I recently had the chance to sit down and talk (through Zoom, because that's reality now) to one of my longtime friends, Brady Stubbs, to discuss some of his past and upcoming projects, the current state of living, the world we're in, and of course, music.
A: As much as I hate to do this, I've gotta ask the cliche questions, right? People have gotta get to know you! So let's start with this one- when did you start getting into music and what inspired that start?
B: I started getting into music around my freshman year of high school. I went to a private school where a lot of people were into hip hop and rap, and as much as I wanted to like the genre, I was always more drawn to bands. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were sort of my first idea of music; my old man got me a CD as a kid and that was the only thing I listened to for awhile. During my sophomore year, I transferred to Arcadia High and my cousin was in a band called Jurassic Shark at the time. He started inviting me to tons of shows and a lot of my friends from Monrovia High were hosting gigs in their backyards, so that was sort of my initial impression of the scene. I remember going to see these bands play and thinking, "I love this... Why can't I can be doing this?"
One time at a Jurassic Shark gig at the El Rey, my cousin came out after the opening set and said, "Come here, give me your foot" and he pushed me up and I literally flew into the crowd. That was my first time crowd surfing and I thought, "this is amazing". From that moment on, I started listening to more and more local artists while discovering and learning about the DIY scene.
Around mid-sophomore year, I joined a band called Scissor Kick that was full of great musicians and we got to play a series of cool shows and some Battle of the Bands. After that ended, I knew I wanted to start a band myself and started by playing with some friends from Monrovia.
When I graduated high school, I knew for sure that I wanted to pursue music and do it for as long as I could. That clarity pushed me to apply to USC's Thornton School of Music where I ended up getting a FAT denial. It had me down but I decided to take the plunge and start music production classes at PCC. Then, once the pandemic hit and everything started shutting down, I taught myself how to play the drums, bass, how to record, produce, all that crazy stuff... So that's sort of been my music career, start to finish!
A: I think my interest kinda started around sophomore year too, but more so on the planning/booking side? I remember being assigned a "Genius Hour" project where the only instruction was to present something you're passionate about. Knowing it was gonna be about music, I dived head first and started reaching out to local artists and asking if they'd be down to play a short set for a dinky class of sophomores. SO many said no, but I did end up finding a band who was game and I just remember how much I loved every step of the process. I knew I wanted to introduce people to a genre they may not usually gravitate towards so I tried to keep it going after that little set. From there, I'm not sure if you remember seeing them play, but Your Favorite Color? That was such a big learning experience for me...
B: Yeah! I remember seeing them in the quad at lunch and just being so stoked that there was a band playing. I kept thinking, "I know like 90% of the people that are watching this right now don't fully appreciate it" but for the few of us that were there and into it, it was really rad to see!
A: And you know, Fauxchella would've been the next step but I guess some things just happen for a reason. Or should I say, don't happen?
B: That would've been so sick, I was so bummed about it... I know a lot of work was put into that. It was cool because the people who were helping out were all the people at school who were into that sort of thing and that kind of music, you know? And it was like only five or six of us, maybe? When I first transferred there, I wondered "ok, who are some people I can hit it off with?" and there was barely anybody! But I think that's why we were all so stoked to plan and do that show, because it was like "finally, someone wants to put this sort of thing together..."
A: So you talked about the Red Hot Chili Peppers being one of your earliest ideas of music... Outside of them, are there any other artists who've had a big impact on you, or this is gonna sound really cheesy, your musical journey?
B: I have to say, The Garden has been a huge inspiration for me. I've always wanted to make the kind of music that didn't fall into any particular genre and they have the tone and vibe that I've always been looking for. I remember browsing around YouTube while sitting in econ one time and coming across one of their music videos... I was hooked ever since. It was really cool seeing people who aren't too far from you who were out doing big things; their music really just made me want to create my own.
