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Washington DCs Brave is a band that I instantly fell in love with the minute I heard them. Lead by singer/keyboardist Michelle Loose Schrotz, drummer Trevor Schrotz, and guitarist Scott Loose (who also make up 3/7 of doom rockers While Heaven Wept), Brave delivers Celtic infused female fronted metal that is melodic, heavy, and catchy to boot. Braves most recent album, 2008s Monuments, is an amazing collection of songs that boast a vast range of influences from Queensryche to Lacuna Coil and all else in between. After instantly becoming a huge fan I was eager to talk with lead singer/keyboardist Michelle Loose Schrotz. Michelle was gracious enough to take time out from being “mom” to her two children on a Monday night to talk with me about the origins of Brave, where they’ve been and where they are heading. It was really great to get to know more about Michelle and her band. I hope you will not only learn about them but check them out as well.

Michelle, thanks so much for doing this interview with me this evening.

No problem Don. Thank you for everything. It’s so nice to meet someone who’s motivated by the music and enjoys it. It’s really rewarding for us to have people digging what we do so that’s awesome.

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I actually heard of Brave because of you and Trevor’s involvement with While Heaven Wept. Has this involvement brought some fans your way?

We’ve definitely had some people who have found us because of While Heaven Wept. We were lucky enough to tour Europe with While Heaven Wept last year. We did ten dates over there and we ran into a bunch of people who had heard of Brave and had seen us on YouTube. We were surprised that there were people that had actually heard of us outside of the DC area where we play most of our shows.

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Well I’m going to make sure that everyone I know knows about Brave. Braves music has really hit a chord with me and I want everyone to know about you. I’ll run it in people’s faces until they have to listen to you guys.

[laughs] That’s awesome. You’ve definitely been doing a good job at pimping us out [laughs]. I see all your posts about us on Facebook. It’s awesome!

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Your brother Scott (Loose; Guitar), and your husband Trevor (Schrotz; drums) are members of While Heaven Wept with you and they also both play with you in Brave. How do you guys not end up killing each other?

[Laughs] Fortunately, we all get along super well. We’ve been doing this for probably 15+ years or so. We’ve always had a great relationship. I think we’re so lucky to have each other and just basically have each others back. It’s comforting to have family with you and it’s really amazing to get to share these experiences together. To go out and see the world with your husband and your brother is pretty awesome. I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

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Before Brave there was Arise From Thorns which was a more acoustic based prog band. Can you tell me a little more about that band?

I really had no intentions of ever playing in a band or doing anything like that so it was very random. At some point in the mid 90’s or so my brother Scott was writing some songs. I had a keyboard so we just started playing together just to see how it sounded and that’s how Arise From Thorns evolved. He was originally singing in Arise From Thorns and I was just singing a little bit and then all of the sudden I ended up singing the entire album [laughs]. I wouldn’t have started any of this if it hadn’t been for Scott and Trevor encouraging me to get out there and do it. They encouraged me to not be shy and to be brave which is actually some of the meaning to the band name.

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Where did the acoustic element of Arise From Thorns come from?

That really came about because Scott was always playing acoustic guitar. He started writing songs and it just developed into a very organic kind of feel. We aren’t really folk fans per say but it’s just how things came out when we got together and wrote.

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I listened to everything from the Arise From Thorns album to Braves last album Monuments and I could really hear the band’s progression. Was the progression from acoustic based prog rock to the Celtic inspired prog metal of Brave a natural one?

Oh definitely. Scott and I grew up on metal music. Trevor was always the jazz guy and he grew up on classic Genesis and all the old proggy kind of bands. We just started jamming more and more with heavy electric tones. I’ve always been a huge fan of chunky guitars and heavy grooves and riffs so we just played around with it. We really liked the direction it was going in so we just kept going with more of that progressive kind of metal sound.

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It just kills me that Brave isn’t huge because you guys have all the elements of what makes a great band in my opinion.

Thanks. When we were much more proactive with pushing the band and trying to get a record deal we had been told that we’re not proggy enough for the prog fans and not metal enough for the metal fans so people just don’t know what to do with us. That’s always been our struggle. We’re in so many different grey areas and there’s no concrete category to put us in.

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This is what made me a fan of Brave. Brave isn’t just one style of music. I feel it’s prog enough for me to feel like I’m hearing some really great music but it’s not so self indulgent that it makes me roll my eyes.

