by Interviews

Today marks the release of New Orleans-based BRAT’s debut full-length album Social Grace. The self-described bimboviolence band wastes no time showing you what they’re all about as they tear into ten blistering tracks full of brutal riffs, incredible harsh vocals, and fantastic drums. Make sure you stretch before pressing play because you will be banging your head for the entire duration of Social Grace.

Social Grace is out now everywhere via Prosthetic Records. BRAT will be playing their record release show and touring the US later this month.

Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with vocalist Liz Selfish and guitarist Brenner Moate over Zoom to talk about the new album, Stephen King, Hollise Murphy’s life and legacy, breakfast food, and so much more. Read the interview below!

This interview between Em Moore, Liz Selfish, and Brenner Moate took place on March 13, 2024 over Zoom. This transcription documents their conversation and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Social Grace will be your first full-length album and your first release on Prosthetic Records. How did you decide who to sign with? What has working with them been like?

Liz: Prosthetic was actually one of the first labels that reached out to us. They reached out to us pretty early on, I think within the first year of us being a band. We weren’t really ready to start working with a label at that point so we just held off. Over a year later we wrote the first record and we had gotten some touring under our belt so we wanted to start entertaining shopping it to labels and then we talked to some labels. Ultimately we felt like Prosthetic was the best fit for what we wanted. It’s been great working with them so far. We’ve been really happy with them.

The cover of the album shows a mostly black-and-white family photo. What is the story behind the album art?

Liz: So that’s actually me and my family. [laughs] I’m very appreciative that they let me use that childhood photo of me. It’s a funny photo that I always thought would make cool art. It just fits perfectly with our band name and everything and the whole vibe. I did blur my family’s faces out though for some anonymity there.

I like that the cat made it in too.

Liz: I know, me too! [laughs]

Brenner: Yeah!

You recorded the songs in batches over the course of a year and a half at HighTower Recording Studio. What was recording this way like?

Brenner: It was cool. It was more of a necessity than, “This is the way we wanted to do it” because we were touring a lot and we all work full-time jobs at home still. It was just the way we had to do it. We wrote and hashed out two or three songs at a time and then we would just hurry up and record them while they were still fresh in our minds. Then after a year, year and a half, of doing that we had an album ready to go.

Would you choose to record that way?

Brenner: Not necessarily, that’s just what worked for us. I think for the next one we want to try the opposite as best as we can and try to do it all in one shot.

How would you describe your songwriting process?

Brenner: Usually it starts with me doing the first draft of the song. I have some riffs and then I write a whole song around them. I demo out drums on a little Boss drum machine and add the guitar and the bass. Then in the practice space we draft as a band and we tweak the things we think could be better and change things up how we see fit. The songs are generally 75% on that first rough draft and some changes are made. Dustin, our drummer, wrote a couple of the songs on the album. He wrote “Blood Diamond” and “Sugar Bastard”. Then Hennessey wrote the main riff in “Rope Drag”. So there’s definitely some other stuff in there that’s not just me whereas the first couple EPs were mostly just me because those were written before we had anybody else in the band.

Now it’s more collaborative, everyone’s a part of it.

Brenner: Yeah, which is really cool. I think it came out sounding a lot more flushed out and dynamic as opposed to the EPs.

There’s references to some psychological horror stuff in the lyrics and I believe “Truncheon” references the Crimson King from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, is that correct?

Brenner: That song in particular, no. Fun fact: I’ve read a couple dozen of Stephen King’s books - a lot of them multiple times at this point - but the Dark Tower series is one I could never get into. [laughs] I tried but I don’t know, it just didn’t hit for me.

Are there any Stephen King references in the lyrics?

Brenner: Not directly on this album. There’s definitely some stuff that’s inspired. On our first EP, Mean is What We Aim For, the song “Bought The Farm” directly quotes Pet Sematary for the first few lines. I even went so far on our Bandcamp to make a little asterisk on the lyrics. I was like, “This is a Stephen King quote. Please don’t sue us”. On the album there’s no direct quotes or anything, it’s more a lot of inspiration.

