Interview: Brendan Boogie on the balance of music, film, and the common heartbreak of both

Brendan Boogie is a busy dude. The Boston music scene veteran, who once pounced around local stages with power-pop group Scamper before spinning out a series of various solo projects, has not only a new record out this Saturday with a release show at the Lizard Lounge, but today launches a Kickstarter for his latest film project, Sundown.

The two are separate projects, but both touch on similar subjects rife with human emotion at their core. On the record, titled Last Words and officially delivered by Brendan Boogie & the Broken Gates, the songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist offers up a soulful, sometimes rustic take on rock and roll that’s another record in the rack alongside fellow Boston acts like Nate Leavitt & the Elevation, Magen Tracy and the Missed Connections, and OldJack. On first single “Born Again”, Boogie sings of being “all strung out on love”, and the emotional despair is palpable.

Emotion is also what’s firing his new film, a feature-length independent drama that deals with “the ravages and absurdities of a family dealing with dementia”. It draws on his own experience with his father, who after 15 years with the disease passed away in October. Much like Boogie’s recent film The Mayor Of Rock And Roll, the movie will feature a Boston music soundtrack.

With the Kickstarter launching today and the record release party tomorrow, we had a quick chat with Boogie to get more info on both, and see where the lines of creativity cross over from one project to the other.

Michael Marotta: Is the new record and the new film intertwined at all? There is some crossover with the “Broken Gates” tag.

Brendan Boogie: They’re certainly intertwined in my life in the sense that they’re both driven by the same urge: get as much of myself into the world as possible while I’m still here. I’ve been dealing with grief lately and one of the many take-homes of it has been a stronger push to create and leave some sort of mark on the world, even if it’s a small one.

I named my band and my film company Broken Gates after a line in a Tennessee Williams play Night of the Iguana in which one of the characters talks about believing in “Broken gates between people so they can reach each other, even if it’s just for one night only…” It struck me as a perfect metaphor for what we try to do with music, film, and any kind of art, really. Trying to bridge that gap for the small amount of time we have together in that song, that play, that scene of a film. Being able to get through the barriers and be present with each other in the moment.

Sundown has a much darker tone than Mayor of Rock And Roll, though both center around a struggle; does that tie the two films together in a way?

The subject matter of Sundown — dementia — is darker than Mayor, but I don’t know if the tone will be as drastically different as you might imagine. There will definitely be laughs in Sundown. I’m a big believer in humor as a coping mechanism, whether it’s used for dealing with a family member slipping away or struggling through life as an underappreciated struggling local musician.

Drawing from personal experience, was there one instance or episode that made you want to tell this story of dementia?

I lost my dad to dementia this past October. He was slowly debilitated by the disease for about 15 years, so I and my family went through every part of the process from beginning to end. So while Sundown isn’t strictly autobiographical, I believe I have enough firsthand knowledge to bring some truth to the story of this family. Or at least we’re going to try.

Is there a local soundtrack and/or Boston music tie-in?

Boston music is the soundtrack of everything I do. Why look anywhere else for music when we’ve got some of the best music in the world being made by people right here? I fully intend to beg and plead with many of my Boston music brethren and sistren — which is a real word; I looked it up — to allow me the honor of their music in this film.

Why’d you end up working with producer Sally Northrop again? That sounds negative, but not meant to be!

Sally is an indie film warrior. I think this is film number five or six for her in the producer’s chair. We first worked together on Mayor and she is the engine that drives the whole production forward. Having a good producer is the key to everything — without her I’d be waking up every night in a sweaty ball of anxiety. Or at least more so than I’m doing now anyway.

What’s your ultimate goal with Sundown?

I’m hoping to take on the topic of dementia without any sap. Life with a family member with dementia is a lot messier, more maddening, and at times funnier than you usually see in the movies. Sentimentality and self-pity are the enemies. I’m hoping we make something that will connect with the realities of this specific kind of grief in a deep and meaningful way. There are also some good hand-job jokes.

BRENDAN BOOGIE & THE BROKEN GATES + ABBIE BARRETT + PALE MONSTERS :: Saturday, May 14 at the Lizard Lounge, 1667 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 8:30 p.m., 21-plus, $10 in advance and $12 at the door :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page

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