We try to kept our sound kind of accessible and a little more simple. We’ve been categorized as not prog enough for the prog fans yet we’re a bit too busy for the more mainstream fans of rock music which I can agree with.

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With that being said, what kind of audiences does Brave attract?

We really seem to attract two kinds of fans. The prog people love it and also people who are really into female fronted metal. Fans of those kinds of bands are the ones that we feel we get the best response from. One of or best shows ever was opening for Lacuna Coil.

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In addition to Lacuna Coil, Brave has had the opportunity to open for some amazing acts such as Fates Warning and Symphony X. Is there one show that stands out as a highlight for you?

I think the highlight for me was opening for Fates Warning. We opened for them on their Pleasant Shade of Grey tour which is one of my all time favorite albums. It’s just sick. I love it. That was our first big show so that was amazing. They were so cool. We have really learned a lot by watching other bands who have been doing this for so long.

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Braves music is so melodic and I hear elements of everything from Queensryche to Pink Floyd in your songs. Who do you consider some of your biggest influences?

I think you pretty much hit it on the head when you mentioned Queensryche and Pink Floyd. Those are two huge influences on us. My main influence is Tori Amos. I’m a fanatic. I love Tori, Rush, Fates Warming, King Crimson and old Genesis. We all bring so many influences to the table which is how our sound developed. Our bassist Ben is all about Death Metal while the other guys are into everything from Classical music and Metal to jazz and prog. There’s a huge range of influences there.

When Brave performs live, do you ever combine some of the early Arise From Thorns material in live performances?

Yeah, we do some old Arise From Thorns songs. Some of those old songs are some of our favorites. We still do “Time Alone” and “Among The Leaves” from Before An Audience of Stars. I wish we played more frequently and rehearsed some of those older songs. I think there is a lot of good material in that old Arise From Thorns stuff. I don’t think the recordings are ideal but we still think the songs are good and still have meaning to us today.

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Brave released Monuments in 2008. I’m sure being a parent keeps you busy but do you think Brave will find the time to put out a new album and maybe even tour a little bit?

I really hope so. Life has definitely changed since we put out Monuments. We ask ourselves all the time, “Do we go out and do this again by ourselves or do we try and get some sort of label support?” Clearly we’re not making any money doing this and we haven’t even broke even on all of our past recordings. It’s extremely expensive to record and we’re so picky. We’re definitely not done because this is part of who we are. We’ve got so much new material that I think is really good, but it just needs to be developed.

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You and Trevor have two children. Do your kids even realize just how bad ass their parents are?

[laughs] My son is 3 ½ and my daughter is 15 months so they’re both a bit too young to really understand . They’re still learning about everything. We always play good music at home and one of my son’s favorite bands is Tool which I’m very proud to report [laughs]. They know that we play shows a lot and that we play music. Sometimes my son will see a bald guy playing drums on TV and he’ll say “There’s daddy!” [laughs]

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That’s cool. Eventually they’ll figure it out and know how cool you guys are. My parents were old and tired but they were always supportive of my music no matter what I was into.

[laughs] My parents were also always really supportive. Before we had kids and before she became my primary babysitter my mom went to every show. She was out there rockin’ out and helping out. It’s so important to have supportive people.

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I’m so excited to finally get to see Brave live here in Atlanta for the Pathfinder Metal Fest.

You’ll have to let us know what you want to hear when we’re down there in Atlanta for Pathfinder Metal Fest. We’ll totally cater to you [laughs].

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I always love to ask bands what their thoughts are on bands who go out live and perform to backing tapes and what not. What are you feelings on this?

Well, I think it’s really deceptive to your audience. Some people I think need it. Not everyone may be comfortable on stage and there’s a whole variety of reasons as to why a singer might be off onstage. As a whole I would personally prefer to hear the real thing. I think you get a better show out of knowing what you’re hearing is authentic.

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I’d rather hear a singer hit a non perfect note and know they were putting some emotion into it as opposed to just trying to be perfect.

Exactly. It’s much more emotive and passionate when it’s live and raw. You don’t want to make people ears bleed but if you’re that horrible you probably shouldn’t be performing if that’s the case [laughs].

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It’s such a refreshing thing to see a female fronted band that actually has great music and talent as opposed to using sex to sell an image. What are your thoughts on some of the female fronted bands that go that route?

