By Ellen Eldridge
Artistic vision, intricate musicianship, dark, poetic lyrics that explore heavy, controversial topics and a profound message are the very essence of Picture Me Broken. This breath-of-fresh-air band that shatters any “young band” or “female-fronted” stereotypes, because though PMB is mostly comprised of 20-year-olds, this is one of the few bands bringing back true artistry in this trend-dominated music scene.
Front-woman Layla “Brooklyn” Allman refuses to be placed in a category with other “rock chicks” or female lead singers as she draws most of her influence from male artists and believes that women should be just as dynamic. “PMB is not just a ‘female-fronted’ band, PMB is a rock n’ roll band,” she said.
Allman founded PMB at age 12 (2005), and she finally feels confident that she has put together a lineup that offers stellar musicianship, energetic performance, and dynamic personalities. Drummer Shaun Foist offers spot-on, energetic performance, machine-gun like double bass capabilities and undeniable stage presence.
As for guitar work, PMB offers dual-lead guitar players Dante Phoenix and Jimmy Strimpel who switch off lead detail in displaying their distinguished styles. Their solos, dual leads, and harmonies add to PMB’s unique sound and complete the live show experience.
Picture Me Broken released its debut album, Wide Awake, in 2010, which featured the single “Dearest, I’m So Sorry” that has become a cult favorite with more than one million views on YouTube.
The new EP, Mannequins, available on iTunes, features the single “Torture.” The video for “Torture” debuted on May 27.
This year, 2013, has been the busiest year for PMB since its inception. Having just completed a 6-week jaunt around the US supporting OTEP, PMB begins its biggest tour ever supporting Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper on their Shock Therapy 2013 tour.
Brooklyn Allman took the time to answer our 5GB interview questions before the Atlanta show at Tabernacle Wednesday July 17.
What is the strangest thing a fan has done for you or at your show?
I think you’d be surprised at how many women ask me to sign their boobs and rear ends. I suppose that’s strange, but I get a kick out of it. There’s nothing better than a candid picture of me with a Sharpie to a lady’s breast popping up on Instagram.
What’s the funniest moment you’ve had as an artist or as part of a band?
I wish there were cameras following us around sometimes; they would witness everything from crew members’ heads being spray painted to sexually frustrated groupies pulling knives on my band members and my two guitar players wheeling my inebriated self back up to the hotel room in a luggage cart. Funny? I’m not sure that’s the word, but there are no words to describe how bafflingly unorthodox life on tour with a rock band in their 20’s can become.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
My rituals change every tour given the surroundings. On this tour Manson and I drink a little absinthe about an hour before my set every day and chat about pretty much anything. He’s larger than life, very funny and there’s no facade about him; he is as he seems. Nothing fires you up for a show more than spending time with someone who wrote the book on being a sinister, theatrical modern rock n roll artist.
If you could describe your music in one word what would it be?
Dark. I think that word unifies your sound and vision no matter what you’re experimenting with sonically. Picture Me Broken’s music will always be dark through any and all evolution.
How do you connect with the crowd?
I think a lot of women in rock use their femininity or their “female-fronted gimmick” to connect with their audience. I think we strive to be a bit refreshing in the sense that we are a real rock band, and just because I am female doesn’t mean my band members will be hired guns with obscured faces playing mediocre riffs so that I can shine the brightest.
I chose dynamic band members that will shred your face off musically and our live arrangements and instrumentals are a bit more ambitious than those of most “female-fronted” bands on the tip of everyone’s tongue and that definitely gets the crowd going. I emulate my favorite frontmen in rock history when performing; I’m not up there teetering around in a pair of heels and a skirt. We really go for it live and have received incredible feedback on that live show throughout this tour and I couldn’t be more excited about that. Our cover of Heart’s “Crazy On You” especially gets the good feedback, we made it our own adding double bass and a dual lead guitar solo with some extra-ambitious vocal runs on the outro, I love paying homage to Heart every night as they are women in rock who did it right.
How did you come up with your band name?
I came up with it years ago when I was looking to change our former band name (Lane Four, which stood for an older lineup’s first name initials and number of band members) and put a dark, cryptic stamp on the project I had been nurturing. It was actually silly how the initial idea sparked: I was wandering around my hometown, Redwood City, as a 15-year-old and saw a shampoo bottle that said “Color Me Happy,” and I turned its meaning inside out until I had Picture Me Broken. I always gravitated to music as a means for mending the “broken” aspects of my being growing up and wanted my music to reach people in the way that my childhood heroes in bands likes AFI and My Chemical Romance reached me.
What is the best way to write music?
I’m just now starting to dial in that songwriting method that works more often than it doesn’t. In completing a few releases, being around the industry and having the opportunity to speak with many brilliant producers and artists I’ve come to find that you have to have the message, concept and words before you play a single note. Once you have that nailed down with the freedom to craft the perfect melody for your words without any instrumental limitations, you can then build a soundtrack around those words and the music can fall gracefully into every little crevice and accentuate the message with the perfect dynamics. This especially works if you strive to be both poignant lyrically and vocally with fierce instrumental chops that need their opportunity to shine through without stepping on the vocal. I’m looking forward to using this method exclusively on our next album as we’ve yet to release a song that was written in this way.
Catch Picture Me Broken opening for Marilyn Manson this Wednesday, July 17 at the Tabernacle!