Mikl (aka Mike Montgomery) of Albuquerque-born BrokeNCYDE says he's not sure where he is.
He's in the United Kingdom, in the midst of a three-week tour. His band is waiting in the green room of a club, and they’re about to perform. That's about all he knows. "I don't know the town we're in or anything," Mikl admits. "I really do not know where I am. I'm so lost." (For what it's worth, the band played The Perish in Huddersfield, England, the night of our interview.)
BrokeNCYDE's schedule is hectic. The band that blends screamo and crunk rap—a Southern-bred hip-hop style that features rhymes about getting wasted—tours for a few months, takes a week off and then hits the road again. Mikl says he and his bandmates long for Albuquerque. "We still consider it our home, we just never get to go there," Mikl says. "We still love it and we miss it every day."
BrokeNCYDE's young career has been anything but typical. After forming in 2006, quickly converted fans ran up the band's MySpace play-count to between 70,000 and 100,000 plays a day. In the summer of 2007, BrokeNCYDE self-released The Broken, and the EP BC13 followed a year later on Suburban Noize Records. The band also appeared on MTV's “Total Request Live” in 2008. This year is packed with tour dates in Europe and America, including several spots on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. "It just shows that wanting something and being determined can get something done," Mikl says. "We're the same people as we were when we started the band."
BrokeNCYDE's unorthodox combination of growling, grunting, screaming and crunk flows has caught people's attention and given the band a substantial helping of popularity. But it's also drawn the ire of some music critics and musicians. A thread on the local music forum rocksquawk.com features comments that deride the band for disgracing Albuquerque by making music that's unlistenable. One user goes so far as to say, "I think the sound they produce is lacking any and all forms of what I concider [sic] music."
Mikl says he laughs about the criticism from his fellow denizens. "They can talk all they want, but we're where we are because we don't care what people say," Mikl asserts. "While we're over here in the U.K., they're still in Albuquerque talking about us."
Initially, Mikl says the band hoped to help other Albuquerque bands break out on a national level. But the negative feedback squashed those plans. "Seeing the reaction of how they bash us, we were like, Whatever," Mikl says. "If you're a true musician, you should support everything."
Mikl notes that many forms of music were ridiculed when they first arose. "People don't know how to take it," Mikl insists. "It's something different. It's just like punk music and every other kind of music that, when it was created, people didn't know how to label it, so they talk trash about it."
"They can talk all they want, but we're where we are because we don't care what people say."
If BrokeNCYDE ever does feel hurt by criticism, its members can always take comfort in their fan base. Many of BrokeNCYDE's female followers get so swept up by the live show, they pelt the band with underwear, bras and condoms on a nightly basis. "They throw all that good stuff," Mikl says. "It's always a good laugh."
On Tuesday, June 16, BrokeNCYDE's first full-length release on a label drops. I’m Not A Fan But The Kids Like It provides fuel for lovers and haters alike. Producer Mike Kumagai crafted the beats that the band laid its signature crunk keyboard over. The curse-heavy lyrics also borrow a page from crunk. Sexually available women, hard partying and an anything-goes atmosphere permeate the songs. Nothing is tongue-in-cheek about the band, but Mikl says some of the lyrics are designed to make people laugh. "It's just what we've seen and what happens at parties and clubs," Mikl explains. "It's real, it's just that nobody has the balls to say it sometimes."
He's not sure when he'll be in Albuquerque next, but Mikl has this to say to the music community in his hometown: "We love all our crunk heads, all our fans and everyone that supports us. Even if you don't like us, rock on."