Interview: Brandon Williams & Steve Cook; of the band Hometown Beatdown

Some of you may know the name Hometown Beatdown already. But, if not, you will [very] soon.

Hailing from Whitby, Ontario, Brandon Williams (vocals) started the band when he was a senior in high school. Fusing new wave and pop, the band is sure to spark a tune with anyone who listens.

On the band's Myspace page Brandon states, "It is not often that a senior in high school would gain so much ground by skipping school to experiment with distracting visions of a new flavour of vibes that would soon break down the very walls that surrounded him.".

The band has now played with [known] artists and bands such as Abandon All Ships, Chase Coy, The Downtown Fiction and many, many more.

On August 9th 2010, Hometown Beatdown released their highly anticipated EP, titled Piece Of That Peace. Found online, it is an EP that is full of insanely catchy tunes, mixed with even cooler beats.

I caught up with Brandon Williams and Steve Cook and got a quick interview with the guys before they played in Waterloo, Ontario.

Amy Blackwell: Hey, how are you guys?

Brandon Williams: Great, thanks.

Amy Blackwell: So, you guys are going to be playing an acoustic set in Waterloo, Ontario later tonight, do you get to play acoustically that often?

Brandon Williams: Not that much actually. We tour full band with all of our gear, vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Sometimes when we're in the United States we'll play Hot Topic stores. But, we don't play acoustically that often so tonight will be a treat.

Amy Blackwell: What is the simplest story behind the band? How did you guys meet and end up playing together?

Brandon Williams: Well, I used to do it all on my own when I was in high school. I listened to bands like PlayRadioPlay! and other bands that I saw were just doing it on their computers. I figured I could do it on my computer if they're doing it on theirs. So, it picked up a little bit from there, as well as through the internet. You've heard the story before, the internet sort of gave us a good start. Soon after I met Steve, and the others, and we just went on from there.

Steve Cook: Yeah, haha. That's pretty much it.

Amy Blackwell: A question I always have to ask every band I interview is how they thought of their band name. So how did you guys come up with Hometown Beatdown to represent yourselves?

Brandon Williams: I listened to a lot of heavier/metal bands in high school and a lot of them had heavier sounding names. So, I wanted to not 'mock' them, but kind of poke fun at it. I wanted to be a softer band that had a heavier kind of name. People that come into a Hometown Beatdown event that don't know who we are probably assume that we're a metal band. But, all of the sudden, we're a pop band that hopefully impresses them still as well. I just thought it'd be funny and now it's just kind of stuck with us. We'll see what it turns into though. I'm not saying this will happen soon, but, I prefer being called Hometown. Hometown Beatdown is kind of long, don't you think?

Amy Blackwell: I like it.

Brandon Williams: Haha okay, we'll keep it then, we'll keep it forever.

Amy Blackwell: For people who maybe do not know who you are or have never heard your music before, what is the best way to describe your sound?

Brandon Williams: At the end of a session when we were recording with our producer, Matt Grabe, he said, "you guys have your sound and this is cool". The way he described it was Owl City meets The Maine. I mean, I'm cool with that because they're two successful bands, you know what I mean? I think that's the way that I would probably describe it to people as well. But, if not, I listen to a lot of Jimmy Eat World and so you'll kind of hear some of their guitar in our songs, or something similar. I know that we don't really sound like them, but, if someone's into Jimmy Eat World they might be into us too.

Amy Blackwell: Okay, so Brandon, on the Hometown Beatdown Myspace page it says, and I quote:

"It is not often that a senior in high school would gain so much ground by skipping school to experiment with distracting visions of a new flavour of vibes that would soon break down the very walls that surrounded him."

So from that, how did you initially get into music and start writing and recording it?

Brandon Williams: When I was in high school I got a new computer, some software that I knew others were using, and I rented a microphone. I copied them a little bit to start and then I just started writing. I wrote a ton of demos, some of which I still have. Some of the demos made it to the Myspace page, even though some were maybe still a bit crappy, haha. I just demoed, demoed, demoed and I didn't really release anything for a while. The start of Hometown Beatdown came long before it was public. It would be me writing with some friends in my room.

Amy Blackwell: Who are your biggest influences when it comes to sitting down and writing new material?

Steve Cook: Jimmy Eat World for sure. They've been a favourite of ours for a while. I think their music is really intricate and really deep. It's also got a real sweet sound to it.

