Before Braille

Before Braille 2001


Before Braille was started by a bunch of Mormons in 1999. Most of them return missionaries, who had served in Jamaica, Germany, South Korea and Peru.

The independent music scene was perfect at the time for Latter-day Saints. 

It was uncool to drink or smoke (particularly on stage). Straight Edge and 'Straight Livin'' provided a comfortable overlap. 

Fashion consisted of grandpa-slacks and plaid button-up shirts. (Tattoos and piercings were more of a punk rock or hardcore thing.) 

Individual bands were no more important than the community at large. House parties, an abandoned warehouse, or art gallery shows were just as enthusiastically attended as any club venue with a touring act. 

And the songwriting in this indie-rock scene was hymn-like, with self-reflective lyrics. 

It was all a perfect proving ground for 5 boys from the LDS hub of Mesa, Arizona, which already boasts of half-Mormon supergroup, Jimmy Eat World*.

The scene was set for these emo Joseph Smith—Jesus lovers!
And what the heck took so frickin’ long?! 

Hans Ringger
David Jensen
Brandon Smith
Braden McCall
Kelly Reed, and later
Rajiv Patel

Now you have met Before Braille; an aptly named band whose communication depended upon sound & feel. 

*Fun fact - At 19-years old, original Jimmy Eat World bass player, Mitch Porter chose to forego a Capitol Records contract in order to serve a 2-year Latter-day Saint mission. Before Braille guitar player, Rajiv Patel, made a similar decision to pursue his two years of missionary work in Peru, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Before Braille releases, by date, in ascending order... 


Select Start 
Red Tape 
Low End of Luxury 

Most folks don't know that Before Braille was invited to be on this Triplesplit by Steve Lefever (original owner of the label) in 1999. Steve needed to take a leave of absence, and to keep Sunset Alliance afloat, he asked David Jensen to take over in 2000. David chose to forego plans for Aireshire Records (his original imprint) to help Steve finish producing his final projects (Signsedso, Last Day Parade, The Manhattan Project, The Necronauts and Redfield).

This 3-split was the catalyst. (Although Not One Light Red: A Modified Document was in production long before, the triple-split was David's debut Sunset Alliance project.)

Art by Rob Anderson with Melt Media, Phoenix.
Recording by John Brantley (Before Braille), Bob Hoag (Fivespeed), and a great producer (Andherson) in LA whose name fails to enter this author's mind as this author types. 
Mastered by the late, greate Roger Seibel, SAE Mastering

©2000 Sunset Alliance Records


No Karate Chops
Not One Light Red: A Modified Document, in partnership with This Argonaut Records, was going to launch David Jensen's record label, Aireshire Drive. Instead, by request of founder of Sunset Alliance Records, Steve Lefever, the compilation was released on, said label, before Jensen took over operation later that year.   

Not One Light Red: A Modified Document is a compilation album created by Scott Tennent (formerly of Half Visconte and then the manager of Modified Arts) and David Jensen (formerly of Before Braille) to serve 3 essential missions. Its first mission was to create a record that would showcase and introduce local Phoenix bands to the rest of the United States.[1] Second, it was supposed to serve to help promote the local Phoenix music and art venue, The Modified (also known as Modified Arts). Finally, it was to serve as a springboard for a national independent record label based in the Phoenix area along the same lines as Kill Rock Stars in Olympia, Washington and Discord Records in Washington, D.C.

The art for the album also reflects its desire to promote the Phoenix-based artists showcased at The Modified. Its cover art is a painting called "The Swimmer" by Sergio Aguirre,and the rest of the packaging features paintings and illustrations by Brent Bond, Jill Betterly, and Lisa Williamson.

No Karate Chops was originally requested for release on Deep Elm's "Emo Diaries" compilation series, volume 6. A resolution was found when an original recording of "Venom By Memory" was submitted for Emo Diaries, volume 7: "Me Against the World," shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks.  

No Karate Chops was later re-recorded by the request of Aezra Records for their release of Before Braille's debut LP, the Rumor. The request was met with a new recording and new name for the song, "Jaws Of Life." 

