Charleston musician John Brooker was known for his enrapturing deep tenor vocals in popular alt-rock band Great Yankee, which had a stint in the music scene a few years ago. After that project ended due to the drummer moving out of town, Brooker joined up with Great Yankee bassist Joe Fusco for a new initiative. Thus, Argot was born.
Just a few months old, Argot is ready to release an EP, "Murder Lounge," and Charleston Scene has the premiere of first single, "Creeps."
We caught up with Brooker for a Q&A about the new project and song.
Q: So, Great Yankee was a fixture for a while in the Charleston music scene. Why did that project end?
A: Our current bassist, Joe Fusco, and I started Great Yankee almost five years ago. Great Yankee was always a tandem effort with Joe and I both writing songs. After a good run with Great Yankee, our drummer was taken away from us the way all too many drummers in rock bands depart: Med School. After our drummer's departure and some turmoil between band members, it seemed like Great Yankee had run its course.
Q: Why did you decide to start Argot once that ended?
A: I think I just wanted to keep making music. I just kept writing after Great Yankee stopped, and the writing I was doing seemed different. I played around with a couple different people, tried a duo and ended up playing with guitarist Brian Arne. From there, we starting trying to put a band together.
Q: How is Argot different from Great Yankee?
A: The main difference is probably the songwriting, since it's my writing rather than the tag-team effort that was Great Yankee. Argot comes from a very different place too, as I'm at a more mature yet transitional period in life, wanting to address things in a more thoughtful way. I'm hoping it has a more grown-up sound. The arrangements are more complex and there is more focus on instrumentation.
Q: Tell me more about the inspiration behind “Murder Lounge.”
A: So the "Murder Lounge" is actually the loving nickname we use for our practice space. When it's not flooded, it makes a nice cozy, concrete practice space.
Q: Sound pretty murderous, indeed. So what inspired "Creeps?"
A: "Creeps" is about not connecting with other people and suffering for it. The refrain ‘cool on the outside, so cool on the outside’ initially appears a superficial assessment, but as the song goes on, you realize that it’s more of an indictment on all of us. "Creeps" is the foil to another song on the EP, "Been There," which talks about how clumsy or unfeeling people can be in relationships and how we suffer for it. The EP overall is about how we relate to each other and find our place in this strange, modern world.
Q: So, some final details. Where did you record the new EP?
A: The EP was recorded in our drummer Chris Howell's living room live in just a couple hours, after which we did a overdubs. It was mixed remotely by Jordan Graves in Oregon and was mastered by D.J. Edwards. We will release the full EP on Feb. 10 via SoundCloud, and then it will be up on Spotify and other music streaming services within a week or two.
You can find Argot on Facebook at facebook.com/bandargot.