US musician Brontez Purnell’s music makes me very, very happy! It’s infectious, his tunes get caught in your head all day long (hear for yourself at the end of this post). Brontez is currently working on his band The Younger Lovers’ new record as well as projects with his dance company (he’s a dancer/choreographer). The dynamo has also played in bands Social Lies, Panty Raid and Gravy Train. He creates Fag School zine, wrote a column for Maximum Rock n Roll and is a writer/author. Brontez definitely makes the world a brighter more fun place!
You’re a musician, zine maker, writer, film maker, dancer/choreographer –what motivates you to do all you do? Have you always been drawn to the arts? How did you first come to performance?
I’m equally inspired by love and boredom and I’ve been a dramatic person all my life and I can’t really pinpoint the exact thing that kicked it off. I just always ‘was’.
What was the first record you ever owned?
I think it was Salt N Pepa’s “Very Necessary” the one with Shoop on it. It was 6th grade?
Can you remember when you first decided that you wanted to be a musician? When did your musical journey begin?
I remember I was hanging out in Montgomery Alabama for the summer (1993?) and I was staying with my aunt and my older cousin who was so tight! I got there and I had only really been listening to RnB Top 40 radio. She was in college and was listening to like the Pharcyde, Cypress Hill, The Breeders, Nirvana, and a shit ton of other alternative stuff—I was like “Oh girl! You like white people music?! The Breeders grew on me and by that next summer I had bought a bass guitar.
Did your parents have musical or literary interests?
My dad is a fucking maniac! He has the best taste in music. I would go on excursions with him (he’s really into hunting and fishing) and he’d blast so many tight bands: Sly & the Family Stone, Bill Whithers, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, The Time – just all very classic, y’know. My mom was more into strict soul/gospel; I think Sam Cooke is her all-time favourite. She wore a couple of his tapes growing up. Her mother was a (very humble) choir diva. I copied.
You were born in Alabama, from there you went to Tennessee and now call Oakland home, how did you end up there?
I took a midnight train going anywhere!
Tell me about your first introduction to the punk scene/community and your experience as a part of it.
I was in this band with the only other black riot grrrl in Alabama called the Social Lies. We used to sneak up to Chattanooga Tennessee (right across the state line) and play shows after I got out of class in high school. That experience is what changed my life the most.
You’ve play in bands – Panty Raid, Gravy Train and The Younger Lovers – in a previous interview you mentioned “all of them brought different things to me” tell me what each brought to you? What was your experience in each?
Panty Raid was me forming, I had these mini-pop riffs that I was playing with and it was where I really got to show case them. Gravy Train!!! was rad cause I got to bounce around and decompress years of social anxiety and awkwardness by dancing around in my underwear and saying “Fuck you, this is F. U. N.”—it was good therapy – for a time. The Younger Lovers fulfils me in this way ’cause it’s where I get to hear all the doodles in my head come together. Not to sound too stoner-ish, but it’s a ‘groovy thing’.
Panty Raid was with Seth Bogart (Hunx & His Punx)… is Seth a musician that influences you? Who else? Riot Grrrls? I know you wrote for Jigsaw online.
Yeah. I met Seth back when people used to write each other! I remember we met on the Kill Rock Stars’ message board (Or was it, Book Your Own Fucking Life?) He was one of the first people I came out too and yes it was awesome. At the time I started breaking out to have another ‘kool’ queer boy who was somewhere else doing really powerful and ‘kool’ shit-though I have to admit I wasn’t a shrinking violet myself! Yeah riot grrrl—all punk in general really!
What do you love most about zines? Have you always found the zine community supportive? Do you consider yourself a part of that world?
Not so much now! I mean I love zines and people who take the time to do them but I don’t keep up with it as much as I did say even two years ago. I’ve scammed too many Office Maxs!
A recent interview I read with you mentioned that you would start recording a new Younger Lovers record this month for label Southpaw?
I was practicing for it right before I sat down to type this!
You also mentioned in another interview that you start with drums ’cause it’s your favourite instrument… is it currently your favourite? What feeling do you get from playing the drums? Is it different to that of when you play guitar, bass etc?
I’m a dancer too and I think a song just isn’t right until the rhythm is set y’know. It’s more of a full body/mind engagement to play drums. I’m kind of addicted to it right now.
Do you have any ritual preparation before you record?
Fuck yeah! I was soooo wasted on that first record! I would take a shot of whiskey light candles and say to myself, IM THE FUCKING GREATEST—it worked! For ‘Rock Flawless’ it was ‘Hippe Speedballs’ (i.e. coffee + pot), and for the new disc ‘Sing Sweetly’ it will certainly be yoga.
Tell me about your songwriting process.
I mostly write songs from other bands misheard song lyrics.
Do you have a personal motto, mantra or life philosophy?
GIVE THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS HELL.
In regards to writing, do you do much writing with a pen and paper the old school way?
YES! I can’t afford a lap top right now if ever.
What projects are you currently working on?
My dance company, a new LP, and a trip to Europe. Join me?
For more The Younger Lovers.