Considering the three-year gap between the start of recording of Broadcast's debut full-length, The Noise Made by People, and its U.S. release in April, the U.K. retro-pop band's current state of affairs could well be labeled a flurry of activity.
The Birmingham, England, outfit recently followed Noise with a new EP, Extended Play Two, released just five months after the album. The five-track collection features a studio recording of "Unchanging Window Chord Simple" (RealAudio excerpt) a mix of two earlier songs that grew out of the band's live shows as well as "Drums on Fire" (RealAudio excerpt), which was previously available only as a promotional record for DJs.
Now Broadcast singer Trish Keenan, keyboardist Roj Stevens, bassist James Cargill, guitarist Tim Felton and drummer Keith York are set to embark on a 29-date North American tour, beginning Saturday at a CMJ Music Marathon show at New York's Bowery Ballroom. They will join Chicago's post-rock outfit The Sea and Cake halfway through the tour, which stretches on for a full month before wrapping up in Cleveland on Nov. 22.
For Keenan, taking the United States by storm if an outfit as spaced-out as Broadcast can be said to do such a thing is a welcome challenge, if not a bit overwhelming.
"You've got to get it right for the Americans, I always think," she said, "because [in the States] there's such a high level of performance and general technique across the whole musical spectrum.
"I'm not intimidated," Keenan continued. "That's the wrong word, because I'm really excited by it. Not that I feel that I have to start getting dance routines going, but as a band you've just got to feel confident."
For fans curious about Broadcast's musical roots, the group has compiled an online "radio mix" on its official site, www.broadcast.uk.net. Including tracks by Ennio Morricone, Joe Meek and The United States of America, the mix highlights influences as disparate as the band's sound is otherworldly. It was recently joined on the site by a second mix, courtesy of Julian House, their graphic designer and sometime DJ.
"Most of the record buying we do is music of the past," Keenan said, explaining the selections. "Whether that's something as far back as '50s, Joe Meek kind of rock and roll, spacey guitar music, like the Tornados, [or] something from the '80s. I'm aware of contemporary bands, but they're not the first thing on my list when I buy records."
When it comes to performance, however, fans familiar with Broadcast's unique brand of noirish, downbeat electro-pop may be in for a bit of a surprise. While their recent recordings have a quietly engaging ambience, the show may offer something quite different.
"I wouldn't say it sounds at all like the album," Keenan said. "It's much more dynamic and noisier not noisy, but definitely noisier. Things are exaggerated. You have to exaggerate a little bit for [playing] live, because there's only five of us onstage, and sometimes there's been up to 20 tracks on the album, so you can't really get away with the subtleties live."
While citing respect for what she called Yo La Tengo's "beautifully quiet" performance style, Keenan admitted it's not the sort of tactic Broadcast use when approaching the stage.
"No, we don't go for quiet. It's not how we wrote the album, in particular although it's not minimal," she explained. "There's a lot of [different] parts going on, there's a lot of colors. But when you strip down to the bare essentials, when you're playing it live, you have to bring to life elements that weren't so lively on the recordings. You have to just make the most of what you've got, basically."
Broadcast tour dates:
(Dates starting Nov. 9 are with The Sea And Cake, with the exception of Nov. 15.)
Oct. 21; New York, N.Y; CMJ Music Marathon, Bowery Ballroom
Oct. 22; New York, N.Y.; CMJ Music Marathon Showcase (badges only)
Oct. 23; Hoboken, N.J.; Maxwell's
Oct. 24; Columbus, Ohio; Little Brother's
Oct. 26; Lawrence, Kan.; Bottleneck
Oct. 27; Denton, Texas; Rubber Gloves
Oct. 28; Austin, Texas; Emo's
Oct. 30; Albuquerque, N.M.; Launch Pad
Oct. 31; Phoenix, Ariz.; Modified
Nov. 1; Los Angeles, Calif.; El Rey
Nov. 2; Los Angeles, Calif.; Fair Do Do
Nov. 3; San Francisco, Calif.; Bottom of the Hill
Nov. 4; Portland, Ore.; Berbati's Pan
Nov. 5; Seattle, Wash.; Crocodile Café
Nov. 8; Minneapolis, Minn.; 7th Street Entry
Nov. 9; Chicago, Ill.; Double Door
Nov. 10; Detroit, Mich.; Magic Stick
Nov. 11; Toronto, Ontario; Lee's Palace
Nov. 12; Montreal, Quebec; Cabaret Music Hall
Nov. 13; Cambridge, Mass.; Middle East
Nov. 14; New York, N.Y.; Irving Plaza
Nov. 15; New York, N.Y.; New York University
Nov. 16; Philadelphia, Penn.; Upstage
Nov. 17; Washington, D.C.; Black Cat
Nov. 18; Carrboro, N.C.; Cat's Cradle
Nov. 19; Atlanta, Ga.; Echo Lounge
Nov. 20; Nashville, Tenn.; Exit/Inn
Nov. 21; Louisville, Ky.; Headliners' Music Hall
Nov. 22; Cleveland, Ohio; Beachland Ballroom