SHOOTING ARROWS AT THE SUN: Christine Leonard interviews Indian Handcrafts’ Brandyn “Bruce Lee” Aikins
More than just your average roadside attraction, Indian Handcrafts is an exceptionally sharp and hard-hitting power duo from the sweltering burbs of Barrie, Ont. A serious contender for album of the year, the outfit’s November 2012 debut on the Sargent House record label, Civil Disobedience For Losers, is an action-packed thrill ride that leaves no doubt that two can sound as good as four, or more. One half of Indian Handcraft’s devastating onslaught, drummer Brandyn Aikins feels fortunate that destiny arranged for him to meet up with guitarist/vocalist Dan Allen at the recording studio of a mutual friend.
“Dan and I started jamming for fun,” Aikins explains. “But, before we knew it, what was basically a fun distraction grew into the foundations of full-fledged band. By 2003, we had formed an indie folk group, called Fox Jaws, which featured my sister, Carleigh, on vocals. Still, Dan and I loved, and had a tendency to want to play, heavy music. So, it was only natural that the whole time we were in Fox Jaws we experimented with other directions we could go in. After a time, we kind of decided that, if we were going to be completely satisfied with what we were doing, we need to change things up and said, ‘Why don’t the two of us try out some of those heavy riffs Dan’s been working on?’”
Leaner and meaner, the trimmed-down twosome of Aikins and Allen began stretching their performing and songwriting skills to achieve the ample-yet-calculated sonic manoeuvres that characterize their sound. Taking themselves outside the box and out of their usual element, Indian Handcrafts conjured the fighting spirit of Bruce Lee on a track named in his honour and succeeded in exorcising their heavy metal demons the old-fashioned way.
“We had a surplus of energy built up coming out of the old band and that helped us write a lot of songs. Lyrically, we were all over the place, stabbing at a lot of themes, ranging from goofy, psychedelic tales, like ‘Terminal Horse,’ to songs about the uprising of Indigenous populations, or Soviet Union-era politics, or individuals who struggle with mental illness, as we allude to on ‘Centari Teenage Riot.’ I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I have yet to link arms with strangers to stop a tank in the streets. It may not be too deep, but by making my music the way I want to, I can put forth my convictions in my own way.”
Soon to become a worst-kept secret, Indian Handcrafts is preparing to embark on a cross-Canada tour with Billy Talent, Sum 41 and Hollerado. Having made waves at Edgefest, the band that‘s louder than acts three times their size anticipates that they’ll be kicking off 2013 with a bang. And they’ve got the tenacity to hang in there. After all, Allen recorded their stunning new album with a broken hand!
“We try and sound huge and put out that heavy vibe that we’ve always loved and wanted to play. The fact that it’s so much easier to get our act together, as a pared-down two-piece, is purely a bonus. There’s a lot of serendipity in how it’s all come together for us. For now, this is part of my life. It’s what I’m interested in. And, it’s quite an honour. But, I never forget that it’s important to have fun and I’m looking forward to experience things I never knew existed before.”
Originally published in FFWD Weekly Magazine — March 2013
By Christine Leonard