It’s taken a long time, but Jason Sniderman has finally let the world hear glam rocker Ensign Broderick. The Toronto musician created the Broderick persona in the early ‘70s, around the time he started writing songs. He recorded these compositions in his bedroom, rarely playing them for anyone. Sniderman has been in bands—including punky new wave outfit, Blue Peter—and worked as a session musician, all the while leaving his Ensign Broderick recordings to gather dust.
But that’s all changed. Six Shooter Records released Ensign Broderick’s debut, Feast of Panthers, a few months ago, and two new albums, Beauty nor Ashes and Ranger, just came out. His next one, Only Love Remains, is due out on June 15th. There’s an abundance of strong material on the records, which feature glam tracks, new romantic-style synth-pop, string-enriched ballads, and straight-up rockers. His baritone is reminiscent of David Bowie, Scott Walker, Nick Cave, and, notably, Bryan Ferry, but has its own distinct flavor.
The Ensign Broderick albums largely consist of recent recordings, though elements from the original tapes were used. Take the funky glam-soul number, “True Shame,” in which his ‘70s vocal, sax, and guitar parts were all incorporated into the mix.
Dangerous Minds recently interviewed Ensign Broderick via email.
When did you start writing songs?
Ensign Broderick: I started writing songs when I was ten or eleven. I had been taking classical piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music when I was three (tagging along with my brother), but I did not enjoy many aspects of what I was being taught. I really wanted to be a drummer, so to encourage me to practice piano my parents appeased me by buying me a drum kit, piece by piece. E.g. snare drum at Christmas, a cymbal for my next birthday, a bass drum for my next birthday etc. By the time I was seven I had acquired a full kit (which I still have). I practiced drums a lot. Three to four hours per day. Playing along to full sides of the first Jimi Hendrix record, Led Zeppelin, the Who’s Live at Leeds and Who’s Next, and stuff like that. Along the line (at nine or ten), I discovered Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. And then Nicky Hopkins and Leon Russell and Elton John, and realized that piano playing and players were ok too. I also started to play Chopin at piano lessons, and I recognized harmonic structures in serious music, which I could relate to rock and roll. Listening to those players, and having a better understanding of classical music, gave me the inspiration to write songs.
What sort of recording equipment did you use, back in the day?
Ensign Broderick: A cassette deck and sometimes a reel-to-reel. I would bounce tracks so that some of the bedroom recordings would have close to twelve tracks, but really reduced fidelity. All vocals were done through either a Fender Quad or a Tapco mixer.
How did you come to share your archival material with Six Shooter?
Ensign Broderick: I was far too shy to share my stuff with anyone. Very few people had heard it. Even the people who played on it rarely heard finished versions.
I had my stuff on a Soundcloud that I was keeping to myself and Shauna de Cartier (Six Shooter Records) discovered it on her own.
Much more after the jump…