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The best kept secret in music

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"Hot Ticket - brice"

Pulse of the Twin Cities
Hot Tickets for February 2 - February 8, 2005
By Van Alstyne

Did Brice go ahead and grow up on me while my back was turned? Former local geek-rock advocates who seemed at least half-bent on inciting laughter with their melodic Ben-Folds-Five-on-speed pop attack, Brice appear to have left their intentionally awkward musical adolescence behind on their sophomore full-length Cabin Capers, which is getting the proper CD release show treatment this weekend. Granted, these guys’ voices still strain with a certain pubescent yearning, but they’ve also got some serious musical chops working and appear to have mellowed out significantly judging from the cool jazzy stylings of instrumental cuts like “The Great Glass Elevator.” The album-closing epic (eight minutes!) “Exploring the Fall,” even sounds downright reflective with its loping bass line, layered walls of shimmering guitar and keyboard, and mellow mish-mash of harmonies. If Brice continue developing at this rate, then this band of childhood friends may end up being one of the Twin Cities finest. With The Fighting Tongs, This Is Exploding, Charlz Newman Band.
- Pulse of the twin cities


"brice - cabin capers review"

City Pages
CD REVIEW . VOL 26 #1261 . PUBLISHED 2/2/2005

Brice: Cabin Capers
by Michael L. Walsh


Brice
Cabin Capers
Self-Released
You can't help but wonder what sort of "cabin capers" Brice is referring to. Perhaps a few strategically placed dead minnows in the toe of a cabin mate's boot. Maybe a late-night swap of a buddy's mosquito repellant with the contents of a can of Pam. Listening to Cabin Capers, the new release from local goof-rockers Brice, you can just picture these guys guffawing as they conspire to commit the kind of high jinks mentioned above. Throughout the 10 songs on this album, there's a thread of quirky playfulness that both amuses and endears this band to you.
Brice's frenetic, schizophrenic approach to pop-song structures is most reminiscent of Weezer or a slightly more straight-ahead They Might Be Giants. For example, on "Bronty," they initially pull you in with some lulling, bass-driven, nothing-fancy pop, but then lurch into choppy, start-and-stop guitar and drum work, finally building to a swirling mass of heavily textured melodies à la the Foo Fighters. This spastic approach to song dynamics, heard throughout Cabin Capers, is smoothed over by the nasally sweet vocal harmonies of Bill Blaszczak, Jon Drankwalter, and Andy Gustafson. None of these guys have voices with much strength or depth, but together they're long on giddy charm.
It would be a stretch to call Brice a "cool" rock band. There's no swagger or smoldering sexuality. What they are is a very, very good rock band. Their stellar musicianship sneaks up on you slowly. Guitarist Brad Thompson's clean and bright guitar work is seriously busy and seriously impressive. It's a bit like that of John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just without the funk. And when Drankwalter whips out his trumpet on the disco-flavored "True Love," you find yourself quietly nodding, with that sort of "Hell, yeah!" satisfaction. It might take you a while to let go of the notion that the five guys in Brice are anything more than just a bunch of snickering geeks. But you will.

- City Pages


"Brice: It's party time"

Pulse of the Twin Cities
Wed. April 28, 2004
by Tim Kindem

Brice: It’s party time

Brice is Minneapolis’ answer to good time indie pop rock. Brice combines the hard rock of Weezer with feel good Ben Folds-like hooks, with tight, top-notch musicianship, savvy use of layered vocals and sounds, and hard work ethic that translates into an orchestra of fun. Brice displays the coveted ability to inject even their most lighthearted songs with a sense of honesty while keeping an underlying level of real emotion and credibility.

In an era of instant critical backlash and musical snobbery, Brice fills the niche for the music lover who simply enjoys a good time. Their songs are anthems for the funny life-of-the-party types, the witty proud-to-be dorks, and the groups of friends who never joined the fraternities of the Greeks or the hipsters but whose bonds you always suspected were tighter.
For nearly five years Brice has been climbing the Twin Cities’ rock ’n’ roll ladder rung by rung, amassing a dedicated following during the course of playing over 150 shows. The band’s consistent love of life channeled through music culminated in last winter’s release, What Happens in Space Camp Stays in Spacecamp, a collection of their live staple songs. For Brice, it was an appropriate nod to their past as they ready themselves for the future.

