“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller
Sitting down with Brandon Rush & Kyle Sears of Priory the Portland, Oregon Alternative-Pop Band whom are making waves both on the charts and in the world. Our conversation took place prior to their summer tour with the Kaiser Chiefs, as well their performance at both Bonnaroo and the Governors’ Ball this summer.
We first met Brandon & Kyle last year in Las Vegas for Life is Beautiful, a time in that we watched Brandon perform with a broken rib which he obtained from crowd surfing a few weeks earlier. OUCH! We chatted a little bit about the importance of authenticity, using your voice to positively influence the world and on appreciating the little things. The band had a show the night before in Victoria BC, they took the scenic route to this venue, where we are having our conversation via our beloved ferry across the Straight of Georgia. The West Coast Sea Bus. According to the boys, it was an adventure.
AT THE COMMODORE
Kyle: It’s so pretty here in Vancouver, it reminds me of home. I actually like the rain. It was so lovely coming across the straight on the ferry, seeing all the little sounds.
Brandon: It’s definitely been one of those surreal moments… we’ve been fortunate to have a bunch of them lately. You wake up in the morning and then you do something like jump on a ferry and all of a sudden you are looking for orca whales. We’re probably in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and it’s just another day that you are headed to a gig. It’s important I think, to slow down and take those moments in.
Kyle: Hour by Hour. We have to consciously take it day by day. It’s so tough on the road. You have to be careful not to live too far forward or you just start to get overwhelmed.
Brandon: Big Time. We take it in. We were coming over that bridge, what’s your bridge called coming into the city, Lionsgate, it was so lovely. The sun, the ocean, the view.
LBH: The band Priory and the term authentic are synonymous. I’ve had a few opportunities to chat with these gentlemen over the last year and I’ve witnessed it. Whether they are chatting with fans/friends after the show, or over social media, there is a consistency that leads us to authentic connection. I’ve gotten the sense that these guys are smart, well articulated and passionate individuals & they are making a life producing music that has impact.
At first scratch when you listen to Prior’s songs, your ear is accustom to the upbeat energy alt-pop brings into influence. BUT, but… it’s in the quiet moments. While you are driving alone or sititng on your bus, headphones in or in that small venue show; with 100 other people; it hits you.
The depth of the messages that Brandon and Kyle are trying to convey is poignant and pragmatic, intentionally these guys create songs that reflect the voice of truth that they are hoping to share with the world. Don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself.
LBH: Priory’s image of Self Love and Safe Expression is appealing; it’s very relatable to the human struggle. One of the most complimentary things about your band is the genuine authentic engagement with your listeners. It feels authentic.
Brandon: We don’t buy our followers
Kyle: No we really don’t, smiles.
Brandon: I feel like there was a time not very long ago that no one cared. So if someone wants to have a chat on social media, the least you could do as an entertainer is take a few minutes and do it, you know? And it’s fun! Some kids are clever, some kids get weird you know and you’ve got to shut it down. Smiles. It’s fun.
Kyle: It’s like the best experience. I remember as a kid, some of my best experiences happened when I was a kid going to shows, talking with bands after at the merch table and whatever. I’d ask about the guitars or talk to them about the CD’s – and be like “Oh Yeah, this was better than the show!!”.
Priory: It’s fun, we love it. It’s fun to talk to people.
IT’S ABOUT LOVE
LBH: Congrats on the successes this year, we saw you guys on Kimmel. That was pretty rad. It was great to hear “Big Love” out there on the interwebs. We’ve been waiting so patiently for the ‘arrival’ of your new record, “Need to Know” & now that it’s here there is lot’s of buzz about it. It’s very different than we expected after your success with “Weekend.”
Brandon: Yeah now that it’s finally out on iTunes, we’re excited.
Brandon: There is so much fluff on the Internet, you never know if you are having an impact. This is weird but a little rant: I feel we are organically growing a fan base. On the other side of that there are so many people out there that hype their numbers, over promoting using digital channels but that’s not what it was creative for; it was created initially for to increase contact, to increase our connectedness!
Kyle: Sometimes social media creates a sense of false self, more the self we want to portray not the self that we are and after a while that’s not going to work.
You can see on our facebook people starting to post photo’s, out eating breakfast or out having fun. They seem so happy, but everyone has problems and everyone has rough stuff going on in life so I think the more authentic you are the better. People are drawn to authenticity, we are for sure.
Brandon: We make time to to surround ourselves with people that love us and care about and that we care for and love in return. It’s the most important thing. It’s about love.
LBH: A favourite quote by Paul McCartney. “The End: and, in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” It’s a haunting thought.