Phoenix New Times stories by Music Editor, Bob Mehr
Dec 7, 2000  "Indie Year 2000
Feb 1, 2001  "Flashing Red
May 31, 2001  "Heavy Construction"  

Oct 3, 2002  "Not One Red Light: A Modified Document, was released in February 2001 as a joint project between Scott Tennent's Argonaut label and Jensen's Sunset Alliance. Unlike the train-wreck sensibility of most local Phoenix comps, this one was held together not only by the high quality of the bands present, but by the fact that most of them sprang from the downtown scene at Modified, perhaps one of the few all-ages-friendly venues in Phoenix." -Serene Dominic, Phoenix New Times, 2002

So Much Silence blog by Kevin
Nov 5, 2009  "Modified Memories

More details about this compilation can be found on Wikipedia, where much of this information is pulled. Special thanks to Kimber Lanning, founder of Modified

Compilation compiled and produced by David Jensen and Scott Tennent 
Mastered by Mike Hissong, Living Head Studios
Layout and design by Daniel Sylvester 

©2000 Sunset Alliance Records, This Argonaut Records


Venom By Memory
Venom By Memory was written in Dave's garage. It was recorded by John Brantley, studio engineer and guitar player for 3rd Floor (one of the most popular bands in Arizona, circa 1993-1995.) Venom was intended for the first Before Braille LP before John Szuch heard it and demanded it be on his revered compilation series. Short on time, John used an earlier recording of the song. The updated recording by Bob Hoag was mixed and mastered for Spring Cleaning in 2008 to accompany nearly 20 other additional rare or unreleased Before Braille tracks. 

"Emo Diaries 7: Me Against The World warrants itself to be one of the best comps Deep Elm has put together.There's not a bad track to be heard, and it's the more diverse take on sounds here that makes Chapter 7 easily one of the best." - Delusions Of Adequacy

"Emo Diaries does exactly what any good compilation should: introduces the listener to a variety of fresh and unheralded talent. Here's to another successful venture exposing bands you'll surely hear more about soon!" - Splendid

Compilation compiled and produced by John Szuch, Deep Elm Records 

©2001 Deep Elm Records


Not Tonight, Not Ever
First in the series, Not One Light Red: A Modified Document spotlights the catalyzing art space known as Modified. This particular edition is reaching beyond the borders of the Sonoran Desert to increase the exposure of this innovative music scene. Featuring 7 Arizona artists alongside popular acts Cursive, Fireside, Mock Orange, Chris Mills... 

Not Tonight, Not Ever is a cover song, written by friends and Mesa-favorites Pinewood Derby. In 2001, Pinewood Derby played their farewell show at the Mesa Convention Center. As a surprise to them, each band on the bill was to play a Pinewood Derby song during each of their sets. Unfortunately, only Before Braille managed to stick to the plan. The song went over so well, the band was encouraged to record the tribute. Before Braille did a few months later @ Flying Blanket Recording with Clay Whipkey (Pinewood Derby singer/songwriter) providing guest vocals. That recording was subsequently committed to this compilation, rather than being added to The Rumor, as requested by Aezra Records, the current label at that time. 

It was later asked, "why did Dave make alterations to the original lyrics of the song?" The truth is, those alterations where not out of preference, but out of respect; consider it a veiled, personal message to Clay Whipkey regarding the content of the song, e.g. Clay's passion for his wife Vs his passion for music. Mr. and Mrs. Clay Whipkey later divorced, giving later credence to the lyrical changes in the song.

Produced by Bob Hoag, Flying Blanket Recording 
Written by Clay Whipkey 
Partially re-written by DPJ & Before Braille 
Mastered by Dave Shirk, Sonorous Mastering
Art sketch, design and layout by Jason Farrell 

©2002 Sunset Alliance Records

THE RUMOR (2002) 

Released 9/10/02.
(Album acquired from Aezra Records in 2005. Then remixed/remastered for a 20th anniversary release Sept 10, 2022.)

Apple | Spotify | Amazon | Bandcamp | Pandora 


Oct 3, 2002, Phoenix New Times "Blind Ambition" by Serene Dominic  

Mesa, AZ's Before Braille is steeped in the ethos of emo. Like fellow Arizonans Jimmy Eat World, Before Braille wraps up soul-bearing lyrics of love and loss in earnest melodies and tight, clean instrumentation." -Johnny Loftus, All Music

"Seething with salt, sweat, honey and asphalt; this foursome delivers a positively commanding performance that betrays its relatively recent appearance on the radar. Each track of songs from the full-length is brimming with texture and taste. Like Get Up Kids without the sentimentality or Fugazi with an eye toward the mainstream, Before Braille deftly delivers the best elements of both sonic camps. In one convenient package, you get not only a highly melodic, pop sensibility but also a challenging rhythmic stutter that keeps the whole affair from ever getting stale." -CMJ

