UTG INTERVIEW: Broken Guru Discuss ‘Bent Up Halo’

broken guru

This past April, New York City’s Broken Guru released their debut effort, Bent Up Halo, a raw, 12-track rock album with influences ranging from The Rolling Stones to Silversun Pickups.

Guitarist/vocalist Rich Guerzon recently took some time to speak with us about the formation of the band, the creation of Bent Up Halo, loving monster movies and more, so follow us below to read through our conversation and get familiar with Broken Guru.

So to begin, can you tell me a bit about how the three of you came together to start Broken Guru and how you decided on what kind of music you would play?

Ray, Christy I have been friends since the beginning of time and we have spent many late nights jamming, ’cause that’s one of the things we did for fun. In the Spring of 2013, a mutual friend invited us to perform at a place called Networks, where he set up an evening showcasing local talent. We thought it would be fun, and instead of playing covers I suggested we do a few original songs that I had been fumbling around with. One was called “Tryin'” and the other was “Stupid Star.” The response to our performance was the catalyst for the finely-tuned mess known as Broken Guru. The music was spontaneous and raw and it just kind of evolved naturally. It really was not a conscious decision, there were no rules. We just kept going with it and here we are.

And where does the band name come from? Any story behind that?

Broken Guru was a song I had written years ago. Lyrically it was a perspective from a not-so-perfect life. We all thought it would be a great name for our little trio; it defines us perfectly.

Before you all started this band, had the three of you been involved with other bands in the past?

Ray and I have both been in bands on and off over the years. Christy and I are part of Sangsara, a psychedelic rock band. I also am part of a band called Dog Society – I play the bass in that one. I have performed with so many different musicians and many different styles. Gospel, jazz, classical, fun; you name it I’ve done it with 150% pure, unadulterated passion. It’s how I learn and how I grow.

So you guys been playing live as a band for a couple years now? How would you describe your live show for those who haven’t had the opportunity to see you yet?

We have been doing the NYC circuit for a little over a year. Someone described us as if Pablo Picasso had created a punk band [laughs]. I am down with that. There is a great creative energy when the three of us are in the moment.

So as a debut, when you started writing Bent Up Halo, did you guys have anything in particular you really wanted to focus on as far as how this album would turn out?

We all agreed to have no restrictions and just go for it. The songs sort of fell into place. We were so in tune with whatever it was that was guiding us. We were honest, reckless and passionate. The music, the performances, the lyrics are all from the heart.

And to introduce anyone who hasn’t heard Broken Guru yet, how would you describe the album in terms of sound, style and even its lyricism?

Broken Guru is a gutsy garage art rock band with lyrics that portray a cynical, social satire of western culture.

I sense a lot of classic rock, and maybe even early metal influences on the album. Who are some bands or artists that you all draw inspiration from that you feel may have had a hand in how your sound has developed?

We are discovering and turning each other on to new music all the time. I have always been a fan of the obscure ’60s garage bands like the Sonics, Blue Cheer etc. At the same time I love the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin. Picking out the riffs on my guitar is how I learned music, so it’s going to show in the recordings. I believe we were able to add our own thing to the classic sound, which is not easy. While making the Bent Up Halo CD we were listening to Silversun Pickups and MC5, I think because we decided that Broken Guru had a similar vibe. We are very aware of not repeating something and being unique. Everybody loves to compare you to someone else. So we threw everything in the mix along with our own touch to make it more complicated for anyone to pigeonhole us. We like to say we sound like Broken Guru. We are influenced by our experiences in life.

The album’s cover could definitely be considered provocative. Did you have any concerns that it could possibly prevent a potentially larger listener base?

Ray designed the art for Bent Up Halo and no, it never crossed our minds. It’s art and what is art if there are rules and restrictions? Freedom of expression. As far as preventing us from having a potentially larger listening base, we are not concerned about things like that. We are just doing what we do with absolutely no fear. If you like us, great, if you don’t, great. We do it for us.

You’ve got great clips from The Wizard of Oz and Mad Monster Party for some of your videos. Are you guys big monster movie fans and can we expect to see more of that down the line?

[Laughs] I created those videos with images that everyone can relate to. For me it brought back childhood memories. An essential part of most of our childhoods. You carry experiences like that for the rest of your conscious life. Yes, I am proudly a huge monster movie fan. I have been thinking about a zombie theme for the next Guru video [laughs].

The room you’re playing in in the “Behind The Mouth” video is really trippy. Where was that filmed at?

We filmed that video in Ray Fiero’s (drummer) company Revolution Graphics. They are a NYC prop design company. That was Ray’s idea to print that trippy pattern and cover the walls and floor with it. It’s actually a hallway. Ben and Dan (Lefty Motion) shot us performing to the cameras and then we turned all the equipment around facing the wall to give the illusion of being enclosed in a room with no doors or windows. It’s a very claustrophobic feeling I got when I watched it for the first time. We had a blast making it. I just plugged Revolution Graphics and Lefty Motion [laughs].

Do you guys have any touring plans or major shows lined up in the coming months?

No tours planned just yet. We are performing mostly in NYC. You can go to our ReverbNation page to see where and when we are playing.

And overall, do you have any other plans or goals you’re hoping to accomplish for the remainder of the year?

We have been discussing going into the studio again to record a 4-song EP to release on vinyl; very excited about this. Please visit and like us on Facebook.

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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