Brandon: Similarly, a lyric from our very first album,
“Got to live like family; you got to love, live, die you only get one life”
Kyle: Our band, the people we bring on the road, the people that we surround ourselves with are like family, every day, all day in cramped quarters (LOL) so you want to get along with people and like them.
Kyle: It’s essential.
Kyle: I think if people really knew what goes on behind the scenes in this industry, with artists particularly now, we are responsible for everything.
We write, we record, we make our own records, we own our own studio, our production company, we handle our own merch. Just that – it takes a lot of effort. Then there is the next aspect; we are performing live, which uses up different energy, plus our promo commitments. Working for yourself if the most beautiful thing in the world but realistically it’s long hours. Long days, you can’t check out at 5. Authentic support is essential.
PUT EM UP
Brandon: So we’re actually in this process. When all this stuff first starts happening, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all. It’s easy to start thinking you have to brand yourself a certain way, and this contrive false sense of self starts showing up. I think it happens to everyone, I’ve talked to a lot of artists.
Kyle: People get into your head and it sounds like, “Am I okay, am I good enough? Am I out of shape?” It just starts getting loud.
Brandon: We’re in the process right now of TAKING IT BACK, kind of like emotionally, spiritually and artistically and Warner Brothers is incredible as a label because they have allowed us to do this and said we have complete creative freedom. They said, “We’re never going to step in the way of it.” They are standing by this.
Brandon: We just shot a video for this song, it’s called ‘Put Em Up,’ it’s about another one of these simple truth messages; it’s about love and acceptance, and was a very personal project for us. We wanted to say something and we did. We shot a very candid video with some beautiful people.
Kyle: People from all walks of life.
Brandon: It was one of the most scariest things I’ve ever done – you will see why. Very intimidating. Yet, when we finished and we left, I felt changed, it was very therapeutic, I felt emotionally changed. It was very special.
Kyle: People are mean, especially on-line. People are brutal. The stuff people say on-line, it amazes me because people would never say this to your face. It’s like sometimes driving in a car – people turn into different human beings, it’s like suddenly they turn really mean and aggressive. But if you were just walking down the street you would never yell at a person to to get out of the way when you were going by and call him an asshole? But since we are so anonymous, we can get on our phones and say angry things towards people who are just trying to live their lives and find identity.
This video is bigger than that, it’s bigger than us. For us, it’s very personal. – Kyle Sears
Brandon: “Put Em Up,” right now is a focal point for us because the songs about witnessing my brother when I was young, his persecution, his regular harassment for being gay; by the family, people at school and later even on to the military, you know by the military. It was harsh.
“Boys will be boys who like boys who just like girls, and that’s alright. We’re hangin’ with the boys that look like girls tonight.”
Although this chorus suggests like many of Priory’s lyrics on the surface one thing, it’s not about the common throwing punches; there is a layer and it’s a message to the core of your person.
It’s an anthem of acceptance.
Brandon: My brother is brilliant he worked for the NSA. I’ve witness his agony and the struggle and I have been with him through his victorious triumph. I have been with him though this entire process. It’s coming around – it’s positive.
It’s time for us to collectively kill it, to shut the door on this. – Brandon Rush
Kyle: Whenever anyone else uses their power to push anyone else down, whether it’s a man saying that he’s better than a woman, telling someone’s gender is wrong in the LGTBQ community, or telling someone that their skin color is wrong – it’s not OK.
LBH: The power of influence. If you could convey any emotion, a message or a meaning towards your audience – what would that be?
Brandon: In the past we’ve spread: ‘It’s a party and everyone is invited.’
I think though actually that’s a little bit light. I really want to convey that we have to embrace each other and love each other and until we learn how to do that, to learn to accept ourselves and accept others we’re not going to have real fun, or experience real joy – that’s what the video is about.
Kyle: you can see it on the horizon that specific cause of marriage equality, it’s great, it’s where it should be right now. BUT it’s a continued long process of equality, across the world, not just in the states. That’s going to take a long time.
Brandon: I think it’s important what’s you just said, about the soap box – if you have this opportunity you have to use it. I personally feel that and this might feel judgmental but I think if you have a voice and don’t use it; you’re as good as on the other side. You are part of the problem. If it’s in our ability, it’s part of our cultural responsibility to speak up, to use our voice.
LBH: I couldn’t agree more.
VIDEO: PUT EM UP by Priory
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Thanks gentleman for taking the time to have a conversation this evening, we are looking forward to the show & to continually supporting your creative efforts, congratulations again on ‘Put Em Up’, and the new album ‘Need to Know’. We sincerely hope the above video and the song fuel and inspire conversations which lead ultimately to movement and evolution!
I definitely believe that art is the best way to produce social change.
– Pedro Reyes