There are tons of musicians who always have something going on and Andrew Moon Bain is definitely one of them. He’s the co-vocalist and guitarist for the Providence soul-funk act Boo City and the band has been one of the most popular acts in the local music scene for the past 10 years. He’s also been dabbling in the reggae projects Lustre Kings and Zion I Kings for even longer. In fact, Bain was involved in the songwriting and production of Snoop Dogg’s twelfth album Reincarnated that he released under the name Snoop Lion during April 2013. These days, Bain has a solo project called Brown Bones which he released the self-titled debut album from on August 27.
We recently had a talk about the inspiration behind this new artistic venture, the vision behind the album, the album’s connection to Southern Rhode Island and what he wants to do with Brown Bones in the future.
Rob Duguay: Brown Bones, from listening to the new album and the tracks before that, exhibits your songwriting skills and your artistic versatility. What inspired you to do this solo project?
Andrew Moon Bain: I’ve been making and writing songs for many years and while also being involved in songwriting for other artists and learning how to produce. From that, I’ve also been producing for other artists so I’ve basically followed my work and the money to make ends meet. I’ve taken a lot of my time to work with and produce for other artists while not working on my own stuff so even though I’ve still remained inspired and productive on my own, I didn’t really create the space to push my solo stuff out there until now. It’s always been going on, to be honest.
RD: What would you say is the major difference between Brown Bones and Boo City, Lustre Kings and other projects you’ve done when it comes to the vision behind each musical pursuit?
AMB: As far as Lustre Kings and Zion I Kings go, they’re both very reggae oriented, Caribbean, Rastafari music. With Boo City, I wrote a lot of that band’s material too and also co-vocalist Tai Awolaju and I wrote a lot of music together for the band. There are songs that I wrote alone that the band adopted and there are songs that she wrote alone that the band adopted. Even though I did allocate a couple Boo City songs into the Brown Bones catalog, I approached it a little bit differently almost as if I was writing for somebody else. Brown Bones is really personal, it’s more inspired by my own life experiences and it’s more raw in that it exposes some of the struggles, joys and personal experiences that I’ve gone through that I’ve been able to express in song so it’s much more of a personal project.
RD: I noticed that from listening to the record. Speaking of that record, it has a bit of a connection to the Southern Rhode Island region due to the tracks “Ode To Reprieve”, “These Old Ghosts” and “Piercing The Veil” being recorded with Ray Gennari at The Rocktorium Of Love Studio in West Kingston and Gennari also playing on the tracks “Vices” and “Prodigal Stone”. How long have you and Ray known each other and what do you like the most about working with him?
AMB: Ray and I have known each other for a long time actually. He did some bass recording and also some trombone on a lot of Lustre Kings stuff circa 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I met Ray at David Prout’s studio called Boo Studio, this is long before Boo City, and David actually taught me how to produce records. His studio is located in Wakefield and that’s where I kind of started really diving into producing my own album, it’s from working with David that got me into it. I then started writing for other artists and I started bringing Lustre Kings production stuff into his studio to get it ready to go to Jamaica.
Ray popped up at some of those sessions when he was playing with The Ravers, David told him that he had a reggae producer working with him, Ray started coming through and that’s how we developed a friendship. I remember when Ray used to have a little tiny corner of his woodshop that he used for recording, I started to go down there and then he expanded it to have a more comprehensive studio. We’ve always stayed in touch and what I really like about Ray is that he knows how to be invisible and present all at the same time. He’ll allow you to be creative but he can steer you in the direction of being excellent as well. He always brings a comfortable environment and he and I usually dive in man-to-man where it’s the two of us on a lot of those recordings, which is really cool with the both of us tapping into what I’m trying to achieve or what I’m seeing in terms of sonic vision.
RD: It’s awesome that you both have a flourishing creative friendship. Was there a specific quality or aesthetic that you were trying to capture while making the album?
AMB: Honestly, a lot of the songs I’ve had in the vault for a while. Some of them were demos, others I’ve slowly worked on over the years and it was really kind of due to being shut down during the pandemic that I had some time to dive into them. I was actually able to write a lot more songs during that time, which will eventually be on the second Brown Bones album, but with this self-titled release I wanted to really be honest and kind of weave a full listening experience together that felt like the classic concept albums I love. I wanted it to feel like a real journey from start to finish and for me, the best songs are written sort of quickly while evoking something you’re going through or you’re dealing with. It triggers an emotion or a feeling that allows you to kind of express it in less than 20 minutes or something, it just falls out of your head.
I put together a bunch of those for this project because I felt like it was the best way to kind of introduce this vibe to people. I really wanted it to be honest and I wanted it to be something that people could listen to for a long time or revisit or that they could relate to. There’s a little bit of sadness, there’s a little bit of joy and there’s a little bit of pain all in there so that’s kind of what I was going for. I wanted to make something that could bring people peace and maybe feel nostalgic but also kind of brand new at the same time.
RD: The record has a lot going on with it. There’s a soul and blues vibe but there’s also these atmospheric and psychedelic tones within some of the songs that provide a cool listening experience. I really enjoyed it.
AMB: Thank you for that.
RD: No problem. You just mentioned a second Brown Bones album, so do you plan on taking time this fall and winter to work on the record? Do you have other projects in the works? What do you plan on doing with this project going forward?
AMB: I’m always working on music because of what I do in the reggae world but as soon as this album dropped, I was getting a lot of feedback which was really inspiring and also terrifying because it’s such a personal album. I quickly went back into the vault and I’ve already been kind of drafting the follow-up so I’m definitely setting aside some time this winter to tighten up that project. I may shoot to release it next year but I also have a live EP from this album that I want to release in the spring and then see where I can take it as far as booking some performances. I’m definitely looking forward to doing that and playing this material live in sit down rooms and chill listening spaces to get this stuff across over the club gigs that I might have done with Boo City. I want to have it be more of a listening experience for Brown Bones so I may try to find a situation for the next album over doing it independently if some of the momentum from this release picks up. If I can tour some of this and play some of it out while making some connections, I’ll have a more accurate view of when the follow up will be released.