“We don’t take things too seriously,” said drummer Sam Hoolihan. “But we take that very seriously.”
“Being fun and positive is something people can really relate to,” said singer/trumpeter John Drankwalter. “It’s all about an escape; an excuse to have a great time.”
The members of Brice all grew up together in the suburbs south of the river. After spending the ’90s separately honing their skills in a variety of grunge-inspired high school bands, guitarists Andy Gustafson, Brad Thompson and Bill Blaszczak ended up living in the same house as Hoolihan and Drankwalter while attending the University of Minnesota. After pooling their musical resources for a thrown-together performance at Spring Jam, the longtime friends thought it might be worth playing together in their basement on a regular basis.
“We all wanted the chance to play together,” said Blaszczak. “We were all living together, and we started having a lot of fun pushing each other musically.”
The band soon began tirelessly playing the coffee shop/Eclipse Records circuit as they took the attitude of playing every show and any show—once even playing for Best Buy’s Corporate Headquarters’ janitor party where, after the show, the attendees had to clean up their own party.
As the years unfolded, Brice managed to keep up their rigorous local gig schedule while juggling school, work and touring (mostly around the Midwest and as far out as Los Angeles). They also entered a studio to begin recording the songs that would make up their first full-length release.
As the recording process dragged, Brice continued to play around the Twin Cities. Their live shows became increasingly festive as the band grew tighter. Slowly making its way onto the bills of the more reputable local rock venues, Brice began to attract an ever more loyal group of fans outside their friends’ six-degrees-of-separation. As the recording for their full-length dragged on, the band released a self-titled EP in late 2002. Soon, the attendance at the shows they played began to reflect an even wider audience.
“It was nice to get to the point where we didn’t know everyone,” said Thompson. “[We didn’t know any of the crowd personally] Yet they were lip-synching our songs,” said Drankwalter. “It was incredible.”
Though they were eager to put out the finalized versions of the songs they’d been playing for years, the members of Brice refused to deviate from their “take it to the max” approach to recording in the studio. All the members wanted to ensure that the versions of the songs they ended up putting to tape were the best possible —a situation that resulted in intense interband struggles that eventually helped the band’s music grow.
“It got to the point where I’d actually come up with guitar parts in an attempt to wreck a song,” said Thompson. “But the more I’d play a part that didn’t make sense, the more perfectly it fit.”
While putting the finishing touches on Space Camp, their EP garnered the band a little notoriety on college radio around the country. In January of 2003, CMJ listed Brice as a Top 10 add to college radio play lists. By the time Brice finally released What Happens in Space Camp Stays in Space Camp CMJ named Brice as one of the top 50 unsigned bands in the Nation. The single “White Socks” also began receiving 70 spins a week between the two radio stations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The songs on Space Camp reflect the growth of a band whose members have matured from college kids playing nearby coffee houses to a collective of young adults hitting their indie rock stride. The set opens with the blistering guitar picking of “I’m the Boy,” a high-energy anthem of eternal youth which juxtaposes lighthearted, yet spot-on rapping with soaring multi-part harmonies, which sets the tone for the following collection. These are fun songs sung with the kind of reverence anyone can relate to.
Songs like “White Socks” (about having a crush on a girl who, oddly enough, doesn’t wear them) and “Ten Guys” (an ode to the revolving door atmosphere of life in a large college house) could easily be written off as shallow if it weren’t for Brice’s ability to build them on such a strong foundation of sincerity about their meaningfulness. Perhaps more impressive is the way they manage to seamlessly segue from the introspection of “Alright With Me” (a song about self-doubt during a budding relationship) to the goofy party rap of “Ninja #9” (a song about a ninja) without throwing integrity aside.
Now that the definitive recording of their early years is complete and released, the members of Brice contend that they are more focused on the future than ever. The band is already eagerly recording the new material they’d put off during the recording sessions for Space Camp. They plan on having a new full-length recording of new material ready by the end of the year. In the meantime, Brice continues to play around town and plans to tour more extensively around the Midwest. As they begin to commemorate five years of fun, Brice suggests that the one thing that rock ‘n’ roll can always be is a good time.
- Pulse of the Twin Cities


"EP Review 11/2002"

November 21, 2002
Fun Lovin’ Whippersnappers
Brice: Self-Titled EP(No Label)
By Nathan Hall



