BRNDA is one of those bands with a sound so tight, it actually makes your brain go loose, and if you happened to be listening to their terrific new album, “Do You Like Salt?,” on a recent Thursday night while driving to the band’s house in Northwest D.C. to ask them about it, the news ticker at the bottom of your brain may have started flapping around like a ribbon in the wind, because in addition to that paradoxical tight-loose, nervous-relaxed thing, this music also feels spiky-smooth, and is there anything like that in physical reality? Maybe one of those bumpy, knurled massage balls? What does a massage ball taste like? Wait, why are you wondering that? Oh, because BRNDA absolutely won’t stop singing about foods, as if the butterflies in their stomachs are growling, and here’s what’s on the menu: avocados, eggs, tacos with onions, tofu, hot dogs, muffins and one lobster who is not actually depicted on the band’s lyric sheet as a foodstuff, which might also remind you that BRNDA sounds a little like the early B-52’s (“Rock Lobster”-era) as well as some other less-obvious bands from the late-‘70s (Come On) and today (Straw Man Army), and look, you’ve arrived at their house and it’s time to ask them about all of these things in the backyard.
So what’s up with all the food? “I’m obsessed,” says BRNDA singer-guitarist Dave Lesser. “I think food — and the way we approach food and think about food — is one of the most important things you can do as a member of the human species. So when I think about what’s important enough to write a song about, food is one of the first things that comes to mind.”
After playing together for nine years, how did the band arrive at such an exacting sound? “The way we’ve come to write songs is together as a band,” says singer-drummer Leah Gage. “So it starts with a limited idea that grows in the process of working together, and I think we’re able to use our collaboration to figure out exactly what we want.”
Do they know the music of Come On? “Nope.” How about Straw Man Army? “No.” But surely the B-52’s, right? “Yes.”
Do they think the lobster in “Rock Lobster” was eaten? Like, is the bridge of the song — “Down! Down!” — meant to evoke the lobster being plunged into a boiling pot only to be consumed alongside the baked potatoes cited in the song’s final verse? “I think you have definitely analyzed this a bit more than I have,” Lesser says.
Okay, last one: When they play these songs, do they feel — not as a band, but as individuals in their respective bodies — tight or loose? “I try not to feel tight,” Gage says. “As a drummer, the best way is to be loose. I’m influenced by hip-hop and R&B, too, so sometimes I try to match that more than punk drumming. But certain songs feel tighter.” So it’s both? “I’m wound tight, but we feel good with the songs so maybe that’s the tightness and the looseness at the same time?” Lesser says. “I don’t know what to say.”
BRNDA performs with May Rio and Tosser on Friday at Comet Ping-Pong, 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW. Show starts at 8 p.m. cometpingpong.com. $12.