By Johnny Kosmos
The sappy love song is a tired trope. Steve Brockley’s latest release, Is Not Was, is far from sappy. While Brockley might sound exasperated and drained, the music itself isn’t tired. “I really appreciate a love song that’s not all happy and hunky-dory,” says Brockley. “I try not to sugar coat anything.”
The title, Is Not Was, might as well have a comma and read more like “Is, Not Was.” The album, written and recorded while Brockley was going through a rough patch with his now wife, is a tale of life, love and the dark side of it all. “We are current, not past,” Brockley says of the title. “It was all about pulling it together and repairing it, and how can we move through this?”
Written during the spring of 2016 and recorded that June at Vancouver’s legendary Afterlife Studios, Brockley played most of the instruments on the album, an impressive feat considering they recorded it in two days. John Raham (Frazey Ford, Be Good Tanyas) lent his technical prowess and production instincts to the project. Raham’s live approach to recording is essential to the natural and vintage feel of the record.
Brockley is based out of the West Kootenays, where he lives on an acreage with his wife and child. Born and raised in Vernon, BC, Brockley moved to Montreal where he played in a bunch of bands, gigging and touring all over Canada. “It was a great place to cut your teeth,” he says of his time in Montreal. “It’s dirt cheap to live out there so you can afford to make music and not work all the time and there are tons of live music venues — the opposite of Vancouver.” It was there that he met his wife, also from BC. Tired of the big city, they moved back west to raise a family.
The perils of love are hard to overcome. Making an album about it is even harder. Brockley has done both.
Is Not Was is now available on all streaming services via Afterlife Records.Afterlife Records