How do you know when you’ve made it as a band? For Massachusetts-based rockers The Brew, it was meeting the first fan so diehard she had the band’s logo tattooed on her back.
“We showed up to a show, and this girl showed us her new tattoo. We couldn’t believe it,” said guitarist Dave Drouin. “Then a couple months later there was another girl with a tattoo. When we met the third girl, it was like, ‘Man, I guess we’re doing something right.’ I mean, none of us would tattoo that on ourselves. That’s amazing.”
The Brew, who will play a special Halloween bash at the Unity Centre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 31, have attracted a devoted fan base over the years. Though The Brew is deeply invested in the jam band scene, they aren’t really a jam band — one listen to The Brew’s new album, “Back to the Woods,” shows that these guys are all about songwriting.
“We’re all huge fans of the Beatles. We love Paul Simon. Queen is huge for me,” said Drouin. “Jamming, in and of itself, is very secondary. It helps us keep our songs fresh when we’re on the road, but we are really focused on the art of the song.”
“Back to the Woods” showcases a band that knows what it wants. The 12 songs that make up the album are strong, undeniably catchy compositions from four guys who know each other, musically and personally, as well as anyone can know another person. The band has been together for seven years — Drouin and drummer Kelly Kane played together as teenagers. Brothers Joe and Chris Plante (bassist and keyboardist, respectively) came onboard before all four had even graduated from Amesbury High School in Boston’s North Shore.
The secret to the band’s success? Friendship, pure and simple. You don’t hang out and play music together for seven years if you aren’t more like brothers than bandmates.
“We’re kind of brothers in arms. There’s a great sense of love for one another,” said Drouin. “We try to be really open-minded. We know that we’re better together than apart.”
The Brew plays more than 150 shows a year, and has done so for the past few years. The band has played Maine multiple times — though the Unity gig looks to be a real hoot, with Drouin promising “a spooky, audio-visual feast of delights” (his words, not mine). In August, the band played the Up North Festival in western Maine, and this year the band was nominated for the “Best New Groove” (Best New Artist) award at the Jammy’s in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
The four friends have had the opportunity to play with some of its musical heroes, including a stint opening for Bruce Hornsby, which led to their recording “Back to the Woods” with Hornsby’s sax player, Bobby Read.
“More than anything financial, or being famous, the things that have always mattered to us have been being able to play with the people we love,” said Drouin. “It’s really amazing to feel like you’re a part of that patchwork quilt of American music, and being on the road and living music. That’s definitely my proudest accomplishment in the band.”
Tickets for The Brew’s show in Unity can be purchased by calling 948-SHOW. For more information, visit www.thebrew.biz.