Interview

w/ Chris Henderson of Bronze Radio Return

Nick Lotz

Pick two entirely eclectic genres and mix them together. If you chose disco and folk, then you’ll be a big fan of Bronze Radio Return.
That may have come off as cynical, but in all seriousness, Bronze Radio Return is pretty awesome. Their new album, Light Me Up, is a hip, driven, and electronic take on folk music that can put you in that special place of blissful existence all the while maintaining an upbeat, party-centric mood.
The hit track off the album, “Light Me Up,” is sweet, upbeat, and folky, but the track that stands out is “Only Temporary.” The slick synth beats and groovy bass line push the song along smoothly with lyrics that speak of anger and temptation, crying out about the unrequited love offered by “…somebody who is in a relationship with a person who’s just dragging them along,”

But, where did the name “Bronze Radio Return” come from? Chris Henderson, the front man for the band, says the name Bronze Radio came from “…this beautiful old bronze tube radio my dad had,” continuing on to say that him and the entire band were ‘…influenced by the music we grew up with.”

I had the opportunity to interview Chris last Wednesday. The band will be playing the Rumba Cafe in Columbus on Wednesday, October 21.

Are you excited about playing in Columbus?

Yes. We played there a few times before. We enjoy coming to Columbus. I’m looking forward to it.

You’ve played Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Hangout AND Firefly. Out of all of the big festivals you’ve played, which one was your favorite?
Firstly, they were all unique experiences. They all offered different things. I’d have to say over all, the one that stands out the most is Hangout fest.

Why?
That festival was on the beach, the weather was perfect, and it was just really cool how they set it all up. It was awesome.

You’re based out of Hartford, Connecticut. That’s a pretty rough town. What was it like growing there as an artist?
It’s funny, we have a song called “Rough Town” because I grew up in Maine and I’ve lived in Hartford now for a little over ten years. Anytime I tell friends and family…the most common response is “that’s a rough town.” We enjoy living here. four out of six of us are based in the Hartford area. Some of us went to school here. We have friends and family here, often times the areas that we hang out and enjoy ourselves in are not very surrounded with a bunch of crime.

When I was listening to your music, I picked up elements of folk and disco. It’s been described as “indie dance party music.” How would you describe Bronze Radio return?
Man, that is the million dollar question, another one for me that’s hard to sum up because what we turn to in our music and certainly put into our album is kind of introducing different flavors, like your folk flavors and your dance flavors you picked up on. Most of us studied jazz or grew up playing blues music and we kind of have this whole mish mosh of influence. The craft that we’re working hard towards is to create a body of work that pushes on these ideas, these styles, and these genres. It still sounds like one cohesive sound. I think that’s the hard part and that’s something we keep striving to be better at.

Us Ohio people don’t often get to go down to the Southwest. You recorded this new album in El Paso, Texas, right by the Mexican border. Any fun or interesting stories from that experience you’d like to share?

It was on this blissful Sonic ranch that’s on---I forget exactly how many acres but lots and lots of acres. Amongst that farm and all the trees are these several really high end lo-fi studios run by a guy who’s really passionate about the collection of cool gear and has just this passion for music and on the property set up a bunch of…. it almost felt like a hotel. There are separate rooms, and they’d cook for you every day. You’d wake up and have breakfast and go record, then you’d have lunch and go record, and then you’d have dinner. It was a great experience. We’re based out of Connecticut, and we don’t get down to El Paso all that much either, so it felt removed, which is something we always try to do with all of our albums. Step outside of the comfort zone a little bit, go to a perfect place, and soak up the surrounding areas. One of my favorite parts of the ranch was there was this beautiful giant abandoned water tower that we would climb up onto and watch the sunset. It’s kind of a beautiful desert-esque landscape, and then we’d go down and sing inside of it. We actually recorded some of our reverb vocals in there as well.

You say in your bio the song Only Temporary is about “ ...having feelings for somebody who is in a relationship with a person who’s just dragging them along.” Is this based on a personal experience?

It’s not, to be honest. I can find myself digging into metaphors and stories that have a surface level explanation and an explanation that can be attached to something on another level as well. The surface level would be this kind of feeling of wanting someone who’s being taken advantage of by another entity of some kind. I think it can span past that. On another level, going off the term “Only Temporary,” also how things move so fast, how you can want something and it kind of moves by you.

After Columbus, you’ll be traveling through the South and then up the East Coast (kind of). After this long haul, what’s coming next for Bronze Radio Return?
We already have a spring tour in the works with dates being worked out right now. We’re planning on doing a much more extensive national run, and if that works out we’re hoping to return to these awesome festivals we’ve played.

In Columbus, will you be doing any of the local sightseeing?
We always try to soak up some of the local flair. Any suggestions?

An Ohio State game? I guess?
Ohio State is definitely kicking ass.

Finally, in your band’s bio, you talked about your Dad’s bronze tube radio and how the music you guys all listened to growing up has influenced the music you make now. Do you still have a bronze radio?
You know what, it was not this Christmas, but the Christmas before, my Dad gave it to me. I was very honored to have it, and it’s something we’ve always had in this family and he passed it on to me earlier than expected. I have it sitting on the shelf in my house and I look at it every day.

Where can I find one?
They are all around. I’ve seen them at second hand stores.

If you’re interested in seeing Bronze Radio Return live on stage, check them out Oct. 21st at the Rumba Café in Columbu, OH. Tickets can be purchased at here or for more information on their upcoming tour, check out Bronze Radio Return's website.