Limelight: Broken DC

Broken DC saturated black and white image
(Image: © Kevin Gras)

Dream pop may not be a genre that many prog fans are particularly familiar with, but it’s certainly worth examining. A descendant of the psychedelic scene, it was the forerunner to much of what would follow in the shoegaze and post-rock movements, and its atmospheric obsessions would eventually re-emerge in the influences of bands like Porcupine Tree. Why is this relevant, you may ask? Well, for psychedelic bands such as London’s Broken DC, who are projecting the familiar forms of the genre in a darker, more angular light, it still offers huge scope for experimentation.

“Saying I didn’t want to do something I’d done before was quite hard for me,” recounts guitarist and vocalist Kevin Williams, “because I didn’t really know where to go – especially when you’re just a guitar player. I started off in the early 90s doing hardcore and post-hardcore, y’know?” Moving on to other bands, including progressive instrumentalists Capricorns, it wasn’t until Kevin met co-guitarist and vocalist Ivona Behalova when their old bands played together that the idea for Broken DC came about.

“That’s how it started really, a few conversations and then one day I decided to send her some stuff, she decided to send some stuff back and we both liked each others’ things and that was it really, we just started writing from there. It was basically just a two-piece for a while, with no plans to do it as a band, more of just a studio thing. Of course, once you start doing it, the more you realise you like the stuff and then you think, ‘Well, it would be good if we could get someone to play drums on this.’”

Enter their drummer Ben Savigear, an old friend of Kevin’s: “I always forgot he played drums actually,” Kevin laughs, describing finding Ben after fruitlessly searching high and low for a drummer. “He said, ‘You do remember that I play drums, right?’ and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, you do.’” It took a while from that point to come together however, with the experience of playing in the new format meaning the band had to turn up louder, and then start over in their search for their voice. Williams recalls, “It suddenly clicked one day that there was this thing that we were doing… the stuff we’d written before became redundant, basically. We scrapped all this stuff and focused on writing a whole record that sounded like that.”

Astragal, the sprawling, brooding record that resulted, was aided in no small part by the hand of Daniel O’Sullivan of Ulver and Sunn O))) at the helm. “His input into this record has been as much as any of us, and without him, I don’t think this record would have sounded the way it does,” Kevin muses. Although dense in layers and rich in atmospheric melody, it’s a coherent and consistent listen, suggesting a subtle hand guiding the flow of the album.

When asked what he loves about music, Kevin laughs. “Twenty years ago, I’d have given you a totally different answer,” he says, before adding that now, it’s “just trying to do something different, something new; making something that I haven’t heard, that I wanna listen to”.

PROG FILE

line-up

Ivona Behalova (guitar, vocals), Kevin Williams (guitar, vocals), Ben Savigear (drums)

sounds like

Dark dream pop with hints of Slint and Bass Communion

current release

Astragal is out now

For more, visit Broken DC’s Bandcamp page