Fresh and Solid: The Broship’s National Homie Collective

From left to right: Mike Doepner, Adam Virostko, Carl Ball, Dreu Damian Hudson, Cassie Combs, John Finnegan, Jesse Cassar, Bacon, Alex Guy. Photo: Patiri Photography

“It’s comedy, music and art … And good, ol’ fashioned, hard partying. We’re the partiest partiers in Partyland,” says Dreu Damian Hudson, vocalist for Her Candane and I Am The Ocean. He illuminates one of the core axioms of his party gang, the Broship. If you’ve never seen a Broship T-shirt, tattoo or any other form of their logo, or you have never seen a Broship band play a show, then you’re probably not from the Salt Lake Valley—this group of men and women has been chugging beers, snapping necks and cashing checks since the early part of the millennium. Think Project Mayhem meets The Warriors meets Andrew W.K. With a love for aggressive music, their gang boasts 20 plus bands throughout Salt Lake and across the nation; they’ve got indie-venue-proprietor bros, small-business-owner bros and bros in the food industry. Of course, they won’t do gross things to your soup or threaten to cut your balls off, but they’ll sure as hell give you a brew to slam. LOOM bassist John Finnegan says, “It’s like a community-esque type of thing, is what it’s turned into. A collective of homies all across the country that are willing to help anybody out with shows [and] places to stay.” ‘Cause at the end of the day, after the show and after meeting a shit ton of new buddies, this crew is ready to do one thing: “Bro down with our bros,” says Hudson.

The ship set sail one day as Hudson, Finnegan and the Broship’s other founders, Carl Ball, Brad “Bacon” Wood, Mike Doepner and Broship matriarch, Cassie Combs, sat around on a porch, bro-ing down just like any other day. They wanted to upgrade from their original junior high crew name, the West Valley Beer Crew, to something more prolific and on par with the thug and Straight Edge crew names they had seen. Around that time, Hudson had worked for Jiffy Lube, where his middle-aged, working class coworkers would chummily address one another as “brother” (imagine it as if Hulk Hogan were saying it). Hudson’s subsequent, ironic use of the term “bro” emerged as a comedic term of endearment that would transform a group of adolescent kids into a transnational network of rock n’ roll partiers. “Definitely not, like, bro-brah,” Hudson clarifies. “Not frat bro—just homie, like, ‘brother.’ Everybody says ‘bro.’” Amid the haze of the day, the word “Broship” arrived at the port of their brains, turning on not six different light bulbs, but one giant conceptual lighthouse. Finnegan reminisces, “We sat on our porch for like, three hours. It all just snowballed.” What really tied it all together, though, was Broship veteran Alex Guy’s penning of the official Broship logo whilst on tour with Clifton. “We needed something that we could see from a mile away and recognize a family member [and] stake our neck out for each other,” says Guy. Hudson is quick to comment on Guy’s ingenuity in creating such an iconic yet simple stamp of brohood—it is easily tattooed and conducive to quick and easy guerilla marketing: “I can’t draw a house. I’m fucking 28 years old, and I can’t draw a cat, but you can stencil that on there and I’ll put that in ya.”

With a name and a face, the bromance commenced and five founders got organized. “Five of us self-appointed ourselves as the council,” says Hudson. “And since no one told us we couldn’t be, we were: It was me, and John, Mike Doepner, Carl and Bacon. We made it five so that if we ever had to vote on anything, there would be a tie-breaker, always.” Initially, the council kept the Broship fairly exclusive because they wanted to be associated with good music. The crew started out with Clifton, Her Candane and I Am The Ocean in Salt Lake and 36 Crazyfists and Lorene Drive from Anchorage, Alaska and Victorville, Calif., respectively. They held ceremonial initiations where new members were inducted by the shirtless council with wicked bro-eola, and one by one, each band got the logo inked upon their bodies, each with their own band’s color scheme. Once each band started to do extensive touring, though, calamitous situations brought others in to solidify the network. On tour in the East, LOOM had three shows in a row cancel on them in Charleston, S.C. Broship members in the area aided LOOM by giving them food, shelter, party and fun. Finnegan holds onto the gratitude he feels from the experience: “These Broship kids from South Carolina fucking hooked us up.” Hudson can relate—during one tour back East, Her Candane’s van broke down in Delaware. Hudson contacted AJ Hanson, a member of New Jersey’s Trophy Scars, and kicked Hanson some dough to drive Her Candane through the rest of their tour. They finished up, then went down to rage with their bros in Charleston, where a game of Edward 40-hands united the Charleston International Mafia and Trophy Scars with the Broship. Chapters have since risen in Los Angeles, Denver, Fargo, Spokane and Portland, all of whom recognize the Broship’s roots right here in Salt Lake City.

“Before you know it, you have a home away from home in six, seven cities,” Hudson says. As the Broship sails across the U.S. brocean, members push to incorporate partying and good times into every show they play with as many bands as possible. Hudson continues, “[When] we all started touring, we wanted to make an impression. We didn’t want to be the band that got there, played our show, then split town. We wanted to get there early, meet the kids that were at the show, play our set, leave it all on the stage and then party hard with them. We probably got hotels, like, 1 percent of the time, ever. We probably slept in the van maybe 10 percent of the time. The rest of the time, we were partying people’s asses off.” Whether Hudson is giving somebody a Broship tattoo at the Blue Lagoon venue in Santa Cruz during a show, or LOOM manager Jesse Cassar is hosting shows for out-of-town bands at the Shred Shed (their official headquarters), the Broship is always looking for new people with whom to party. Hudson says, “We just wanna party with everybody. We want everybody to know they’re welcome. There’s no dress code.” Cassar chips in, “Everyone has a passion for life and a passion for music. That’s what it is.” The Broship emphasizes that you don’t even have to drink to be in the Broship—the crew is home to Straight Edgers and boozehounds alike. “You don’t [even] have to get a tattoo, but if you keep showing up, being awesome, we’re probably going to ask you to get a tattoo,” Hudson says. The crew functions on ground-level equality: Everyone in the Broship retains their beliefs and what they hold dear, but this does not override anything that other members value. “Nothing’s sacred,” as they like to say.

