The Relationship will play the ASCAP Music Café
January 17, 2015
When guitarist Brian Bell heard his band The Relationship might play in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival, he thought that would be a good time to visit his sister.
"She lives in Salt Lake City and I liked the idea of going to see her," Bell told The Park Record during a telephone interview from an art museum in Los Angeles, California. "Our manager also has connections in Salt Lake as well, so we thought it might be fun."
When Bell found out he was playing the ASCAP Music Café, his attitude changed.
"It sounded a little terrifying, to be honest," he said with a nervous chuckle. "I didn’t know we would actually be doing it. I had talked to another friend of mine who said if we are going to play during the Sundance Film Festival, to make sure we were playing at the ASCAP Music Café and when I asked our manager he said, that’s where we’re playing."
The Relationship, featuring Bell, guitarist Nate Shaw, bassist Jon LaRue and drummer Anthony Burulicich, will perform at the ASCAP Music Café, 751 Main St., on Friday, Jan. 23, at 5:15 p.m.
Butterflies aside, Bell is glad The Relationship will perform.
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"I’ve always been curious about Sundance," he said. "I’ve never been there and had no reason to go, until now. So, we’re going to have fun and play a show in a unique environment."
The Relationship came together when Bell, who is also the guitarist for Weezer, got in touch with his longtime friend Nate Shaw from the band Die Hunns in the early 2000s.
"It was all about making music with Nate," Bell explained. "I was honing in on my songwriting craft and remembered a time before things got big. I remembered how things came so easy when Nate and I would bounce ideas off each other and just write songs.
"I wanted to get back into that and come at it with all this knowledge I have gained through my time with Weezer," Bell said. "I was at UCLA taking a course in music composition and decided to call Nate to see what he was up to."
Bell found out Shaw had a job basically digging holes in the desert.
"I thought that sounded terrible," Bell said. "I thought it was awful for a creative person to do that. So I basically told him that I would pay him a salary out of my own pocket to write songs with me."
The plan was for the duo to write songs for six months and try to sell them.
"I figured whatever money we made I would pay myself back from the salary I was paying Nate," Bell said. "We wrote a bunch of songs at this time and treated the sessions like a job. The only difference was we started at 11 in the morning instead of 9 o’clock."
Right off the bat, the two tapped into a special creative partnership.
"We wrote all of these songs in one day with no problem, which was different for me," Bell said. "It seemed that there was something with our chemistry, once it was focused, and we would come into something."
That’s when Bell realized the most important part of a song is the concept and idea behind it, and one of the first songs they wrote together was written at a table at a restaurant in Costa Mesa.
"I drove down to meet him and he had some titles and one was called ‘Oh, Allen,’" Bell said. "I asked him what it was about and he said it was a story about two friends who grew apart."
Bell liked that idea because he and Nate were old friends coming back together.
"That’s where it started and it didn’t take long for us to name our project, The Relationship," Bell said. "It was funny, because at that time, we were both having relationship issues and we used our songwriting and friendship to escape.
"So we knew everything we wrote about would be about relationships to some degree, and although the name of the band was different than any other band I had heard of, the concept of it was strong," he said. "So we knew we had something."
At the end of the six-month period, the two wrote a song for a commercial.
"The money we made paid me back what I was paying Nate and helped us move forward with the band," Bell said.
The two continued to write songs together even though Bell had tour commitments with Weezer and his other band Space Twins.
The duo digitally released its self-titled debut in 2010.
"It took us a while to release the album because the songs needed to stay true to the essence of why they were first written," Bell said. "It’s very hard to lose sight of that and that’s why it took five years to make the first album."
Within the past few years, The Relationship welcomed bassist LaRue and drummer Burulicich.
"What was important to me was to play music with my friends and Jon was my best friend many years back," Bell said. "He saw us play a show at the Roxy (in West Hollywood) when we opened for Fountains of Wayne."
After the show, LaRue approached Bell.
"He said if I wanted him to play with us, he would," Bell remembered. "I didn’t know his ability as a musician until I started to really pay attention.
"I found he had incredibly good suggestions about arrangements, which is a talent that goes beyond the average player," Bell said. "Furthermore, his suggestions were always right."
So, LaRue, who was a guitarist, got a bass.
"At that point, we decided to get a real drummer," Bell said. "Anthony was filling in on drums for Weezer and he just showed up out of nowhere."
Burulicich is a former drummer for The Bravery and has played with Morrissey, according to Bell.
"I thought he might be too good for us, but we thought we would see what would happen," he said. "He got more comfortable with us and started bringing in his own material to the band.
"We’re a full band now," Bell said. "It’s taken a while, but I’ve been fortunate to afford the time to bring the band into its own sound. And we split everything equally."
Recently, The Relationship has reworked some old songs, the aforementioned "Oh Allen" and another called "Young Temptation."
"Now that we have a solid band lineup, we kept ‘Oh Allen’ in the set and it’s taken on a life of its own," Bell said. "I’m glad the song hadn’t been released before."
"Oh Allen" will be released on the band’s new record that will be released by Burger Records in March.
"We’re looking forward to that and hope that people will dig what we’re doing," Bell said. "Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to playing at the ASCAP Music Café."
The ASCAP Music Café, 751 Main St., will present The Relationship on Friday, Jan. 23, at 5:15 p.m. The concert is free and open to all Sundance Film Festival credential holders. For more information about The Relationship, visit facebook.com/therelationship or http://www.therelationshipband.com . For more information about the ASCAP Music Café, visit http://www.sundance.org or http://www.ascap.com.