Was there one book in particular that you drew the most inspiration from for this album?

Brenner: No. Over the course of this writing, I probably read eight or ten of his books. I feel like the song where that came out most apparent was “Slow Heat”. There’s a lot of biblical references to that song and I was reading 'Salem's Lot at the time. So that one has a lot of religious themes to it. That’s what I was inspired by at the time.

On “Social Grace” you talk about the negative impact that the upper class is having on the environment and you show that in the video as well. What can be done to dismantle the aristocracy?

Brenner: Oh man that’s a…

Liz: Hefty question.


Brenner: I feel like if there was a clear answer to that we would’ve figured it out already. I don’t think I’m smart enough to answer this question. [laughs]

Your video for “Hesitation Wound” was shot at The Morning Call Coffee Stand. How did you decide where to film? What does this place mean to you?

Liz: That’s actually our bass player Ian’s family’s restaurant. We all frequent there and the whole family works or has worked there. We’ve always had the idea that we wanted to do a video there at some point and it just finally worked out for this one. They let us in to film at the end of the night when there were still some people there. We started shooting a little bit of it and then the shots of us playing the main part of the restaurant were after closing.

Did you have a favourite part about filming the video?

Brenner: The boss who comes in the freezer and tells us that we’re fired is actually Hennessey’s dad and he was a natural. It was great to see him get into it. [laughs]

Liz: Another fun thing with the video is in the shot where we all go into the walk-in freezer, that was shot during open hours and you can see one of the actual Morning Call employees in the shot walking up to the front. [laughs] That’s kinda funny too.

How do you come up with the concepts for your videos?

Liz: We just try to think about what would be fun. That’s kind of our main goal with everything we do like, “How can we make it fun?” We finally started to get a little bit better at creating concepts around our videos. The “Social Grace” video is the first one where I actually felt like I had a really clear concept of what I wanted for the video. For the two videos before that, it was just kinda winging it the day of. Mainly what we think would be fun or funny.

How do you keep things fun?

Liz: Just being stupid pretty much. [laughs]

Brenner: Yeah, that’s accurate. [laughs]

Liz: Yeah, pretty much. We try not to think too much about things for the bimboviolence band.

If you feel like you’re starting to think too much about something, how do you get back on track?

Brenner: I feel like Elizabeth is kinda the foil to that. When anybody starts to think too hard about it she’s like, “No, we gotta keep it campy and stupid”.

Liz: No big brains here.

Brenner: No big brain shit, we just keep it light.

Do you have any recurring jokes in the band?

Brenner: Oh man. I feel like there’s one every tour.

Liz: Yeah, there’s a new bit every tour for sure.

Brenner: Then we just burn it to the ground and wear the stupid jokes out so hard by the end of the tour that we never want to hear it again. And then we make a new one for the next tour.

Liz: It’s the same thing with songs. I feel like we’ll have a song for each tour that we just burn into the ground and play a bunch of times. [laughs]

Brenner: Oh yeah. The very first tour was “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo. “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three, that’s another one. What else? There’s been a few now.

Liz: I know, I can’t even remember but it seems like every tour we get obsessed with one song and just play it a bunch.

Do you know what it might be this time for your upcoming March dates?

Liz: It’s never a planned thing. We just have to see whatever comes out. [laughs]

You’ll be playing your album release show on March 23 - that has a rave afterparty - and you’ll be playing a handful of US dates afterward. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows?

Liz: We’re super excited for the album release because we’re playing a space we’ve never played before. It’s called the Free Store. It’s like an old abandoned Family Dollar store that they now use for shows and raves. We’re really excited to play there, it’s just a sick space. Hopefully, we can pack it out. The lineup is great, it’s a bunch of friends and we’re excited to have a little rave party after. We’re stoked for it.

You need BRAT glowsticks.

Liz: I know, we do!

Brenner: We do plan on going in and decorating before the show and stuff like that. We have a friend with lasers and I’m trying to talk to him to let us run his lasers. Every show needs more lasers.

Liz: Yeah, totally. Less fog, more lasers!

