Based in PB and formed in mid-2013, the Broken Stems is fronted by singer/songwriter guitarist Jesse Gawlik, who launched the band as a reggae project. The sound was revised along with a lineup change that brought in Andrew Bache (drummer/singer), Chelsea Baker (bassist/singer), and Brad Sweet (keyboard/vocals). They cite their influences as including a capella groups, reggae, jazz, blues, hard rock, and soul. "No genre or emotion goes untouched with this band."
Their debut five-song EP We Are Home was released in October 2013, followed by a few
tours through the west, performing at SXSW, and supporting Donavon Frankenreiter on the charity driven Caravan to Cabo tour.
A 2016 full-length, What Are You Connected, was promoted with videos for "Take Me In" (directed by Eric Ward) and "Hear You Calling," with the latter single earning a 7th place award at Macy’s iHeartRadio Rising Star Competition. Recorded over the course of sixteen months in their garage and produced in-house by keyboard player Brad Sweet, the ten song album is comprised of many messages laced together in an overarching theme.
According to Jesse Gawlik, "The music is about awakening our collective consciousness, inspiring others to connect to the right thoughts, ideas, people, and most importantly, themselves."
The symbol on the album cover is an quincunx. "Since ancient times, the Quincunx pattern has been considered a geometric symbol of a sanctified universe and an ordered world," says Gawlik. "The whole is more than the sum its parts. The five shapes in the pattern symbolize the five human senses and their encircled arrangement represents the higher energy encircling and protecting us, as well as, the ability of an individual to ascend from the four physical elements to the exalted and enlightened fifth one. The five-fold symbol lends itself to several powerful meanings over different cultures and is generally associated with integration, expansion, connection, and a journey into higher understanding."
A new album was released in 2018, Joshua Tree Sessions, with the band now pared down to a trio featuring Gawlik, Bache, and Sweet.