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Briana Layon & The Boys Have Attitude In Abundance
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Briana Layon experienced her indoctrination into NYC’s hard rock scene very early on, as she notes, “My very first show, I had a girl, I’m not sure what was going on with her, I think she was on some sort of drug, but she threw a wicker chair at me.”

That show, which took place four years ago, was at the Brooklyn venue 169 Bar, where the performers are on the same level as the crowd. Layon’s reaction to the flying piece of furniture would turn out to be a defining moment for her.

She remembers thinking, “I’m either gonna have to own this, like run the show here, or play with her.” Layon chose to focus on the former. “I’d rather just run the show, and be able to sing, and let her enjoy that, so I just kicked the chair back at her, and I was like ‘what the fuck!’ and kept singing, trying to play with her, but also asserting my authority, because I have the microphone. You gotta do that sometimes.”

The journey to that moment on stage, and Layon’s ability to take charge, began in Oklahoma, where she grew up infatuated with NYC from the time she first visited the city at the age of eight. Her initial trip was to audition for a role in Annie Warbucks, the Off-Broadway sequel to Annie.

“It shut down the week after my audition,” Layon says with a laugh. “The joke was I singlehandedly brought it down.”

The trip may have been a quick one, but it was enough to hook Layon, who from that point on knew where she wanted to end up. It was in stark contrast to many of her peers, as she notes, “My very best friend boasted she never applied above the Mason-Dixon line for anywhere for college.”

Even with her love of NYC, Layon still credits her Oklahoma community for where she is today. “Everyone around me was extremely supportive,” she says, “and not just people I know, but in the community the arts are definitely appreciated, and without that I don’t think I would have ever been able to do any of this.”

Layon made the move to NYC ten years ago, went to an arts school, and began writing music on her own. Fast forwarding to the present, she and her band, Briana Layon & The Boys, have just released their full length debut, Touch & Go.

Touch & Go is inspired by a breakup Layon experienced a number of years ago, but it wasn’t just the breakup that affected her, it was what was said during the breakup. “The guy, to be perfectly candid, cheated on me with another musician,” she explains, “I remember being like, ‘Why do you like her?’ And her was like, ‘Cuz she’s a musician.’ I was like, ‘First off, what kind of response is that, but second, I’m a musician.’ And he was like, ‘She’s a REAL musician.’”

The words hit like a punch to the stomach, but rather than crumple under them, Layon dusted herself off, and stood tall. “I was like, well, screw this, I don’t need him. I don’t need anybody to tell me I’m a musician.”

After that it didn’t take long for the music to begin to flow out of her.

“I wrote like 20 songs, and just put them on Facebook,” she remembers. Those songs were filled with attitude as she drew inspiration from the likes of Jinx Dawson from Coven, and Cherie Currie from The Runaways. “They both have nice voices,” she says of the two rock vocalists, “but they also drive extremely hard with their voices, and you can feel this like hanging tension in the air.”

For Layon, it’s a perfect match, as she explains, “The head banging, or the yelling, or the screaming, stuff like that, along with the singing, I think it’s pretty vital to my music.”

It was at around this time that Layon met guitarist Chris DiBerardino, and the two mutually honed each other’s styles. “Any of the songs that I had written, he put his magic Chris touch on, and any of the stuff he brought, I played with some melodies.”

After rotating a few other members in and out of the group, Layon and DiBerardino linked up with bassist Lloyd Kikoler, and drummer Dan Bouley to finalize the lineup of “Boys.”

While working on Touch & Go, the emotions of the bad breakup were still fresh in Layon’s mind, and she focused in on them. “There was a lot of anger from that situation,” she remembers, “and it’s fun to make angry music. Even though we (also) have some soul stuff on the album, slower tunes, which are also really fun to me, just because I like to sing, and it’s fun to have these opportunities to really belt it out.”

More than just an emotional release, Layon says the album has a deeper meaning to her past the breakup it’s about. “I realized that I completely had lost myself in someone,” she explains, “so this music was a way for me to figure out how to come back to myself. The lyrics aren’t literally about that, but that’s where that rage, and that vulnerability, and all that is from, because that’s part of who I am, and I had stuffed that all down.”

This unwrapping of herself is also why she named the album Touch & Go. “Being yourself can be a touch and go experience,” she explains, “and trying to be with someone else that thinks about them(selves), or has a lot of drama about them, it’s always touch and go as for finding yourself in that balance.”

Briana Layon has found herself, and with her Boys by her side the fearless rocker is now ready for anything, even the occasional bad boyfriend, or flying chair.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 2:02 PM  
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