Cover image courtesy of Alexis Faye/Crybaby Management
In these difficult times of anxiety, uncertainty and negativity, it’s nice to be able to find positivity in hope in small doses in this world.
Alan “Corduroy” Brown is here to help, and he’s bringing an arsenal of upbeat alternative music along the way. Moreover, he has a unique view of mental health in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Everything I’ve written (as Corduroy Brown) are my musings on mental health and therapy,” he explains. “I really wanted to say hey, some days you’re not so sure, but you can figure out what you’re good for!”
Brown says his musical journey started back in 2008, while he was still in high school. He says that once his first love, basketball, lost its luster, he tried his hand in a band called Unlock.
“Like most high school acts, we thought we were so great… we were not,” he laughs. “But there’s only so many summer camps you can attend, and I figured music was something I could do for the rest of my life.”
Brown currently lives in Chesapeake, OH, which he says is about a stone’s throw from the Ohio/West Virginia border. For the last few years, Brown has been playing guitar for the Huntington, WV quartet The Dividends, an alternative rock/r’n’b outfit. When The Dividends hung things up last fall, Brown decided to start making music on his own.
“I’m really happy to be doing it,” he says. “It provides me an opportunity to play by myself and do a lot of the work. It’s really just an extension of me, and I can talk about whatever I want!
“For instance, if I want to talk about something like mental health, I can do that and people will understand that that is who I am.”
The first song Brown wrote as a solo artist was To My Younger Self, an airy, upbeat track with a bouncy guitar and drum combo. He said that he was thinking about what he would write to his younger self, given the opportunity.
“I kept thinking of lists that I could send to help younger me,” he describes. “Most importantly, I would say hey you, don’t worry about all of these things!”
Easier said (or perhaps written) than done, right? As someone who frequently struggles with anxiety, I can think of dozens of times where I’d like to be able to reach back and say “Hey Jester, you’ve got this buddy, keep your head up.” Brown says that that has been one of his main goals in writing as a solo artist; being able to figure out how to get through the difficult times.
“Every song I’ve written so far is either me figuring something out, or telling myself I need to figure it out,” he chuckles. “The whole album I have going is basically me calling myself out for all the dumb stuff I’ve done.”
The chorus of the song reads, “I’m feeling satisfactory, like they made this feeling in a factory. Some days I ain’t so sure, like I can’t go no more. So what am I good for?” It’s a question that you’ve probably asked yourself before. For this one, Brown says he knows that he’s messed up in the past, and he’s alright with it.
“And, honestly, I’m gonna mess up in the future too. But this is me saying let’s figure it out so we can move on!” he adds.
Brown released another new song last month, titled Leave It To Me. The song features another Huntington act, The Dead Frets. Brown says that all of the songs he has written so far feature some form of collaboration with artists he has met in his time as a musician.
“I wanted it to be completely collaborative; I’m honestly not sure if the band will ever have a final form,” he excitedly explains. “What I do know is that since I’m doing most of the musical work, I’ll always have a good structure to fall back on.
“It’s also just really cool being able to play with my friends! I want to be able to invest in this, and share it so other people can become invested in it as well.”
Leave It To Me has a slightly different musical feel, but again delves into Brown’s anxious mind. He says he’s such a perfectionist, and it always seems to come back to bite him in the butt.
“I just keep saying to myself, why can’t I leave these things alone?”
In spite of the anxious topics, Brown says that writing these songs has been quite therapeutic, and that is a brand new feeling for him.
“I usually don’t write songs when I’m sad,” he clarifies. “I write these songs when I’m on a good serotonin high, and I’m looking back upon myself to see where I was.”
I honestly didn’t expect that answer from him, but the entire conversation we’ve had has been refreshing, just like his music. I personally feel that anyone who writes introspectively is just looking for a piece of their musical soul, and Brown has found and uncanny way to tap into that puzzle.
Currently, he only has one other full-time member in the band, bassist Chris Barker who also played in The Dividends. Brown says that his initial goal was to write a full length LP, but that the pandemic has made that a little tricky.
“I definitely want to make it collaborative, but it’s tough to get people together in studio currently,” he laments. “But I have so many songs bubbling around in my tank.
“My idea right now is that I’m writing the musical skeleton of the song, and letting the people I collaborate with do their own thing,” he continues. “Once I have that finished product, I want them to be able to hear it and know that is it their song as well.”
Brown says that he hopes to get back into playing shows once the time comes around. Previously he says that he enjoyed playing Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio, especially in Cincinnati and Columbus. His goal for 2020 is to release another single in June and see where the creative process takes him for the rest of his songs.
“I’m fortunate that I still get to work every day,” he adds. “Music has never been my full-time career, and I love that. I get to do it on my time, and it really makes me happy.”
It really is pleasing for me to see someone who has been able to use his musical talents to bring happiness into his own life, and use it to help overcome his own mental struggles. I can only hope that as more music is released, Corduroy Brown will be able to use that talent to help others. I know that it definitely brightened my day to hear To My Younger Self. Seriously, I dare you to listen to it and not smile.
Corduroy Brown – To My Younger Self