Before the Brave
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Before the Brave

San Francisco, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

San Francisco, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Folk Rock




"Before the Brave Joins Noise Pop Lineup, Plays Depot"

Philosophy major Kyle Teese finishes a day of classes, hops on his bike, and rides out to the Mission to practice with his band. Though many students are members of local bands, few have the same bragging rights as Teese, who drums for local band, Before the Brave.

Before the Brave has made a striking debut in the music scene. They released an EP in November that’s rated four-and-a-half stars on iTunes, they were featured as an “Artist of the Month” on NoiseTrade, and are set to play a show in the Noise Pop Festival next month. Now in its 21st year, the Noise Pop Festival is a six-day indie music, arts and film festival known for bringing early exposure to emerging artists.

The band started when Teese and his roommate Jason Stevens decided to play music together and pursue Stevens’ idea for a band, The Sundance Kids, with friend Nicholas Morawiecki. After a series of lineup changes, the band decided to take a break before they found their other current members and were reborn as Before the Brave.

“A lot of us knew each other through Reality — the church we’re apart of in the city — and just all shared a love for music. It was one of those things where doors just opened up. I think the band started — I say, when I write about it — on the bedroom floor. We really liked what he had initially started off with and kind of ran with it,” Teese said.

Prior to becoming Before the Brave, the original trio played their first show at Matching Half in NOPA (short for the San Francisco district “North of the Panhandle”) to about 90 people.

“I went to their first concert at Matching Half and I was in love. I really fell in love the first time I heard them play. It wasn’t just because like ‘Oh, I just love the people in the band,’ it was like the sound was something that so many people could connect with. The sound is very easy to wrap your arms around and a lot of people can connect with the music,” English literature major Kayla Pero said.

Before the Brave finalized their lineup with the addition of Beth Garber in July, was when she played her first show with them at the Elbo Room.

“That’s when things kind of really solidified,” Stevens said.

Shortly after the addition of Garber and Steven Binnquist, the band started recording music and released their debut EP, “Great Spirit,” this past November. The EP was released on NoiseTrade first, then on Spotify and iTunes a couple weeks later. It wasn’t until after the online releases that Before the Brave made physical copies of their record, as is the case with many modern bands in the digital era.

“I think we’re still learning how to use the Internet as an interface to interact with people because everything is digital now. We eventually did make EPs, we have hard copies and merch and stuff, but I think the majority of today’s bands are getting known through the Internet,” Teese said.

After releasing Great Spirit on NoiseTrade, the band was featured as an Artist of the Month. NoiseTrade is a relatively new music site that allows bands to post their music for free download to fans, who supply their email and zip code in exchange.

“NoiseTrade has been awesome because bands right now in the early stage — the goal is not to make money, the goal is to build a fan base, and that’s what NoiseTrade does,” Stevens said. “People can donate if they’d like and you can encourage your fans to do that, but NoiseTrade has just been this really rad tool for early bands to kind of kickstart their fan base.”

The EP spread quickly and Before the Brave gained fame in the Bay Area and beyond, helping them in their quest to play the Noise Pop Festival. The band announced Feb. 7 they would be playing a show in the festival headlined by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. The journey to their March 2 show wasn’t so easy, though.

“We got in through the back door, really. We were actually denied through Noise Pop’s application process, they denied us, but we knew a guy through ASCAP — this is like an ASCAP-Noise Pop show and a majority of us are signed to license with ASCAP — and they liked our music and the guy kind of put us on. He was like ‘Hey, you guys got the show.’ We’re making like $100 on the show, which is cool, but we get to play the Great American Music Hall, which is great,” Stevens said.

Notable musicians such as the White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins and Bright Eyes have all played Noise Pop Festival in the past, and booking a slot in the festival is a huge break for new bands.

“I feel like there’s this allure to it — it’s kind of this weird thing where, on one hand, a lot of people don’t know the bands that are there but because of the bands the festival has outputted throughout the years, people look at it like, ‘Those are the next big bands.’ I think people are kind of just thinking, ‘This is the next thing,'” said Teese.

The March 2 Noise Pop show has already sold out, but students can get a taste of the band on campus this Friday, March 1, at The Depot.

From 12 to 3 p.m., International Justice Mission will host a free (donations optional, but recommended) benefit show for their cause. Band members will be there to support their vocalist, Jason Perry Stevens, who may surprise attendees with a couple Before the Brave songs. - Golden Gate Xpress

"Exclusive Premiere: Before the Brave releases LP, ‘Better Country’"

After the release of their EP, Great Spirit, three marriages, five moves, and a whole lot of life lived, Before the Brave is back on the scene to gift San Francisco with their first LP, Better Country.

