Born November 16, 1981
The Essex Lights began not so much as a band, but rather a grammatical error. Both the Essex Lights’ debut EP, “Action Park & the Indian Summer’ and the forthcoming LP “Fast Love California” began as an outgrowth of the bedroom studio musical experimentation of Los Angeles' multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Michael C. Brawer. Having honed his musical chops throughout his teenage years in various jazz ensembles while simultaneously being regularly electrocuted singing into shoddy microphones at North Jersey punk-rock shows (he also played on “Letterman” once but they never aired it - those fuckers), Brawer traded rock-and-roll to study Diplomatic History at the University of Pennsylvania. Finding the career prospects of guitar-playing Ivy League historians not being what they once were, Brawer headed West to Los Angeles to find work in the movie business.
And so, Hollywood (the city) became a new home, while Hollywood (the industry) became a new source for mounting psychiatric bills and a noteworthy cardiac episode. Somewhere along the line, Brawer wandered into a guitar shop on Sunset Boulevard, and on an impulse, spent his entire paycheck on a brand-new Olympic White Stratocaster that he named Ella Mae. From that moment, Brawer played his guitar night after night and began composing music again. Several years, and countless hours logged in the studio later, Brawer united with lead-guitarist, Grady Axton Davis and drummer, Benjamin Nelson to finally make the Essex Lights a proper band.
Brawer currently resides in his beloved home in Hollywood, California with his eccentric pit-bull, Lucky. He plays Fender guitars through Mesa-Boogie Amplification. Michael dislikes cilantro & making left-hand turns on Fountain.
Ben Nelson - Drums / Vocals
Born July 16th, 1986
While at 25, Ben’s the “baby” of the band , he has over 15 years experience beating the hell out of drum kits. Having first picked up the sticks as a 10 year old, inspired by the drumming of John Bonham & Dave Grohl, Ben has the kind of studio and stage experience that belies his years. A native of Coco Beach, Florida, and a founding member of FL punk-rock notables, Fit For Rivals, Ben has shared with the stage with Gold-Certified bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus & Cartel and has been a showcased artist for Windup, Sony & Atlantic Records.
Following his departure from Fit For Rivals, in 2009 Ben packed up his drum kit hit the road bound for LA. Along with being a killer drummer, Ben is an accomplished hairstylist and sees to the formidable task of making sure that Michael doesn’t look like a fool (speaking “hairwise” of course - he’s a barber, not a sorcerer). In fact, it was by the chance coincidence when Michael - in July 2011, whilst in the midst of mixing Fast Love California & sporting the appearance favored by those sequestered in recording studios & the deranged - found himself in Ben’s barber chair. Long story short, they talked music & Michael walked out with both a spiffy new haircut, and the Essex Lights, at last, had a dope fucking drummer.
Ben currently resides in Hollywood, CA with his English Bulldog, Gwen. He plays best after exactly two dirty martinis and favors Ludwig Drums & Meinl cymbals.
Grady Axton Davis - Lead Guitar / Vocals
Born February 6, 1983
Hailing from Tyler, TX, Grady Axton Davis represents the embodiment of the Lonestar state’s proud Blues/Rock tradition. Inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Page & Stevie Ray Vaughan, Grady first picked up the guitar at age 12 under the tutelage of his Uncle. To say that he took to it quickly, is the sort of understatement akin to saying, “The Essex Lights” play hard. Playing in last band, I-35, and as a solo artist, Grady cut his chops throughout Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and, of course, Texas - specifically Dallas’ legendary Deep Ellum blues scene - honing the ferocious, yet soulful sound that has come to embody his style of guitar playing.
Following his graduation from the University of North Texas, where he rode the pine for the UNT Mean Green Football team, Grady completed his teaching certification (History) and headed for LA to make a career for himself in music. Shortly after arriving in town, Grady wound up sharing the stage with Michael at an acoustic gig right around when Michael had begun tracking “Fast Love California”. Coincidentally, the two would meet months later at another gig hosted by the same promoter. As Michael recalls,
“I’d seen Grady’s name on the bill for the night and was stoked - I’d just begun looking for guys to join the Essex Lights and I had remembered Grady ripped it up at the last show so I was excited to see him play again. That show had taken a turn for the weird when some maniac dressed like Alice Cooper got onstage after my set and had some manner of psychotic episode. After the promoter introduced him (this is in a coffee shop - mind you), this individual proceeded to spit all over his guitar before playing 15 seconds of gibberish - he just kind of grunted and snorted and then suddenly smashed his guitar, leaving the 15 horrified people in the audience to take cover from the flying debris. He then just grunted into the microphone and walked out of the show. Fortunately, Grady was up shortly thereafter and he just killed it. The dude launched into a Robert Johnson cover and was really burning it up, but about fifteen seconds in, he popped a guitar string. RJ tunes are no joke, even with all of the strings, but Grady just shrugged it off, switched up some chord shapes and rocked the tune. I knew I’d found my guitar player....”
Grady resides in Santa Monica, CA. He likes to drink Jim Beam & root beer, which he swears is really good, but we don’t believe him. He plays Gibson / G&L guitars through Marshall amplifiers. Ask him about his boots...