Humble Braggers; A fresh band making their way in the Indie Scene.

Humble Braggers; A fresh band making their way in the Indie Scene.
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Humble Braggers (left to right) Tom Burtless, Matt Chavanne and Bryan Zells. [Photo: Greg McClure]


Che of The Town in Rochester works for actor Che Holloway

You first met Che in Rochester works for actor Che Holloway, an impromptu interview and amble through the Neighborhood of the Arts.

An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!

Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.

For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews (1-10)

Humble Braggers; A fresh band making its way in the Indie Scene.

I recently was fortunate enough to interview Tom Burtless, Matt Chavanne and Bryan Zells of the Humble Braggers, a fresh indie band with a youthful sound! Here’s what we discussed. 

Q. Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc. 


Photo: Greg McClure

Tom:  Bryan and I are from Orchard Park and Matt is from Hamburg, two suburbs of Buffalo.  I’ve known Bryan since I was like 12 or 13, and our lives have always been intertwined in musical projects.  This has undoubtedly been the longest project we’ve been in together.  In Orchard Park there was a small collective of musicians our age with similar music interests and we’ve all somewhat stayed together/close.

Q. What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?

Matt: Probably being exposed to music at an early age, learning different instruments, and trying to emulate sounds or ideas that caught my ear. I played trumpet in band in school. I learned drums on my own. I don’t really have a specific instance of inspiration, just a gradual realization that writing and playing music is the only way I can stay sane.

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Photo: Krit Upra


 Q. Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.

Tom:  We’re fortunate enough that we haven’t faced too much adversity or conflict in this band.  I think we’ve learned that if you can still go as hard playing your songs in front of 10 people as you can in front of 1,000 you’re (probably? hopefully?) on the right track.


Photo: Krit Upra

Q. What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?

Tom: We blend a lot of different influences together to make the music that we do.  There are roots of this band in 80’s pop and 2000’s indie rock as much as there are in early emo and folk.  I don’t think we shy away from including any sort of influence or style into what we try to do in this project.  I like to hope that there’s earnestness in this project that you don’t see in a lot of other bands in our genre.

Q. Do you have other interests or hobbies?


Photo: Krit Upra

Matt: We all have hobbies other than music, pretty basic stuff – reading, food, biking, hiking, etc. Personally, being a musician takes up most of my time at the moment. I think it would be safe to say that music is probably the biggest ‘interest’ in all of our lives right now.

Q. Any projects you have out or currently working on?

Matt: We all are in other projects currently. Bryan is in a folky alternative project called Yali. Tom is in a few projects including a Pixies-esque outfit called HoneyComa, as well as a nostalgic emo cover band called Girl Jeans. I am in a post punk project called Orations. I believe we all have released material from said projects relatively recently. 

Q.  Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?


Photo: Krit Upra

Matt: Hopefully still enjoying what we are doing: writing, creating, playing, listening.  Either that or on a one way trip to Mars.

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?

Matt: The steps are quite simple: be provocative, be organized.


Photo: Zach Anderson

Tom: Heavy emphasis on the latter.  A lot of my favorite local bands have fallen apart or drifted away from lack of organization and keeping it together.

Q. How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?

Tom: You can find us on all the basics – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – all with the handle Humble Braggers (humblebraggers for IG and Twitter).  If you want to see me Snapchat my drunk friends we’re also on that as humblebraggers.  For our music we’re on every platform – Spotify, iTunes, Napster, Google Play.

Keep in touch with Humble Braggers! Links below;

[email protected]


Humble Braggers (left to right) Tom Burtless, Matt Chavanne, Bryan Zells and Tom Burtless [Photo: Greg McClure]



Che of The Town: Interviews (1-107)

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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