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BWW Interview: Jacob Brandt Shares Details About the Release of 1969: THE SECOND MAN Original Concept Album

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1969: The Second Man originally premiered in August 2018 at the 4th Street Theatre as part of Next Door at NYTW.

BWW Interview: Jacob Brandt Shares Details About the Release of 1969: THE SECOND MAN Original Concept Album

Throughout time, the distinction of being 'the first' has always held an enormous amount of historical weight. The 'first' person to create a motion picture, the 'first' person to operate an automobile, the 'first' human to step foot on the moon. But what about the second? 1969: The Second Man, which originally premiered in August 2018 at the 4th Street Theatre as part of Next Door at NYTW, puts the focus not on Neil Armstrong, but on Buzz Aldrin, the second man to stand on the moon.

Jacob Brandt, the man behind the music and lyrics of the stage show, has just released an original concept album featuring reimagined versions of the songs from the live production of 1969: The Second Man.

We spoke with Jacob about the inspiration behind the creation of the show, finding the proper sound for the album, and more!

To purchase the album, click HERE!

How did the idea for this show come about? Why a show about Buzz Aldrin and not about Neil Armstrong?

I sort of became fascinated with Buzz Aldrin around high school, and I just became curious about this historical figure who, once I looked a little bit into the moon landing, I realized that this person had been as integral to the moon landing as Neil Armstrong, and had also stepped onto the moon minutes after. And I just found it interesting that we really put a lot of import on the fact that Neil was first. So, I just became fascinated by Buzz Aldrin and started looking into him, and it turned out that he has a really interesting life beyond the moon landing. That fascination led to me starting to write songs about Buzz Aldrin towards the end of college, and the show started taking shape from there.

How did you go about getting the sound for this show? Why folk rock?

I really love folk music and indie music, and I'm really interested in making live performances that use musical genres that aren't necessarily musical theater, in terms of the sound and the genre. And I'm a folk musician myself, so I kind of feel like folk music is, and has been for a long time... there is a longstanding tradition in folk music of these adventure narratives, and these ballads that tell stories about mythic figures, and I figured you can kind of create this folk American myth about these astronauts. After all, it's such a huge adventure, and at the time, perhaps the biggest undertaking of that kind. So, I thought that folk music in its roots of journey music and traveling music made a lot of sense for a journey like the Apollo 11 mission.

When did you record the album? What was the recording process like?

I worked with a bunch of longstanding musical collaborators on the album over a pretty long period of time. After the show happened in 2018, we started chipping away at this concept album version, which [was] not a cast album, but more of a standalone folk album that is a companion to the show, and I hope that it stands alone as a piece of music as well. But we started working it in early 2019 and recorded a lot of it in pieces. We didn't finish the album until after quarantine started. So, it was begun in early 2019, but not finished until a couple of months ago.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

That's a very tough question! It's interesting, similarly to the way it was recorded, I also wrote the songs over long period of time, and I think the first song that I wrote for this was in 2013, and the last one that I wrote was in 2016 or '17. I'd been working on other projects in between those, so in a way, different songs in this project for me mark different stages in the way I was writing music. I appreciate all of them in different ways and I've now heard it so many times too it's difficult for me to choose, but on different days I like certain songs more and certain songs less. One of the songs that I come back to that I think about a lot is the song 'Moon Facts and Fictions' which is about a psychological paradigm shift that astronauts experience called the 'overview effect', which is the idea of when you see earth from space, it's a psychologically life-altering experience. And that is an idea and a concept that I found myself thinking about a lot. So that song definitely holds a lot of weight for me.

How do you feel knowing that this project that you have put so much time and energy and love into has now been memorialized as an album?

It's been a really interesting experience. I have been working on this for a long time, and creatively it's occupied a big portion of my twenties. After it was released, I spent a lot of time thinking about the idea that the project, in a way, feels complete now. And because I hadn't released any of the music prior to last week, I felt like this project was still in process. Hopefully we'll be able to do it live again when that is available to us, but it feels like now the work on the project has, for the most part, come to a close, and it's bittersweet. I'm very happy that people now have the ability to listen to this music if they want to, I'm happy to share it with everyone. It feels strange to put this project to bed, in a way.

Have you thought about doing a virtual concert for this album?

A little bit! I have thought about it... in no concrete way, but I have thought about it. It would be really fun. There are all sorts of challenges at this point about the virtual music thing, so I haven't really looked into all of the logistics of that, but I think it would be something that I'm certainly interested in. Before Covid I really wanted to do the show outside, and so that may be possible at some point down the line. I think that it would make sense to do this show under the stars, and the opportunity may have just emerged because of this crazy world we're living in. I do feel like an outdoor version of the show would be really wonderful and hopefully we can make that happen at some point!

Purchase 1969: The Second Man album HERE!

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