Augustin Brand is easily one of the top bassists in the region. His unique playing style, technical prowess, and versatility, have made him one of the most sought after musicians in this scene, and you can only imagine our excitement when he finally caved and joined local technical death metal outfit, Inertia. This was an addition Kahlil (Inertia guitarist and founder) had been shooting for, for quite a long time, but given that Gus’s time was already taken up by his father-son instrumental project, Ish Kabbible, and his experiMETAL band, Short Attention Span Theatre, the future of live bass in Inertia was unclear. Yet, as fate would have it, there could be no better fit and the bass playing on Inertia’s forthcoming followup to Teratoma couldn’t be in better hands. Gus’s dad, Kenny Brand, played drums in Avulsion for anyone a bit older in the scene reading this, scratching their heads asking, “Who are these bands?” Therefore, it’s safe to say that extreme metal literally IS in Gus’s blood. Let’s get to the interview!
1. When did you start playing bass, and do you dabble in other instruments?
I first started messing around with bass/guitar probably when I was around 9, or 10. With my Father having always been in bands, and Avulsion practicing at my house when I was young there was always music/musicians about. I started focusing more on the bass around the age of 12 or 13, and jamming with my father a bit. Some time after that I took a few lessons from Roger Dipirro (bassist of Avulsion), who showed me some fundamentals, and how to go through, and learn tunes by ear.
I do mess with Guitar a bit from time to time but have never dedicated a decent amount of time to it.
2. Talk about some of the bands or artists that first inspired you to play music.
For sure my Father, and his bands/bandmates. Being around that music, and watching Avulsion jam was the largest initial inspiration. Furthermore, being around those dudes exposed me to a myriad of extreme music I otherwise wouldn’t have known about: Man is the Bastard, Burnt By the Sun, Brutal Truth, Origin. Kenny also showed me a bunch of stuff that sparked my interest like Mr. Bungle, Atheist, and Infectious Grooves. Rush, and Primus were both super influential to me as well; Les, and Geddy were, and still are a couple of my favorites. Also as a kid I was into a bunch of Nu-Metal, and Heavy Metal stuff Like S.O.A.D, Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Korn, Tool, Sepultura, and Slayer.
3. When we met, you were doing both Ish Kabbible (instrumental, technical prog) and Short Attention Span Theatre (progressive, experimental metal). Now you’re jamming with the dudes in Inertia (technical death metal) as well. How did you come to join Inertia? As a follow-up: Is Ish Kabbible still active?
They had mentioned having me on board a few times since we all met. I was always interested in joining, but didn’t jump on right away because Ish, and S.A.S.T. were taking up a lot of time already. But after continuing to play shows together, and see them live, I wanted to be a part of what they were doing, and the music they were creating. So I hit them up to see if they still wanted me to jam with them. Luckily they did, as being in the band has not only proven to be one of the most challenging/satisfying things I’ve been a part of musically, Doug, Steve, and Kahlil have each become some of my favorite folks on the planet.
Ish is still active; we still plan to play and release jams. It has certainly been dormant for a time as we haven’t rehearsed, or written anything in a long while. Most of the time me and Kenny have spent jamming lately has been focused towards working on new stuff for S.A.S.T. After that is settled we have a lot of stuff we plan to record/release with Ish.
4. One of the last times I saw you perform at Mohawk Place I found myself taking photos and video of your pedalboard. At the time, it might have been the largest board, and with the most pedals I’ve ever seen used by a bassist live. Are you still using that crazy setup and exactly how many pedals are currently on the board? As a follow-up: What are your favorite effects to use live?
I have two separate boards for Ish/S.A.S.T, and Inertia. The board I use with Ish/S.A.S.T has 19 pedals on it with a switcher. Lots of pitch shifting, modulation and delay stuff. With S.A.S.T I also run a Keith McMillen 12 Step with a Moog Minitaur for a floor organ. With Inertia, the board I’m using is much smaller, mainly tone shaping stuff. On that I have an Origin effects compressor, Keeley Katana boost, YYZ sansamp, BOSS delay, Neunaber reverb, Old Blood Noise Procession reverb, Zuul noise gate, Empress buffer, and a tuner.
For my favorite effects, I get a lot of use out of my Whammy pedal when playing with Ish. Also love the Rainbow Machine for big washes of chaotic/nonsensical noise.
5. Talk about some of the licks or song sections you are most proud of having contributed to in your bands.
Me, Kenny, and Gordy have been putting together these three songs that flow together as one piece for S.A.S.T. It’s not released yet but we are pumped on how it’s coming along so far.
6. Did we miss any bands you’re currently a part of? Any other projects to report?
7. Plug any upcoming releases or shows that you’re allowed to talk about for any of your bands, including any relevant links that aren’t a crazy, long, obnoxious URL.
Have a couple shows with Inertia coming up, one at Basement Transmissions in Erie PA on September 17th, and one at Flour City Station in Rochester on October 22nd.
8. What was your first bass/rig setup? To follow that up, what is your live setup like now? Talk about any gear you swear by that bass players need in their lives. Granted, I’m sure it all depends on the sound each player is going for.
My first bass rig was an Ampeg 3 pro paired with a Yorkville 1×15 cab. Now my setup varies a bit. With Ish and S.A.S.T I use two ampeg 4 pros, one of which is slaved into the other, each powering an individual cab, a 6×10, and a 2×15 both made by Pharoah Cabinets. With that setup I also run an Eden Navigator preamp in front of the Ampegs. For Inertia I run an SVT 2 into a 6×10 Pharoah cabinet.
As far as gear I swear by, if we are talking about accessories etc, I definitely recommend finding a good compressor whether it’s a rack-mount unit, or a pedal.
9. What is the best advice you think you can give to aspiring bassists who don’t know where to start?
Practice as consistently as possible; Put time into playing every day.
10. What bands are on your playlist these days? Who have you been listening to the most these past few months?
Been really digging Tera Melos. All their stuff blows my mind, and really everything Nick Reinhart puts out shreds. The latest Beneath the Massacre record Fearmonger is relentless, and amazing. The newest Sulaco album The Privilege rips. Lots of post rock stuff: Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Russian Circles, This Will Destroy You. Other bands I put on a lot lately are The Locust, Pig Destroyer, Chon, The Faceless, George Duke, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Weather Report, Cake, and Faith No More.