Brady Toops is a Minnesota native that now calls Nashville home. We sat down at his hometown festival, Sonshine, to talk about his life as a musician, his upcoming tour, and his love for drop-crotch pants.
Disclaimer: Three of the questions were written out by Judah & Brian of Judah & The Lion. I had interviewed them the week prior and when they found out I was interviewing Brady (they’re friends) they wanted in. Those questions will be noted with a *- every artist loves an interviewer knowing personal details about their life, right?
IVM: First off, thanks for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions, I know you have family here to hang out with. When did you know that you wanted to make music for a living?
BT: For me it was one of those natural things that came out, we. the all have different talents and skills and the way we’re designed. For me it was an expression of who I was, the way I was designed. Baseball ended in ’06 and ’07 rolled around and I went on a road trip to figure out what I wanted to do, what was next. I felt God asking me “What do you want to do?” That roadtrip was rediscovering my heart, I thought “I want to make music. I don’t know if I can do that for a living but I want to make music.” And 7 years later I am still making music.
IVM: Earlier this year you were on tour with John Mark McMillan, what was your favorite moment of that tour?
BT: There was a couple favorite moments. Number 1, just traveling with the guys, with John Mark, having conversations on the road and learning from their experience and his wisdom, different things he would say that struck home for me. He’s incredible, I have a lot of respect for him and his music. I asked a lot of questions, his encouragement was great. The last show of the tour was great. It was in Knoxville and I walked on stage and people just started chanting my last name, “Toops, Toops, Toops!” It was hilarious, I came to find out they didn’t even know who I was they just thought my last name was cool. Super lively crowd, so fun.
IVM: In a couple of weeks you are hitting the road for a house show tour. Have you done one of these before? Do you like the intimateness of house shows? Is it at all nerve wracking?
BT: I have done lots of house shows but I’ve never done a house show tour where I’m selling tickets, this is more of a systemized house show tour. Is it nerve wracking? Yes, because people are so close but also the thing that’s great about it is you get to know the people, more of an intimate connection. ‘Cause you’re in a living room, friends hang out in the living room so I feel like we get to be friends. In my music that’s important, that kind of connection.
IVM: That’s excellent. I feel like that would be terrifying, I think it would be easier to have nameless faces. What is your favorite Brady Toops song and why?
BT: My favorite Brady Toops song is usually the latest one that I’ve written and then I play it way too many times and then I don’t know if I like it. At the moment my favorite song, it’s not on any record yet, I think it’s called Bleed. It’s a song about being caught in the middle of making a living and doing something that makes you feel alive. The wrestling, the tug-of-war between those two things. I think we all feel that, what we love doesn’t always make money and sometimes what we love makes money and we don’t love it as much. At the end of the day I would rather live with a heart that bleeds and feels and that is moved rather than just being an engine or a machine. It was originated from a Johnny Cash quote, “Without love I am half-human, without love I am a machine.”
IVM: Wow, alright, that’s really amazing. Being an artist you have probably been someone’s first concert, what was your first concert
BT: The first concert that I ever remember buying a ticket to, like taking my hard-earned cash and going and buying a ticket was Damien Rice at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City. He was amazing.
IVM: You’re a singer-songwriter, if you could have written any song in the history of songs, which song would you choose?
BT: The latest song from Coldplay. If I could have written any song…man…Johnny Cash covered it, maybe “Ring of Fire,” that would be a pretty baller song to say I wrote. I would have liked to have written “Amazing Grace” it’s still one of my favorite songs, it just rings true through all generations. So I would probably say “Amazing Grace” and then for all the hipster-cool people I would say “Ring of Fire.” And then any Coldplay song.
IVM: Hahaha. If you could have coffee with three living celebrities (famous for any reason) who would you have coffee with?
BT: Man, that’s a great question…one of my favorite authors is a man by the name of Richard Rohr, he’s a Franciscan priest. He writes a lot about the contemplative life and I would love to have coffee with him. It would be fascinating, we could talk about all things spiritual. Chris Martin from Coldplay would be great to have coffee with. And Taylor Swift because I would like her to write a happy song about the male race. And she’s brilliant, beautiful, and a killer songwriter.
IVM: That’s a really great list, solid choices. Before pursuing music full time you were a baseball player, how did it feel hitting the grand slam during the regional tournament your senior year [of college]?*
BT: In the moment it just felt like, “Man…” Afterwards it felt like, “Did that really happen? Was I the one that really did that?” Like I see the video of it and I feel like everyone else just watching a cool moment and I’ll get chills and I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s me jumping into the pile.” It felt really cool, I feel really fortunate to be a part of that moment. I’m really glad I didn’t strike out.
IVM: Haha, that would have felt a lot worse I’m sure. When did you start wearing pants with elastic at the bottom? Where did you get your hot “I don’t care” style? *
BT: Oh my gosh, elastic at the bottom, uhh, probably when I was like 2 years old. Actually probably like zero. Don’t onesies have elastic at the bottom? Recent history though I probably started wearing them in the last year. I stumbled into a store called Cotton On and something called drop-crotch pants and they changed my life. Once you go drop-crotch with elastic bottoms, you’ll never go back.
IVM: Is that what Justin Bieber wears?
BT: Me and Biebs, yeah.
IVM: Did you ever call that girl back that hit on you at Imogene and Willie? Are you single? Dating anyone? *
BT: How did you know about that?
IVM: Haha, these last three questions were Judah and Brian [of Judah & The Lion] and they made me ask and wanted me to do it with a straight face and I just really don’t want you to think I’m a creeper.
BT: Shut up, they made you do this? They wrote down these questions? The hot “I don’t care” style? That is so funny! I freakin’ love that they did that. No comment on number 10.
IVM: Haha, totally fair. So tell me about this remix song that you’re putting out.
BT: So I’ve never made music to try to be played on the radio. Not because I hate radio or Christian radio just because I never gravitated toward that style of music. I just wanted to write things that felt honest and true to me. What came out was this organic, rootsy, soulful, folky vibe. The last couple years of playing that I love that kind of music and I will probably keep writing that kind of music but in the creative process I love experimenting and thought, “hey, what if we did something just totally different? If this organic, way left of center is my vibe, what if we just went totally the other way and experimented with a song in more that EDM [electronic dance music] world?” It’s not totally EDM but it’s definitely a remix. I love it. We just finished up mixing it right now and it’s fun to experiment. Maybe I’ll do it more in the future.
IVM: Finally, where’s the best place for people to keep up with you?
BT: The fan page on Facebook would be great. facebook.com/bradytoops. Twitter, Instagram, all of the above.