As I made a my way to 6th and Market to talk music with three of the five members, I happened upon a seemingly separate occurrence — an older man on the ground in a panic, fending off a group of young men threatening to use his cane to show him how to keep his mouth shut. I stopped for a while, took in the scene stunned and feeling unable to help. I shook off the moment, sat on a bench along the hustle of Market and soaked up a rare moment of San Francisco sunshine before our interview. It dawned on me much later that this incident and that setting were much more closely related to some of the central themes of Better Country than I realized. But we will get to that.

With the addition of guitarist Ryan Devisser and bassist Miguel Castuera, Before the Brave has found the missing sonic backbone it was looking for, expanding from their alt-country, folk roots to include influences of blues, anthemic indie-rock, and grooving funk in a fresh, unexpected way.

“The old Before the Brave, Great Spirit, isn’t dead, but it’s part of a bigger canon, a bigger vision of what we can be,” explains drummer Kyle Teese.


Photo: Jess Luoma


Photo: Jess Luoma

As they are evolving, their mantra — “good news, be brave” — has remained the heartbeat of who they are as a band. Devisser explains how the mantra shows thematically and in the lyrics of their new record, “it’s about the ways that we love each other, it’s about the ways we fail to love each other and always tinged with a lens of optimism on a personal level and a larger level.”

“We’re a band who is always looking to be honest about how rough it is but also be really hopeful, because we have hope,” says Teese.

“That comes out in the songwriting and our performances — we perform from a place that’s very honest and vulnerable. It’s not about being polished,” further explains vocalist and songwriter Beth Garber.

Producer Andy Freeman agrees: “I think people like Before the Brave because of all that energy in their live shows. Jason and Beth are full of life onstage, so I wanted to make sure the record captured their humanity and vitality.”

The band’s honesty about their own humanity and the human experience at large are the powerful underpinnings of Better Country, a name derived from a deep feeling of longing for home. In the very first lyrics of the title track, vocalist/guitarist Jason Stevens sings, “if you could see in my mind, you’d see half the man I’d hope you’d find.”

“It’s like, I’m not even the person I want to be, I feel so far off. I’m not even at home in myself, I’m not at home in the place that I live,” explains Teese. “Better Country is that feeling of home. Especially in this time right now, there’s such a feeling of homelessness, whether literally being on the street or existentially. I mean, talk about issues of injustice in this country and the loss that’s happening. There’s a collective sense that we all want and long for a better country.”

C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “In speaking of this desire for our own far off country...I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you — the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence. It is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing...For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

Ah yes, the man on the street was speaking to this place in me that knows things aren’t as they should be. And the moment of sunshine that reminded me of summer days of my youth, a piece of rest amidst the chaos of a city. It is this wrestling between the way we hoped things would be and the way that they are. Each song on the album is an introspective vignette tying into the grandeur of a place bigger than themselves and placed onto unexpected influences of The Head and the Heart, Alabama Shakes, Emmylou Harris, and even reaching back to the California classic pop sounds of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.

“Most of the songs wrestle with how to sort out the issues in my own life so I can actually be a part of contributing. It starts with me & that’s the powerful thing that actually causes people to be freed to change and bring change in other peoples lives. It starts with me humbling myself and admitting I am not the answer, I am not right,” says Teese.

Photo: Tyler Hansen Photography

“The music isn’t escapism. I think our album is begging for the opposite and is asking for people to actually tune in. What the album does is says here’s this longing we have but instead of pointing fingers and blaming and calling people out, it’s more so about self criticism,” says Teese.

Their single, “Cold, Cold, Cold” grooves along bouncy piano chords as the vocal duet respond to heartbreak and the walls that go up in relationships. “Jason is completely unhinged on that one, and I love it! He’d come out of the vocal booth all sweaty and amped-up and you can totally hear it in the final vocal,” says Freeman. Things slow down with the gentleness of the “The Wind,” which touches on the fleeting feelings of joy set upon an electric soundscape and shifting into a happiness, groove, and a bucket of energy. The interlude, “Story Told,” with the line, “Everybody wants a place to go / A hand to hold / A place to call home,” reflectively ties the album back to it’s larger theme at play, the Better Country.

And then there is perhaps my favorite, “Poet’s Prison.” It’s a gritty song about being your own worst enemy and realizing how much of a mess you’re making, but then, at times, being so proud of yourself. Vocally, it punches you in the face. The song goes from a lowly self-awareness to a triumphant finish of “I may never die.” Following that is the spellbinding, Joan Baez-esque performance by Garber of “Sleeping for Now,” a love song. It’s magic.

