Life During Wartime interviews:
Light Brigade

  • Published July 27, 2012 By MRR
  • Categories Interviews

Hey, the Life During Wartime interviews are back! Our pals at the Life During Wartime radio show on KBOO in Portland, OR, like to share with us their talks with bands who perform live in the studio. This time Colin During Wartime interviews Portland’s new sensations LIGHT BRIGADE, whose 7″ was recently released on Raw Sugar Records out of New Orleans, and participants in infamous Downtown LA Chalk Riots of 2012

Check out their on-air performance HERE or here:

Chalk cops, Los Angeles


Colin (LDW): Okay you guys, here it comes! This is an interview with local mavens of music, Light Brigade.

Callie: Hello, Radio Land.

LDW: You are Light Brigade. Who are you individually? Say your name, what you play, and how ’bout the junk food snacks to eat on the road. Why don’t you start first Erin…

Erin: My name’s Erin Yanke, I play drums, and on the road I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with potato chips and baby carrots.

Icky: My name’s Icky, on the road I ate slushies, and I play bass.

Callie: My name is Callie, I play the guitar, and I definitely at some point made everyone fussy with me cause I ordered a milkshake at a gas station, and it took a long time…

Erin: We just thought you were kidnapped. That was the bum-out part, not the milkshake…

Melinda: My name’s Melinda and I sing and play the train whistle, and I like coconut popsicles.

LDW: Your band is called Light Brigade. Tell me, where does that stem from, some kind of post impressionist painting?

Icky: No. Light Brigade came from me, from a list of prospective band names. I was thinking “Light Brigade, that sounds cool” (we all laugh). That was about it. I thought it’s like Brigade, kind of punk, but light like kind of dreamy. And also Light Brigade was the charge of the English cavalry  against the Russian artillery before WWI in the Crimea, and it was a clash of dumb antiquity versus modernism. It’s like us.

Callie: It’s also the name of a boring movie.

Erin: Explain more about dumb antiquity…

Icky: The Charge of the Light Brigade was a bunch of people who listened to their aristocratic British generals say, “Run into these Russian cannons”. That’s like us. (laughs)

LDW: How did this band come together?

Erin: I don’t remember exactly, but Icky currently attends nursing school in Pittsburgh, and we decided we’d have a band before he left, and we’d cram it all in. We started playing, then Icky said, “I know the perfect singer, her name’s Melinda.”

Callie: Then Melinda appeared and she had all these songs, it was great.

LDW: So Icky lives in Pittsburgh, how does that change the band dynamic?

Callie: We can’t Skype practice, though we thought about it

LDW: Why not?

Callie: The delay. The internet.

LDW: How else had it affected the band? Did you plan on continuing on after the move?

Icky: I don’t think so. We didn’t have too many plans, until I left, then we started thinking about plans. How has it affected the band? It’s sad.

Callie: We’re basically a holiday band. We play Christmas, 4th of July, weddings…

Erin:  I think we’d intended to quit when Icky left, and then we had a mini-Washington tour last year and in the middle of it we were all sad cause it was so fun, but we decided we could change our minds. We could not break up! Then we were happy. And we didn’t fulfill our dream of playing in Tacoma. Please Tacoma, let us play there…

LDW: Speaking of touring, you guys recently went on a tour. Let’s talk about it. Would you call it a success, were you happy with it?

Melinda: Yes.

LDW: Give me some tour stories…

Callie: One time, we were in LA, and we were playing at the Last Bookstore, which was really awesome.

Erin: There’s this LA Art Walk, like (Portland’s) Last Thursday, where a bunch of yahoos get wasted and look at art, and the commercial hip hop station co-sponsors live performances at this bookstore…

Callie: And they were MC-ing our show! I think my favorite part was when they said “three sexy ladies and one very sexy man…” It was so amazing, and then this riot broke out, where people were writing in chalk…

Erin: The Occupy LA people had been getting arrested for writing with chalk on the sidewalk, and so they had made an informational flyer and handed out chalk during the art walk. That turned into a typical LA cop riot. Everyone was trapped in the bookstore, but I was with Ariel in the van at the beginning of the riot, and we figured that was a bad time to be in the van and ended up about three police lines away from everyone else.

