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Brooke Binion of Portland indie-punk trio TheWorst on new LP ‘Yes Regrets’

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Brooke Binion of Portland indie-punk trio TheWorst on new LP ‘Yes Regrets’ (photo by Joe Macfadzen)

A little rock and roll band from Maine recently spent some time making the biggest noise you can imagine on the other side of the country.

Portland-based indie-punk trio TheWorst thrashed their way up the coast from San Diego to Seattle in support of their sophomore LP “Yes Regrets” during the band’s third West Coast swing. It’s an excursion which singer and guitarist Brooke Binion said felt like a full circle moment.

“The last one four years ago was fun but personally, I was a mess,” Binion told The Maine Edge two weeks before the tour began.

Binion is referring to the fact that drugs and alcohol had taken over her life at the time. She admitted that if she wanted stay alive, she needed to get clean. She expected it to be difficult but what she didn’t expect was the clutch of new songs that would soon begin pouring fourth.

Those songs were fully realized by Binion, bassist Will Bradford (SeepeopleS), drummer Craig Sala (Paranoid Social Club) and producer Will Holland during a series of recording sessions at Chillhouse Studios in Boston

Binion said her goal with “Yes Regrets” was to remain honest and to sequence the songs in the order that she wrote them.

“Going with that idea was a gut feeling and I felt like it was important to stick with it,” she said.

The first ones, “Blacksheepish” and “Serves You Rotten” arrived while she was still using, she said. The former is a harrowing tribute to a friend lost to suicide. The latter is Binion pointing the finger at herself before she turned the page to begin navigating a life without chemicals.

In barely two and a half minutes, “Blacksheepish” became a defining moment for Binion. She translated the feelings of finality, helplessness and torment that we go through when losing someone close into a powerful tribute to a friend.

“That whole thing was sort of the catalyst for a lot of stuff, but I was pretty happy that I could write anything for her; I think she’d like it,” Binion said.

TheWorst’s punk-pop sensibility is revealed in the single “Couldn’t Stay Away” with its opening lethal power chord that gives way to a hook-filled chorus and Binion’s words which describe the allure of bad decision making. “Betrayal’s something I don’t do but I couldn’t say no to you,” she sings.

Another single, “Hurt Forever” deals with the impulsive decisions made by a manic mind.

“Well I tried to refrain but couldn’t cut the pain when funhouse mirror rooms with strangers felt as good as anything but crooked teeth always leave the worst marks,” Binion sings on the track that includes guest musician Tony Bevilacqua of The Distillers.

The last 25 seconds of “Hurt Forever” find Binion alone with an acoustic guitar delivering the closing line “I’d still love to walk you home” in one of the record’s most surprising and effective moments.

The dynamics of “Jim’s Song” alternate from pure punk thrash in the chorus to more grounded clarity during the verses.

The title track for “Yes Regrets” was first issued as a single nearly two years ago. It’s a captivating slab of confessional rock with a vintage grunge vibe further elevated with baritone sax from Portland native Dana Colley of the band Morphine.

Binion cites “So Far Away Reprise” as one of her personal favorite songs on the album.

“You’ve been feeling so far away and I don’t know why you won’t stay” she sings over the band as they peg all available distortion units within a five-mile radius. She describes the song as being super close with someone before that access inexplicably disappears.

The closing “Black Dog Waltz” is one of this writer’s favorite songs on “Yes Regrets.”

Binion said she enjoys writing lyrics that work on multiple levels.

“In Australia, they call depression the black dog blues,” she said. “I had recently adopted a black dog and I liked the thought of combining those ideas. It’s a song about depression but it’s also about how much my dog Brody has helped me.”

Brody is one of Binion’s three dogs. During non-touring periods, her days are filled with canines of all colors, breeds and sizes as she trains them professionally using positive reinforcement.

Sometimes she sees a dog that has been through some tough times, one that might be a little scared and one that should be partnered with a trainer that understands. Binion says it’s a powerful thing when she sees their anxiety melt away and replaced with a desire to grow and learn.

During my first interview with Binion nearly 20 months ago, she said she didn’t set out write a recovery record but that was how she saw “Yes Regrets” while it was still in the process of being recorded.

I asked her if she still saw the album that way today.

“I really don’t,” she said. “I didn’t write the entire album in recovery. A lot of things happened after the record was finished that were pretty substantial in my life. I wouldn’t call it a recovery record now but lots of people have.”

Binion says she’s still proud of TheWorst’s 2017 debut “Jane Doe Embryo” although some of its songs feel a little cringy to her today.

“There are some songs on there where I’m like ‘Oh my God,’” she said. “Even though I was in my 30s when I wrote them, I feel like I was an immature child. Those were the first songs I ever wrote and a lot of growth has taken place since.”

Years from now when she looks back on “Yes Regrets,” how does Binion think she’ll perceive the album and the period during which it was recorded?

“I’ve been blown away by the response to this record. It’s been ready for a long time and I remember being so proud of it, then as time goes by you grow as an artist and a person. I remember telling you last time that this record is going to be hard for us to beat. I don’t know about that but I hope there will be a couple of songs on it that still mean a lot to me.”


Upcoming shows for TheWorst:

December 1 - The Stone Church, Newmarket, NH

December 2 – The Apohadion Theater, Portland, ME

December 3 – G-Force Entertainment, Bangor, ME

December 16 – The Loading Dock – Littleton, NH

Last modified on Monday, 24 October 2022 03:47


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