Forever on the hunt for new music, may I present to you 16-year old phenom, Brody Schenk. Described as a Bob Dylan of sorts, this singer songwriter writes lyrics like, "Thousands of my last words hung on the wall." Brody Schenk is in a band called the Old Souls Band and his Masterpiece inspired solo stuff is much more than ol Bobby D because it's happening now, in a time of multiple major events that history will record. His hopeless lyrics are juxtaposed over triumphant music and if you don't care for the solo stuff he has also been known to sit in with his neighbors and do some death metal too. This lonely sound of a pandemic world gives beautiful hints of the bigger sounds that could be. Grateful Web had the chance to chat, socially distanced of course, with Brody Schenk.
Brody: Hi, this is Brody, how are you doing?
GW: I'm fantastic. How are you?
Brody: Good, good.
GW: Well, I got some questions prepared for you. Are you ready?
GW: All right. So you're 16?
Brody: Yes.16. I’m a junior in high school.
GW: And are you the cool kid in school?
Brody: Far from it.
GW: Reviewing what I saw of you online, I see that your dad has a Volkswagen bus. So that's why I figure that you’re probably the cool kid in school.
Brody: Well, it actually broke down a couple of months ago, so maybe I was the cool kid in school, but if I was not anymore.
GW: Are you actually in classes right now or how's that going?
Brody: I go to school on Thursdays and Fridays and I'm online Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
GW: How do you like it?
Brody: That's perfect for a musician.
GW: That's so true. So tell us about this Carnegie Hall experience. Did I read correctly that you played Johnny B. Goode? Was it a Back to the Future moment?
Brody: Yeah. Well, it may have been inspired by the Back to the Future moment, but I wouldn't say it was exactly like it. It was kind of funny because it was part of a recital with a music school from here in Rochester. And all the other people were playing like classical music, as one does at Carnegie Hall, you know, and I just walked up and played Johnny B. Goode. It was a lot of fun. It was an awesome experience.
GW: Was it like a 12-minute version or did you just stay classy and do the 3 minutes version?
Brody: Yeah, it was like like three minutes.
GW: And the rest is history.
GW: So I watched that newest video that you just put out, and I guess I'll get to that in a minute. Your song Death of a Painter really struck me.
Brody: Thank you.
GW: A lot of your lyrics and a lot of the way that you play struck me. Obviously, you've probably been described as an old soul, but I hear a lot of Grateful Dead influence. Is that correct?
Brody: Of course. Yes, that's true. I've been listening to the Dead since seventh grade, pretty much so as I've become a better guitar player. They've had a lot of influence on me over the years, both Jerry Garcia and Bob, where I'd say almost in equal parts as rhythm and lead. And it's the songs that have always stuck with me in a different way.
GW: Do you have one moment when you fell in love with the Grateful Dead?
Brody: Yes, I was walking to school. They got me in seventh grade and I had my earbuds in. I put on Shakedown Street, the studio version of the song. And yeah, I was just all of a sudden, Bam!
GW: People remember that moment like, oh yeah I’m forever shown the light.
Brody: It was very clear. I remember thinking that exactly like that.
GW: So then tell us about how you got into a band. During a pandemic, you're doing some solo stuff out of necessity, but you have Brody George and the Old Souls Band....
Brody: Yeah, it's really just the Old Souls. And there's a couple of times where we've been promoted as Brody George and the Old Souls Band, but we go by the Old Souls. So there's a guy down the street who teaches drums and he's like, Grateful Dead is his specialty. So he's friends with my mom and I met up with him and I played with him a couple of times. And he’s been teaching drums to the drummer in the band for a couple of years. So he put us together and then we got the bass player and it just went from there. I met the saxophone player at school, but he didn't join until probably six months later. So we kind of worked it all together slowly. Yeah, he didn't play on every song right away.
GW: So how many members are in the band?
Brody: Four - just guitar, drums, bass, and saxophone
GW: Do you do the vocals?
GW: Also, tell me a little bit about Mood Pill.
Brody: So another guy down the street is a bass player and he plays in a couple of different groups. One of them is like Irish folk meets John Prine type of group. And his other group, Mood Pill, is sort of metal, actually quite metal. And so, you know, me being the open-minded musician that I am, when they asked me to play on their newest track, I said, yeah, and it just went from there. It was fun. It’s recorded. I think it should be coming out around Valentine's Day. So, yeah.
GW: What did you record?
Brody: The song is called Don't Make Me
Brody: And it's a single. It’s vocals, drums, and bass. It's a metal song. I really like it though. I don't listen to metal, but it was fun to play on and it was fun to go into the studio with them. They're all like forty-five actually they're all like thirty-five. (chuckles) So I like collaborating with people in different age groups and different styles, just expanding my musical reach as far as I can.