I was really into Touché Amoré for a second too. The band's lyricist and singer is an incredible writer. Their songs can come off as super intense but are ridiculously vulnerable at the same time. Mom Jeans was also huge for me. Their writer is just so straightforward... They were making lovesick-angsty-teen music, you know? And I was listening as a lovesick-angsty teen, so everything sort of just fell into place!
My guilty pleasure actually, as much as I hate to admit, is Rex Orange County. When that dude started putting records out, I remember listening and thinking, "this guy is talented!"He's just so good at articulating things I know myself and tons of others have felt, he's got an amazing way with words.
Oh and Title Fight! I love those guys, they've been a huge form of motivation for me. Jurassic Shark too, obviously. It's a bummer they aren't around anymore but I can still talk to my cousin about them, listen to their records, stuff like that. And there's a band called Minus the Bear that's not around anymore either, but they were actually my first concert. My older brother took me to go see them when I was maybe in eighth grade? All I could smell was weed in this super loud room as a kid and the only thing I remember thinking was, "this is horrible!" Beach Slang opened for them and I was like, "they're so loud" and "I wanna go home!" throughout the entire opening set. But now that I look back, that band was incredible... And then Minus the Bear walked on and it was an instant shock, it was the best thing I'd ever seen.
Sometimes I'll find myself getting into really random stuff too like the Death Grips and Crystal Castles. And then there's Funkadelic, love those guys. And Childish Gambino's "Awaken, My Love!", such a great album.
A: I'm gonna take a sharp turn really quick and ask about the band- how'd the current lineup come together?
B: I met Jason, who plays bass in Four Leaf Clover, because I actually joined a band that he was already in. I really wanted to play guitar in a band and there was this group from Monrovia called Magic Conch and though we never played any shows, we jammed all the time and that's how I got to know him. And the first band that I was ever in, I met Jordan, who plays drums with us.
Before Four Leaf Clover was even Four Leaf Clover, it was actually Athena. That was gonna be my solo project because I really wanted to put out a record, so I hit up Jason and Jordan and asked if they were down to play a couple shows and they both agreed without hesitation. So that was really cool, they're extremely talented musicians and it was rad getting to play with them. After having written and released the single, everything's kinda come to a halt for us, considering we're in a pandemic and everything...
A: Has that fully set in for you yet? The fact that we're literally living in the midst of a global pandemic?
B: I think it's crazy, a lot of people have so quickly become kinda desensitized, you know? And myself included. It's really a part of our daily lives now, I guess... the mask, hand sanitizer, all of that stuff. But when you sit down, it's like "woahhhh, wait, this is life now?"
A: About the name change, how'd you go from Athena to Four Leaf Clover?
B: Honestly, we kinda just winged it. I was trying to put that song out, mostly so we could have something under the label, especially since it had just been sitting in our files for long time. So I asked them about changing the name, knowing there were a lot of artists out there under the name Athena and copyright/trademark things usually get pretty messy. They were down, so we kinda just threw a bunch of stuff out and Four Leaf Clover popped up and we were like, "screw it, let's use this one!" So that was a pretty spontaneous thing. But it's cool because I feel like when you think about something for too long or too much, it kinda throws everything off a bit. Nothing big, no big backstories, nothing like that. Bummer, right?
A: I noticed "The Color Red" was released on Halloween. Was that something you guys planned or just another "screw it!" situation?
B: Usually every year, we'd do a lil Halloween show in my buddy, Gabriel's, backyard and he's part of a band called Unicorns at Heart. They're really rad, they have a great sound... But since nothing along the lines of a show could happen this year, we thought "might as well just put this out, right?" So that was cool but I'm not totally sure what's in the future for us right now. That was it! That's actually been it so far for us...
A: Well what was it like releasing music in the middle of a pandemic? Because I'm sure promoting it has been pretty different considering the fact that you can't play it live for people to hear, right?
