Priory Can’t Wait To Come Back To Barbados
It’s the late afternoon and Priory front men Brandon Rush and Kyle Sears have just returned to their hotel to prepare for an upcoming radio interview. Just a few days prior, the electro-pop band played their first gig in Barbados, and they were now enjoying what the island had to offer on a much-needed mini-vacation. Fresh from an island adventure tour, the guys – with their eyes resting behind sunglasses – recanted their day filled with fun, food, and rum punch. It’s definitely a far cry from the gruelling tour life they had to endure for the past year.
Formed back in 2011, Priory – their name symbolising “one goal” – has been making major strides from their home base of Portland, Oregon. Signed by Warner Brothers Records in 2014, they have been enjoying their growing success, mainly driven by “Weekend” – the lead single from the album Need To Know, released in April this year. I briefly talked to the guys about the island, music, and stage diving.
Interview by Carlos Brathwaite | Image via Facebook
How are you guys doing?
Brandon: Great. I like [Barbados]! I mean the island’s gorgeous, we’ve been eating really good food; we went swimming. The hospitality has been incredible! The thing that stands out the most about Barbados so far is the people. It’s just like warmth and embrace, and everyone’s making us feel very loved. And we’ve had our wonderful tour guide/liaison [Eusi Skeete of the Barbados Tourism Authority] showing us around. We wanted to experience the real Barbados so he took us out and we went to nine different parishes – there were only two interior ones that we didn’t get to go to.
How has the music been going so far this year?
Kyle: It’s been incredible. We’ve been touring for the last year; I think we’ve had a few weeks home. So this for us is like a working vacation. Working vacations are the best because we got to play music, hang out with people, and then we got to relax and enjoy the island. So it’s been incredible. We’ve been lucky enough to have songs on radio, and some love in the U.S. we’ve been enjoying that… it’s been great.
B: This last little stint has been very condensed, very concentrated with larger gigs. It’s festival season in the states, so we played Governor’s Ball, and Bonnaroo, and all these large festivals. And it’s a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, and a lot of rushing around. So to come to the island and have this very laid-back, peaceful approach to everything… even the sound check. Normally, [when] you play a festival, you get twenty minutes to get all your stuff and get up on stage, do your sound check, and hurry to get up off the stage. And the experience that we had at The Boatyard with Nexcyx was basically: we showed up early in the day, take as long as we need to get to sound check, very laid-back, everyone is just showing up when they want to show up. I think we played two hours after we were actually supposed to start playing but it was perfect. It was very methodical and everyone was just having fun and having a good time together. And the show was great! We felt that the response from Barbados was solid. Nexcyx blew us away. One of the tightest bands we played with. Their rhythm section is dangerous.
K: Yeah they are our friends now and we’re going to hang out with them later. We’re going to go to a rum shop and hang.
B: Yeah. We’ve been introduced to Mount Gay XO, so we’ve been drinking plenty of that. It’s so smooth!
Speaking about Nexcyx, What else do you like about the band?
B: Those guys… their rhythm section was insanely, insanely tight. And the way they flowed from song to song, they really got the audience going. But more than anything: just them as human beings too. And it was really nice hanging out with them.
Let’s talk about the infamous stage dive. What was going through your mind, and did you have faith in being held?
B: [Laughs] I like to [stage dive] if it’s in a new environment. And I didn’t know if people were going to catch me so I walked them through it a little bit.
K: Brandon’s really good about letting everyone know, “This is what I’m going to do.” Especially after getting destroyed breaking his rib. He is very good at letting people know: “This is how you carry me up. And this is how we move together.”
B: Yeah, absolutely. If it feels like it’s right, then who knows what will happen? During our shows we like to… whatever you feel lead to do, you should do. I think all musicians should operate under that vibe.
K: Honestly, we usually know around the third or fourth song. We’ll kind of look at each other or look at our bass player [Miles Johnson] and be like: ‘Okay, Brandon’s going to surf.’ You can feel the energy. If their going to be like jumping, then they’ll be able to do it.
B: And actually that was my first drink of rum since I have been here. I made it back to the bar and was like ‘Okay, now I’m going to try Mount Gay.’
So it wasn’t pre-planned?
K: Not at all
That’s crazy! I wanted to know why did you guys choose Barbados, a place you’ve never been before, to hold this concert?
B: Well it’s an incredible place, and we heard so much about it that we always wanted to go. So when the opportunity arose immediately we jumped on it.
K: They were like: ‘Do you want to go to Barbados?’ we said: ‘no question.’
B: We feel like honorary Barbadians at this point. But I’m serious like… in the next couple of years I would probably have dual citizenship here. Like I want to move here. This is incredible. This is the most beautiful place that we’ve ever been.
Nice. Outside of Rihanna, are you guys familiar with any other Caribbean artists?
B: Unfortunately not very much, but the music that we’ve heard since we’ve been here is incredible.
Yeah we’re in the middle of Crop Over
B: Everywhere we go there’s music.
K: There’s music down the street. There’s music here [at the hotel] every night. It’s great.
What can we look out for from the band for the rest of the year?
K: We actually just shot a video for a single called “Put ‘Em Up,” and it will be out in like a week in the states – and well be shooting some more videos during the year. Well be shooting in the fall, writing new music. We’ll just be hustling.
B: Hopefully pushing our label into coming back to Barbados soon.
K: Yeah. Sooner than later please. [Laughs]
For two guys who have been grinding it out for so long, is there any advice on how to keep that “musical fire” burning?
K: I think for Brandon and I, we were lucky to find each other as songwriters. As kindred spirits we both work really hard. We tour a lot, and when we’re home we spend our days writing and recording – bettering ourselves. And when we need to take a break we allow ourselves to take a week to kind of, you know, come to Barbados and relax – and that’s really important for artists. I think continually working and not being stale is very, very helpful.
B: I would say work ethic is number one. Every day make sure your putting in the time. A lot of people assume the life of an artist is: ‘Oh, you go from place to place and you party.’ There’s that for sure, but the other side is, if you’re working in the arts, you have to be continually practicing the arts. Whether or not you feel motivated to, or excited to, you need to be at it every single day so you can be at the cutting edge. The other thing is: kindness. Remind yourself that at any given point: everything can go away, that we’re all equal, and you need to treat everyone with respect, and love everybody. That is especially most important with your band mates and the people you work with everyday. Keep your ego small, treat everyone really good and [with] lots of love, and you’re going to be good.
K: And part of that reason is why we love the island, we love Barbados. Everyone has the “One Love” philosophy. Like, everyone’s taking care of each other; you can feel the love. Like when we flew in, we felt that kind of in the air – it’s really inspiring.
Carlos Brathwaite is the Founder of 246Mixtapes. Follow him on Twitter.