Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Charade is a California band, but the feeling they represent is found in boxing rings, race car tracks, and blackjack tables coast-to-coast. The rush knowing you're risking it all and the comfort of knowing there's no place you would rather be. Digital Future had a conversation with Brian "Wildcat" McGee about the band's future two-song promo Buffalo, and why no amount of danger is an obstacle to his expression.
The interview was done on the phone and the featured photo was taken by Alexis Gross.
Charade hasn't done any sort of interviews. You all have kept under the radar, kind of letting the music speak for itself...
Wildcat: Yeah, I didn't want to be the guy to email BrooklynVegan or some shit. I don't know who does it, so it always seems like a bad way to go.
Yeah, especially with hardcore and alternative music. Having a washed-up 90's hardcore writer guy who doesn't fully comprehend what you're trying to do, trying to write about Charade.
There was another one, the other big hardcore one...
I don't know, Stereogum?
No, it wasn't that...
It's bad, real bad. The comment section is really bad.
No, but something like that. This kid emailed me an interview and all he asked about was Fury and Have Heart because at the time Kei Yasui (Have Heart, Ex-Charade) and Jeremy Stith (Fury, Ex-Charade) were in the band. That's all he wanted to talk about, and I...don't want to talk about that.
Yeah like how do they manage to be in these big bands and also Charade?
I was curious about Jeremy and his actual involvement because he was on the Demo singing, but on Twin Ring, he wrote a few of the songs as well.
He was part of the record but it coincided with when that Fury record was coming out on Run for Cover. They were going crazy because it was a big thing for them and they had a tour going. On top of that, he was in two other bands besides Fury and Charade. So we couldn't get it finished with him. There are demos with him on it but schedules didn't align. I hope I can be in a band with him again because it was so fun.
Regardless of him being in the band or not, he's always going to be a part of what Charade is and it wouldn't have taken off without him. His brother Jared also shot the photo for the One More Roll single, so I owe a lot too and have immense love for the Stith brothers.
So what is the Charade lineup right now? How did you all meet up?
It's me (Bass), Pat Benson on guitar who I was in a hardcore band with like 12 years ago. He grew up in central New York with me, and then I moved to Atlanta to play in Foundation. He joined Polar Bear Club I think for a minute then he joined Tigers Jaw, so we were both doing our thing. I ran into him at Highland Park super randomly and started playing music together again.
Nina is singing in the band. I met her three or four years ago now. She wasn't singing originally but came to the studio one time and Kei made her do backup vocals. Now she's singing in the band and it's great.
On drums is Alex Gadberry who is also from the east coast. He's in a bunch of bands. I've known him for a while. Just the four of us right now.
You guys have played 3 or 4 shows. The way you record them seems super dreamy, what was it like translating those songs live?
It was pretty easy translating them live. Pat's so good at that stuff because he's a guitar tech full time so he knows everything about whatever weird sound effect we need to play and locking down guitar tones. It translated a lot easier than I thought it would. We were all pretty stoked on those first couple of shows.
A big theme for you all is cars and their drivers, especially from the classic era of Grand Prix cars. That imagery is so surreal and magical. Where's that influence coming from?
I've always been in love with the '60s, 70's era road movies, and race movies. I would say the thing that locked it in for me is this documentary, The Quick and the Dead which is about the F-1 Circuit in the '70s and how dangerous it was. It was completely lawless and fucking insane. There would be an accident every race, and people would burst into flames. Not to spoil the ending of the documentary but it ends with an obituary for every single person. So everyone is dead.
I feel like that crazy scene translated to how I wanted to express and write music. These guys really did not give a fuck and were just in it just to do it.
They just want to go fast as fuck and they want that feeling.
Yeah and that's how I'd want to express myself. Not do some formula that I think is going to make me money or give me a cool record. I thought they were so fascinating in how they lived their lives.
It's is crazy that any of that existed. We've said surreal like 3 times but that's what it is! The way the cars were designed, with people driving so fast and recklessly that most end up dying!
Exactly, and even in how those movies were made. They're strapping a camera on those cars and the fucking thing is shaking all over the place. Now everything is clean and sterile like Ford Vs. Ferrari for example. Even though they're shooting in the '70s and '60s, it doesn't really translate. Obviously, bands have used car stuff before, we're not the first to do that...
You all are using it in a cool symbolic sort of way, instead of like "Driving fast! Don't care!". The lyrics are about escapism and submitting completely to that feeling. You're expressing in that way because you feel like you need to do it.
The last record came out on Other People Records. Are you guys going to put the promo and whatever else after on that label going forward?
No, we still haven't pressed Twin Ring. I don't know when that's going to happen. So we're going to put it the promo and stuff going forward.
Record plants are super delayed and on top of that in California, the fires have been happening right now. Has that been taking a toll on you personally or the band?
Well on the last record, the last song is actually about a wildfire. It's something we're all dealing with all over the coast. I have a lot of close friends who are firefighters, both people that fly and people that are on the ground, and you can tell when you're talking to them that their mentality is switched. You can feel the dread through them. I'm looking at it like blue skies right now because last week I was on the planet from Bladerunner so I don't know. One step at a time.
This almost feels inappropriate to follow how heavy that last question was but can I get a Charade movie pick?
What do you need to watch right now?
Yeah, other than the documentary.
Okay, well we're named after a movie. Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. It's pretty campy but I love it. At the half show we played, we played a couple of songs after a movie called The Driver, which is like a 70's road crime flick set in L.A. so it's right up our alley. You can feel Drive all over just grabbing all sorts of stuff from that movie. So yeah watch Charade and The Driver and you got us pretty much pegged.
Okay, that's pretty much it actually. Oh, wait who took those pictures?
Alexis Gross. Yeah, she's the shit. Her pics are awesome. She did this amazing Memphis series that was great. She does a lot of car shows and yeah, she's the shit.
Denis (Halilovic, of Freedom, Never Ending Game) did all the design on the promo?
Yeah, so I had the idea but I knew Denis would do it better.
I've made stuff here and there and will do more going forward. I just chill with Denis a lot always talking about movies. We're on the same page with a lot of stuff.
Well, cool. Thanks for doing the interview.
Thanks for having us. Oh yeah, this tape, it's two songs and we're going to donate the money to charity. We'll post about that soon.
Buffalo is out October 1st and you can listen here