Andrew Brittingham has been working on the narrative for Boy Becomes Hero for much longer than you’d ever imagine. Having toured in bands supporting some of the musicians working with him today, Brittingham has soared to the ultimate outcome for this project, releasing his sophomore concept album with Programmer Jonathan Gering of The Devil Wears Prada, and heavily featuring other musicians like Garret Rapp of The Color Morale.
Upon releasing debut album Reverie in 2019, Boy Becomes Hero are back to release the prequel concept release called Escape Artist, and it’s astonishingly good (our review here), and feels packed with production. In fact, the unclean vocals were so good, I thought it was The Devil Wears Prada!
We had a chat with Brittingham ahead of the big release, to learn a bit more about how the project came about and what the narrative of Escape Artist.
Andrew, I have to admit I did get confused, thinking that it was vocally similar to The Devil Wears Prada, when really Gering didn’t bring his fellow vocalist with him. Is that an accident that your voice is so similar to the band’s sound?
I’ve gotten that since I was like sixteen, half of my life ago – people would always say it. I’ve learned a little bit better how to use my voice much more emotionally like what Mike (Hranica; The Devil Wears Prada Vocalist) is doing. I know it’s very similar so I totally understood where that was coming from. I take that as a huge compliment, so if that’s if that’s how that came across then I’m doing something right because I’m a huge The Devil Wears Prada fan too. One of my favourite albums is 8:18. Being able to have Jon Gering on it and do the programming and everything – I hope a lot of other people pick up on that and connect to it.
Absolutely, I think listeners will appreciate Jonathan’s inclusion in this as well as some other heavy hitters like Garret Rapp of The Color Morale. What can you share with us about how this whole project came together, before even connecting with these guys?
Oddly enough, Boy Becomes Hero started like ten years ago, as me doing some acoustic stuff through my MacBook. It struck back up again about two years ago now when I was entering my first year of sobriety, and at that one year mark I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I could still do music. You know I used to play in bands when I was younger and opened for some really cool people like Emarosa, Sky Eats Airplane and A Skylit Drive. Through my use of alcohol, music became kind of like a toxic thing for me. So, I was able to sit down and get down to writing Reverie, and one song turned into ten, and now it’s turned into Escape Artist as well and we’ll keep moving forward from there.
Awesome, and how did the other musicians come into the picture for Boy Becomes Hero?
Honestly, linking up with some of these other artists is a really strange thing, it really started with just hitting them up on Instagram, I reached out to a lot of artists and I think I was really able to connect with the people that I would have really wanted most on the record. [Interestingly], lower profile people had their managers get back with me saying ‘this is not the direction he really wants to go in right now’, so I was like okay, maybe this won’t happen and then of course I had you know people like Aaron Gillespie (Underoath) and Garrett get on board with Jon.
“It was really cool to be able to have those people on board that meant so much to me and my history of music too, you know these majorly influential individuals in the music scene to want to do something, something more trying to make a make a living off of it, something that’s a little bit more for the greater good.”
It’s so exciting to see all these musicians come together. Upcoming LP Escape Artist has been described as a prequel to Reverie, how does the new record differ from Reverie in your opinion?
Yeah, so Reverie is also a concept album and it’s where the story follows from Escape Artist. Reverie follows the story of the son of this family, and it goes through his losses and growing up – both albums are very semi-autobiographical. They follow very closely to some of my upbringing as well. Halfway through Reverie, the main character meets up again with the protagonist of Escape Artist, so it was kind of natural to get some more of a backstory. Reverie has lyrics that are much more telling of what’s happening in the story, whereas Escape Artist is the opposite – it’s much more emotional, so sound-wise as well, they’re very different.
There’s so much to these records, in terms of their depth and layers and lyrical consideration. You mentioned Boy Becomes Hero has been a project of yours for around a decade, so is the content on these albums a long-time in the making?
I revived riffs that I had written when I was fifteen, sixteen and seventeen. and even now when you listen to it, each song is vastly different and it sounds very much like early 2000s post-hardcore. The recordings from Reverie are a lot rougher, whereas Escape Artist is definitely much more of a mature sound while still picking up some of those roots from the earlier days as well.
So how did the contributing musicians deliver their material? Did you write all the lyrical content for them or did they write as well?
I didn’t have any lyrics written for them at all. So like, especially with people like Garrett – he’s on so many songs on this album; his voice is really his instrument and it wouldn’t be fair of me to say, ‘okay, now I want you to figure out how to use that amount of syllables in this verse or in this chorus.’
“I think that that would be highly restrictive to his ability and would really take away from what we’re able to put into this, so he reads the entire song by song synopsis to understand what our characters are going through, and he builds lyrics and his melodies from there.”
That’s really cool that you shared the freedom of music writing across the board. Do you think that there’ll be a third album that’s part of the story?
Yes, absolutely. Oddly enough, this album that’s coming out now, was not initially meant to be Escape Artist. The story was already written but the sounds that I was beginning to write riffs for, were actually for another album, the sequel to Reverie. I just really wasn’t in the mental state for that though. It’s supposed to be much more of an upbeat-party style album. I was in a little bit of a darker place and for me music is like that emotional and mental release for me so there will be more of a story, it’s definitely going to continue.
What’s your message to fans of Boy Becomes Hero and Escape Artist?
If people are loving the record, share it with your friends. Instead of asking people to pick up merch, we kind of took a step back from that, this time. If you would have put money towards any merchandise or physical records, please give it to To Write Love On Her Arms to help our communities and the people who are really struggling mentally to get the professional help that they deserve, to enrich their lives. I think that’s the big message that I would want to give right now.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Boy Becomes Hero – Escape Artist tracklisting
3. Craftsmanship with Garret Rapp
5. Consciousness with Garret Rapp & featuring Jonny Craig
6. Interdependence with Garret Rapp
8. Restitution with Garret Rapp
9. Clouds as Mountains featuring Ranadi