Brainstory is a musical trio comprised of brothers Kevin and Tony Martin, along with longtime friend, Eric Hagstrom. Releasing their debut album Buck in 2019, they’ve grown tremendously when it comes to finding their sound. Selling out their record release party at The Lodge Room yesterday, their new album, Sounds Good, is now officially available! I had the pleasure of discussing with the band their personal and musical growth, and how this journey is reflected in their latest album. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity purposes. 

Isabella: Congratulations on your new album! Can you tell us more about Sounds Good and what inspired this title and overall theme?

Brainstory: The title was pretty funny because we’re working with Leon Michels on this project and he’s a man of very few words. Whenever we wanted to get confirmation of a good take or whatever we recorded was good, all he would say is “sounds good”. If we’re doing something and we’re like what about that? Sounds good. We text him a demo and what do you think about this song? Sounds good. That’s pretty much the story behind it and we thought that was pretty hilarious.

The theme is a lot of self reflection and the changes that we were going through as far as becoming older and looking back at the past. Especially moving away from the Inland Empire, still holding that plays really close to our hearts. It’s mostly just a source of nostalgia. 

Isabella: How did the concept of incorporating dogs into your artistic vision and brand in general come about? Does it hold some important significance for the band or was it just a creative decision?

Brainstory: The concept art, originally, I was thinking of creating something about us as dogs like the doggy style album but that was a little too on the nose with us being on the West Coast and California. One of the head of the labels suggested, since I’m into pool, the idea of spoofing the dogs playing poker so that’s how it came to be. 

Isabella: The Sounds Good tour continues in Los Angeles next week. Can you share with us what fans can expect from your live performance and are there any special surprises or guests planned for the tour?

Brainstory: Los Angeles is going to be the most momentous occasion for us because all of our friends and family will be there. The rest of the band has also been working tirelessly recording the background vocals of the album so that’s another new thing that we’re going to be doing. 

Isabella: Your music has been described as very breezy and smooth. Can you elaborate on the sound or message that you aim to create overall with your music and what about the new album either reflects this or strays away from it?

Brainstory: The impetus for the band is pulling together all of our influences that me and my brother grew up with and that Eric heard as a kid. We all have background in jazz as well as soul music. Our dad was a gospel singer so we heard a lot of r&b, funk and also Chicano rock. I think if you listen to the rest of the catalog, you’ll kind of see or feel that we’ve grown a lot as studio musicians, as songwriters and as collaborators with ourselves and our producer. We’ve gotten much more comfortable since we did our first album, Buck, when we were super inexperienced in the studio. That was 2018 and since then, Eric built our own studio here in Long Beach and we’ve been recording our own demos and other projects here. I think that you’re going to hear on this album a lot more confidence in the studio and that our vision is much more focused. We know what we want and we know how to sound sonically so everything is getting tighter and better. 

Isabella:  Adding on to that, Clairo’s voice is extremely delicate and really contributes well to the sound that you all have presented. What was that creative process like in collaborating with Clairo on the track “Hanging On”?  

Brainstory: Clairo is just a friend of ours. Leon Michels is working on her album so we were introduced to her and she just started coming around while we were recording in New York. She offered to sing with us on something and we had just finished “Hanging On” so we were just like “yeah you can sing on this”. It was very organic. 

Isabella: Tell us more about the free listening party at Latinx with plants and your record release party at Lodge Room and what inspired these unique event concepts.  

Brainstory: We’re not going to perform as a band but we are going to spin records and then play the album. The owner is a good friend of the band. She’s just a homie and she was down to let us have a party there. This is where we started playing outside of the inland empire because it was kind of hard to build traction and momentum for the project so LA is just a lot of day one fans. It’s going to be a significant show because it’s a couple of days shy of us performing in LA. It’s also going to be the 10 year anniversary of Brainstory so it’s going to be super big with a lot of family and friends that have been supporting us for years. 

Isabella: Is there anything else you’d like to share with fans about what they should expect from Brainstory going forward?

Brainstory: As far as letting the fans know, we’re on Instagram, Facebook and Spotify. Please follow us there and turn on your notifications because we’re going to be doing a lot there this year. We’re also playing in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Texas; everywhere you can imagine so come hangout at our shows.

Keep up with Brainstory @00brainstory00 on Instagram and listen to the new album HERE!