Saint Paul, MN
Sometimes referred to as "the jazz version of Rage Against the Machine," Junkyard Empire is not just a band, they are a social and political platform, focused upon bringing people together to take back the country from the criminal corporations and the capital-minded miscreants who run them. They strive to be much more than another great alternative live hip-hop band from Minnesota - of which there are plenty - they want to become a musical force for grassroots political and social change in America, playing the music that they hear as the soundtrack to a long overdue global social and political revolution, against the tyrannical capitalistic fascism that has tormented the human race for far too long. They believe music is not, nor should it be treated as though it is nothing more than the proverbial "widget" to be sold to the highest bidder. Adherence to the inherently inhuman conditions of so-called "free market" capitalism is - by design - working against the progression of music in society.
Junkyard Empire is dedicated to examining and then telling the truth about the American government and the fascist economic system in which it operates, and they bring that message wherever they go. But it doesn't stop there, they also bring a live show that will always be memorable, because no two shows are alike. Five musicians playing live together and letting themselves play with whatever influences they are feeling at any given time. Hence why they prefer not to be called simply a "hip-hop band". They are much more than only one of the styles they utilize in their music. Someday, when the "free market" system completely fails, music like that of Junkyard Empire will be rated not because of its category or its ability to sell, but by its nuance. And anyway, if they were in it for the money, they would be playing the same tired, irrelevant and lazy music that pervades today's corporate radio waves already. No need for any more knuckle dragging.
The combination of Brihanu's forceful, yet uplifting lyricism - urging the listener to rise up in opposition to all things unjust, coupled up with the undeniable talent of the instrumentalists in the band makes for a blend of influences and intensity that is unlike any other band in this country. Trombonist and keyboardist Christopher Robin Cox, guitarist Bryan Berry, bassist Dan Choma, and drummer Graham O'Brien provide truly intense improvisatory explorations, while laying down cold-blooded grooves under Brihanu's verses. The gritty sounds of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, the funky avant-jazz of the late 1960s, and other more subtle influences from indie rock and ambient music all show up on stage.
Since their inception in 2005, Junkyard Empire has been slowly and methodically developing their own unique sound and today, there is a buzz following them around everywhere they go. The time is right for this band to explode onto the national scene. Aside from playing in front of thousands of people during the 2008 RNC protests, they have shared the stage with such diverse bands as boots Riley and the Coup, Ecid, the New Congress, Ill Chemistry, Kill the Vultures, the Dean McGraw Trio, Anthony Cox, Big Ditch Road, the Snaps, Leroy Smokes, and Los Nativos. The varied bills they perform on is yet another wall they routinely break down the walls that exist between hip-hop and all other forms of music. Junkyard Empire believes that progressive live hip-hop and jazz is the people's music and should be included on as many bills as possible, the more variant and vibrant the better. The corporatocracy that is the mainstream music industry is out of touch with what the people really dig when they go out to see live music, so don't expect to see Junkyard Empire trying to "break in". Instead, look for the industry trying to break into what Junkyard Empire is proudly breaking out of. Simple minded, racist, knuckle-dragging, misogynist hip-hop is DEAD in the minds of the musicians in Junkyard Empire. And so is "commercial" music all together.
Their debut album RECLAIM FREEDOM was released in December of 2007 and is continuing to sell in Germany, the UK, Australia, and of course right here in the United States. Tracks from the album are being played in heavy rotation on several Internet radio stations around the world, including Emancipation Radio and Gotham Radio in New York City. You WILL NOT likely hear their music on mainstream radio, and the day you do is the day the revolution has begun!
Politically and musically, the current environment in the United States is calling for artists to provide the necessary communication to spark the social movements we have been waiting for in this country. Junkyard Empire makes no effort to hide the fact that they want to join the ranks of Rage Against the Machine, Michael Franti, Public Enemy, and all the rest! People are hungry for what Brihanu and the gang are unafraid to say. In Brihanu's own words: "It's important, when you have the platform, to say something that has substance."
Their follow-up effort RISE OF THE WRETCHED was released to a packed crowd at the Nomad World Pub in October, 2008.