New Castle, IN act The Protest just released their third album, Legacy and it’s a throwback to mid-2000’s mainstream rock. It’s got a little bit of everything. There’s a little bit of screaming. There are a couple of ballads. There’s even a decent number of hooks. But best of all, there’s a lot of good music. Led by the brothers Bramlett – Josh is on lead vocals and Jarob is on drums – The Protest is setting itself up for a good cycle with a great record in Legacy. We talked with Josh Bramlett from the band about writing and recording the album, but also the step up in quality with the new album compared to their previous work.
“It’s a lot of things,” said Bramlett in the interview. “I forget this, but our last record came out late in 2014. It’s been three or four years since the last one. A lot has happened to us as people and we’ve grown as musicians and writers too. I don’t think we were bad before, but I think we’ve learned a lot. We did some co-writes and collaborations for this album. That was a mind-opening experience. Having other people to bounce ideas off is cool. It’s been the four of us for the past ten years and you get stuck in the same rut of doing the same thing repeatedly.”
Co-writing for the band was a pleasant change of pace. Despite them seeming like newcomers to the rock scene for a lot of us, they aren’t. They’ve been around for almost a decade and they’ve been putting out some quality stuff, and stuff that’s made a lot of people’s radar – just not everyone’s radar. That’s why deciding to do co-writes for this record along with some other changes made sense. Still, getting help with writing songs is something that a lot of bands turn their nose up at, and The Protest struggled with it at first too.
“Honestly, with this record we had that mentality starting out. We thought that our music was ours and that was it. Our producer, Matt Arcaini thought we should do some co-writes and we were hesitant to do that. We ended up listening to him. I feel that we were so blessed being to work with these guys. It’s cool having six minds on it instead of four. It was awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and we’ll do it again.”
“We did co-writes with Josiah Prince,” Bramlett continued. “He’s from Disciple. We did a couple of songs with Nashville writers; a guy named Jeremiah Jones and a guy named Brian Hicks. We also did a co-write with a guy named Dane Allen from Loyals, a band that’s on Tooth & Nail. We also did a cowrite with Andrew Stanton of Disciple too. We did five co-writes for the record. Sometimes we started from scratch, sometimes we had all the music we just needed help with good hooks and we did that.”
A good example for the band’s creative shift is their track, “What You Got?”, a song that was one of the co-writes on the record. Bramlett went through the creation of the song. It turns out they didn’t start it, but they ended up finishing it by making something awesome.
“It was very different than anything we’ve done before. A lot of the songs were written on synths with a lot of the song done already. Josiah sent it to us and he thought we could do something with it. He wrote the bones to that song with another writer. From there, we made it our own. We beefed it up. We added heavy guitars and changed some of the lyrics and hooks and made it ours. It was a cool process, and one of the easier songs to record because we had a lot of the blueprint for that song laid out for us. A lot of the other songs something changed the day we were tracking. That one was easy, but it was a ton of fun to sing.”
Working with new people is one thing, but The Protest also did some new things sonically. One of the things that they did that they necessarily haven’t done a ton in the past is some screaming. That was something that Bramlett was pumped about in the studio and after the record was done.
“We mainly do clean stuff. I’m a singer and I love to sing but screaming is just fun. There’s a couple of songs on this record that have a lot of screaming. Both of those songs are fun to get into. With screaming you don’t have to worry about your tone as much and the warmth in your voice. You don’t have to worry about as much. It’s kind of like putting it out there, and there it is. I love that. If I have something to drink like some hot water, I’m good.”
Bramlett and his cohorts have taken some big steps with this record and they’re thrilled with the result. The last thing we asked Josh in the interview was what he wanted people to take away when they put on Legacy:
“As corny as this sounds, we believe that the way the world is there’s so much hate, gloom, and doom. Rock, a lot of times, carries that over. I think that aggressive sound is a wonderful thing, but we want to use ours to be a positive light to encourage and uplift. That’s why we do this. We’re blessed to do what we do, and we want to lift people up with our music. Hopefully they listen to it and say, ‘hey, I feel better.’” – aa