Pilots, Never Shout Never and Jack Johnson in our music. I can agree with that, but I would add bands like Young the Giant, plus EDM elements.”
What’s on Your Mind? might be the debut album, but This Broken Beat released a five-song EP a year ago. The differences between the two records reflect the growth of the band overall.
“When I started writing songs, we were a full band,” Perez says. “Now that this is a two-piece, it’s dynamically different. The songs are tailored to a two-piece and, as a result, we need to give more energy on stage — switch instruments. There’s no time to rest, because there are less people to lean on.”
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According to Perez, the title of the new album, which was recorded at Streetlight Audio in Denver with engineers Tyler Glasgow and Jack Roberts, stems from the notion that we don’t have the ability to read minds, but he strives to be a compassionate person, and to love as much as possible. That all feeds into the overall theme of the record, which is about connecting as human beings. Whether the songs are sad or upbeat, they’re about being hopeful and positive.
This Broken Beat will play an album-release show this Friday, November 10, at the Marquis, on a stunning bill with Nightlove, OptycNerd, HoldFast and Water Aerobics, all of which were handpicked by Perez.
“It’s a high-energy combo of amazing bands,” Perez says. “They’re some of the greatest local bands around, full of emotional depth. I’m very excited to be a part of the current Denver music scene. I was playing solo within it at sixteen, and I’ve seen it develop over the past three or four years. The studios are top-notch, too. I think it’s better to make a big splash in a small pond than a small splash in a big pond.”
This Broken Beat plays with Nightlove, OptycNerd, HoldFast and Water Aerobics at 6 p.m., on Friday, November 10, at the Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street.