Brandon Asraf and John Tacon make up Brick+Mortar. The New Jersey-based duo started their band years ago and they found their style after finding some money in a public bathroom and then buying a sampler. That’s basically where it started, but that’s not the weirdest thing about Brick+Mortar, or Asraf for that matter. The most bizarre thing about Asraf is his father. He’s an old-school Moroccan/Israeli mobster who came over to the U.S. and earned millions of dollars by starting an illegal gambling ring and then later a diamond smuggling ring. It’s Asraf’s experiences with his father and his experiences after his father left that helped shape Brick+Mortar’s music. Talking with Alternative Addiction, Asraf spoke briefly about his dad and how he grew up.
“My dad was an international criminal,” started Asraf catching us off guard in the interview. “He was involved in fraud and diamond smuggling and a few other things. He’s not allowed back in the U.S. anymore. There’s a song on our first EP called “Told You,” and basically that really happened. A lot of people think that stuff we write is figurative, and some of it is, but it’s also sometimes directly linked to that side of things. Some of my lyrics have a lot of swagger. Not like a rapper, but not like a suburban white kid, somewhere in between.”
Asraf discussed his father further when we asked him about it.
“He’s an interesting guy. It would be great if he was my friend and just someone I met, it would be like Johnny Depp in ‘Blow’ or something like that. But in the end, you wouldn’t want to be Johnny Depp’s daughter right? You would want to be one of the people that met him along the way because you’d have a great story. But I like it because I’m allowed to say a lot of stuff that other people would feel odd saying. I can sing about being on welfare, because we were after he took off. I could sing about a lot of gangster-ass s___, but I don’t. But if I wanted to, I could and I wouldn’t feel weird doing that, because of how I grew up and where I’m at now, I feel like we’re representing the super-poor underdog kids out there now, and I like that.”
Further talking about what Asraf likes to sing about and how he writes lyrics, he talked about being stuck in the middle, musically - and just as a person.
“I probably connect with hip hop more,” started Asraf. “Some of those songs have a vibe where you feel like the world owes you something and then you learn that it really doesn’t. Sometimes lyrics in songs from different indie bands are hard for me to connect with. I didn’t go to art school, I didn’t live in an apartment and do hipster s___. I never got the opportunity, that wasn’t my life. I was working s___ jobs and writing songs. We’re weird. We’re weird, because we don’t particularly fit, even as people. We’re kind of in the middle and our music is kind of in the middle.”
Weird’s a good place for Asraf and Tacon. Mostly because the general populous embraces the strange now far more than it did years ago.
“I think the weird people in life are what makes life worth it. Look at pop culture right now, all anybody is doing is just copying off of weird people who did it before. It used to not be cool, but now people are paying money to be weird. Miley Cyrus twerking or whatever, that’s not weird, but get a bunch of giant teddy bears up there... that’s weird. I think the way things are, it’s good to be a little weird.”
Brick+Mortar’s Bangs EP is out now, they’re currently working on a full-length record to hopefully put out next year.