You could do pink lasers.

Liz: Yeah!

Brenner: That’d be sick!

You also play little snippets of pop songs when you play live. Is that from a playlist or do you decide what you’re going to play the day of?

Liz: That’s definitely planned out. Dustin, our drummer, basically chops up whatever part of the song we decide will fit that set or the song that we end up playing after it. Those are planned out and we try to match it to where it will flow decently into whatever song we’re playing. We change it up depending on the set but we’ll usually keep the same set for a few months or for a tour.

Do you have a song off the new album that you’re looking forward to playing the most?

Liz: I’m excited to play “Truncheon” for sure. We’ve only played that one live once. I think “Truncheon” is the one I’m looking forward to playing the most. Some of the other songs we’ve already been playing like “Slow Heat”. We’ve been playing that one live for probably a year. We already have some of the stuff on the album in our setlist already but “Truncheon” is one that will be new. I’m excited to start playing that.

Brenner: “Rope Drag” is new. Stoked to play that one.

Liz: “Ego Death”.

Brenner: That’s the first song on the album and we just added that one in. We’ve only been playing that one for about a month.

Liz: Yeah. If you’ve seen us live recently, you’ve probably already heard a good chunk of the album. [laughs]

Brenner: It’s only been on this last tour we did but about half the album is played in the set.

Have any of the songs changed when you’ve changed them live? Have there been any different improvisations or have they remained more or less the same?

Brenner: Definitely for the EPs things have changed up a little bit just because of what I mentioned earlier that the EPs were written before anybody else was in the band. Once we added Dustin and Hennessey things took on a life of their own a little bit more and they added their flavour to it whenever we played it live. Those songs definitely are played a little bit differently than on the EPs. I mean, they’re still 90% the same but some little things are different.

As far as the album, I guess for the most part we haven’t really been playing any of these songs long enough yet for those sorts of changes to happen. Those sorts of things usually happen over the course of months or even years. “Slow Heat", the one song on the album that we have been playing for over a year, we just started doing this thing recently where at the very end we’ll slow down the last two chords and make it a little bit more dramatic. That’s not on the album and that’s just something we started doing a month ago after playing the song live for a year. That sort of stuff happens over whatever period of time.

You’ve both mentioned your love of breakfast food and how you make sure to get it when you’re on tour. What’s the best tour breakfast you’ve ever had?

Brenner: You must’ve read the Eyehategod tour thing! [laughs]

Liz: Asking about breakfast food, the greatest joy in life.

Brenner: We subject Dustin and Hennessey to so much breakfast it’s hard to keep track.

Liz: It’s frustrating because Brenner and I love breakfast so much but Dustin and Hennessey don’t care about breakfast at all. Dustin actually doesn’t like eggs so he’s always pissed. The thing is we always go to places that have breakfast and lunch options but they still bitch about it every time. Let me get my breakfast, please!

Brenner: [laughs] We never try to subject them to a purely breakfast or a purely brunch spot. We’ll usually at least try to make everybody happy and go to a diner or something like that which is great in the Midwest and Northeast because diners are everywhere. Elizabeth and I can get our breakfast plates and you could also get a cheeseburger at 8 in the morning if you wanted to do that, not that we’re ever up that early but you know what I mean.

Liz: I don’t know about the best one we’ve had - Oh, I do! I don’t remember where we were though. We were at some gas station somewhere in the South, a complete dive restaurant attached to a gas station.

Brenner: That was in North Mississippi. It was after we played a show in Memphis. Memphis was our last show on a tour we did in September and we drove an hour after the show and stayed in a hotel in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi. Then we got up and stopped at a truck stop that said it had breakfast. There was this one little lady in the kitchen and it looked like some cafeteria in the back of a truck stop.

Liz: Yeah, like an 80s looking vibe.

Brenner: Yeah, this place has not been remodeled or updated since the early 80s for sure. It was incredible. Just basic breakfast like eggs and bacon and grits and a biscuit maybe. It was badass. It was so good.