GW: And then where are you doing this recording? Is this where you mentioned in this latest video that you were doing some recording with these latest songs. Is this the same place?
Brody: No, my solo recording as of now, all takes place with Elvio Fernandes, who is the keyboardist in the band Daughtry. We recorded at his home studio. He has a great setup and he's really great at working with me. We'll take the time to do what we need to do and it's... I learned a lot working with him. It's a lot of fun.
GW: Heck yeah. So then that takes us to where you're at now. I was like I said, I was really struck by these latest released songs. My husband is a painter.
Brody: Oh really?
GW: A house painter for daily work, yes. He makes a living with it, but he’s also done a lot of artwork as well. And it's funny, somebody actually asked him what it's like, oh, are you a painter? And he said, no. But no, he actually is. That's what he does. Forty hours a week. So your style really hit me. I guess I just want to ask you about the lyrics and the lyrical content and how you came up with that.
Brody: Yeah, of course, that that song was lyrically really kind of a big step up for me. And ever since I've been writing more songs like that. That just really came out artistically.
GW: Absolutely. I mean, it felt like this summer with all the protests and everything happening in our country. I felt like everybody was armed with something, armed with a weapon or armed with a sign of protest or armed with a camera. And then the way you present this other option of art as your life's purpose in a more pacifist kind of way. Can you, I know you said that you were climbing a mountain, but can you tell us more about your mind frame when these lyrics were pouring out?
Brody: Yeah, I think it's it's funny because I think this song is so much behind it, like climbing the mountain. Part of it is like a really cool fact because I wrote it all at once. I typed it into the notes app on my phone, and then I kind of sang it and I even wrote some of the chords out also on the notes app. And so that's just interesting. But it also adds so much behind it, like lyrically and motivationally for writing it in terms of that, that I'd say that's almost more important than the mountain thing for sure. So like I mentioned in the video, a lot of my mindset is how do you as a painter... like you dedicate a lot of your life to doing something? It's a big drive for who you are and what you do and what you stand for, and then there's like cameras where you just walk up to anything and you take a picture. And in order to paint that picture, that takes a lot of talent and hard work. You know, like if you were to paint that exact thing, it can't even be done. And that just stuck with me in a lot of ways because I'd say sometimes photographers can get more credit than a painter. But I look at a painting and I see hours and hours of hard work.
GW: Generally, I mean, between those three songs on the new video that you just put out, there's a touch of hopelessness. It's a very nice juxtaposition because your lyrics, well, they might be a little... just a little sad just to keep it like that. But the chorus and the chords that you're playing are very triumphant. So I say bravo.
Brody: I really enjoy doing it. Thank you.
GW: Thank you. Thank you for taking some time with us today.
Brody: Yeah, of course. The pleasure's all mine. I know. Just real quick, I mentioned a couple of people down the street. And if I'm not wrong, you interviewed Mikaela Davis?
GW: I was going to ask if you knew her.
Brody: Yeah, she grew up right in my neighborhood, we went to the same elementary school and I saw I saw her play twice with Bob Weir. We shared a bill at a Johnny Cash birthday party not long before COVID-19 hit.
GW: Did you?! That is so great! Yeah. I mean, her music is incredible. And I think I interviewed her just as the pandemic kind of broke out. So I still have yet to see her live. Is it pretty amazing?
Brody: Pretty much, yeah. She's fantastic in her band. Her band is really great too. I know a bunch of her band members because they're just they're very abundant in the Rochester music community. So I see them play in all sorts of different groups and they're all super nice people.
GW: Do you do open mics and stuff? Do you have a way to intermingle with these people?
Brody: Yeah, when I was starting out, I did a lot of open mikes, like close to one hundred. And yeah, it's just something I always did two or three times a week. But my dad and I would go to open jams to watch, which range from blues to funk singer-songwriter and all that stuff.
GW: Rochester's got a happenin’ little scene there.
Brody: It does.
GW: So moving forward, what do we have to look forward to from you?
Brody: I say a lot, I've been writing a bunch and recording a bunch, and so I'm going to be putting out more and more for sure. Now I have started to develop a process for how that all works because when you release your first song, that's the scariest, you know, because there's just... this is a whole process that you don't understand yet. But I now know and I understand it. I'm going to be releasing more and more and writing more and more, hopefully, once COVID-19 settles down, I’ll be back out playing.
GW: Yes. I think it's so interesting. So many covers have come out in the past year because I think a lot of people not only admire these artists in these songs, but they have the space to perform them without any sort of feedback. You know, you get to take your own and your own twist of it without anybody telling you, like, oh, that was like the original. You should make it your own or none of that. Just time to do what you love to do. Exactly. Well, keep in touch. Thank you very much.
Brody: You're very welcome. Thank you. We'll see you out there.
Check out Brody's single, Charlie Brown. This is what caught our eye at Grateful Web. Brody Schenk is one to watch!