Sing it Loud

The Broadcast's Caitlin Krisko evokes the spirit of Janis Joplin.

The Broadcast’s Caitlin Krisko evokes the spirit of Janis Joplin.

The singer’s plan is simple — you get a band, you write songs, play a ton of shows, then write more songs and play even more shows. “You build fans, and that’s how you make a career,” she says. “There are people that go see bands for 40 years. People fall in love with you as a band, and it becomes a part of their life story.”

The Broadcast brought its driving rhythm and blues sound to Asheville from New York City in 2010 to be better located for touring the east coast. The band quickly became known locally for its solid, expressive musicianship, and a frontwoman who in one song could bring to mind Grace Slick, Ann Wilson, and Janis Joplin, with a touch of Amy Winehouse.

A year later, recent UNC-A grad Aaron Austin was recommended to fill a guitar vacancy in the band. “As soon as Aaron joined the band, things really started to roll,” Krisko says. “We started to find our sound, and really fine tune our live performances.”

“Nowadays the only avenue that’s really left for a musician to be fulfilled and successful, as far as a grassroots way of making it, is to play live music and tour, and to do that a lot,” says Austin. “Keep adding fans.”

As part of their grassroots approach, Krisko and company have removed as many of the middlemen as possible. The singer handles all of the booking chores, and other band members take care of merchandise sales, online promotion, communications and logistics. “We’ve given up waiting around for someone else to make something happen for us,” Krisko says.

The Broadcast also features the colorful keyboard work of Rich Brownstein, strong low end of bassist Matt Davis, world beat percussion of Tyler Housholder and jazz-informed groovemaking of drummer Michael W. Davis. The group mixes solid pop rock hooks with heady playing, a recipe that can be found on their new release, Dodge The Arrow. “That’s kind of our thing right now, the rock songs with good hooks,” Austin says. “We’re all catering to Caitlin’s ability, ’cause it’s not really about the chords you’re playing, it’s about the vocal hook.”

Dodge The Arrow starts with the 7/4 groove of “The Line.” “I’ve always been into odd meters, like probably in a nerdy musician way,” says Austin. “I was talking with Rich about how much I like it, and I think he came up with a riff in 7/4, the main riff of that song, kind of just to please me. And it sounds great.”

“I started to love that song in the studio, and got really excited about it,” Krisko adds. “It was that first hit with the guitar. I was like, ‘This is probably the biggest song, let’s open with a bang, just sideline them.'”

“We can have these tense verses that aren’t necessarily straight forward, and then have that big release, like on ‘The Line,’ or ‘Loving You,’ Austin explains. “We realize that every song has to more or less have that. We’ve been trying to recapture what happened when we wrote ‘Loving You,’ because it’s a simple song, and it grooves, and people know it after the first time they hear it.”

Austin grew up on the North Carolina coast, just south Wilmington, and moved to Charlotte as a teenager. He took piano lessons before being given a guitar at 13. “I was just able to pick the guitar up and play things, play songs that I knew, and that was really cool,” he says. “Everyone in the band grew up listening to classic rock’n’roll, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. A lot of the first stuff I learned was Led Zeppelin.

“When The Broadcast moved to Asheville they were a rock band that had more of a retro Motown thing going on, a little more upbeat, not as gritty as it is now. When I came into the band, all of the southern rock that I grew up with just started coming out. So over the first year of me being in the band, us writing material, it just got grittier and grittier and more rock’n’roll.”

Krisko was born in Detroit and sang along with Motown records before moving to New York, where she studied voice for 11 years. “Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Janis (Joplin), the Beatles — all that stuff was blasting in our house,” she recalls. “When I started getting older, 17, 18, I just loved the whole vibe, the whole culture, and couldn’t believe it still existed. Realizing that there are hundreds of festivals every summer gave me a sense of inspiration to want to pursue this as a career.

“If you look back on classic rock, on these bands that we really respect and love, musicians weren’t going out to become millionaires,” Krisko says. “And I think that there’s an authenticity to that. If there’s not opportunity to make billions of dollars, well, you’re doing it because you genuinely just love what you do.”

The best part of performing, according to the singer, is when she stops thinking about things and is just carried by the wall of sound behind her. “Live music is so exciting because it’s an elevated emotional state of being,” she says. “When these guys take a solo that’s really moving for me onstage, that puts me in a headspace that I feel way more free. It stops being about how I’m being perceived and starts to become an opportunity to express energy.”

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