Brandon Williams: I think Jimmy Eat World is definitely mentioned often in our band just because it's frequently listened to. They're definitely a reference and an influence. But, also we know, and are aware of, what’s going on in music and we're on board with progressing and being a part of that. We kind of do have to, I feel an obligation almost to listen to what's going on right now.

Amy Blackwell: So you guys released your EP, Piece Of That Peace, on August 9th 2010, which happened to be 08.09.10. What was that experience like for you?

Steve Cook: I'd say it was pretty special. We worked really hard on this project over the last six or seven months. We've really tried to push this EP and get it ready for the market. I think it's a really rewarding thing when you work really hard on something and it lives up to the hype, you know what I mean? I was very, very happy that day. I remember sitting in Brandon's room and we were just waiting until 08.09.10 hit.

Brandon Williams: Yeah, it was a little bit anticipated and I'm not just tooting my own horn. I think it was a long time in the making. We recorded it in October and November of 2009, in Arizona, and now it's November of 2010. So, it's been a year since it was even made. Finally we released it independently and it's doing well. iTunes gave us a nice little surprise when we popped up on their charts. It was a cool experience. "08.09.10, Hometown's back again!"

Amy Blackwell: Haha, that is very  cool.

Brandon Williams: That was our quote, haha.

Amy Blackwell: What is your favourite song to perform live?

Brandon Williams: Mine's Let's Not And Say We Didn't.

Steve Cook: I'd probably say Let's Not And Say We Didn't. I also enjoyed experimenting with a new cover, it was a really fun song and I think the kids really liked it. So, it's one of my favourites I'd say.

Brandon Williams: Yeah, I mean with Let's Not And Say We Didn't there's just a lot of energy and energy always feels good live. Not that our other songs aren't energetic, they're just maybe a different type of energy. Let's Not And Say We Didn't is a bit heavier and it's always fun.

Amy Blackwell: If you had the opportunity to choose two bands to open for you on a headlining tour who would you choose and why?

Brandon Williams: There's so many people I don't want to exclude anyone. I'd love to bring everyone and just have a big party, haha.

Steve Cook: We've have a friend in Toronto, Ontario who goes by the name of Prince Caspian. He's been working really hard on his project and Brandon showed me his music when we were doing some work in the United States in the spring of 2010. Ever since then I've been listening to his CD nonstop. So, I'd love to tour or play an event with him for sure.

Brandon Williams: Yeah, we haven't even played an event with him yet. He's just doing his own little thing, acoustic mostly. He's definitely someone to check out. Another would probably be a buddy of ours, his name is Shayne Orok. He's kind of a Youtube kid but he has an amazing EP out on iTunes.

Amy Blackwell: So I would say you guys are pretty well known all around Canada and other places so what is your favourite place you have played so far?

Brandon Williams: I can't really narrow it down to one. I'm looking forward to playing more places, you know? They've all been fun in their own kind of way. Maybe some a bit more fun than others, but I can't really narrow it down to one particular city.

Amy Blackwell: What are you guys up to for the rest of 2010 and any plans or news you want to share with us for 2011?

Brandon Williams: For 2010 we're definitely going to be releasing something coming up. It's not a new EP or anything, but they'll be something new on Facebook soon. So, keep your eye out for that. We haven't done an EP release tour yet either. So, I think we'll probably be doing an EP release, just a quick tour in Ontario, Quebec and maybe a few other places close by, we'll see. In 2011, we're going to be touring with the bands Dot Dot Curve and All Out in the United States. We actually just received an email about it yesterday or the day before. So, you guys are the first to know really.

Amy Blackwell: Thanks so much for your time. Cannot wait for you guys to play tonight.

Brandon Williams: Yeah, should be very fun.

Steve Cook: Very excited.

Brandon Williams: Thank you.

Steve Cook: Thanks.

Hometown Beatdown Links:

Photo credit: Facebook & Jim Blackwell

Picture 1: Brandon Williams (vocals)
Picture 2: Brandon Williams (vocals)
Picture 3: From left to right: Brandon Williams (vocals) & Amy Blackwell (Basement Entertainment)
Picture 4: From left to right: Steve Cook (guitar / backing vocals) & Amy Blackwell (Basement Entertainment)
Picture 5: Hometown Beatdown - Piece Of That Peace EP Cover



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