Callie: It added about four hours to our agenda.

Erin: I think about 20 people got arrested… it was probably the most exciting tour event.

Callie: It was more surreal than anything, lots of things happening at once, lots of emotions…

Icky: I walked out of the bookstore, and thought, What’s going on?  Then the cops threw some tear gas, so I went back inside and go to Callie and Katie who are looking at records and say, “I think there’s a riot going on outside.”  Katie walks to the window, and Callie goes, “Oh cool,” and keeps looking at records. So Katie and I are looking out the window, and I asked where Melida and Erin were. “Melinda’ s upstairs, and Erin’s in the van.” Cops are all around the street where the van is. Then Katie goes, “Oh wait, I just got a text from Erin.” “What’s it say?” “I’m in the van, where’s the corkscrew for the wine?” And I look outside, and, well, there’s a riot going on. Callie’s looking through records, and Erin’s like, “There’s cops outside the van tear gassing people and shooting beanbag  rounds into people, where’s the corkscrew?” (laughs) What ended up happening is there was a delay on the text cause everyone was using their phones and stuff, but we got it literally while we were watching the cops load up their guns with bean bag rounds. So, it was all a little odd.

LDW: It’s good to have a crew that’s pretty unaffected.

Callie: But there’s nothing we could do, I tried to leave earlier and the bouncers wouldn’t let me leave.

Icky: Bouncers in a bookstore, that’s LA…

LDW: You guys made a record.

Erin: Yes.

LDW: 7″ — who put it out? Wow did it come about? Tell me the story

Callie: It’s on Raw Sugar Records out of New Orleans, run by our friend Brice. Going back to the “Oh my goodness, Icky’s moving away” thing, we figured we’d better do something. An attempt of productivity, as a band with limited time to be together.

Erin: Our friend Sid came over to the house we practice at and recorded us there. Brice was in town DJing and helping with the roof of Icky’s old house, and they played the recording and he liked it.

Icky: He was blown away. He said, “Holy smokes, this rules. I have a label, let’s put it out.”

(bad jokes all round)

LDW: Next question for Melinda, This is the first band you’ve ever been in, is that correct?

Melinda: Yes.

LDW: Do you enjoy this whole being-in-a-band thing?

Melinda: Yes.

LDW: Is this something you’ve wanted to do for some time?

Melinda: I had dreams of it.

LDW: Literally or figuratively?

Melinda: Both.

LDW: Can you tell me one of the literal dreams?

Melinda: No.

LDW: Moving on, now… Who are you guys in your lives, what do you do?

Callie: I make coffee for the public, I listen to a lot of records, I play records on the radio, (KBOO 90.7 FM, Drinking from Puddles).

Melinda: I work at the Northwest Film Center.

Icky: I’m in nursing school, I used to work at the Film Center with Melinda. When we were looking for a singer I told our mutual co-worker, Joe, “I think maybe Melinda is going to be the singer for our band.” He said, “Oh, get the quietest person at our job to sing for your punk band,” and it worked. Joe was proven wrong.

Callie: Take that, Joe!

Erin: Icky’s also an awesome artist, part of the Just Seeds Collective… I am the program director of this station, and I also am in one other band called Social Graces.

LDW: What holds in the future?

(Alex Yusimov comes in the door and tells our future… jokes ensue…)

Erin: We’re supposed to figure out today if we’re playing a wedding in August… but for future things, we haven’t talked about it.

LDW: Anything you want to add?

Callie: Rock and roll!

Contact Light Brigade at PO Box 1113, Portland OR 97207

Life During Wartime can be heard on Portland, OR’s KBOO 90.7 FM Wednesday nights from 11 p.m. — 1 a.m. They can be reached at, and you can send them records at PO Box 1113, Portland OR 97207-1113. Subscribe to their podcast here.