The Broship thrives on universal truths—the first being to party hard. Hudson lays down another prominent Broship aphorism, “Fresh and Solid”: “Anything Broship should either be fresh or solid. If it’s not new and fresh and enticing, then it should at least stand on its own. If it’s not fresh, it better be solid, and if it ain’t solid, it better at least be fresh.” This ideology extends to and permeates the music and art Broship bands create. Finnegan says, “We all like to keep it loud, keep it rockin’  and keep it interesting.” Upon listening to Broship bands, don’t expect to hear generic verse-chorus-bridge tunes. Although these bands create heavy, hardcore-influenced slammer-jammers, they strive to blaze new paths within heavy music with fresh takes on song structure and chords that transcend basic power-chord progressions and dynamics. “Almost nothing is super structured,” Hudson says. “None of us really follow the formula, all the songs move in a way that make sense to us.” Not to say that they disregard simple songs altogether—as long as music has what they call “puss.” Where the heart is just an internal organ, your puss—which everyone has—is your “internal emotional reception piece.” “It’s where you get slammed,” says Hudson. Thus, all it takes in the Broship is to put your passion into your music and your art. Hudson delves deeper, “Just mean what you say, say what you mean and don’t be a dishonest artist.” Even in the face of adversity as LOOM, I Am The Ocean and Her Candane have dealt with record labels that have screwed them over, Broship bands continue to pump out their music because of their drive and love for what they do, no matter what it takes. “It’s D.I.Y. till you D.I.E.,” says Hudson.

With a steadfast ideology, the Broship aims to provide a community for bands and partiers wherever they go. After going through the Bay Area a couple times, LOOM acquired Cassar, who housed them. Cassar says, “They asked me to go on tour with them, and I went on tour with them as their roadie, and we just built this relationship. They said, ‘We’ve got this family, it’s called Broship. We want you to be a part of it.’” Carrying LOOM’s torch of hospitality, Cassar has put up new Broship members Artifex Pereo whose shows were canceled when they hit Salt Lake. He showed his love by letting them stay at his house/Broship clubhouse the Shred Shed for three days, giving them a practice space and a home away from home. He and Hudson have sent them along to speak of the haven that is the Shred Shed in Salt Lake City. As various bands such as Artifex and Matterhorn return to our city and bring the rest of the nation’s music to us, the Broship keeps the cycle of SLC-awareness and respect alive by repping Salt Lake and Utah everywhere their bands play. Hudson brofesses, “We’re super proud of our roots. We don’t appreciate any stigmas about Utah, and if you don’t think that people from Utah can drink, we’ll show you the door.” They’re down, 110-percent, with anyone going out, pushing hard for Utah. “We support all things of Zion. We support the Utes—we support the fuck out of the Jazz. We’re down with BYU, even,” he says. The Ship rock their Broseph Smith jerseys anytime they organize a tour—cities on tour fliers are marked with asterisks that indicate a ‘crucial Broship bro-down’ where the hookup in that city takes the bands and people at the show out to mark the broccasion and demonstrate the immense drinking and party capacity that Utah has to offer. From Dec. 15 to 19 of 2010, the Broship took it to the next level: Hudson, Finnegan, and members Alex Giles and Adam Virostko competed in Budweiser’s Band of Buds partying challenge in Las Vegas. The Broship stormed past Utah competition and totally forwent the Utah semifinals. Their feats included a red carpet walk that required them to ham it up in front of a camera and take pictures with babes and then conduct an interview, gamble with a $1000 chip in the way they saw fit and, lastly, bro down in a plethora of drinking games. Unfortunately, Phoenix’s rocker crew was one of the four finalists, which shafted the Broship, but due to support from 50 other members who went down to party, the Broship made its presence felt. “You’re not gonna be able to get through 30 seconds of video without seeing somebody walking by in a Broship shirt,” says Hudson regarding Budweiser’s Internet broadcast of the competition. The judges recognized this, too, as they deemed the ‘Ship “the crew that you most likely wanted to drink and travel the country with.”

With such a broad network, it’s difficult to encapsulate all the goings-on of the Broship. There is, however, pressing news. The Broship has begun to push a series of download cards that will function as their sort of “preliminary label,” which you can find at any Broship band’s show or the Shred Shed. Jesust and Artifex Pereo have recently joined the crew. LOOM is doing a short tour with Orbs and Wild Orchid Children, playing Kilby Court  on March 31. There is also talk of a tentative I Am The Ocean/LOOM tour starting in May. I Am The Ocean will be going into the studio soon, and the Shred Shed will be posting their shows in yours truly, SLUG Magazine. Watch out for the release of Letlive’s record Fake History on Epitaph Records on April 12. It is supposed to hit the indie record scene with a bang. Oh, and it’s probably time you start practicing your bro-down skills: Exigent Records and the Broship will present what they call Salt Lake’s first independent music festival, Crucial Fest, at Liberty Park in June. The festival will be free, include three stages and approximately 30 bands set to bro your mind.

From left to right: Mike Doepner, Adam Virostko, Carl Ball, Dreu Damian Hudson, Cassie Combs, John Finnegan, Jesse Cassar, Bacon, Alex Guy. Photo: Patiri Photography Cassie Combs and Dreu Damian Hudson sailing the seas of the Broship. Photo: Patiri Photography