Asbury Surf Interview: The Brigantines

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We’re proud to be one of the sponsors of the second annual Asbury Park Surf Music Festival. The fest will be taking place on Saturday July 11th at the world famous Asbury Lanes in, you guessed it, Asbury Park, New Jersey.

It’s no secret that we at Pop-Break are big fans of The Brigantines. They’ve been our brothers-in-arms for years. We’ve booked them on multiple shows, they’ve thanked us on their album — it’s been a good run between the two of us. However, the reason we dig these cats is because they put out excellent surf rock. In fact, The Brigantines were the reason we even got into surf rock. Yes, we were super-late to the game, but ever since we heard their first reverb, and their first barrel roll, we were hooked.

And that’s why you should check these guys out at The Asbury Park Surf Music Festival today. We caught up with our old pal, Aaron Leonovich, bassist for The Brigantines to talk about the Surf Music Festival, the potential of a new record and much more!

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The Brigantines Are (Members & Instruments They Play): Vincent Minervino – Guitars and Vocals, Aaron Leonovich – Bass, Scott Saint Hilaire – Guitars and Vibe, Dan Tojeira- Drums

We Formed In: Vincent and I came up with the idea of playing surf-inspired pop music in 2011 and we immediately began putting together ideas for songs that became our first EP.

We’re Based Out Of: We live all over New Jersey but call Asbury Park our home. Dan and I live in Manville, Vincent is in Freehold, and Scott in Summit. The majority of the shows we play and bands we see are all right in Asbury Park. Pop-Break hosted our first show in Asbury at The Wonder Bar!

The Story Behind Our Name: The name The Brigantines comes the Jersey Shore town of Brigantine. It represents surf and sand and NJ!

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Our Sound Has Been Likened To: Our sound has been likened to The Beach Boys and The Smiths. An odd combination but it works. The Beach Boys in our opinion was the first band that combined instrumental surf style music with pop music of that era and we like to think that we do the same thing combining surf with modern pop type songs. We play a mix of original instrumentals and vocal tunes. The Smiths reference must come out of our appreciation of brit-pop music and Vincent’s Morrissey-ish crooning vocals.

We’ve known you guys for over three years now – can you talk about how The Brigantines has evolved since you first came on the scene?

Our gear has gotten lighter the more shows we play! I don’t know how bands carry around large drum sets, bass rigs, and full guitar stacks. Combos are our best friends. We also learned how to record by ourselves in a way that sounds professional yet lo-fi. We are still New Jersey’s Number One Surfing Group!

How do you feel the scene you first stepped into has evolved, do you feel that it has become more accepting of surf music than when you first came in?

Everyone likes surf music. It’s been around since the ’60s and lives on. I think it’s always been accepted and appreciated. The Ramones played surf. Agent Orange plays surf. NJ hardcore band Hands Tied recorded a surf song. Bouncing Souls recorded their surf track “Moon Over Asbury.” Speedo from Rocket From The Crypt has a new surf band called Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake. Dick Dale and Link Wray were punk rock before there was punk rock! So the punk scene is very accepting. The surf scene though can be odd. Some surf music purists though can get offended if you put vocals to a surf tune.

We loved your first record, Vacation!, is there any plan for future full-lengths?

Absolutely. Stay tuned this Winter!

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What do you love about being in The Brigantines?

I think we all love the fun of playing this style music and playing with like minded bands which is why the surf music fest is such a great time.

There’s an endless sea of surf bands, and bands influenced by the surf sound — what separates you guys from everyone else?

‘Endless Sea of Surf’ sounds like a good title for our next LP! I think the fact that we blend pop music with vocals to surf inspired music is what separates us. We’re not the only band but I can’t think of many others in the Surf-Pop Genre on my iTunes.

What is it about surf music that inspired you to form a band and play this type of music?

I think everyone has a surf song in their guilty pleasures. Tarantino seemed to make it popular again in the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. I’ve always had an appreciation for surf music starting with listening to my dad’s old Ventures records. It’s fun music to play and listen to. I was excited to see them play at Club Bene years ago and especially excited to share the bill with Dick Dale and Los Straitjackets.

What is the ultimate surf rock anthem of all-time, and why?

I’ve always liked The Centurions “Bullwinkle Part II”. When that song comes up in a movie it’s foreboding something bad is gonna happen. That and Dick Dale’s “The Victor”. Man, that song rips!

What is your ultimate go-to surf-inspired/beachy style drink (e.g. Mai-Tai, Zombie, Margrita, a specific beer, etc.)?

Modelo with a lime. The official drink of The Brigantines.

What are you most excited about for the band for the rest of 2015?

Excited about recording some new songs out and putting out a physical release. This year’s surf music fest in Asbury is going to be great and just keep on getting bigger and better. I can’t think of a better way to begin the Summer.

The Brigantines perform today at The Asbury Park Surf Music Festival at 4:20pm


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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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