Care about the craft of songwriting may no longer be the norm in today's pop/rock world, where cookie-cutter lyrics and beats usually hold sway. But don't tell that to Memphis-based Breaking Point, whose powerful new album Beautiful Disorder combines emotional, heart-felt lyrics with simultaneously intricate and straight-ahead muscianship to deliver a compelling and intense album from beginning to end.
Rewind to the first time that founders Brett Erickson (singer/guitarist) and Justin Rimer (guitarist) played together. Erickson recalls: "I took Justin to this horrible ghetto neighborhood in Memphis, where you could hear gunshots in the background, and we just rocked out."
Not quite the imagined setting for heartfelt lyrics and precise songwriting. Nonetheless, according to Erickson, "We saw something in each other that was incredible, and we realized with a little work we could achieve something amazing."
Obviously, something went right that day of jamming. Back to the present, where the band's album features a mere percentage of their overall collection: "We began with about 90 songs," says Erickson, "and it obviously became necessary to try and sculpt that down. We started out really angry, aggressive and trying to work out our angst about where we were at, but we finally turned our energies into writing about something personal, that we were close to. I've always felt that if you don't feel it, then don't say it or play it."
"The great ones really stood out, because they were heartfelt," adds guitarist Justin Rimer, who writes the bulk of Breaking Point's material. "It wasn't hard at all to decide which ones should go on the record -- they were all really evident."
Beautiful Disorder was born from what Rimer describes as "equally the best and worst year and a half of my life," during which time a relationship ended and the band began questioning where it was at -- and where it might be headed.
First single "Show Me A Sign," with its killer riff and churning tempo shifts, "was written out of all that, dealing with some of our frustrations over where we were as a band," Rimer says. Likewise, the yearning, acoustic-tinged "All Messed Up" deals with the overwhelming promise and loss that can be found within relationships, while the affirmative "Don't Let Go" is about "not giving up, about going for your dreams. The entire message is to hold on."
Heady emotional stuff is not something normally encountered in a music scene dominated by musical histrionics and empty-headed sloganeering. But Breaking Point gets its message of hope across with hook-laden commitment. "These may be personal songs," Rimer explains, "but they're describing universal feelings."
"Putting yourself out there can be a little scary," adds Erickson, the group's other primary songwriter. "But a lot of people come up and say "You've really nailed how I feel about that.' Even though I've heard these songs a zillion times, they can still give me chills," he continues. "They're so close to Justin, but it was no struggle for me to get his emotions across. I consider him the brother I never had, and I'm truly honored to have him as my friend."
Through this lengthy process, the core of the group maintained its steadfast support of each other. "I give a lot of credit to Justin," says bassist Greg Edmondson. "He ws very insistent about doing the demos, but he also kept up the morale of the band. We went through a lot to get this album finished, but it paid off."
Of course the album came from a lot more than just one fated Memphis jam session. To start, Rimer and Erickson's roots date back to high school, although musically they didn't click until years later when they played together. Upon their newfound musical affinity, the guys held endless auditions for members to round out the band, and Edmondson -- whose influences range from hardcore to classic rock to early Motown and jazz -- ultimately won the job. "A year later, we were getting tons of label interest, and things are now way better than I ever could have imagined," the bassist marvels.
Edmondson, and Rimer as well, are both self-taught. "I feel that formal lessons can put restraints on you, as far as developing your own sound," Edmondson says. "But at the same time, I'm my own worst critic. I'm constantly looking to improve myself."
"I just always had this love for music," Rimer says, who's been playing since age 12. "I definitely was able to create my own style, and I pride myself on that. I would like to take guitar lessons someday," he chuckles, "just to learn some theory...but I'll probably never get around to it."
Completing the line-up is drummer Aaron "Zeke" Dauner, who formally joined after Beautiful Disorder was recorded. The Minnesota native's path began in Chicago, "where I met up with a friend from Oklahoma City, and we started doing some demos. We ended up in a studio in Orlando, and Brett hestla [former touring bassist from Creed] referred me to these guys in Memphis. I had moved to Nashville by then, which is only a three hours' drive from Memphis, so I went over a few times, and it just clicked."
Though still very much the band's designated "new guy," Dauner says he's been made more than welcome. "It's really one happy family," he declares. "We have a lead singer who's very talented and focused, and a guitarist who does a lot of the songwriting -- they're like two peas in a pod in the way they work together. My job is to lock in with the bass player -- and Greg is one of the finest guys I've ever jammed with. All four of us have very similar tastes in music too, which helps -- everything from the heavier stuff to Rush, the Police, and '80s new wave pop stuff."
Playing into the obvious care with which Breaking Point's line-up was solidified is a very real knowledge of -- and appreciation for -- what being from Memphis means to the group. "Being from Memphis in itself sets a really high standard for bands," says Rimer. "The level and quality of music coming out of here is amazing and always has been. We feel very fortunate to be able to represent Memphis and do the best job we can, considering the history this town's music holds."
Now the group is eagerly looking forward to returning to the road, a luxury they'd been forced to give up while working on the album. "That's why you do it," Erickson declares. "Writing, playing, performing, recording -- they're all important and each has its moments but playing live is still the best one. Seeing people's heads move and in some cases singing along...that's the rush."
Rimer is looking forward to touring as well. "Enough with all this writing and recording!" he laughs. "I'm ready to get out there and rock -- ready for getting up in front of a crowd and having fun."
--- from the official Breaking Point website