Roping in ears 

Somewhere, an Anthony Kiedis impersonator cries.

His Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band conquered Montreal quartet Braids during a high school battle of the bands years ago, but it’s art rockers Braids who are enjoying the record deal, media mentions and an international tour, including tonight’s stop at Opolis in Norman.

“They probably deserved it if they won,” drummer Austin Tufts said, laughing. “I think it comes down to the fact that since the beginning, we were never trying to create something that was mainstream or going to win us prizes or competitions. We were just trying to hang out and have fun together, and that’s what the music has always come from.”

Braids was born in 2006, just months before the competition — three before all but Tufts would graduate from high school in Calgary — from a simple idea and a steadfast love of Animal Collective.

“From the onset of the band, it’s always been just playing what we are hearing in our heads and not worrying about what’s going to come out,” Tufts said. “We talked about not inhibiting what we wanted to express and just going for it. It took us about two years to get to that point where we could trust each other enough and trust ourselves enough to put what was going on in our heads out there.”

Ceaseless practice hardly hurt.

The chemistry and early potential convinced the others to stay out of college while Tufts finished high school.

During that year, he devoted as much time to practice as class — about 35 hours a week.

Although admittedly young, the band has put in the time to craft something worth getting excited about, a measured and mature experimentalrock sound that warps to the whims of the children within them. It’s an openended, looping style whose impact is up to the listener.

Braids was guarded and patient with the release of its proper debut, taking nine months to record and almost as much time afterward in finding the proper label to release it. “Native Speaker” hit the shelves last month to rave reviews, largely focused on the construction, structure and compositions that manifested themselves into works often registering past the six-minute mark.

“Everything is done collectively, and they take a long time to write,” Tufts said. “There comes so many ideas from us, being that all four people are writing the songs. If Bach or Beethoven were sitting around with four of their buddies, just imagine how dense they would be, you know?” Not that he’s comparing the band to the brightest musical minds of all time. Far from it. Despite all the acclaim, the four have kept amazingly level heads, accepting praise with the caution and humility of a group that seems poised to stick around for a while.

“We try to be as honest with ourselves with where we are actually at musically,” Tufts said. “You have to give yourself a reality check and realize how much incredible music is being made out there, and how much you still have left to learn.”

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Joshua Boydston

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