Try as you might, it is impossible not to love Brice. Their spunky kegger anthems may not balance the state budget or solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but where is it written, that intricate, socially conscious metaphors are a prerequisite for quality pop music? Certainly, the opening riff from “Pour Some Sugar on Me” has no deeper meaning attached to it, yet we consistently shake our collective butts when we hear it. Likewise, the fun-loving whippersnappers in Brice ignore the melancholy-drenched sound propagated by Coldplay and their ilk, content to don a broken lampshade and drunkenly dance on tabletops in their tighty-whities for tips.
However, precocious adolescent cuteness alone can only get you so far. (Just ask Macaulay Culkin.) Imagine funnier, slightly more well-read early Sugar Ray records, combine the creative wordplay of Cake and you’re halfway there. Combining “let’s get stupid” raps with ridiculously catchy melodies, Brice is well past coasting on poster boy posing.
“We all went to high school together, but we came from different bands,” explained Andy Gustafson, 24, Brice’s bassist and a recent University of Minnesota graduate. “We combined styles from several different backgrounds and I think that’s one of our main strong points.”
Completely ignoring the sensitive issue of being white rappers, they embrace their inept rhyming skills like the Beastie Boys before them. Indeed, they pay pseudo homage to the true sounds of blackness on their debut record with a gut-busting hilarious cover of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Method Man,” to remember their roots, so to speak.
Brice was originally formed in the basement of a house near campus three and a half years ago. The recording session at the ultra-plush Terrarium that produced the record is a far cry from their humble beginnings. It seems that their relentless fliering and frenetic live show has finally earned them some well-deserved recognition.
Gustafson explained that after selling “400 or 500” copies of a cheaply produced demo at shows, Brice was approached by Brad Cassetta, who has worked with DJ Abilities and Eyedea, as well as several major label acts. The first five cuts were created at Terrarium. Fifteen other tracks are still being wrought at Melvin Ray’s, Cassetta’s home studio.
“We released the EP with the intention of helping getting signed to an indie, so that we could eventually release everything as a full length,” Gustafson explained.
Despite the band’s serious attitude toward getting their music out, it is hard not to smile a little when someone’s giving shout outs to Hungry Hungry Hippos. Brice’s bizarre sense of humor and goofball image generally work to their advantage. The band’s high spirits may well create an instant party classic out of their debut disc.
“We don’t wear stupid uniforms or whatever, but we’re willing to take some risks and experiment to get a reaction,” Gustafson said. “Some people may not take us seriously but when it comes down to it, we really are fairly upbeat people and my hope is that people connect with us on that level. People like something they’re able to sing along to, really.”
- Minnesota Daily


Discography

Cabin Capers (c) 2004 *released 2005 - national college radio airplay - CMJ Top 200
What Happens in Spacecamp Stays in Spacecamp (c) 2003 - national college radio airplay, one single on AC Top 40 and Hot 100 stations
brice EP (c) 2001 *released 2002 - national college radio airplay - CMJ Top 200

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

brice is an indie rock band from Minnesota. The original four members began playing shows in the year 2000 around the University of Minnesota campus. The fifth and final member (Jon Drankwalter) joined the band about a year later.
The bands live show secured a dedicated local fan base, which is why it almost made sense to hit the road for their first tour during the summer of 2001 before recording their first album. Inspired by the “Spacecamp” tour brice went into the studio to record their first album. They released an untitled five song EP in 2002 before the LP was finished. The EP spent 7 weeks on the CMJ Top 200.
In the fall of 2003 brice finally released their first LP “What Happens in Spacecamp Stays in Spacecamp”. The long awaited album was well received by the fans and critics.
With the valuable lessons learned in the studio brice immediately went back to writing the songs for the follow-up LP. brice barricaded themselves inside a cabin in the frozen north of Minnesota and emerged with the songs that would make up the base of their new LP.
brice continued to play incessant live shows in the Midwest until their first recording session in late spring at Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, MN. They drastically reduced their show schedule to concentrate on the album. brice wanted to take a whole new approach to this album by recording almost exclusively analog and live. This was a great concept for the band to explore after the Flaming Lips inspired digital madness of “Spacecamp” where there was no such thing as going too far.
Their new standard was “if you can’t play it live, it doesn’t go on the record.” After three days at Pachyderm studio brice had over ½ of the album finished. During the summer they wrote the remaining songs and finished the album over a few weekends at It’s a Secret Studio in Minneapolis.
This became the second LP called “cabin capers” in tribute to the birthplace of the new songs. Feb. 1st, 2005 was the official release date for “cabin capers” and the date brice could transition back from studio to live show mode. On Jan 11th, 2005 “cabin capers” debuted on the CMJ Top 200 where it stayed for 8 weeks.