The one word that best describes this young British heartthrob is found in the integrity of his writing pad, his captivating stage presence and the colorful sounds coming soon from your speaker; Passion. In today’s landscape of fabricated drumbeats where auto-tune rules the airwaves, it’s the refreshing sound of honesty and distinctive vocals that makes Joe Brooks such an exciting prospect. As one may follow the stars in a constellation, Brooks paints his picture by plotting out life as he sees it with his debut LP aptly named “Constellation Me” due out in the late summer of 2010. After 6 years of honing his own unique brand of music it will provide Brooks with the catalyst that will propel him out into the unknown.
Discovering his love of music as a young man, Joe’s journey began in the town of Southampton, England. A typical teenager, Joe was obsessed with sports, particularly tennis and soccer, both of which he played competitively. However, after his mother took him to see the Australian blues roots musician Derrin Nauendorf, Brooks was inspired to pick up an old classical guitar that had been collecting dust in his attic since before he was born. Once strung and in tune, Brooks taught himself how to play; “I would strum until my fingers bled, every guitar I’ve ever owned has ended up with blood stains on the inside, I don’t get on well with a pick” he laughs.
Influenced by the likes of Ray Charles, Dire Straights, James Taylor and the Beatles, Brooks set out writing his own songs and posting them on a then-nascent social networking site called MySpace. Before he knew it, he was the highest-ranked unsigned artist in the UK for over a year, receiving more than 30,000 plays a day on simple bedroom recordings. “These days the whole concept seems so obvious, but five years ago it was a relatively new idea so I had to get my music up there to see what people thought. Thankfully, I had an incredibly positive response from really early on,” Brooks recalls. From there Brooks landed a management deal and was courted by several labels before signing with Lava/Republic, headed by music impresario Jason Flom, the man who originally signed one of Joe’s heroes Rob Thomas and his band, Matchbox 20.
Stylistically Brooks’ music incorporates elements of pop, rock, blues and soul, drawing ideas from the music he listened to growing up. He explains. “When I’m writing, I just instinctively pull ideas from various musical influences. This is how my music has evolved; there has never been a master plan.” Lyrically, he draws inspiration from life experiences, often sparked by his two biggest passions; travelling and meeting new people. One event that had a profound effect on Joe was his trip to Africa, where he helped build houses for some of the poorest people in the world. It opened his eyes to another side of life and inspired “These Broken Hands of Mine,” a reflective song that searches for guidance in difficult circumstances and times of great need. “Over the past three years I’ve done a lot of growing up and this is reflected by the album in songs such as ‘World At Our Feet,’ which is about getting out of the place I was born and seeing what the world has to offer. That’s a subject that I think a lot of people can relate to.”
Yet, First and foremost Brooks is a born performer and you have to witness him live to really understand his true artistic vision. “To me the live show is everything,” Brooks explains, adding that he’s always performed with a full band as opposed to backing tracks. “I never feel more at home then when I’m on the stage, being moved by every beat of the kick drum. Getting lost in a performance is something I’ve come to crave”, something to which those who attended his two sold-out U.K. tours (both as an unsigned artist) can readily attest. By bringing a powerful and imaginative live performance Joe ensures fans will not to travel home disappointed, channeling a work ethic that seems to be largely forgotten these days.
Admittedly, some people have seen Brooks’ boyish looks and tried to pigeonhole him into a pre-determined scene, but he finds enjoyment in challenging people’s notions of who he is or what he’s about. “I think people are often surprised by what they find when they delve beyond first impressions. I give the songs the variety they need on a case by case basis, be it a stripped acoustic set-up, electric guitar solos or strings, horns and a soul choir.”
Unlike many Internet sensations, there is no gimmick to Brooks’ musical success. Behind the polished exterior are the chops to back it up and the fact that his online fan base continues to grow rapidly and organically is perhaps a testament to that fact. Brooks’ approach has always been to put his soul up front and ultimately that’s why fans all over the world have been able to connect with songs such as his first single “Superman,” a composition about the dreams of a very ordinary guy longing to be someone’s hero. (That tune, in particular, struck a chord on MySpace and currently has nearly 10 million plays combined.)
Lyrical integrity combined with memorable melodies and a pitch perfect vocal delivery make Joe’s music completely accessible to a wide audience. His upcoming disc is the culmination of all of his musical efforts thus far and proves why listeners everywhere have already enthusiastically received his music. In the end, the ultimate goal is to introduce the world to Joe Brooks. “If people enjoy the record then I’m happy. Being comfortable financially is obviously an added bonus, but ultimately I’m excited to be pursuing a career in something I’m passionate about, not many people get that opportunity’. Brooks explains when asked about his own expectations as an artist. “I judge my success on the voices that sing with me”.