Bremen Entertainment Inc., also known as Bremen, is an alternative rock band with a unique three-guitar lineup, consisting of Michael Wu (guitar/vocals), Valen Tsao (guitar/vocals), Mordecai (guitar/keyboard), Sean (bass), and Logic (drums). Their albums narrate a journey following the General and Vala Vandal, from the exotic psychedelic vibes of their first album "Taured" through a punk and electronic music adventure, culminating in "Leaving Taured" with Yokkorio, and hinting at their new work "The Great Bremen Show." This latest album retains their psychedelic rock essence while incorporating explosive elements of Thrash Metal and Nu Metal.
Here's an interview with the members of Bremen Entertainment Inc. by Taiwan Beats:
Q1. "TGBS" is more stimulating and special compared to "Taured" but retains your signature style. Can you describe the stylistic changes and what new influences each member brought to these albums?
Valen: Before writing our second album, I collected a lot of folk music from around the world. For example, the musical phrase in Vala Vandal was inspired by Iraqi music. Different cultures interpret harmony and rhythm uniquely, sparking new ideas. I also learned Beiguan music with A Hom from Island Futurism at Gongle Xuan in Dadaocheng. The percussion sound in Vala Vandal's opening is the "cao" Beiguan.
Michael: We once followed a Beiguan band during a performance in Tainan.
Mordecai: Knowing we wanted a heavier sound, I set goals like achieving the guitar tone of Queens of Stone Age or exploring the soundscapes of Black Midi, which was new for me. My previous view of rock music was narrower.
Sean: I used to play slower, rhythmic pieces. The biggest change in this album was the speed, so I switched to using a pick and bought a new Gibson SG Bass.
Logic: I joined Bremen before the second album and started exploring rock music, having previously focused on Funk. I also studied drumming by Joey Jordison of Slipknot.
Michael: I listened to Slipknot while composing Vala Vandal Chasing Theme and General Suspicious. Initially, my reference was aggressive electronic music like Skrillex's "Brostep" and Dubstep. I translated these sounds to guitar.
Valen: We aimed for tighter compositions while maintaining an 'exotic' narrative. I was inspired by the evolution of psychedelic music, where bands like Black Sabbath were influenced by horror movies and earlier music genres like Garage Rock and Surf.
Q2. "TGBS," produced by Michael, features more vocals and exclusively English lyrics compared to the bilingual "Taured." How did you decide on this approach, and what were your references for this album?
Michael: The first album was produced by Wang Chong Yang of Molly's Haze. We learned a lot about production and post-processing from him. For "TGBS," we had a clearer vision of our sound – more distorted, aggressive, and intense. The contrast between the two albums is stark, but it was a necessary process in finding our voice.
Language choice wasn't a major consideration. If I don't feel connected to writing in Chinese, I won't force it. English allows for more interesting phrasing.
Vocally, this album is less complex but influenced by Geese, a band of our age, whose recent album draws from modern rap, incorporating more spoken elements. "Peace and Quiet" probably has the most ideas.
Valen: We discussed Cartoon Network shows like "Cow and Chicken" and "The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy," known for their wild and cool expressions. We wanted to create a similar feel in our vocals.
Q3. A question for the guitarists: Having three guitarists is rare in Taiwan's music scene, reminiscent of bands like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. What roles do each of you play in arrangement and performance?
Michael: We focused on more unison in "TGBS." The first album had intricate arrangements with each member on their line, while "TGBS" is more like King Gizzard, with unison in guitars and vocals, building up layers of sound, inspired by "Brostep."
Valen: The first album had elaborate parts requiring extensive communication for balance. The new album used computer-aided composition, focusing on completing specific ideas.
Mordecai: I mainly play lead melodies, while Valen and Michael build the sonic weight, and I outline the overall line with guitar leads.
Q4. Mordecai, besides guitar, what other roles do you play in the band?
Mordecai: My role is primarily guitar. I play piano when it fits the arrangement, but it's too heavy to bring to most live shows. Mordecai, my solo project, focuses on electronic music and scoring, separate from Bremen. We once reworked "Flat Fall" from the first album into a danceable electronic track.
"Taured" and "The Great Bremen Show" are the first and second parts of a parallel universe trilogy, set in a fictional world created by the collective imagination of the band members. The story combines elements from Gabriel García Márquez's "The General in His Labyrinth," with images of Yuan Shikai and Che Guevara, portraying a general with a cult movie sense of humor and magical realism.
The General, born in the Moon Mall Empire, arrives in Taured as a colonizer. After the war, he is invited by the inhabitants of Bremen Island, originally part of the Taured continent, to embark on a distant journey. The first chapter of the journey unfolds the General's experiences in Taured, starting in the deserts of the northwest, encountering the enchantment of a witch, and ending at a maritime train station en route to Bremen Island.
The second chapter begins in a banquet hall, where the members of Bremen perform songs like "Castle" and "Junkyard Princess." The story revolves around the pursuit between the General and a cowboy assassin, culminating with the princess returning to the castle. The band members play themselves in the story, with a deeper narrative layer: the people of Taured are unfamiliar with music, and the band members are the ones who bring music to this world through a parallel universe.
In addition to Bremen, member Valen Tsao is also the drummer for Toxic Bald, Mordecai (Mordecai's solo project) focuses on electronic music and scoring, and Sean is the bassist for Yaseinosu. In 2024, alongside military service and single production, Bremen is preparing to release a vinyl version of "The Great Bremen Show." They are also actively engaging in and planning overseas performances, indicating a dynamic and promising future for Bremen.