Headstone Brigade is a Seattle (USA) based music project driven by Egan Budd. Egan explains the name of his project was accidental as he originally had intended to name the band Headstone Barricade. ‘Originally the idea was the acknowledgement that death is a barrier to overcome but now I imagine it more as some kind of cemetery-dwelling occult group, awaiting to serenade the dead as they depart the land of the living.’ Egan mistakenly used ‘brigade’ instead of ‘barricade’ and it stuck. Headstone Brigade call themselves Dark-Folk, Neo-Folk, Pagan-Folk, Melodramatic-Pop and Depressing-Polka. By the end of 2023 the newest, self-released, opus “Victory & Defeat” revealed a true accomplishment; a great and artistic mix of multiple influences resulting in a surprising, fascinating, and impressive work.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Can you give us background information about your artistic activities and how did you come to set up Headstone Brigade? Who’s actively involved?
Egan: I officially launched in 2017 and had been doing my Death-Industrial project Xiphoid Dementia since 1999. It began as a solo act utilizing accordion and voice but also featuring a plethora of orchestrations for recorded material. After remaining a solo-project for some time, cellist Jeff King (also of Isenordal). Other joined the live band in 2019 and assisted with some recordings thereafter. In 2022, guitarist Mitchell Bell (also of Thunder Grey Pilgrim and Knifecream) and percussionist/vocalist Bree Sadira Rose (also of Other and formerly of Witchbottle) joined me and Jeff for the project’s first post-covid performance at Litha Cascadia 2022 and were subsequently made permanent members of the band.
While still helmed by me for recordings, Headstone Brigade now performs live as a 4 piece and heavily features the band’s members contributions in recorded material.
Q: You label your music as ‘Dark-Folk, Neo-Folk, Pagan-Folk, Melodramatic-Pop and Depressing-Polka’. I like the label Melodramatic-Pop’ but especially the ‘Depressing-Polka’-one but what’s the deeper meaning of it all?
Egan: There’s not really a deep meaning to how we label our music so I decided to have some fun with it which is where the ‘depressing polka’ term came from. I often remind my bandmates that I want to ride that line between not taking ourselves too seriously on one hand, but not being too cringey on the other. I think the most important thing to me about categorizing or labeling our music was to come up with our own term that would show we’re not just trying to ‘fit in’ but rather create our own path with strong anchors to the music we are inspired by.
Q: I noticed you’re busy for a couple of years now so how do you perceive the evolution of Headstone Brigade and its sound?
Egan: I think there’s a lot of evolution that has been made by the project and hopefully much, much more to come! The most important thing though is to let it grow organically and not try too hard to push it one way or another. I know personally I’d like to explore including some more Post-Punk or Cold-Wave-like elements but they would still have to stay within the ‘world’ of what Headstone Brigade is which is mainly a Folk-Horror origin. However, some of the new stuff is sounding much more in a Pagan Folk-vein so.. who knows!?
Q: Over now to the new album “Victory & Defeat”. What is it all about and what did you try to express by its title, the lyrical content and the artwork?
Egan: The meanings can probably be broken down best track-by-track but if you were to take themes that pervade most all of them it’s about coming to terms with the things in reality we can’t change which include war, death, transience, love, love-lost, and special moments we should cherish along the way. It’s also about being stoic throughout this life and existence we all have to face and seeing life as a mystery even in this bleak post-modern world.
Q: The album has been composed together with multiple guest musicians so how did it all happen? And what did you keep in mind from the entire writing- and production process?
Egan: The first step was just writing all the songs with accordion/vocals on my own during covid lockdown. Once I had those I had a cello player (Kevin Lewis of Nital Etch) who played with me briefly before Jeff King joined who has a unique ability to come up with fantastic improvisations on the fly. So I had him lay a cello base for many tracks which I then edited heavily. I did most of the production, percussion, editing and then at about the halfway mark Bree and Mitchell had joined the band so Mitchell added some much needed acoustic guitar parts and Bree added vocal harmonies – both of which they had established as we polished the tracks for live performances.
Q: How important are live performances to you and how do you perceive yourself as a live-band?
Egan: I really love the songwriting and production process myself so to me that is the most important aspect. But live shows are really special especially since the band has joined ( I played live solo for many years ). With the full-band its much less stressful and more fun. The other band members bring in more people (friends, family) and it’s such a great way to connect with our audience that I’ve grown to really appreciate the live experience. That said I still try to keep a high standard for our live shows. We practice quite religiously and continue to polish songs and just get better as a band which I’m also hoping will play a pivotal role in our upcoming recorded material as well!
Q: What comes next?
Egan: I always have grand plans even if they are merely a small seedling within my own mind. Over the last few weeks I’ve actually manifested some of those concepts into the world but of course these things take time so it may be a while before brand new recorded material sees the light of day. However, if anyone is curious to hear new stuff we’ll be playing it live! I’m going to go ahead and break the news here because it should be announced next week but we are supporting Of The Wand And The Moon in Vancouver, BC on March 10th! So if you’re in the area please come check it out.
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