Just eight months ago, the New Zealand sibling synth-pop duo Broods was making their U.S. debut at Bardot’s It’s A School Night. This past Tuesday, they headlined the El Rey Theatre in front of a sold-out crowd to celebrate the U.S. release of their first full-length album Evergreen, which came out on these shores on Oct. 7.
Prior to their sound check, I caught up with Broods, whom I had seen twice and had previously reviewed for Grimy Goods at The Observatory in Santa Ana. The way they finish each other’s sentences is no surprise given their chemistry both on stage and in the studio.
“I’m pretty sure that was the fourth show we ever played, as well,” said older brother Caleb Nott of their Bardot show back in February.
“That show, at Bardot, that was a pretty special moment for us,” said younger sister Georgia, who is just 20 years old. “We had no idea how we were gonna be received by American audiences and they were just so welcoming that night that it was actually super overwhelming, in the best way. It was a crazy, cool night. That would still be one of my highlights, to this day, just stepping out there and actually being received as well as we were.”
“It’s also the first time we saw someone singing along to our lyrics,” said Caleb, before Georgia jumped in. “Yeah, people were singing along and we were just mindblown. That was kind of when we realized that people cared about what we were doing, to be honest.”
It’s been a rapid ascent for the siblings, their song “Bridges” exploding online almost exactly a year ago. After releasing their debut EP in January, things have moved quickly, with the 11-track Evergreen featuring all new songs except for “Bridges” and “Never Gonna Change”.
As the story goes, the two won a music contest as part of a different band that had Joel Little as one of the judges. Little helped produce fellow New Zealand sensation Lorde’s first EP and smash-hit “Royals”, and was enlisted by the brother-sister combo to help. It’s paid dividends.
They played a tour with Sam Smith that included two dates at the Greek Theatre a few weeks ago, as well as an appearance at Austin City Limits. Both are experiences that the two will remember among many other highlights in 2014.
“[Sam Smith] and his band, they’re all just so bloody lovely,” said Georgia of the experience touring with another young twentysomething who has blown up this year. “It was such a nice tour, it was a really homely kind of vibe.”
“You made actual proper, genuine friends that you will keep,” added Caleb.
“Just to connect with people on a personal level rather than just being inspired by them as musicians,” said Georgia. “It is pretty awesome to go away from a tour having those awesome connections. It was such a hard tour to say goodbye to for us because we made some awesome friends. The experience was bloody amazing.”
Of all the shows they played, Broods didn’t particularly feel The Greek was as conducive to a good show as some of their other stops.
“The Greek’s a weird one,” said Caleb bluntly. “I’m just gonna be honest here, it was probably my least favorite venue to play on the tour. It’s an awesome venue to watch from…”
“…but playing, you can’t see the crowd,” Georgia finished the sentence.
“It is one of those venues where you can kind of hangout and do stuff before the main act comes on, so a lot of people don’t actually make it in for the support act. Where other venues, everyone is like, you have to get in there to get a spot. If you want a spot you have to get in there and stand. But the seated theatres, it’s less a vibe because you’re on early, that’s the only reason. It feels like you’re playing to a room of like fifty people but you know there’s thousands and thousands of people.”
Ironically enough, when seeing Lorde at the Greek a few weeks earlier, opening act Majical Cloudz made a similar kind of connection. The lead singer of that group spoke about how he felt he was singing to just that front pit area and everyone else seemed so far away.
Austin City Limits signified the first big U.S. festival for the group, an obvious sign of where they are headed.
“I had no idea, I didn’t expect that many people to turn up,” said Caleb. “A lot of people that were just there, and were there to see whoever it was that was coming later, they actually came to the signing and stuff, it was pretty sweet. They made the effort to walk halfway around ACL to come say hi…”
“…and stand in line for half an hour,” Georgia added. “It’s really reassuring when people are impressed enough with your live show to become a fan, becuase it is such an important thing for us to sound convincing live.”
Another cool thing that happened recently was “Bridges” got covered on Triple J’s “Like a Version”. Triple J, for those that don’t know, is an awesome Australian radio station that does a segment called “Like a Version”, where musicians give awesome takes on cover songs. The YouTube channel is must-subscribe and many acts have come through with some mind-blowing covers (Grimy Goods recently featured an Arctic Monkeys / Tame Impala episode).
On that segment, Melbourne’s Meg Mac did a sweet rendition of “Bridges”, to which Broods was extremely humbled by.
“We’ve been watching Triple J ‘Like a Version’ for ages,” said Georgia.
“I used to live there and that was my radio station because I lived in Melbourne,” said Caleb.
“To have our song make it to there, it is pretty surreal,” continued Georgia. “We used to dream of being on ‘Like a Version’, let alone having somebody else bring our song to ‘Like a Version’. She did it justice. We’ve never met her personally but we’ve talked to her on Twitter just to say how honored we were to have her play our song and she was just as honored back for us to be so in love with our cover.”
Later that night at El Rey, Broods showed how their confidence has built since I saw them in May in both San Francisco and at The Observatory. Though Georgia confessed before the show in our interview that she didn’t realize the El Rey was as big as it was, she didn’t show any nerves once they hit the stage. Georgia utilized the entirety of the stage as she danced confidently armed with amazing vocals that sound as good as they do on album.
At one point in the show, the two asked for the crowd to hold up the wolf masks they were handed upon entering the venue. The crowd obviously obliged, and it was nice to see just how much joy was derived from them on stage playing to a packed house.
The sun will continue to rise wherever Broods is. Their trajectory is one that promises to continue the steep incline they have accrued in just over a year.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photos: Casey Lewis & Lindsay Rodriguez
Watch Broods’ new video for brilliant new track, “FOUR WALLS”