There's no mistake. You can distinctly hear Fran Broderick in all of his projects: the casual gravel and grind of his voice, his broad, chunky attack on the acoustic guitar, and lyrics that swing from the personally bittersweet to the flat-out hysterical. You may recognize Broderick from his work with Friday in America. You may not recognize him from his two-man endeavor PilotSuits. But you're definitely going to want to know the man and his work as Left-Handed 2nd Baseman.
Broderick needed this third outfit (often made up of just Broderick himself) to work up tunes that may not have worked in projects one and two.
It wasn't so much that they weren't proper venues, as I just needed it creatively," he says. "There were parts where I wanted to lay down organ or drums. And a lot of the material is personal, so when I had an idea, I could chase it or experiment and not necessarily do it in the context of a band and say, 'What do you guys think of this?'"
He worked on polishing these songs for almost a year and a half, longer than he had on previous endeavors. When he was done, "Eudaimonia" was born in all its 10-cut splendor
"The writing process and the time I've spent on these songs is much longer," Broderick says. "It was kind of a batch of songs I kept re-writing — I keep using the phrase — chasing them down the rabbit hole. I had a lot of different ideas."
And though the guys from his other bands appear on the album, it's still Broderick at the wheel. He didn't need, or want, additional input.
"No, to be quite frank," he says, "I wanted to have a project that was my own where I could experiment any way I wanted, without having to stop and ask permission."
And to the casual listener it sounds pretty much the way he always sounds: folky with an urban edge and lyrical sting.
"I don't think there are any glowing differences," Broderick says. "I think part of it is context. The album became its own entity. And it included all the genres I was interested in — folk, soul, hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, alt-folk ... In Friday In America, when we made an album, I wanted it to be cohesive, so I might not put on a hip-hop track, I might leave a song that's more hard than the rest. 'Eudaimonia' is cohesive to my interests. My interests are a little wider. On this album I could sing in the vein of John Prine on 'I'm Sorry God Didn't Make You Cool,' or a more loud and abrasive one with DJ Naps like 'Yippee Kai Yay.' I got to explore all the genres I'm interested in and tell certain stories that are personal to me."
This is where Broderick shines. His words are gold — which in some cases, make entirely too much sense.
On "I'm Sorry God Didn't Make you Cool," he sings "... You're trying to build a house by shouting at the tools."
Or Broderick says "...What good is a kingdom if ain't nobody in it? And I'll always believe you even if no one see ya did it," on the track "Over and Over Again."
Then on "Not the Boat," Broderick sings "... I feel great today, cause I know this isn't it."
"'Eudaimonia' is a Greek term for human flourishing," Broderick says. "Which is an idea I think is thematically appropriate for all the stuff on the album. These were just personal, world view observations which again come back to the personal nature of the album."
Adding to "Eudaimonia's" personal tack, Broderick's 86-year-old grandfather, a jazz drummer back in the 1950's, appears on the title track.
Generally, LH2B flourishes in a rock 'n' roll environment, competing with the overall cacophony: the clink-clink of bottles, the shouts and come-ons from barflies and Romeos, TVs, and so on. Though some subtleties get drowned out, Broderick gets braced by those who were touched regardless.
"That honestly, is one of the most fascinating things in playing live," he says. "Seeing who caught what."
Speaking of catching ... Why Left Handed 2nd Baseman? Broderick — a left-handed second baseman in little league and high school — elucidates.
"The argument is you can't turn a double play as quickly," he says.
Even after convincing his coach that he could, they wouldn't let him play second base. So Broderick dropped the bat and picked up a guitar.
"It was the right decision," he says. "The name sort of represents who I was as a kid before I started my career as a musician. It's symbolic of being the odd man out, doing things my own way."
So maybe Fran Broderick can't turn a double play, but the man can sure turn a phrase, with no plans of stopping.
"I'm going to keep writing, he says. "I don't know how not to."