If California's Vagrant lays claim to the finest roster of hook-laden emo-core and D.C.'s Dischord has a stronghold on the cutting edge of angular post-hardcore, it kinda makes sense that the two sounds would meet somewhere in the middle on Arizona's Aezra label, where a band called Before Braille brews its own unique blend of rock for the new millennium. Seething with salt, sweat , honey and asphalt (not unlike seasoned AZ contemporaries Jimmy Eat World), this foursome delivers a positively commanding performance that betrays its relatively recent appearance on the radar. Each track on this sampler of songs from the upcoming full-length is brimming with texture and taste. Like Get Up Kids without the sentimentality or Fugazi with an eye toward the mainstream, Before Braille deftly delivers the best elements of both sonic camps. In one convenient package, you get not only a highly melodic, pop sensibility but also a challenging rhythmic stutter that keeps the whole affair from ever getting stale. -Jason Kundrath 

Slick and Savory. Emo-ish Arizona act Before Braille come across as a band with smarts on their debut album The Rumor. They've mastered a nice mix of alt-rock flavors -- from the eerie opening track...(which would work well on the soundtrack of a German Expressionist film) to the slick and savory grooves of the single...there is no doubt that this is a talented outfit...ADRIAN ZUPP 

Before joining forces with Aezra earlier this year, the Mesa-based group had been playing in the local scene for the better part of three years, hovering somewhere between "Mesa Rock" and "480 area-core," depending on whose hyperbole you prefer. Jensen began writing songs with guitarist Hans Ringger, and the group eventually fleshed out to include drummer Kelly Reed and bassist Brandon Smith. (Guitarist Reggie Patel signed on after recording of the new album was completed.) 

All this would be off-putting if the album wasn't fantastic. But it is, a brilliant weave of emo harmonies over crunching, almost progressive rock soundscapes. CMJ New Music Report, an early champion of the group, has already given The Rumor raves, placing the band in the company of Jimmy Eat World and Fugazi. The promotional push is kind of hard for Jensen to swallow; as the head of his own local record label, Sunset Alliance, he's accustomed to doing things his way. -Serene Dominic, Phoenix New Times

The Rumor achieved "Best Band In Arizona" for Before Braille according to the East Valley Tribune, and a Top 10 band of 2002 by The Arizona Republic, The Tribune and Phoenix New Times. 

Produced and mixed by Bob Hoag, Flying Blanket Recording 
Mastered and sequenced by Jason Livermore with Bob Hoag at The Blasting Room
Art by Brandon Smith and Jason Farrell 
Paintings by Sergio Aguirre 
Layout and Design by Jason Farrell 

Remixed and enriched by Jamie Woolford in 2022
Mastered by Dan Coutant @ Sun Room 

©2002 Aezra Records ©2005 Sunset Alliance Records 
©2022 Sunset Alliance Records


The post-tour EP featuring 7 songs written on the road and in the Space 19 rehearsal space between tours. The EP features the debut of Rajiv Divyang Patel, lead guitar. 4 songs and 5 videos were added to this EP to comprise the UK-Tour LP Tired of Not Being Away From Here

This is the 'critically acclaimed' EP that all the artsy-fartsy, cool boys and girls refer to as the best Before Braille album. Upon hearing it, members of RX Bandits stated that they listened to it over and over from Phoenix to LA and decided they had to have Before Braille join them on tour. A few weeks later, the two band were joined harmoniously, accompanied by friends and wonderful musicians of Facing New York(Wallpaper / Ricky Reed / Rare Futures) and Steel Train(later Fun.) The tour was great, unfortunately it began after Rajiv Patel left on his LDS mission to Peru and luster of better days had lost its sheen. Nevertheless, Scarlett Johansson didn't seem to mind when she joined the tour.  
Produced by Bob Hoag, Flying Blanket Recording 
Art taken from a midcentury postcard, licensed and used by permission 
Layout and design by Jason Farrell

©2003 Sunset Alliance Records


This EP was created for one reason. One of the largest radio stations in the Southwest fell in love with the sarcastic holiday jingle Merry Christmas, I'm Cheating. The radio station's program director committed to 'spin the single,' if one were to produced. At the time, Sunset Alliance hated singles and refused to produce them. Bad News Bear Records, a local Phoenix label stepped in and committed to help expand the idea to an "Holiday EP." With their support, Before Braille went to Andrew Belcher's Quiet House studio to make a record just in time for Christmas. 
Upon delivering this new release to the radio station, the program directed neglected to put the 'single' into rotation. Instead the 'live acoustic' version was given some airplay, but was abruptly stopped after climbing to the #2 position of the daily top ten countdown. The radio station had received hundreds of calls to play the song, but just as it was ready to outseed the #1 song on the countdown (a band allegedly represented by the program director's new management company) the Before Braille Christmas single was pulled from rotation. 
A DJ at the station later confronted Before Braille in the halls of their station saying "All your friends are calling in to request your song, that's why it has climbed our charts so quickly." To which the band responded, "Well, if they're true friends, they better be calling in!" 
Last check, the acoustic version of Merry Christmas, I'm Cheating, that the radio station briefly embraced is still on their holiday compilation of 2004 and receives some of the most streams of their curation. (I guess those are still all our friends??) 