Liz: It was one of the top-tier breakfasts that I’ve ever had, I’d say. I wish I could remember the name of the truck stop. [laughs]

Maybe you’ll drive by it again and be like, “That’s the one!”

Liz: I hope so.

Is there one food that every member in the band can agree on enjoying?

Brenner: Yes, bagels.

Liz: We all like bagels.

Brenner: Every time we’re in New York or New Jersey we get Taylor ham and cheese or another one of those delicious bagelly treats that they’ve got up there.

Liz: Also, we’ve played Portland, Maine twice and we’ve gotten lobster rolls there both times. That’s something that everyone is always stoked for for Maine.

Brenner: We really fuck with the lobster rolls. It’s one splurge meal we always count on when we go up that way. That as well as barbeque in Austin, Texas. Every time we go to Austin, we pig out on some barbeque and spend way too much money on meat.

Liz: Yeah, that’s another BRAT favourite.

All of your releases are dedicated to the life and legacy of Hollise Murphy. What impact did he have on you personally and as a band?

Liz: Hollise was essentially the mayor of New Orleans for metal and punk. He was the light in every room and the nicest person you’ll ever meet, very welcoming. He was at every show and was so supportive of everybody. So his loss had a really huge impact for New Orleans and past New Orleans as well. He impacted so many people from other cities and other scenes. We wanted to dedicate the album to him and give a nod to what he did for New Orleans.

Brenner: Yeah. In New Orleans, if there were multiple shows going on in one night, Hollise would make it a point to go to each and every one of them. He would show up at every show and everyone knew him and he knew everyone. If he hadn’t seen you in 10 years, he’d still remember you and ask something personal. He was a very genuine person. Whatever show that he showed up at, if you were there you knew it was the right show to be at. He was also the first BRAT fan. Right before our first show we met him outside of St Roch Tavern in New Orleans to give him a BRAT shirt. He was the first one to ever get one who wasn’t a member of the band. Then he passed a couple weeks after our first show. He was the man.

How would you describe the hardcore and metal scene in New Orleans?

Liz: It’s really cool because there’s so many different genres here. People think of New Orleans and it’s got a big name but it’s a very small city so there aren’t a ton of bands as there would be in other big cities. You can never really create a bill that’s all one style of music so that lends itself to different genres, you’re always playing with different genres. There’s a really booming hardcore punk scene right now which is doing great. Historically New Orleans metal has the doomy, sludgey sound but there’s so many different styles here. We’re really lucky to have so much variety. It makes the scene way more dynamic.

Brenner: It’s definitely a melting pot of styles which I think is partially the case for our music, we don’t stick to just one genre. Our stuff covers a very wide spectrum of metal because this is the scene we come from.

Do you have any favourite local bands that you’re listening to right now?

Liz: Oh man there’s so many good ones! D. Sablu is a really good hardcore punk band here, Torture Garden, Sounding is really sick. I could list bands for an hour, there’s so many here!

Brenner: Herakleion, Slowhole - who’s playing our record release, Swampgrave - who are also playing our record release.

Liz: Christworm.

Brenner: Christworm, Slab, Dracula. There’s too many good ones.

What does the future hold for BRAT?

Liz: We’ve got more touring coming up for sure. Hopefully some fests. We’ve got some things planned for later in the year and we should hopefully be dropping a tour announcement sometime after the album. So we definitely have some things on the books but we haven’t been able to announce them yet.

Brenner: Hopefully, like Elizabeth said, we’ll be announcing a tour next week. Hopefully. [laughs]

Mar 23The Free StoreNew Orleans, LA (w/D. Sablu, Exit Strategy, Slowhole, Swampgrave)
Mar 27JJsChattanooga, TN
Mar 28BrickyardKnoxville, TN
Mar 29BTCH FestRichmond, VA
Mar 30Static AgeAsheville, NC
May 16CrybabyOakland, CA (supporting MDC)
May 17TransplantsPalmdale, CA (supporting MDC)
May 18First St. BilliardsLos Angeles, CA (supporting MDC)
May 19SolarisMarietta, CA (supporting MDC)