Life on the road isn’t glamorous, but it’s what Todd Jackson and Levi Watson — the two heads behind Oklahoma City hard rock outfit Brother Gruesome — crave and work for.
The duo has made a point to steadily tour outside state borders since forming in 2009, ditching creature comforts in favor of the humblest accommodations and long miles for the sake of sharing its heavy, torrid take on grunge-leaning rock music.
“Playing to new crowds and friends every night is awesome,” Jackson said. “Fast food and hard, dirty floors suck … but this isn’t a hobby. We’ll continue sacrificing to live the creative life.”
Those years of blood, sweat and sore backs pay off on Mutually Assured Destruction, Brother Gruesome’s new full-length album (recorded at Hook Echo Sound) and the best representation of the band to date. The record was partially written during a sabbatical of sorts to the high New Mexico desert, just outside of Taos.
“This is a diverse group of songs written in different times and places, but all of them are intended to be hard-hitting with a palpable emotional impact,” Jackson said. “The simplicity of it being (just) us two has allowed us the space and time to really focus on our tones and recording style. We are much heavier and together these days.”
That sentiment is made abundantly clear from the get-go with the enthralling — and revealing — title.
“The term means when two sides are poised to destroy each other with overwhelming force, no matter if it will mean destruction to both sides,” Jackson said. “Take that and apply it to friends and lovers, and there you have it.”
The album’s scandalous cover — illustrated by Oklahoma artist Garrett Young — is similarly enlightening.
“We told him that we wanted an album cover with both shock value and sex appeal,” Jackson said. “He perfectly and unexpectedly summed up our music with that picture of a sexy amputee waiting in bed with a bottle of booze.”
2014 will bring more writing and releases, including a split with St. Louis punk band The Little Big Bangs, but first more touring in support of Mutually Assured Destruction (available on multicolored vinyl), an album which has proven to be as relatable as it is dark and angsty.
“I have always wanted to write songs people can relate to, and everyone has been in hard, screwed-up situations,” Jackson said. “Sex, indifference, drugs, addictions, expectations, disappointment, depression, suicide, temptation, friends, obsession, death, disease, experimentation, birth and growth … that’s what these songs were born out of.”