Last December, Iron Pizza called it quits after more than five years as a band. The synth-rock band with a proclivity for partying was a supremely fun and well-liked fixture at Riverwest and Bay View bar shows. The project’s end left listeners wondering what Iron Pizza’s members would do next. Fortunately, the wait wasn’t long.
In late May—roughly six months after the band had its swan song at Bremen Cafe—former Iron Pizza members Rachael Thompson, Jake Brahm, and Bryce Kedrowicz played their first show with their new, markedly different project known as “Tell Me.” With the addition of Taylor Campbell (of Suffer Head and One More Final I Need You) on guitar, the young project—which also has current a former ties to Canopies, Appleseeds, Hughes Family Band, Faux Fir, Pussy Collector, and a variety of other projects—is poised to take a more mature, more serious, and decidedly prettier approach this time around.
Prior to Tell Me’s performance at Bremen Cafe on Thursday, July 18, Milwaukee Record sat down with members with the hope of learning more about this exciting new project.
Milwaukee Record: Where did this all start? Most of you were in the band Iron Pizza, which ended late last year. What prompted the band and all of you playing together again?
Rachael Thompson: Well, we were all messing around during Iron Pizza. We started a different band with Taylor [Campbell], and that fell off because we were all busy.
Jake Brahm: Yeah, we had tried for about a year to get another band going, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t work out or it would fizzle out. When Iron Pizza ended, we knew that we still wanted to play and make music together. Knowing Taylor and with him being such a great songwriter, it all finally fell into place and we were able to make it happen.
MR: Taylor, what’s it like to be in a project with three people who’ve played together in another band before? Was it hard to acclimate or did you fit right in?
Taylor Campbell: Well, I did play with Iron Pizza for two shows when Jake broke his wrist, so I have at least some connection with them musically, but I really like the connection they bring to the table. Plus, having that trust and familiarity goes a long way for band dynamics, so there was never a period of feeling each other out or being scared to voice an opinion, which I really appreciate and makes the writing process so much smoother. They’re all great musicians, so it’s been awesome playing with them.
MR: What is the basis of the name Tell Me?
RT: I had a one-word generator app on my phone that I would constantly use because we could never settle on a name. Then one day, I just thought of Tell Me. It’s just a simple thing that kind of goes with our sound. It’s kind of random. I just said it was they were like “Okay.” [My son] wanted us to be called “Excuse Me But I’m Sorry.”
MR: The most Midwestern band name of all time! So yeah, I know it’s a little early to define your sound and I’m not asking you to nail down what you’ll sound like until the end of time, but where has the early output landed sonically? What do you sound like so far?
JB: Less party. I feel Iron Pizza kind of ran its course on being a crazy, wild band.
RT: I’ve always wanted to be in a band that was prettier and not so aggressive. Getting to experiment with my vocals in a prettier, calmer way has been interesting and I think we want to take it in that direction. We’re actually ready to do some cool stuff and be a little more professional.
Bryce Kedrowicz: I think the songs are a little more structurally complex than Iron Pizza. I feel like they’re still aggressive in parts, but there’s a good dichotomy between that and the pretty pop.
TC: I think it sounds like a mixture of shoegaze and other melodic, pretty ’90s rock. but has a jazzy undertone to it all with the chord voicings and some of the progressions within the songs. We’re definitely trying to write songs that people can easily listen to and like and sing to, but man, I’m sure happy when we can do that while also having a chorus with an E-Flat Major 7 Sharp 11 chord snuck in there.
MR: What has the live response been like at your first few show?
BK: I think the only show was at Cactus Club, and people seemed to dig it. They seemed to like it, which was encouraging to be well-received.
RT: I was definitely surprised by the reactions we got. And it helped me because I am still very self-conscious about the different voice that I use in this band. It definitely helped me to be want to keep going because I was really scared.
MR: You have a show on the 18th, but beyond that, what’s coming up in the near future and where are you hoping to take this project?
BK: I think just focusing on writing more songs.
RT: Yeah, just writing more and actually sticking to practice and not getting drunk at practice. Actually writing stuff is cool. We practice at a mental health clinic that Taylor works at, and we can’t bring beer in there, so this is a first time for us getting together to practice without having a beer in our hand. This might be why we’re taking it in a different, more mature direction.
MR: And what are some long-term goals?
JB: We have three shows lined up right now, one in every month. We’d like to keep playing shows. We’re releasing an EP shortly, and then hopefully we’ll keep writing and put out a full-length album.
Tell Me will play a free (21+) show at Bremen Cafe on Thursday, July 18. Weird Night, Shutups, and Brain Viper will also perform. The show begins at 9 p.m.