Brand New Singer Goes Long, Fears Turning Into Soccer Star Maradona

Band with long long song titles takes 'keep it simple' approach to songwriting.

“Short and sweet” is perhaps a phrase with which Brand New singer Jesse Lacey isn’t familiar … as it pertains to song titles, anyway.

Take, for example, “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light,” “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot,” “Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die” and the single “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows.” It’s possible that Lacey thinks artists who employ titles with fewer than a half dozen words are selling themselves short.

And the song titles on Brand New’s second album, Deja Entendu, that aren’t as longwinded still have mental complexity to them. “Tautou” is a paean to French actress Audrey Tautou (“Amelie”), “Guernica” takes its name from Pablo Picasso’s 1937 mural, and “Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis” is a depiction of Lacey’s worst nightmare.

“I’m a big soccer fan and [Argentine striker Diego] Maradona is kind of like the Elvis of the soccer world,” he explained. “He was a star and then he let the world get to him, and then he was this washed-up figure, but he had these shining moments when his old magic came out. And I can totally see myself — maybe 10 years down the road — ending up the same way, becoming this washed-up figure who used to be great and who isn’t really anymore. I can’t imagine anything more awful than that.”

If Lacey and bandmates Garrett Tierney (bass), Vin Accardi (guitar) and Brian Lane (drums) stay the course they’re on now, however, they shouldn’t have to worry much about being has-beens. “The Quiet Things,” with help from its epic video (see “Already Heard Of Underground Upstarts Brand New? Consider Yourself Lucky” ), is getting increasingly more spins at radio, and sales of Deja Entendu, at more than 51,000 copies, are closing in on the sales of its predecessor, 2001′s Your Favorite Weapon, after just seven weeks.

The band is on the Vans Warped Tour through Sunday and will open for the sonically likeminded Dashboard Confessional beginning August 30. Confirmed tour dates run through early October. A headlining tour is being planned thereafter, and sometime during a break in the action, they’ll shoot a video for the second single, which may be either “Sic Transit Gloria … Glory Fades” or “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t.”

If the song titles are confusing, Brand New’s approach to songwriting is anything but. The chunky riffage and ethereal harmonies of “The Quiet Things” make it instantly infectious, while the steady throb of “Sic Transit Gloria” lends itself to involuntary head-nodding. He may have been lacking one adage when it came to titling his songs, but when it came to writing them, Lacey maintained another: Keep it simple, stupid.

“When I’m in the middle of a song and I hit a wall, instead of trying to think it out … usually the best way for it to go is how you’d expect it to go,” he said. “Instead of trying to do something crazy or new, it’s kind of like, this is the part that just has to come next just because that’s how the song already goes, even though it’s not there yet. It’s a strange thing, it’s almost like you’re not writing, you’re just taking it from somewhere else.

“In a way, I always feel like I’m fooling people with that,” he added. “None of us really know how to write songs; we’re kind of just winging it.”