David Jensen has been known to say that his band deserved the cancelation because the song sucks and it was released under pretentious delusions of grandeur; but for what attention the band shortly received on the local airwaves, he is grateful. Had the local stations taken a great interest in the music scene, they would have known of the far greater songs in the Before Braille catalog that their listeners would have appreciated; and could have launched more bands from our hometown that they so obtusely neglected. Our apologies to Bad News Bear for mucking this all up. Turns out, all we needed to do is sign to the PD's mgmt co.!

Stephen Carradini at loved the record, exclaiming "I wish they would make more music like this, as it’s simply stunning."

Phoenix New Times observed that through the Balance and Timing EP, Before Braille's "honesty and musical versatility" was able to "elicit a range of different emotions." -Chelsea Ide

Cougar Microbes called this release one of "a string of amazing releases [that] showcases frontman David Jensen‘s knack for a melody and sharp lyrical wit."

Dec 9, 2008  Musical Advent Calendar "A great band from Mesa, Arizona. Their Christmas song is, like many by these 'cynical young people' these days, more bitter than cheery. “Merry Christmas, I'm Cheating," originally appeared on their Balance and Timing EP in 2004, the same year an acoustic version of the song got tons of radio airplay on [the] local FM alternative station." -Albert Ching, OC Weekly 

Rock songs produced by Bob Hoag @ Flying Blanket Recording
Acoustic songs recorded by Andrew Belcher @ Quiet House 
Photo by DPJ
Layout and design by Jason Farrell 
Jointly released by Bad News Bear Records

©2004 Sunset Alliance Records, Bad News Bear Records


Tired of Not Being Away from Here is the fifth studio album, and second LP, recorded by the indie rock band, Before Braille. It was released in 2005 in the United Kingdom by You and Whose Army? Records, and distributed in the United States by Sunset Alliance and Common Wall Media.

This enhanced CD/LP contains all of the songs on the successful, limited release Cattle Punching on a Jack Rabbit EP, but adds an additional five songs, a hidden track, and has five videos.

Released on February 3, 2004 took notice of this difference as well, remarking that in "the past, people have tried to lump Before Braille into some sort of indie-pop rock category--maybe due to their success at CMJ & college radio--but this record is far edgier than anything they've done in the past. However, this 'fresh and determined' new sound comes off as an interesting, triumphant achievement." -Interpunk 

"Tired of Not Being Away From Here has the same signature style as other Before Braille records -- powerful rock with gut-wrenching lyrics -- but with this latest effort, the Phoenix band has spread its wings a bit wider" to offer a fuller sound "with stronger guitar bridges throughout." -Chelsea Ide, Phoenix New Times

Even though Sunset Alliance Records lacked the money (and thus promotional power) of Before Braille's first record label, Aezra Records, Tired of Not Being Away From Here's commercial reception is a testament to the popularity of the band, and to its fans' efforts to hear the music. Upon release, Tired of Not Being Away From Here made at least a 5-week run on the CMJ 200 charts, and peaked at number 77. 

TONBAFH is dedicated to Ryan Galbasini, who suddenly lost his life during his pursuit of film in 2005. 

Produced by Bob Hoag @ Flying Blanket Recording 
Art by Mel Kadel 
Layout & design by Jason Farrell 

©2005 Sunset Alliance Records, You And Whose Army? Records, Common Wall Media


Music Snobs Anonymous lists Kill the Messenger Keep the Message as number 74 among the best albums of the 2000s.

"It is rare to find a band that can rock this hard and also make this much noise lyrically... Before Braille has this quality that made them stand out," -Josh Macala, Raised by Gypsies

Produced by Bob Hoag @ Flying Blanket Recording 
Art and design by Jason Byron Nelson (Including Flowers In the Attic creation by JBN) 
Layout & Handwriting by Jason Farrell 

©2008 Sunset Alliance Records


The album's official name is: Spring Cleaning...Cut, Clean, Scab, Scar, Rewind, Remind, Repeat. Almost a record of B-sides and rare tracks. The record contains: 9 brand new tracks; 5 out of print compilation songs; 2 songs from Before Braille's first recording, (Triplesplit w/ Fivespeed & Andherson), re-recorded and remastered; and, 4 acoustic recordings covering 3 songs from The Rumor and 1 song from Kill the Messenger, Keep the Message.

