photo by Daniel Muller
[Editor’s note: This story previews two shows with Little Brazil this week. The first is tonight at Vega with Universe Contest, Eastwood Pants and the Gettin’ Hipper Fun Bunch. The second is Thursday, Jan. 2 at O’Leaver’s with See Through Dresses, Dan Mariska and The Boys Choir, and Gramps.]
by Chance Solem-Pfeifer
In most senses, it was a standard show for Little Brazil on Dec. 27, 2012, but with Desaparecidos drummer Matt Baum on drums in the absence of Oliver Morgan, the volume was dialed up.
What no one quite knew that night is that immediately afterward one of the most visible Omaha-based bands of the previous eight years would turn invisible for the next 369 days.
Though a hiatus wasn’t certain at the end of 2012 for the rock quartet, there was suspicion within the band that they needed time away. For the moment, Morgan had departed to work with his project Landing on the Moon. Bassist Danny Maxwell was about to be a first-time father and would release an EP fronting New Lungs in February. A 2013 tour with Desaparecidos approached for singer/guitarist Landon Hedges and Baum.
Hedges calls Little Brazil his “baby.” He’s been leading it since high school and noting that the band has always enjoyed the grind, an eventual return seemed eminent even if the date and the lineup were uncertain for 11 months.
That’s when a specific invitation set them on a crash comeback course. Asked by the owners of Lincoln’s Vega (Jeremy Buckley, Jeremy Wardlaw, Eli and Carrie Mardock) to open for Universe Contest on New Year’s Eve, Hedges couldn’t say no. At the beginning of December, Little Brazil scrambled into rehearsals.
With guitarist Greg Edds departing the band for other projects, they’ve brought new guitarist Mike Friedman (of The Lupines and pedal steel player for Simon Joyner) up to speed in less than a month.
“We love everybody who owns Vega,” Hedges says, adding that no other venue could have coaxed them into such a quick return. “This is years of us figuring these songs out. We knew Mike was good enough, but we basically kind of forced it.”
“We’ve rehearsed a lot this month. I think I’ve seen my band members more than I’ve seen my own wife.”
Hedges doesn’t doubt that the pre-midnight atmosphere at Vega will be upbeat, even going so far as to say that with an already enthusiastic and crowded club that “the show will take care of itself.” New Year’s Eve and a show immediately following on Jan. 2 at O’Leaver’s will officially be Oliver Morgan’s last run with the band, as he now drums with Twinsmith, and Baum will resume full percussion responsibilities going forward.
“(Greg and Oliver) put it in eight years in the band,” Hedges says. “They both respectively stepped away.”
Following the O’Leaver’s performance, which Hedges says will be equally exciting for the band since they’ve been able to see the venue grow alongside them, Little Brazil will need to take another moment — not a year this time — to measure the future with 50 percent-altered roster.
“We’re going to sit down and have a meeting with all the new members,” Hedges says. “I want to finish our fourth record, that’s task number one.”
While Hedges is prepared for some sonic variation considering Baum and Friedman’s relative unfamiliarity with Little Brazil, he sees the band’s immediate future as its past, harkening back to what he calls “Old Little Brazil.” This means louder, harder and more aggressive rock music, but never at the expense of what’s always been the paramount goal for his “baby.”
“The whole reason why I made this band is to be versatile,” Hedges says. “No two songs ever sound the same. That’s what we work on the most to make sure of.
“But I think we have enough experimenting done: I think it could be time to play some fast fucking rock ‘n’ roll.”
Chance Solem-Pfeifer is Hear Nebraska’s staff writer. He’ll be at this show, but do not look into his eyes at exactly midnight. Neither us wants that. Instead, email Chance at email@example.com.