Nutmeg homecoming for Bronze Radio Return

Bronze Radio Return, which features four alumni from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music, comes to Connecticut next week.

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
One of Connecticut’s own is making two stops in the Nutmeg State on its current tour through the United States.
Bronze Radio Return, whose most recent album is “Shake! Shake! Shake!” is going to be playing Toad’s Place in New Haven on Nov. 1. They also are returning home, in a way, when they play Hartford’s Great Hall at Union Station on Nov. 2.
Four members of the indie band attended Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.
Toad’s Place has always had a legendary status in Connecticut, having attracted many great acts to its stage through its existence. The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and U2 have all played there.
And the significance of Toad’s Place is not lost on the band’s lead singer Chris Henderson.
“It feels great (to play there),” said Chris. It will be the second time for the band at Toad’s Place. And the first time, the band was clearly conscious of the historic vibe.
And Chris said he was excited to play the Great Hall. He said Hartford needs a new venue like the Great Hall. Plus, as a band, he said, “It’s nice to go to a place we hadn’t been to.”
Although, four of the members shared the same air and walked the same turf when they attended the Hartt School, Chris said the U of H alum never played in a band together until after they graduated.
Chris said drummer Rob Smith and keyboardist Matt Warner had played in some school-related jazz concerts together. However, they weren’t in a “band.”
Bronze Radio Return only began to converge when friends of friends began pointing the individual members—which also include fellow Hartt alumni Bob Tanen, and Hartt outsiders lead guitarist Packy Fetkowitz, and harmonica player Craig Struble—toward each other. And soon they started playing together as a unit.
Chris said he doesn’t remember a particular turning point in the band’s nascent stages that told him, yes, this is a line-up that works, this is a band.
“It was all pretty organic.”
Essentially, Chris said the band worked as unit because the members shared a number of personal connections. They also shared taste in music. And they admired many of the same people. Additionally, Chris said, the members shared the same work ethic. They all were willing to grind things out and they recognized the importance of rehearsals.
Hartt School is a pretty serious music environment where students for the most part head into the worlds of jazz or classical music.
However, despite Hartt’s educational reputation, Bronze Radio Return has a much more melodic and catchy sound, albeit rooted in the indie rock universe— which is in many ways the opposite of what students learn at Hartt.
Chris was asked how much of what he learned at Hartt he was able to tap into for Bronze Radio Return and how much he had to unlearn in his rock and roll venture.
Chris was complimentary of the education he received at U of H.
Chris said the Hartt program gave him a pretty good base for creating music. For instance, he received great ear training. He learned about music production. And other lessons also were beneficial for Bronze Radio Return.
But, Chris said, some lessons you have to learn in the real world, such as how to deal with promoters.
Asked about artists the members of Bronze Radio Return admire, Chris said the band looks up to a lot of artists. But, he cited Ryan Adams and the Black Keys as groups that the band admires as to how they do things. But what Chris liked about Bronze Radio Return is that they don’t try to sound like anybody else but themselves. They may pull bits of pieces out of artists they admire, but it still comes out like Bronze Radio Return.
“It’s like making a good chili,” said Chris. You throw all the ingredients in a pot, he said. You let it simmer. And when it’s done, the finished product tastes nothing like the sum of its parts.
Chris said the band just recorded the follow up to its second album, “Shake! Shake! Shake!” And he loves how the musical flavors of Bronze Radio Return have simmered together this time around.
As for when that third album is coming out, Chris said that has yet to be determined, although February is a possibility.
For the new album, Bronze Radio Return traveled to Virginia for writing and recording. For “Shake Shake Shake,” the band wrote and recorded in Oklahoma. And for the first album, they went to Nashville.
All three locations offer entirely different cultures than Hartford. They also are all far away from friends and family.
Chris said this choice in locale was deliberate. He said by putting the band in locations where there is nothing to do but write and record, it forces the band to write and record. There are no distractions from the business at hand.
Bronze Radio Return returns to Connecticut when it plays Toad’s Place on Thursday, Nov. 1 and The Great Hall at Union Station in Hartford on Friday, Nov. 2.
For more information, go to BronzeRadio Return.com