tony whitlock
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tony whitlock

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The best kept secret in music


here's an excerpt from a review of the feature film i scored:

"A sprawling, unfocused screenplay that could have easily killed many a lesser-produced microcinema effort is kept alive by strong production values (including a great music score by Tony Whitlock,) but the biggest asset to the movie is the earnestness with which it is produced....."

that's all it said about the music, you can read the entire review on the microcinemascene website. -

"In My Room" - by Tizzy Asher

When Derek Richey first assembled a group of musicians to record under the moniker Brando in 1997, lo-fi was the operating principle in the indie scene. Everyone and his brother was grabbing a four-track and emulating Lou Barlow or Robert Pollard; bedroom recordings were as common as half-eaten cheese sandwiches under dorm-room beds. But, as with most things in the biz, the fad passed, and bands that had been adamantly lo-fi started saving up for that professional-quality recording.

Not Brando. Richey’s band—guitarist Kenny Childers (Mysteries Of Life), guitarist Tony Whitlock, bassist Josh Bennett and drummer Daniel Tauw—has remained loyal to its original four-track aesthetic. 943 Recluse (Recordhead/Mr. Whiggs), Brando’s fifth album, was recorded entirely on four-track in Richey’s basement at 943 Jackson St., Bloomington, Ind. “[Recording on a four-track] is not something we do because we have to,” says Richey. “We have access to a studio, but I haven’t quite found my rhythm there. I like recording when I want to, at my leisure. The band comes over, we lay down foundation tracks and then they leave. I sit around and let the songs sink in. I need that to build context.”

Most of the tracks on 943 Recluse are coated with what sounds like unlimited overdubs: Three or four guitar parts dart and weave around one another, and Richey’s moony vocals come in thick blasts of harmony. (“My voice is a mutt,” he admits.) It’s the nerdiness of Pavement, the dreamy abstraction of the Flaming Lips and the angst of Sebadoh all muddled into one. The telltale sign of Brando’s homemade recording is a distinct muffle that hangs over the record. Every tone is just a shade lower than you might expect. For example, if you adjust your graphic equalizer perfectly for the rocking chords of “Flamethrowerz” (which is eerily reminiscent of Bryan Adams’ “Run To You”), you’ll have to turn it down when you put on another CD. The slow-dance beat of “Abby Laine” sounds retro to its core, as if it was transported in a time machine from 1950. On a low-quality stereo with shredded speakers, the twangy vocals of “Lemon-Lime” get lost in a gust of guitar haze.

In a way, 943 Recluse is reminiscent of classic analog rock ‘n’ roll
recordings. It stands to reason Richey often finds himself calling for a
return to good, old-fashioned songwriting (and recording) values.
“If you listen to some of the old recordings from the Motown era, how much better would they really sound using a 64-track digital recorder?” asks Richey. “Of course, it can’t sound like mud, but how well does an album have to be ‘produced’ to have an impact? When does songwriting and risk take precedent? When does not having the proper equipment reduce the effect of a powerful bass line? I won’t pretend to know the answer, but somewhere along the line, if you plan to write a powerful song, it can’t sound like a third-generation phone-message-machine recording.” - Magnet Magazine

Brando started out in the early ‘90s in Bloomington, IN. The line-up has gone through many changes, the one constant being songwriter Derek Richey. On Brando’s fourth full-length release 943 Recluse, Richey sings and plays most of the instruments, joined on some tracks by Kenny Childers (guitar), Josh Bennett (bass), Dan Solero (drums and guitar), Daniel Touw (drums) and Tony Whitlock (guitar). 943 Recluse is a step back from the full-blown psychedelic Britpop production of the two previous albums The Headless Horseman Is A Preacher and Single Crown Postcard. The minimal yet inventive homemade style of the Instantly Spaceships EP collection is revived here, with the added benefit of Derek Richey’s maturity as an experienced producer. The arrangements have been simplified but this is not a lo-fi album.

The song titles are thrown randomly at odd angles across the back tray card of 943 Recluse ? 16 listed tracks plus two more mentioned only inside the cover. To make things more obtuse yet at the same time more integrated, the lyrics of some songs allude to the titles and themes of other songs on the CD. This makes it hard to keep track of the individual songs but helps to build the album’s character quite dramatically. The opening song "Brooklyn" has a Pavement-like intro and vocals that have the lonesome twang of Built To Spill’s Doug Martsch. The gentle verse is pounded away by a heavy guitar and bass interlude that could be from the loudest of Motorpsycho’s progressive excursions. "Flamethrowerz" and "Seamstress At Night" make a case for a dormant connection between lo-fi master Bob Pollard and the more experimental (less overly commercial) side of Blur. "Weave In Your Hair" is more easy-going indie pop along the lines of a chill-out song by Stephen Malkmus or The Minders. "Abby Laine" combines a "This Boy" triplet ‘50s ballad rhythm with a more modern Britpop sweep. "Goblin Market" and "Guarded Thieves" bring up the Built To Spill comparison again, the latter also tapping the spirit of Nirvana’s "Something In The Way". "Natural" is a particularly compelling track suggesting an old friend as new lover dynamic as Derek Richey speaks with off-handed precisely-informed intimacy. "Seine To The Rhine" is probably the most complicated song on the album, alternating between quiet, sketched verses and breaks, and a ripping Bowie/Stones anthem of a chorus. "Designed For Operations" has a subtle melancholy similar to label mate Tobin Sprout’s solo albums. Other highlights include the persistent rock of "Short Wave" and the following ballads "The Verse Begins To Float" and "Planes By Delta" (rhymed with "cards she dealt ya"). A reworking of "Virtuous", a song originally on the bonus EP included with Single Crown Postcard, is also very nice. "Nothing Doing" has the ethereal gravity of the Dipsomaniacs’ Oyvind Holm channeling John Lennon. The comparisons to other artists are just for descriptive purposes; the music here is absolutely Derek Richey’s own sound.

Brando plays a style that manages to aptly reference most of the best indie styles of recent times while adding a dose of ‘70s rock dreaming. Derek Richey’s vivid, personal songwriting makes this already cool music meaningful. 943 Recluse offers Brando’s strongest collection of songs so far and conveys the band’s personality with eloquence. If you haven’t heard Brando yet, I would recommend starting with the new album and then working your way back to through the earlier releases to see how Derek Richey and company arrived at their current peak. Start your explorations at

Review © 2004 by Nick Bensen

- free city media


the ginger kit - s/t .........1996
satellite 66 - s/t.........1998
josh seib & satellite 66 - it seems like.........2000
music to fall asleep to - volume one.........2000
the silent type - life in bars.........2001
brando - 943 recluse.........2004
original score for the motion picture A Certain Justice.....2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


i've played in lots of bands, usually i play guitar, sometimes i sing & play guitar. right now, i'm playing with brando, a pop / rock band out of bloomington, indiana. people said nice things about our last record, we are working on the new one, tentatively titled 'the strangler.'

i also just finished writing the score to the feature length film A Certain Justice, a racso films picture written & directed by chris allen. i wrote some some peices for the film that add to the visuals & make for a better experience.

i used to live in nashville, tn..."music city" they call it. it was ok. i worked at a production company that mostly made radio & tv ads. i produced some jingles, worked on some big videos, wrote some ads, etc.

i still like music.