‘NOISIER AND WEIRDER’ McTernan, MacPherson, Sherzai, and Bergstrom.
Local indie rock greats Broadcaster may have finally come out from under the proverbial (and literal) black cloud that followed them around for most of last year. One hurricane and three drummers later, singer/guitarist Chris McTernan, bassist Derek Bergstrom, guitarist Moe Sherzai and new full-time (fingers crossed) drummer Jen MacPherson are back in action and sounding better than ever on their latest batch of "rehearsal demos" as they prepare to record a proper follow-up to their 2011 debut EP, Drunkard's Walk (75orLess Records). Broadcaster remains one of the best live bands on the local circuit, and the galvanized lineup is back in full swing with upcoming gigs including a benefit show for Girls Rock! RI at Empire Guitars (McTernan's employer) and shows scheduled in Providence, Bristol, and Worcester.
Broadcaster features former members of Killing Pablo, which split in 2009 following a handful of releases. Shortly after the early '11 release of Drunkard's Walk, Broadcaster drummer/McTernan's brother George moved to California. The band was voted Best Breakthrough Act in our 2011 music poll last spring with second drummer Rainy Logan onboard, then a string of bad luck struck, including Hurricane Irene spoiling what would have been a big weekend in Brooklyn with opening sets scheduled with Ted Leo and Doug Gillard (of GBV and Nada Surf). The band released Tiger Tested Demos with Logan behind the kit, but a knee ailment forced her to leave the band in November — but not before a particularly wild show at Worcester punk venue Hotel Vernon (look up the entire set on YouTube). Hopefully the third time's a charm with veteran drummer MacPherson, thanks to networking friends from local bands Gertrude Atherton and Invisible Hours.
"We really lucked out in finding Jen," McTernan said earlier this week, sounding downright optimistic as opposed to the droll, disaffected dude I've bumped into after shows. "We didn't go into our search looking specifically for a female drummer but I'm psyched everything turned out the way it did.
"I really appreciate having a female voice within our band," McTernan continued. "Music is still way too testosterone-centric, and I like the fact that we're not just another group of four white apes blurting out the same stale rock bullshit."
The 75orLess press release nailed the sonic scope of Drunkard's Walk — "Think Built to Spill if the Who gave them a polite but stern kick in the ass" — and the latest demos follow suit. The riffs on "Victorious" conjure something from Dinosaur Jr's SST days, and "There You Go Again" floats somewhere between the Stones and Pavement. This is stoner rock designed for maximum spazzing out, as the average performance will verify, with McTernan usually flopping on the floor by end of the set. "How To Get On Fire" is an appropriately-named keeper, but for me it's that incredibly catchy bassline on "Burgess Shale" paired with McTernan's nasal, falsetto howls (think Tim Kinsella) and detonating guitar bursts. I asked McTernan about the title, named for a rock formation in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia.
"I love throwing in references to paleontology or pre-history I was obsessed with it as a kid," he said. "The lyrics deal cryptically with time travel and trilobites and coal deposits. It's one of those things that's obscure enough where not everyone's going to pick up on it."