B: Honestly, it was cool because it was definitely more of a learning experience than like a legitimate attempt at getting music out there, you know? That was my first time using an online distributor and I ended up going with DistroKid after learning about the hundreds of different independent distributors out there. It's really exciting to put work into something and see it up on streaming platforms. And being able to see how many people are listening and where they're all coming from, it's incredibly motivating.
A: Yeah! I noticed you jumped into Apple Music and Spotify waters, which is a huge shift from only being on Soundcloud and Bandcamp...
B: For sure, we've only ever been on Bandcamp and there's a label called Z Tapes Los Angeles that my pal, Gabriel, helps run. He's been releasing compilations nonstop which is super cool, being able to have an outlet to put stuff out on. So we have a couple songs on those mixes and I put one of my solo songs on the most recent one that he put together about two weeks ago? But yeah, it really was a big jump going from the Bandcamp/Soundcloud kind of thing to actually having people know we have music out there.
A: In the end, it's all about accessibility, right? Some people aren't too used to taking time to look for these artists or to read things like this, you know? If you don't mind me asking, are you a subscriber to any streaming platforms?
B: I am a Spotify user, which I hate to admit, but the convenience and accessibility just makes it... But I do use Bandcamp quite a bit for some artists I like that aren't necessarily on any of the bigger platforms. I really like being able to directly support someone, so if I can buy their record off of Bandcamp, I totally will.
A: I think one of the big things I saw/heard from people when all these bands started getting "cancelled" was stuff like "oh, I'll just listen on Youtube so they won't get any of the money" or "I'll illegally download their album somewhere for free, I'm not supporting them!" And honestly, I'm still not totally sure where to stand on that. Because in the end, you're still listening to their music, right? Is the consumption of one's work considered to be a form of support? What are your thoughts on separating art from the artist?
B: I think it's difficult to separate because I feel like a lot of the time, the art is the artist. I mean, when I make stuff, a lot of it is me. It's not like I'm writing about some objective situation that everyone can relate to; most of the time, it's coming from within. There were a lot of bands that I liked that I ended up hearing stuff about, and I thought "dang, that really sucks"... I don't want to be a part of that, you know? I wanna be as transparent as I can be, but that can be really challenging. But yeah, if I hear about an artist who did something pretty bad, I'll stop listening. It's such a bummer though because there were a lot of bands that I really loved that ended up doing some shitty things, and now they're all just sort of over. But I do think it's important that it's happening because there has to be a sense of accountability. So you know what? Sorry, but that band isn't gonna get my $0.0008!
A: Well, aside from 2020 being the year from hell, it was a great year for music. Why do you think that is? And did you have any favorite releases?
B: Oh definitely The Garden's new record, "Kiss My Super Bowl Ring". I absolutely loved it. When that album came out, I was starting to get really into the drums and bass, so it was perfect timing. But the fact that the only thing people could do at the time was focus on writing, that was a huge benefit. I've listened to a lot of the music the bands on the compilations were putting out and comparing it to their past work, it's a big improvement. A lot of people are taking the time because they have it now, which lets them really put their heart into their work and I think it's rad.
A: So I know you're currently working on a solo project and that's kinda under wraps until everything gets back to a somewhat familiar sense of normal, but can we get some hints about what else is on the horizon for you and/or the band?
B: I don't really know about Four Leaf, that's kind of in the air right now... Without being able to play shows, we don't really have anything planned. But for the solo project, I have some really cool stuff planned with some new tricks up my sleeve... I'm pretty stoked about that record! I'm actually playing all the instruments on it, so I'm super excited. It's gonna be under "Rosebud Stubbs" and I honestly have no idea how I came up with that name, but I felt like I needed to commit, so that's what it is and there's no going back!
If you haven't already, go check out Four Leaf Clover's latest release, "The Color Red", and be sure to keep up with their socials to stay in tune with new projects and releases!
Brady put together a lil playlist of favorites for us too, so go give it a listen!
photos by matthew marzo and christiane love