Teese explains “Suburban Cross” as “what I’m constantly looking for in a relationship, what I’m constantly looking for in a night out, in my finances, or in trying to replicate something I had in the past, but what I’m really looking for is a real relationship with God and there’s an honest dependency. We’re not playing around with church language, I’m longing for something that will make me feel like liquor makes me feel — 'a liquor that won’t make me drown.’”

The album ends on somewhat of a lament with “Devil on the Inside” as Stevens (unbeknownst to his worried sick mother) grapples with the capacity for darkness he feels, leaving the listener on a self-reflective note, with echoes of hope forging them into the unknown.

The depths and musicality of this record and the warmth and rawness of its creators, truly set this band apart. As a former San Franciscan, Freeman shares, “It’s my hope that Before the Brave will bring vitality, energy, and fun to the SF scene. That’s something I think the world at large will appreciate too. Today, California. Tomorrow....”

You can catch the record release at Bottom of the Hill this Saturday, October 22. Until then, we present to you an exclusive streaming of the album before its release tomorrow. - The Bay Bridged

"Song Premiere: Before the Brave - "Cold, Cold, Cold""

Ever wonder what West Side Story would’ve been like if the Sharks and the Jets were wearing whimsical, full-face animal masks? Probably not, but you can watch this random, entertaining concept play out in the music video for California indie rock outfit Before The Brave’s new song “Cold, Cold, Cold,” which they’re premiering today on Paste.

“Cold, Cold, Cold” employs that brilliant but underutilized lyrical device, the conversation duet. Vocalists Beth Garber and Jason Stevens play separated lovers who take turns responding to their recent break up; drummer Kyle Teese says that the track describes “the walls we put up in relationships when communication breaks down, while serving as a rallying cry to stay and fight for one another.” Over warm piano chords, a pleasantly roving bass line, and invigorating drums, Stevens sings that he’s “trying to be the man you love and hold,” while Garber reflects, “You’ve gone off to find yourself, and I guess that I could never help.”

But that’s all normal, human pain. In the video, Before The Brave take it to a much wilder place. It opens onto scenes of domestic bliss between beasts that are half-people, half-animal. These odd beings cuddle, buy clothes together and even ride bikes down the street (a nerve-racking sight, as the masks have no visible eyeholes).

This peacefulness doesn’t last long. As the first chorus hits, all hell breaks loose: the action descends into fistfights and various creative methods of physical assault. The climax is the West Side Story-esque confrontation, in which the beasts convene into two groups, approach each other with finger snaps and dance moves, and battle it out. The video ends in (non-gory) carnage, with the last survivor, a dog-human, heaving his last breaths and collapsing onto the wreck of bodies.

The grim comedy of the video (directed and produced by Stevens and Happy Nguyen) is fitting for the song’s ironic combo of sunny music with tormented lyrics. Taken from their forthcoming album Better Country, “Cold, Cold, Cold” bodes of great music to come. Check out Before The Brave on their website here and stay tuned for Better Country, coming Oct. 21. Watch “Cold, Cold, Cold” above. - Paste Magazine


"Great Spirit" EP - 2012

"Free" Single - 2014

"Cold, Cold, Cold" Single - 2016

"Better Country" LP - 2016



Before the Brave emerged from a strangely quiet San Francisco music scene in 2012 with unexpected acclaim behind their first release, a 5 song EP entitled Great Spirit. As the quintet expanded their humble fanbase with consistent local headliners, Noise Pop festival appearances, and a series of west coast tours, a handful of lineup changes led to significant stylistic shifts in their sonic identity. Over the next few years the collective took a decisive step into the unknown, leaving their folk-americana roots for a larger, more ambitious alternative rock sound that draws on the likes of classics Fleetwood Mac as well as contemporaries The Head and the Heart and The Alabama Shakes. And the risk paid off.

The band, now composed of original members vocalist/guitarist Jason Stevens, drummer Kyle Teese, and vocalist/keyboardist Beth Garber, along with newcomers Ryan Devisser on guitar and Miguel Castuera on bass, displayed newly cultivated songwriting capabilities that landed 2014's single "Free" in a handful of television placements and widespread circulation on indie music blogs. The upcoming year marked a new season for Before the Brave, as the band entered the studio with California producer-engineer Andy Freeman (Eisley), looking to capture their unique and substantive sound and color on a full-length record. 

With a number of new tracks already debuted live, the band's unreleased material has set expectations high -- their most lyrically honest, instrumentally rich, and conceptually developed work to date. On the outfit's steady progression towards their current place as a household name in the musical landscape of San Francisco, Nic Buron of The Bay Bridged aptly observed: "In a city where it often feels like 'too cool' rules, their genuineness is a fresh gulp of oxygen." 

Before the Brave's LP “Better Country” was released independently on October 21, 2016 followed by an expanded winter and spring touring schedule.

Band Members