During the last couple of years, Arizona has seen a rise in the popularity of local venues like Rebel Lounge, Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar. It’s not just centered in Phoenix either, even though that tends to be where the heart of everything is. There’s The Marquee in Tempe, The Nile in Downtown Mesa, Rialto Theater in Tucson and The Green Room in Flagstaff. It seems like wherever you are, there’s a music venue within an hour away. First and foremost, the local talent benefits because they finally have an outlet that they can get their music heard on. The Arizona community also benefits because we become connected through a similar love of music and we can relate with a band that grew up in the same place.
I had the opportunity to talk to Derek Hackman of the upcoming Phoenix band, The Breaking Pattern. We chatted about the band’s identity, their upcoming debut album and the importance of a local music scene.
“Poetry Meets Melody”
The Breaking Pattern is a band originally born from an earlier band called Ezer. In June of last year, Hackman was wrapping up the last few Ezer shows until the songs started to take a different turn which led to the formation of TBP. In the beginning, the rest of the members were a “hodgepodge” of random local musicians. At the heart of it all, Hackman describes the band as himself “and a conglomeration of other musicians I knew from around the area.” The touring lineup consists of drummer Brandon Dillman, who Hackman labeled as “second-in-command.” Guitarist Nick Benzer joined next and bassist Jacob Beaver shortly followed.
Hackman is the primary songwriter, drawing much of his inspiration from his love of poetry. It’s not as simple as stringing some words together and picking a beat to go with it. Hackman dives into making the music mean something. The band’s bio on social media provides a quick summary of their sound – “poetry meets melody.” It’s about creating a song that every and any listener can relate to and coupling that with a sound that will hold their attention.
“First and foremost, our focus is on the lyrics. I want lyrics that people can relate to,” Hackman said. “I like really flowery words, good transitions and a good flow. We like to throw surprises at people in our songs.”
TBP played their first show in June, opening for Arizona-natives This Century. Since then, they have shared the stage with other local bands like Never Let This Go. They hopped from venue to venue, playing as much music as they can to as many people that they could. 2015 was an uplifting start for the young band, pushing them into the new year and closer to the release of their first album. It helps that they receive encouragement from their friends, which Hackman names as one the greatest non-musical influences for the band.
“The defining moment [of 2015] was simply the amount of positive energy being thrown at us. It’s felt like we’ve had more support than we’ve ever had,” Hackman said. “It can be a long, hard, lonely road as an artist because you’re trying everything you can to get people to listen – to get people to care. It’s your life, it’s everything you do.”
Arizona’s Music Scene Making A Passionate Comeback
The reason that music venues in Arizona are taking off is because the number of local bands in the valley is outstanding. It seems like every month I catch wind of another band that’s making their name known in my hometown. A few years ago, the only bands that played in Arizona were big names and they played large arenas that hold thousands of fans. Local bands were limited to coffee shop scenes and party gigs. Once these smaller venues made a comeback, local talent finally had places designed for them to show off their music.
Hackman reflected on when he first gained an interest in local music when he was about 15. It wasn’t until he was nearing the end of high school that he was on the other end – instead of listening to someone play music, he was the one on stage. He remembers when his music scene (“mid-2000s emo”) was starting to go downhill, taking the music venues in the area with it. Personally living through those tough times, Hackman has a great appreciation for how accessible places like Rebel Lounge and Crescent Ballroom are now to bands like TBP.
“I have worked really hard to prove myself to a lot of those people [promoters], on top of knowing a lot of the bands and the genre that I have been playing has been out of season for a long time,” Hackman said. “Now that our scene has really taken off, I think our music is at a relevant point.”
My Heart’s in Arizona (The Strengthening of Community Through Music)
Now that local bands could make their voices heard, it started to make a greater impact on the community. Instead of going to the movies or the mall, teenagers were asking their parents to drive them to places like The Rhythm Room to watch musicians that grew up in the same place as them jam out on stage. Of course, it’s not just the teenagers who are interested. Many of the local venues also double as bars, making them fun places to go out at night even when the people know nothing about the band playing.
There’s a special bond a fan feels when they find out that a band they like is from their state or town. Understanding that, one of the worst things that any band could do is take their local fanbase for granted. They have a sort of responsibility to uphold that relatable feeling that fans fell in love with in their songs. Fans will start to put the musicians in a whole different light if they are able to get to know them off the stage. They’re no longer some untouchable being that’s beyond them. The musicians turn out to be just like their fans – human.
“I am really big into culture and community,” Hackman said. “Glam rock bands were able to put out this image and they were seen as gods. I always laugh at local bands who think they’re too cool to meet their fans. I think they’re outdated, that’s not how it works anymore. Anyone who messages TBP on social media is definitely going to get an answer back. I will stay after a show until the doors close. I will always be there to talk.”
By speaking to the people behind the instruments, fans gain a better understanding of the music. It’s a win-win for both sides. The fan will find a band that gets them and sing about feelings that they can connect with. They’ll share the bands music on social media, help get the word out, which eventually benefits the band.
There Are Roadmaps in Our Veins
Early this spring, TBP will be releasing their first independent album, “There Are Roadmaps in Our Veins.” They’ve teased the public with a few singles, one of the latest being “Alaska,” a gripping track about trying to reach out to someone who isn’t there anymore. The album is centered around a bad breakup, emphasizing the wide array of emotions one faces.
“I don’t want to call it a breakup album because it isn’t all woe is me but I try to explore the various aspects of it – the heated arguments, the coming to terms of loneliness, accepting who you are away from someone else,” Hackman said.
Since TBP was struggling to find permanent members, the album had help from many different local musicians including people from Never Let This Go and Ezer. Hackman described the songs to all have their own unique “flavor.” Adding to the flavor is what influenced Hackman outside of the writing room. He admitted to listening to Brand New the most and drawing inspiration from their lyrics. The themes in movies and television also had an impact on the writing process. Above all, Hackman’s passion for poetry has stood out in the singles and will be sure to stand out in the album. It’s not the kind of poetry that you’d analyze for weeks in your literature classes, but the more modern and straight-forward material from poets like Sarah Kay and Michael and Matthew Dickman.
Hackman is hoping to put on a release show in celebration of when the album comes out. Look out for an exact date and upcoming shows on the band’s social media. The lead singer and songwriter of one of the (soon to be) best AZ bands on the map ends our conversation on a note that sums up this blog: “I want to focus on what’s local because that’s where my heart is.”
Facebook – The Breaking Pattern
Twitter – @TheBreakPattern
Bandcamp – The Breaking Pattern
So if you take anything away from this blog, I want it to be this: Find some local bands that you can connect with. Whether you live in Arizona or Alaska, there’s sure to be someone with a talent that wants to be heard. Engage and give to your community and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what it can give back.
Thanks for reading,
**Photo Credit: Valerie Lynn of Luxicon Photography