Making appearances on this record are: Ian Metzger of Dear and the Headlights on the track "Colic"; Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms on the track "Hooray for Yourself"; and Jason Corman (i.e. Mr. Fantastical) who makes guitar contributions throughout, and recorded the four acoustic songs. Bob Hoag produced all other tracks at Flying Blanket Recording, and Chuckie Duff at Common Wall Media took care of the album art and design. 

Rock songs produced by Bob Hoag @ Flying Blanket Recording 
Acoustic songs produced by Jason Cormon @ Bumbles Bounce 
Art design and layout by Chuckie Duff @ Common Wall Media

©2009 Sunset Alliance Records



Enjoy a compilation where every song from The Rumor is covered by friends and favorite artists. (Also see additional songs covered from the Before Braille discography.)


A couple of pet names "AFTER BRAILLE" and "THE REMAINDER" have been attached to unreleased Before Braille songs compilation. These are those songs that were never completed. 

1. Streets of Mesa
2. Tale of the Ottoman
3. Midnite 30  
4. Let’s Kill Each Other at the Count of Three 
5. Outbound 
6. Pattern
7. Cain and Abel 
8. Is it True 
9. Popsnot 
10. Sketch Artist
11. Terrible, Terrible 
12. Snake Charmer
13. What Has Your Father Done To You 
14. Bad News Sue 
15. Let's Be Switzerland 

Before Braille Last Band Photo


The details of the break up of Before Braille may vary, but this much is true: 

After returning from one of their most (financially)successful tours, David received a phone call from a fan (and friend) of the band stating that members of Before Braille had stolen some items out of his car. 

There was a band meeting.  
Further details were unfurled.
David refused to tour with the band again, stating he would be available for local shows or to jam with the band, but the 'professional side' of Before Braille was over. He couldn't invest himself or his label into the band any further. 

At that time, David offered to leave the band and be replaced by a new frontman, expecting only to be reimbursed for most recent tour support. An agreement was made.

Before Braille tried out some new singers and guitar players. 

They then hocked a bunch of band gear.

The agreement was broken.

Everything died. 

The dream of touring Europe was now over, whilst a YAWA-funded UK tour was half-booked.

Dave and his wife of 16 months moved to Asia for a year. 

Months later, Dave returned to Flying Blanket Recording to finish 2+ albums worth of unreleased material, recorded 2003-04.

The first, Kill the Messenger, Keep the Message which was always intended to be the follow up to The Rumor and had an originally planned release date in 2003. (The sound of the album probably makes more sense knowing that it was produced between The Rumor and Cattle Punching.) 

The second, Spring Cleaning, which included a number of unreleased songs written throughout the life of the band (1999-2006).

Both were released in 2008.

The following year, Dave formed a band around his solo project Art For Starters to support the album he finished the day prior to leaving for Asia, titled Drugs Made My Favorite Bands, Drugs Ruined My Favorite People. That was released in 2009. (Rajiv Patel stated that it could have represented Before Braille as its next posthumous album). 

Continuing on with posthumous Braille, or 'After Braille' if you will; in 2011, Dave returned to Flying Blanket Recording with Loyal Wife, Faux Light (which would have likely been the next Art For Starters album, had the band continued to play); accompanied by Ashley Taylor (Art For Starters vocalist), and 3/4 members of Awake & Alert (Dave's favorite local band). Sam, Blake and Spencer rounded out the Faux Light era splendidly with a few live shows and notable jams.

To follow up Faux Light Dave went Los Angeles to reunite with label mate and touring companion David Jerkovich (Novi Split / Deep Dreem) @ Octotillo. These were the Get Right sessions of 2016. Singles from these sessions were first released in 2017. This sort of closed the loop of Before Braille inspired recordings. 

Other members of Before Braille went on to great things: Dead Wildlife, Letronz, The Holy Coast, Sharkspeed, Regal Beast, The Dead Red, as well as some barber shops and some profitable computer programming, not to mention the penultimate creation... family life. 

Now, God being gracious and His blessings being abundant, there is hope for a more 'After Braille' projects throughout the coming years. 


Should any of these details be inaccurate, we have a contact page for issuing corrections. 


12 Sept 2002


Before Braille (1999-2006) Sunset Alliance, Aezra, Bad News Bear, You And Whose Army, Common Wall


Story and Discography of Mesa, Arizona's finest rock band.