Aren't you the artists formerly known as Little Green Men?
When we formed the band in 1995, we were known as Little Green Men, until a search of this new-fangled Internet thing in 1997 revealed a few other bands with the same name --and even more now!-- one from right here in New Jersey (whose link appears to now be gone...hmmm), one in Washington, and the other from Texas who, oddly enough, are also a progressive rock band. Another group hails from Germany, but someone else will have to fill us in on what that one's all about, since it's all in German! Worse, somebody was cyber-squatting on littlegreenmen.com, so we couldn't even get the domain name! We knew all along that it was too good of a name not to have already been taken (and we had these really cool t-shirts too!) but we decided that we'd better change the name anyway. "Brainstatik" won out after months of fruitless… well… brainstorming. The name came from a "brain" web-search and randomly finding a mention of "brain static," an actual physiological phenomenon and, as luck would have it, a pretty accurate description (for some people) of our music! We just thought it sounded cool too! So we stuck the two words together, substituted a "k" for the "c" at the end and... instant band name! And all the brain imagery (to our artistic minds) is just as cool as all that green alien stuff we were doing (this all happened before that Mars Attacks movie came around, which-- to its credit-- combined both brains AND aliens)!
What kind of music is this anyway?
The style is a little hard to nail down, mainly because we sound different with each song we play. Here are a few ideas, though. Brainstatik sounds like: ---An orchestra being led by a slightly deranged conductor ---A jazz combo that plays everything except jazz ---A tribal percussion ensemble banging on some drums ---Soundtrack music for a movie you’ve never seen ---Progressive rock in a blender ---Instrumental music from outer space ...then mix it all together, along with some unplanned magic moments (and the occasional sonic train wreck), and there you have it! That was easy! You may have figured out that Brainstatik is not a cover band (unless you count our own material), but even the songs that do get played more than once sound different each time they’re revisited. Though the music is live and improvised, sometimes past recording sessions are “mined” for musically-interesting bits that can be recycled, twisted into loops, and otherwise re-arranged for use in future sessions, usually as a percussion track. So if you hear a snippet of an old song of ours in something new, that’s just another piece of the puzzle being put together. Since 1995, when we began, the concept has served us well.
Where do the ideas come from?
Sometimes it’s a single sound that inspires us, or a particular style that evolves right from the first few notes played. Sometimes we can control the music’s destination; sometimes it takes us to places we’ve never been. Most of the time it seems to work musically, but it’s always a risky proposition (see earlier reference to “train wreck”). All that listeners need to bring with them are open ears and open minds. If you give it a chance, the music can transport you somewhere special. That’s why we do it: for those moments.
Excuse me, who exactly was playing the pan flute/trumpet/oboe in that last song?
People are always asking which one of us made a particular sound in a song. It’s not always clear, even to us as we listen back to the recordings! Because of the technology we use, our guitars, drums and keyboards can sound like any other musical instrument. That orchestral string section you hear may be coming from a guitar, and those acoustic guitars or drummers you hear may really be triggered via synthesizers. When it’s all played together, it does get a bit confusing sometimes, and adds a new challenge for brave live sound engineers!
How many of you are in the band?
Well, four at the present time, though many musicians have been in Brainstatik over the years. 2003 was the year for major additions to the band that created the present lineup. We found a replacement for Glenn, with the same first name, so Glenn Robitaille (whether he likes it or not) will forever be known to us as "Glenn v2." Bassist Jim Silvestri came back to the band after a long absence. Ken stumbled upon Mike Hunter playing Warr guitar in an irish band (The Stone Soup Band) and just had to meet him. He found out that Mike's tastes went far beyond celtic music, and soon he had slotted perfectly into the Brainstatik groove. With new life breathed into the band, we've been directing that energy by playing live shows more frequently than ever.
Sounds like fun! Can I join?
With FOUR current members, the band’s size seems just about right. Of course, anyone with the right musical attitude has always been welcome to hang out and play with us. Between the official band members and our special guests at studio and live performances, there have been a total of 21 musicians involved in Brainstatik in its 20-year history!
For the live shows, we vary the lineup depending on the size of the venue, so you might see as few as two and as many as four of us performing at any particular gig. Live shows range from a quieter, more-subdued "in the background" performance at an art gallery, benefit dinner gala, or political fundraiser, to a more-intense full-blown rock concert. Occasionally, the addition of a guest DJ, providing spoken word recordings, and/or sampled “found” vocal and cultural sounds might fill the spot where a lead singer would go. We’ll try anything once, and sometimes twice! So if you know of any marching bands, organ grinders, or opera singers looking to try something new, send them our way (at least it won’t be boring)!
We're also heavily into stage lighting and using video projections to create the right performance ambience. This changes with each new performance - just as the music does - so if you think you've seen it all, catch Brainstatik's next gig to see and hear something completly different!