Donuts on your lawn

The Brodys spin their way up Highway 182, looking for punk-pop notoriety without blinking

Are we not men? We are Brodys!

Are we not men? We are Brodys!

Live! 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, September 15, at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 9th and I streets. Free, with the Groovie Ghoulies, Freight Train Riders of America and ¡Búcho!.

Three goatees. One surname. A broken pair of sunglasses. Tony Brody, Ace Brody, Bryce Brody and Dave Brody look like four guys you might find manning the counters and narrow aisles of a shopping-mall software outlet. You put on the Brodys’ new CD, The Unexamined Life, or talk with them, and you could still believe they’re four guys who work at regular day jobs not too different from yours. As lead singer and sometimes acoustic guitar player, Tony, puts it, “We’re just four regular dudes who have fun with what we do.”

The Brodys’ music can be described as pop, punk, rock. Their sound might put them on the same jukebox as Green Day, Rancid or NOFX, though they’ve done well playing on bills with such super pop bands as Smash Mouth and matchbox twenty and combos as balls-out punk as Agent Orange and Stiff Little Fingers. As for versatility, they’ve had SAMMIE nominations for best punk band, have won a SAMMIE for best pop band and have played with the area’s finest rock bands.

The Brodys have been at it since 1996, when Tony and drummer Dave left Free Beer to join guitarist Ace in his band Special Guest. That these two bands played together must’ve made for some damned confusing handbills. Special Guest mutated into Whiskey Park and then into the Brodys, who borrowed their name from the hero of Peter Benchley’s Jaws. Bryce Brody, who’d played previously in Kozlo Swicky and briefly in the Mac Swanky Trio, joined on bass a year and a half ago. The four are very focused on what they do—none of the Brodys play in side projects, a rarity in the incestuous Sacramento scene.

“We give this everything we’ve got,” Dave explains. “It’s just the day job and then this.”

Then Bryce interrupts. “It’d be like someone sleeping with your girlfriend.”

“Someone is!” the jovial and perhaps slightly drunk Ace deadpans.

The Brodys’ focus and hard work have resulted in two earlier full-length releases, a four-song disc that featured three songs chosen by MTV for its animated series Undergrads, and a new full-length CD that will be released in grand style this Saturday via a free concert in Cesar Chavez Plaza.

The band has invested a significant amount of time, effort and money into its latest disc. With co-producer Joe Johnston, they went all-out on the production end, recording first at Sacramento’s Pus Cavern Studios, then traveling to The Plant in Sausalito for mastering. It was there that Dave Brody was overwhelmed to be working, as he says, “in the same studio where Stevie Wonder did his best album [Songs in the Key of Life] and where Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours was recorded.”

As for the songs, Tony describes the Brodys’ writing process as one that celebrates efficiency over ego-soaked indulgency, ultimately resulting in each track being what he calls “a concise work of art.”

“It’s all about the hook,” guitarist Ace further explains. He should know, as the centerpiece of the Brodys’ hooky, guitar-heavy sound.

With a significant nod from MTV, some friendly attention from a label or two and their own feeling that they’ve done their best work so far on The Unexamined Life, the Brodys are excited to see where they’ll go from here. Even so, they haven’t forgotten their live audience, and are preparing to amaze them at Chavez Plaza.

“It’ll be a Brodys show,” Tony promises, “but it’ll have lots of fun extras and things … ” He pauses, seeming to wonder how much to reveal, then continues: “It’s not a show to be missed.”

“For big shows, we always do something big,” Dave adds.

It’s part of a grand plan to keep doing what they do for as long as they and their audience keep enjoying it.

“Until one nut is hanging lower than the other,” Ace concludes, “we’re gonna keep playin’!”