When Smile Politely last spoke with Chris Broach, he was in a delicate place. The Braid guitarist and vocalist was steadily producing music with his current group The Firebird Band, but he was also going through tumultuous times in his life, and his grip on stability was tenuous. In this vulnerable state, Broach had no desire to hide his issues, even from a complete stranger. In that 2015 interview we had with him, Broach was candid and honest about his alcohol abuse. He had had enough of his life that way, and our magazine ended up being a vehicle for his catharsis. Smile Politely happened to catch Broach mid-epiphany.
When I speak with Broach two years later, he’s reflective. He doesn’t regret his honesty at all.
“Interestingly, [author Tyler Durgan] caught me at a particularly vulnerable moment when he interviewed me. I had been thinking about that stuff a whole bunch and when we talked, it just kind of came out. I didn’t mean to even say anything, and he certainly didn’t ask. I think, in some way, I was stating out loud to someone else that I had a problem and that I wanted to fix it. Thing is, since right after that interview – and I think right before that piece came out – I have been completely clean. I knew I had to quit. The last time I drank, Braid played a festival in Brooklyn, NY. I don’t remember anything about it, except that I was at the airport the next day trying not to throw up, while everyone was having a beer waiting for our plane back to our respective homes. That day was July 27, 2015. That was the first day I didn’t drink, and the day before was the last day I took a drink.”
Chris Broach’s bold self-reflection helped to spark his latest musical project, SNST. Broach and bandmate Steve Znavor construct electronic rock music with synth pop sensibilities. Their debut album Turn Out The Lights, due out April 7th, sounds different from anything else Broach has ever done. When I asked Broach just how SNST is different, his response was simple. “I guess I strive to always do something better or more interesting. It’s different from my past work in that it’s my new work.” That’s how he functions nowadays. Art is therapy. He sees no need to hide things or be false, and he makes that philosophy audible through SNST.
With the new album’s single, “Remember How It Ends,” Broach defines his new self at once. It captures his constant struggle with his inner addict and the desire to stay sober with a mantra-like chorus: “Always see through, always see… always remember how it ends. Always see through, can you hear me? Can you hear me?”