It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly which famous acts Nick Perry’s Brass Tax sounds like, or what genre one would label their first studio album, Revisionist History. But that’s precisely makes their music so captivating.
“No two people have had the same favorite song [after hearing the album],” frontrunner Nick Perry said. “I think that’s encouraging and I want to build on that.”
That isn’t to say that the album is messy or unfocused. There’s a cool indie vibe throughout all twelve songs, though the tracks span a variety of genres and styles. There’s something for everyone, from the hard blues of “Bindle Blues” to the more folksy tracks like “Seamus” or the alternative-sounding “The Way Things Are.” And, throughout it all, the band’s tight playing mixes with Perry’s impressive baritone voice to create a truly unique listening experience. Much of it sounds like a collaboration between The Kinks, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and a more modern indie band that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Nick Perry’s Brass Tax is a fairly new Portland quartet that’s been around for about two years. Taking a less traditional route, Perry recorded some demos and recruited the band members himself. The quartet went right to the studio, and had their entire album recorded before they ever played a live show together. On Friday, Jan. 29, the band hosted a video/single release show for the title track at the Portland House of Music and Events. The album will be available for purchase at Bull Moose on March 4.
Members include Nick Perry (guitar and vocals), Josh Keough (drums and backing vocals), Jeremy Fink (keyboard) and Tyler Cummins (Bass Live and also a member of local band Triode). Former member Peter Herman, who moved to Portland, Oregon, played bass on the album.
Although he’s been a former member of multiple bands, including “exploratory” band Pokelogan (with Herman) and rock band The Feather Lungs (with Keough), this is the first time that the Rumford native is “calling the shots.”
“I’ve always been in bands as a collaborator or third banana,” Perry said.
The band members’ personal lives interfered with the success of previous musical efforts, resulting in a temporary period of stagnant sound. But Perry is optimistic about the future of the quartet.
“[I’m going to keep it together] no matter what,” Perry said. “Even if it’s a revolving door like those 70’s bands that have, like, 30 members.”
The catalyst for the quartet and the album, Perry said, stemmed from the plethora of songs he’d written and never used.
“I’ve done a lot of different styles and written a lot of songs over the years that I’ve never done anything with,” Perry said. “So that was the impetus to start the band, starting from that base of songs and writing more and more, and that became the 12 songs on this album.”
One of the tracks, “The St. Barnabus Waltz,” is from a failed attempt at writing a rock opera with his sister, Perry said.
Perry’s songwriting influences include The Beatles, Ray Davies of The Kinks, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, the Tin Pan Alley musicians, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Frank Zappa, Graham Gouldman of 10cc, Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton of Big Star and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. It’s easy to pick out The Beatles’ and The Kinks’ influences throughout many of the tracks.
All of the members of the band are self-taught. The only formal lesson Perry ever had, he said, was in the 8th grade, where he learned to play the beginning of “Hotel California.”
“Which is all you really need, I guess,” he laughed.
The band members are also all working professionals and several of them have children, and the quartet often jokes that it’s “the most respectable band in Maine.”
“We were originally going to call ourselves “The Conformists,” said Perry, who also hosts trivia at local bars and works in a service department at a downtown law firm. He’s thankful for his previous “night jobs,” which gave him time to pen his lyrics.
There are talks of a second album, perhaps with a more focused sound, but Perry said that he wants to give the current album (and probably the band) time and room to breathe.
The quartet’s ultimate goal is, of course, to get their music out there and enjoyed as much as possible. However, Nick Perry’s Brass Tax is not about pumping out music just for the sake of putting it out there. The band definitely exudes a quality-versus-quantity mentality.
Right now, the quartet is just excited to finally release their album.
“We’ve been talking about it for so long that it doesn’t feel real,” Perry said. “I’m super happy to have my work out there.”