DIY or DIE

Sidewalk Rock

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Broken Glow is a full do-it-yourself operation. From the band’s very first show in a Connecticut living room, to the self-recorded “Watercolors” EP and subsequent release bash in Brooklyn, the band has been self-booked, self-designed, self-reliant. This holds true even now, nearly six years into the band’s career. All photography, artwork and output comes from the dudes and their few true friends. Maintaining artistic control has been the main motivating factor, and the guys have learned over the years that if you really want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.

Yet even towering titans of tumultuous tunes can get bogged down. Many hands make light work, so few hands must make heavy work. For other independent bands and artists this is obvious. When the burdens of promotion, booking, creative design, networking, and management all fall on the shoulders of a few individuals these relatively simple tasks on their own can grow into seemingly insurmountable lists of things to do, people to call, emails to write, stuff to get done. Adding to the load is that many of us work day jobs as we hone our respective projects, and simply keeping oneself in house and home means we devote full work weeks to tasks removed from our artistic goals, spending precious hours of inspiration behind work counters and office computers. Thus our mounting to-do list is now also heavily time-constrained, and we haven’t even figured in the actual practice of our craft. There comes a time when a somewhat larger organization becomes helpful, if not necessary, in managing the many aspects of pursuing a blossoming artistic career.

Broken Glow specifically has been engaged in various forms of collaborative organizing during their career, all the while keeping in mind the importance of artistic freedom. In the summer of 2010, the band relocated from Hartford, CT to Bushwick, the swinging hipster capitol of Brooklyn, NY at the time. All five then-members occupied a tiny loft on McKibbin St, and were shocked to find in their building an already-existing community of musicians, then dubbed the Potion Collective. They soon realized that most of the hundreds of residents of the large dual-building loft complex were young creative folk too, and they’d organized a loose association of resident creators that provided platforms for performance. In their same building was located Good Friend Electric, a hub of musical and cultural activity. Here the boys found weekly open mic events, showcases and multi-genre music events. The Potion Collective soon sponsored shows at outside venues, organized benefit events, arranged block parties and helped found Mustache Magazine, a volunteer-created cultural publication online and in print which focused on the bands in the scene. Everywhere around them, the members of Broken Glow saw their ideal DIY approach to making their own art being practiced by countless other musicians and artists. This was surely the right environment for a fresh band from out of town to find themselves in, and it was in this environment that “Watercolors” came to be released.

A lot has changed for Broken Glow since that time. Brenner’s death sent the group in separate ways for about a year, with Garrett moving to Savannah, GA to write and reflect. Though Andrew remains in Brooklyn to shred with Cousin Sleaze, it was only a matter of time before Paul joined Garrett in the Hostess City to continue doing what they do best: ROCK. Yet with a new, stripped-down identity and even fewer hands with which to work, the band soon realized what they had to do.

Pale Blue Dot DIY Collective, painted by Garrett Deming

Pale Blue Dot DIY Collective, painted by Garrett Deming

After a few months of getting a foothold in the underground rock scene of Savannah, Broken Glow has been pleased to see a familiar circumstance reemerging through the Spanish moss of Savannah’s SOFO area. In February of 2014, a wide group of variously talented artists and musicians came together under the monicker of the Pale Blue Dot DIY Music Collective. The idea is simple. Each member of the community has different skills, networks, and access to resources. As somewhat fledgeling professionals, many emerging independent artists don’t possess all of the skills, networks, or resources necessary to run a fully functioning organization on their own. However, if everybody involved pools their various talents, the collective can theoretically provide access to those skills, networks, and resources to the members of the community. One band may know a venue contact they can share with everybody, and then know that their show will be promoted. Perhaps someone needs to borrow gear while theirs is in the shop? Maybe this person is willing to pass out fliers, so long as someone with more skill designs it. The combinations are endless, but the central idea remains : if everyone does a little work, together we’ll have accomplished much.

Broken Glow has been heavily involved in the Pale Blue Dot Collective of late, having played three house shows in April with various PBD bands including Lion Slicer, Unicycle Escape Pod, Culture Vulture, Beneath Trees, Feary Teeth and Shapes & Their Names. They’ve seen packed shows at the PBD House, The Warehouse Loft and Emerald House. April 24th saw the release of Sunbeam Music & Art Magazine, a new publication devoted to the chronicling of Savannah’s current DIY scene. Included in the first issue are 3 written pieces by Garrett, as well as a few of his recent paintings. Certainly, sticking to the do-it-yourself ethic is one thing, but the do-it-together approach yields fruit too.

Rockin' till the sun comes up

Rockin’ till the sun comes up

It is with this sense of community in mind that the band continues to prepare more events for the coming months. Don’t miss the band at Barrel House South on May 17th with The Waits of Memphis, and stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks.

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