INTERVIEW: Thommy Browne talks about old bands and old times

Photo by Bryan Volz

Thommy Browne has been synonymous with Louisville’s punk/hardcore scene since the early 1990’s. Over the years he has played drums for some pretty fucking great bands including (but not limited to) By The Grace Of God, Enkindel/The Enkindels, and Automatic. So what’s he up to nowadays? Its really none of your business. But luckily he was able to answer a few questions regarding a possible resurgence of former bands and some other thought provoking topics…

Never Nervous: A lot of people are wondering what exactly is going on with By The Grace Of God. There have been rumors of a possible new record and more shows. Can you fill us in on what exactly the plan is going forward?

Thommy Browne: BTGOG is semi-active. We communicate in group messages on FB, and are trying to meet-up at least once a month and write new songs. Duncan Barlow is still living out of town, so when we do have ideas we record them with some sort of digital recorder, and send them to him so he can check them out. He (Duncan) has been doing the same thing and arranging parts via garageband, or some other software. We have a handful of song ideas and want to aim towards a releasing a new e.p. There are no definite plans to release anything yet. Also, as far as I know there are no shows planned either.

NN: What was it like playing drums for Endpoint throughout their series of reunion shows a couple years ago?

TB: It was a blast. I grew up loving EP, and went to all of their shows in the early 90’s. I would listen to “If The Spirits Are Willing”, “In A Time of Hate” and “Catharsis” in my walkman and play to them when I started to learn to play drums. When Rob approached me to play the reunion shows it was a no-brainer for me. I already knew the songs by heart.

NN: Are there any future plans for Endpoint that you know of?

TB: None right now.

NN: With all of these older bands resurging, there isn’t a chance that The Enkindels could reunite for a show. Is there?

TB: I doubt it. Mark Brickey lives in Long Beach, California now where he runs a successful graphic design and screen printing business, Hero and Sound. He keeps his plate pretty full, travels a lot and co-hosts the awesome podcast “Adventures in Design”. The rest of the guys still live in Louisville and we all get along great, but honestly I don’t think we have any interest in ever doing a reunion.

NN: Are you still playing drums with Straight A’s? The dual drum attack was fucking brutal.

TB: I’m not, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think Straight A’s are currently active right now. They have been finishing up a new LP, which I played on (one song), but all of the members have been concentrating on other projects (Boo-Bird, As M Atik, Permanent Night). I’m pretty sure they will be playing shows again soon to promote the new LP, but I haven’t been asked to join them at practice. If they did ask I might not have time to do it right now. Juggling work, family and other bands is tough. Those guys are great though, and some of the most creative and knowledgeable musicians I’ve played with. It was always a lot of fun to take their songs, break up the drum parts and make them bigger, and more interesting.

NN: You’ve been going to punk/hardcore shows in Louisville for a pretty long time. Can you remember the first one you attended?

TB: The first show I went to was during the end of summer 1991, right before my freshman year of high school. It was a Bush League, Indignant Few and Dybbuk show at The Bar with No Name (now Grape Leaf on Frankfort Ave.). My neighbor and I went and got his mom to drop us off a few blocks away and pick us up later. I was about to start high school at Ballard and knew that the guys from Dybbuk went there. I’m pretty sure this might have been one of Eric Schmidt’s (Solution Unknown) first shows with them. Jeremy Podgursky (the guitarist of Dybbuk) and I went to the same grade school, so it was cool to catch up with him. Over the next couple years at Ballard he was nice enough to let me hang out with that crew and introduced me to a lot of cool stuff I had never heard before like Samiam, Superchunk, Sonic Youth, The Fluid, Drive Like Jehu, Dinosaur Jr., etc.

NN: After all of these years playing drums in in different bands, can you recall the first show you played? The bands, venue, date, etc.

TB: The first show I played was with a joke punk band called Clinton Youth. Adam Colvin (Sancred, Old Vikings) played guitar and our friend Hank sang. We wrote silly-fast songs about anarchy, how plaid isn’t punk, etc. Back then we would create these joke bands almost every day after school. The show was at The Machine on a school day, and started really early, like right after school. Hellbent also played, which was a heavy hardcore band that Matt Brown, Ramsey Grissom and Kevin Ratterman played in.

The first show I played with a real band was with Enkindel in Danville, Ill., which is outside the Champaign area. I honestly don’t remember who we played with, it might have been with Scab, which was an old hardcore band from Lafayette, IN. Pat McClimans sang for them. He later went on to play bass in Endpoint and Metroschifter. It was a good idea to have a first show with a real band out of town, so by the next time we played locally I was well seasoned.

NN: Name three bands from Louisville before the year 2000 that you think are absolutely essential.

TB: Good grief. Essential? I’ll go with Squirrel Bait, Crain and … The Monarchs? I don’t know much about The Monarch’s, but one of those old rock and roll bands from the 1950’s needs to be mentioned for kick-starting this cities music scene. I could be way off here, but we don’t really speak much of that era but those people deserve some credit. Right? There’s probably a ton of great R&B bands from the 50’s/60’s that no one speaks of or knows about too.

NN: Now tell me three bands from Louisville post 2000 that you would consider to be vital.

TB: Good lord I am awful at this. Vital post-2000 bands? I really liked The Grand Prize, which was a short-lived band featuring Michael Weis (now of Little Brothers), Joey Mudd, Michael Heineman, Jason Anderson and others. I’m trying to pinpoint one of the many projects Dave Bird has been in over the years. He’s been involved in a lot of great bands. I was really into some of the stuff Rude Weirdo was doing before Tony passed away. I’d be anxious to hear anything they recorded around that time. I mean, of course there are releases by Second Story Man, Coliseum, Lords, Lucky Pineapple, Young Widows, Black Cross, Wolverine Brass, The Shipping News, etc. that are all excellent, but I am more interested in the hidden gems you know?

NN: And lastly, talk about a few records that have been blowing your mind lately

TB: Lately I’ve been listening to Witchcraft’s “Legend” LP a lot. They are a great heavy metal band from Sweden with a classic 70’s metal sound similar to Pentagram or Black Sabbath. Before getting into punk and hardcore I was into metal, so I am always going back to this stuff. I’m playing in a new band called Ritual Void that is heavily influenced by classic heavy metal, british new wave metal, etc. Keep an eye out for it.

I’ve also been listening to Ghost, Baroness, The Budos Band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Magic Circle, the new Night Marcher’s and the most recent Evens record.