Brick By Brick continues to evolve

Capital Region-based metal band with a hardcore attitude performs Friday night at Upstate Concert Hall in honor of its new release, "Hive Mentality"
Capital Region metal band Brick by Brick will release its new album, "Hive Mentality," this Friday.
Capital Region metal band Brick by Brick will release its new album, "Hive Mentality," this Friday.

Brick By Brick has been a mainstay in the local metal and hardcore scene for well over a decade.

On Friday, the band will be playing an album release show at Upstate Concert Hall, along with Dying Fetus, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snapmare and Close to Nothing.

Mike Valente, who plays guitar in Brick By Brick and runs Upstate Black N Blue Productions, said that each band will bring a different kind of metal to the stage. From headliner Dying Fetus’ death metal sound to Brick By Brick’s thrasher sound.

“Hive Mentality,” the band’s forthcoming album, features guest artists like Vincent Bennett and Jessica Pimentel, known for her role in “Orange is the New Black.” Here, Valente talks about what got him started playing in the local music scene and how he hopes the torch gets passed to the next generation.

Q: You’ve been a part of the local metal and punk rock scene for over 15 years. How have you seen it change over the years?
A: It ebbs and flows. The older people get they [start having] kids, families, jobs, etc. so they’re not coming out as much as the younger kids. What I find is it seems that the younger kids don’t have the torch passed on to them properly. Sometimes a little bit gets lost along the way. The scene seems to dip and then kids start figuring out what’s going on. Then it picks back up and then they start getting older and stop coming out to shows. Plus, Albany really doesn’t have the population like a major city does so we often get overlooked by some of the bigger bands or some of the bigger bands want to charge us like [we are] a big city. Sometimes we just have to pass on it because it’s just not possible to not lose money. It’s a double-edged sword. We try to do our best with what we have and just look forward. 

Q: You mentioned that you think the torch doesn’t get passed down properly to the next generation. How can be passed down right?
A: Just bringing new people to the scene and to the shows. I don’t want to date myself, [but] my first hardcore show was 1985 and [I went] because a friend of mine was in the hardcore scene and brought me. Just bringing and exposing people to the scene is the key. 

Q: There’s a lot more competition for audiences now, both on the music scene and just with screens. It seems like a lot of people are binge-watching Netflix instead of going out to shows. 
A: Yeah, I mean social media is both good and bad. I think it promotes laziness. I think kids would rather just sit home and watch it on YouTube. It’s hard for me to judge [but] all I know is it really makes me angry when I see kids at a show, watching the show through their phone. The whole purpose of the metal hardcore and punk scene is it’s an experience; you’ve gotta interact. [They’re] missing out on the bigger part. 

Q: How did you get into music to begin with?
A: When I was a kid, my father was a musician part-time. He bought me my first guitar [and] tried to teach me when I was real young to read music. I was like “aw, this sucks. I quit.” But [later I] put a little electric behind it and it made all the difference in the world. [I was] jamming on some Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, whatever my dad would show me. Friends showed me some Metallica riffs and then it just went from there. 

Q: How do you think Brick By Brick has changed over the years? 
A: I wouldn’t say changed but I would say matured. We don’t claim that we’re a hardcore band, but we have a hardcore attitude. We’re primarily metal and the older that we’re getting the more metal I think our music is becoming. It’s just reverting back to when I was a kid. It’s not that we choose a certain direction or have a formula that we use because we write how we think is cool and whatever’s in my CD player influences how I write. So I don’t think we’ve changed other than the fact that we pulled way over to the metal side. Primarily, it’s just, if it ain’t fun than we ain’t doing it. 

Q: Can you tell me about the new album that comes out on the day of the show?
A: We re-did a couple of old songs that have been on the first two records that are no longer in print and we wrote a bunch of new stuff. This is the best production that we’ve had on a record in a very long time. I got to give credit to Overit Media and Jason Bordeau, [who] also plays guitar in Stigmata. He knows what we’re looking for so he had his ideas and we just went in with an open mind. He made some suggestions and pushed us a little harder than maybe we would have just done on our own but all in all I’m very happy with the production of the record. 

Q: What was in your CD player at the time you were writing it?
A: The past year Power Trip has been in there, Twitching Tongues from California, Municipal Waste and the old mainstays like Slayer. But more of the thrash element crept up in this writing process. I mean the first band I was ever in was a thrash band so it kind of rekindled younger thoughts and a different direction. We’ve always had elements of thrash and metal in our songs but now those elements are in the forefront. 

Q: On the title track, “Hive Mentality,” you brought on another vocalist.
A: Yup, we brought on Jessica Pimentel who is more known for being on the TV series “Orange is the New Black,” but she also sings in a metal band out of Brooklyn called Alekhine’s Gun. I’ve known Jessica for a long time and if you knew her, she’s got some angst behind her. She’s got some attitude. She’s the alpha dog when she’s in the room. So when we wrote that song, there’s a section that’s a rant and instead of us doing it I wanted to have somebody come in and she was one of the first people that popped into my head. I called her and she said “absolutely.” 

Dying Fetus, Brick By Brick, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snapmare, Close to Nothing   
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Fri. 
WHERE: Upstate Concert Hall
TICKETS: $23 in advance, $25 day of show
NOTE: Every pre-sale ticket comes with a free CD

Categories: Entertainment

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