Neil Franklin of Brubaker // Paul Piazza
By Paul Piazza
The day after playing a ripping show with punk legend Mike Watt at Old Ironsides, Brubaker drummer Neil Franklin shipped off a copy of his band’s new vinyl to a fan in Norway. He had no idea how the Norweigan had heard about his band and their double album. Franklin was just glad to finally have the wax available.
While Brubaker’s 15-song CD has been out since 2014, it took the group another couple of years to save the money and put it out as its originally envisioned double-album.
“We organized the tracks in a specific order, knowing we would do a split record,” said Franklin. “All along, the master plan was to put it on vinyl.”
Previously, Franklin and bandmate Gene Smith had only one experience with vinyl. In 1991, they released a 7” with the legendary local band Kai Kln. It was “Hair of the Bud,” a cover of Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog,” and it landed the group a chart spot on the High Times Pot 100 list for a few months.
Brubaker guitarist Christian Riley.// Paul Piazza
This time around, the band, which also includes San Francisco bassist Larry Boothroyd (Victim’s Family, Jello Biafra’s Guantanamo School of Medicine) and Berkeley’s Christian Riley (Walrus, Bluchunks), had to save up over $4,000 to make the double album a reality.
After a couple of years, the band finally pressed 250 copies. The result is a double album with an old-school feel and a gatefold center, available at all local Dimple locations.
“Our goal from the beginning was to make this band sound like a lost band from the ‘70s,” Franklin said. In reality, it’s a great heavy rock record from four crafty music veterans at the top of their game, with visceral cuts like “Cauliflower and Beer” and “Creampuff.” All wrapped in warm, analog sound, the individual performances—Boothroyd’s scathing bass lines, Riley’s ripping guitar leads, Smith’s sonorous vocals and Franklin’s triumphant drums—have an oomph that doesn’t quite translate the same way on digital.
Now, with another album’s worth of new material ready to go, the band hopes to record again this summer and land a distribution deal.
For Franklin, it’s been a great haul so far with this new musical family. He and Smith have been seemingly constant musical collaborators over the past couple of decades in Kai Kln, Ricky and Del Connection and a few other projects. But Brubaker might be taking on a life of its own.
“Usually Gene and I need to take some time off from each other, every couple of years,” Franklin said. “So three years in this band is a miracle in itself. We’ll see what happens next.”
Find the album here.