It’s not my thing personally but maybe if I looked like that it would be different but for me [laughs]. It’s not what it’s about. It’s not about how you present yourself image wise. It’s all about the music and the passion behind it. One of my favorite singers is Ann Wilson of Heart. I mean she’s amazing and no matter what issues she’s had with her weight and what not, she’s unbelievable. I would rather have someone with that kind of talent personally than just go see boobs all night. That’s for me personally but I’m a chick and some guys might disagree [laughs].

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Nah, I believe that there’s a time and a place for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I love boobs as much as the next guy but much rather talent and great songs over how someone looks.

[laughs] I mean, if you can get the best of both words all the better. If you can get someone who’s extremely talented and looks amazing then good for her. [laughs]

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Do you feel that women in music who do rely on sex to sell an image set you back as a female artist yourself?

I don’t think so. I think people who come to see us are pretty serious about music in general. I think they’re more drawn to the music than the visual aspect. I mean, we’re certainly not crazy performers either. I guess one of our weaknesses is that we’re not too theatrical on stage or going too crazy [laughs]. Hopefully the people that see us are paying more attention to the songs and the music.

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What was the defining moment where you knew you wanted to be a musician?

I do remember thinking that The Bangles were super cool back in the day and I thought, “I wanna be in a chick band” but never really did it. I never really dreamed that I would ever be in a band. I just happened to fall into it and with encouragement I just continued with it. It’s been so life changing and I’m just grateful I had some people kind of push me into it. It’s all about confidence and that is a big factor in it all. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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What was your first hard rock/metal concert?

My mom took us to see Motley Crue and Whitesnake on the Girls Girls Girls tour [laughs]. I just remember Tommy Lee’s drum solo spinning around and thinking it was the most awesome thing ever [laughs]. My mom’s all into that kind of stuff. She likes Metallica and almost all the bands we used to blast in the house 24/7 [laughs].

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I heard that you’re a big Queensryche fan. Do you have a particular favorite album?

In all honesty, I haven’t heard any of their most recent albums but you just can’t beat Rage For Order. That’s my favorite one. I think Promised Land is really good but Rage For Order is my favorite. I’ve always loved that one.

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If you could front any band for one night who would it be?

Oh man. Queensryche would be pretty cool [laughs]. I think that would be absolutely amazing. It would be sick [laguhs].

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I’d love to hear that but you’d have to play keys too!

[laughs] Yeah. To add some lushness to it. That was always a dream of mine when we were first starting. We were going to go on tour and open for Queensryche. I can’t say that we ever got there but that was always a dream.

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If one of your kids came up and asked you, “Mom, what is Heavy Metal?” What album would you put on to answer the question?

It would have to be a Metallica album from back in the day. I think Master of Puppets would pretty much sum it up.

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What does the rest of 2012 have in store for Brave?

Well we have the Pathfinder Metal Fest in Atlanta this summer and I know we have some other shows locally. We going to try and do a couple of shows on the way down to Georgia if possible. We’re going to keep writing new material and hopefully will have more shows this year. Hopefully next year we’ll get some studio time and record a new album.

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Michelle, thanks so much for doing this and I’m really looking forward to seeing Brave here and meeting you all in person.

I really appreciate your enthusiasm. It’s very motivating for us to know that people are out there are digging what we do. We really appreciate everything you’ve done. I can’t wait to meet you in person and let us know what you want to hear at the Atlanta show. We’re really looking forward it.

For more on Brave, check out their website at http://www.bravemusic.com

About Don de Leaumont

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats and dog. He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, "No fucking way."

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Art says:

“My mom took us to see Motley Crue on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour.” Oh, my God. I guess I better go put down my deposit on a place at the nursing home.

Brett McCoy says:

You’re always laughing, Michelle, you are such a happy person all the time!

Thanks so much Donny D for the great chat and for all of your BRAVE enthusiasm! I think I must have laughed the entire interview, it was a good time 🙂 Thanks again for the opportunity!

thegreatsouthernbrainfart says:

Michelle, we did have some laughs and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It was definitely one of my favorites and again, anything I can do to spread the word about Brave I will!

Good interview, I’ll definitely give their album a listen. Love to see Crimson getting mentioned by other musicians.

thegreatsouthernbrainfart says:

Jaymz, Brave is a great band with a ton of really great songs. I’m sure you’ll find something in there that you’ll connect with.

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