by Kirsty Evans
Sometimes being related to someone famous is both a blessing and a curse. Just ask Picture Me Broken singer Brooklyn Allman, daughter of Allman Brothers Band front man Greg Allman. Implications of nepotism are inevitable when your father is a music legend, but Brooklyn insists that in fact she’s gotten to where she is without any help from him at all. “My Dad is a very distant part of my life,” she says. “He has no influence in my music. People have this idea that he pulled strings for me but that’s really not the case.”
In reality, Picture Me Broken has done plenty of dues paying. The band members met when they were in third grade, and were jamming together by the time they were in seventh. They started playing live as a covers band at age twelve, and began writing original material about two years ago. The big break came when they were invited to open for Linkin Park on the Projekt Revolution tour. “We were kind of fish out of water at that show because we were playing with all these bands we respected like Atreyu and The Bravery. We got up on stage and started playing some of the first songs we’d ever written and got a really great response. From that show on, we really decided to start focusing on building our image and building our style.”
But the musicians couldn’t immediately set out on the usual hard touring schedule of a band trying to build a fan base — after all, they’re still in high school. Instead they’ve focused on building a strong local following. Their recent record release show at Slims was a huge success, and the album Wide Awake represents a significant step forward from the earlier Dearest I’m So Sorry EP, with a smoother, richer sound. Although Allman says the recording process was “a bit scattered,” since band members were busy with school and could only record on evenings and weekends, they’re happy with the result.
Brooklyn calls the band’s sound “melodic hard rock,” but it’s probably more accurately categorized as emo/screamo. She lists Gerard Way as a vocal influence and Davey Havok in terms of lyrics, both of which are clearly in evidence on Wide Awake. For such a young band, it is surprisingly competent instrumentally, and although there’s still definite room for improvement, it’s been making quite a splash already.
Yet the murmurs that it’s all due to Brooklyn’s famous dad remain, and they are something that band members find rather vexing. “The nepotism thing is a huge accusation we face and it’s completely inaccurate,” she said. “I even took my last name off the album because I don’t want that to be the first thing people think of.”
There’s also the issue of having an attractive young woman front a band and the issues that always brings with it. “The only problem is that you’re put into a box with all these other female-fronted bands and you have to be compared to each other,” Allman says, citing constant comparisons to the dissimilar-sounding Paramore as particularly irritating. This is an intelligent young woman, and she seems to be handling the situation by keeping her eye on the big picture and not letting the image start to overshadow the music. “It’s OK to be girly and sexy but I don’t think you should use that angle as your main appeal,” she said.
There are many challenges when a band gets into the business this young, but so far the members of Picture Me Broken seem to be keeping their heads. This fall they’re going back to complete their final year of high school, with none of the members willing to even consider dropping out despite the obvious temptation to do so. Young as they are, it helps a lot to be able to rely on each other. As Allman explains, “it’s not like we were put together by the record company, I didn’t find them on craigslist — they’re my friends and we grew up together.”