US Indie Rockers Broncho Talk Business, Earworms, and the Importance of Humor

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There appears to be a science behind Oklahoma’s Broncho's frizzled and animated garage pop. Since 2010, the four-piece band, led by the springy Ryan Lindsey, has maneuvered through sun-baked power pop and wry glam rock with dabs of post-punk and new wave spiraling underneath, creating a sound that eases by on giddy charm and foot-tapping dalliance. Just take their 2014 single "Class Historian" with its preternaturally infectious staccato "du-du-du-du" – it's a nonsensical hook that jubilantly worms its way into your head as Lindsey slurs on, building up the courage to ask a girl for her number.

The band’s catalog is chock full of these tracks, riding a wave of bright, buzzy sensation that feels tailormade for prom night circa 1987. It’s the kind of music that has made their live shows a carnival of delights, leading the band to extensive tours, playing with all ilk of indie rock royalty, from Father John Misty to Billy Idol.

Now, fresh off their 2018 release Bad Behavior, which both refines and spices up their vibrant palette, the band (which also includes drummer Nathan Price, guitarist Ben King, and bassist Penny Pitchlynn) heads East for some fun, embarking on a five-city tour of China. The whole shebang kicks off this Friday, Oct 18 at Omni Space where they’ll be joined by some of China’s own indie scene stalwarts such as Xian’s Endless White, Qingdao’s The Bootlegs, and more. I shot the band some questions about landing on a hook, their latest album, and why it's important to keep a sense of humor in this day and age.

You guys really know your way around a catchy hook, relying on speed and timbre to work it into the listener's head. How long does it usually take to pen such earworms? 
Sometimes the hook just comes. Other times it starts as something else and later evolves into what it eventually becomes. And then sometimes I go back to the original idea and realize I like that better. It’s very unscientific and seems to change from song to song. I try to keep myself open to the moment.

There’s a fluidity and pliability to how your sound twists and bends; one song can dip into sugar-laced glam pop and the next moment we’re on an adventurous psych-rock jam. What kind of music do you find yourselves listening to on the road?
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of talk radio, but we like all kinds of music, and we like all kinds of artists. So maybe, we are what comes out, when you put a lot in.

Your latest album is titled Bad Behavior – how has your behavior been this past year?  Do you try to address this in your music? 
Our behavior has been at its very best over this past year. Very, very best behavior. There’s been a lot of bad behavior going on though. So much that it can be overwhelming. I don’t think we directly address those specific behaviors going on, but we try to provide a safe and inviting world for people to come into and take a break from the one that is so overwhelming. 

There’s also an underlying sense of humor in your music. Is it easier to look at the world through that lens?
I think I make the most sense when I don’t take myself any more seriously than I have to, to get up and do the things that I need to. Because that's serious business to get up and get out and do the things you gotta do. So by the time I get to the extra things that life allows, like making music and playing it for people, I can relax and take myself the appropriate amount of seriousness. 

This will be your first time touring China – what expectations do you have? What's on your China bucket list?
I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to go to China. I guess I want people there to tell us where to go and what we should see. I’ve definitely always wanted to see the Great Wall, and I’ve always wanted to see the Terracotta Army. And I’d love to see panda bears. We like spending time in nature too.

Catch Broncho play this Friday, Oct 18 at Omni Space. Tickets are RMB 240.

Want something poppier? Don't forget, Carly Rae Jepsen is here this week.

Photos courtesy of Broncho
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