[PREMIERE] Brøthers – Is This The End (Interview/Review)
Brøthers is an emerging band heralding somewhere out of these United States of Idled America, making music that seeks, at the very least, to move others past the feelings of stagnation that plague them. Like modern day existential warriors, Brøthers have constructed two tracks thus far (“We Are Pushing On” and new single “Is This The End”) which both feel like calls to action straight from Antoine Roquentin, the protagonist of Jean Paul Sartre’s “Nausea”. Awake and traveling on the Road to Freedom, Brøthers’ tracks speak to those in search of the betterment of ourselves and those around us.
While their thematic angles are likely to diverge down many paths as they plan for their LP–following what they might call an organic model of exploration— it’s this hard-nosed insistence that a belief in something better must be an essential part of who we are that connects me with their work so early on. In advance of premiering this beautiful new single, I got to interview them about a few subjects and the moment I realized “Yes, these guys really get it [and me]” was when they so passionately described the frustration they felt at how self-limiting everyone in their life seemed to be.
I’m a recent cancer survivor, I’ve faced endless economic tribulations to finish college, but I have an undying energy and drive to achieve goals far outside my station. Even as those goals expose the very raw humanness of me, I keep true to them. It’s a sentiment you can find echoed “Is This The End”, triumphant synths and cracks in production combine to signify humans at the helm behind each note of the track.
Enjoy the track and full interview below.
So, you’re a new band, and a friend of mine wants to know off the top of my head what genre(s) to place you in? Where would I find you in the record store of my mind?
We are still recording our debut effort, so it’s a little too early to tell for us. But we’d like to stay out of the bargain/used bin of the record store in your brain. I suppose if we had to pin it, it’s a fusion of the worlds we love and come from personally: One part loud rock and roll, and another part electronic/pop with two parts loving to dance.
I like to think of a group’s sound as in conversation with that of other artists–music doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the sounds we are drawn to influence our own work. So going off the two singles we have from you all, “We Are Pushing On” and “Is This The End?”, I’ve described your style to others as a fascinating fusion between Tanlines and Psychic Babble (I’m thinking, in particular, their single “Let Me Change”). What artists would you say Brøthers’ style is in conversation with or inspire your work?
At this point, we feel this project is the culmination of influence from our previous musical conversations apart from each other. Not to be redundant, but we conceived this out of the idea of bringing together what we love about creating music individually, which sounds a bit trite, but for each of us is a pretty different approach compared to what we’ve been used to. One of us comes from a musical family spanning generations of influence ranging from country western to post-punk new wave. Thus, creating a style that comes from an organic/less electronically influenced approach to art. Whereas, the other brother’s family wasn’t such a creative force with music (but was rooted more in the business side of it) and his musical journey began with playing in loud emo, punk and hardcore bands while studying vocal performance (everything from opera, broadway, to pop and rock). He quickly became comfortably rooted in the now proliferated world of Indie/Electronic (I like to call it pseudo-pop) music, where live instrumentation was sparse, and sequencing and quantizing became a staple of the creative process. Brøthers allows us to bring something unique to the table from our experiences and create something brand new to us.
Along that vein of thought: what 3-5 songs from the last five years have changed the way you approach your own music?
Honestly, we haven’t really been changed by a lot of music that’s come out in the last 3-5 years, but within 3-5 years have discovered plenty that we love coming from a time before then that has changed us invariably.
1. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
2. Talking Heads – Once In a Lifetime
3. Arcade Fire – Neighborhood 3 (Power Out)
4. Brian Eno – 1/1
5. Prince – I Would Die 4 U
1. Hank Williams- Ramblin Man
2. Skip Spence- All Come to Meet Her
3. MoonDog- Maybe
4. Suicide- Cheree
5. Bruce Haack- Captain Entrop
*Omitted Charles Manson- Invisible Tears
What is it about one or two of those tracks that really made them hit home for you? (For instance, was the style so inventive it forced you to pay attention or was the emotional heft too grand to deny, etc…)
I think for me, the stand-outs from the list boil down to LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” and Brian Eno “1/1″. LCD in particular because it’s the most modern piece of music that’s truly influenced my perception of music, recorded or otherwise, and how I choose to not only interpret it for what it is, but also how it applies to me and has influenced my creative choices. The song was really one of the first times I heard a lengthy song that was so repetitive, but never became droning or droll, and simultaneously managed to keep its pulsing beat interesting. The general build of the song was something that was aurally appealing and stimulating to me. It was dance music at its most finest moment of introspection, and it’s hard to find dance music with good lyrics. Being a lyrics person, good lyrics are really important to me, and thus the lyrics of “All My Friends” became quite important to me.
As for Brian Eno’s “1/1″, I remember describing the sensation I felt from the song to a friend of mine as the same feeling you get when you drink a glass of water first thing after waking up in the morning. I feel like it’s taught me possibly one of the most valuable lessons of creating music (or sound in general), which is the application of timbre; how a sound can make you feel, and the importance of sound design in general. Whether working within a typical pop structure, creating music to be lead by a vocal melody or lyrics, be it in the realm of top 40, Indie, or something completely experimental and Avant-Garde, music ultimately comes down to feeling, not only the one expressed, but what’s felt as result of its expression, and how something sounds plays a huge part in that.
And as for the other brother, stand-outs from my list would be “Ramblin Man” because Hank wrote a lot of the DNA of most songs today. The atmosphere and mood of the sound reaffirms the philosophy he’s singing about. I like that. When the sound of the song and what’s being sung come together for a perfect expression.
“All Come to Meet Her” has also blown my mind recently. Skip Spence’s story of leaving Bellevue Mental hospital, procuring a motorcycle (from his record label), and riding down to a Nashville studio to record an entire album with the tape continuously running is reason enough to dig his music. The way it was recorded, spontaneously and without edit made me appreciate the chaotic happenings or accidents in timing and pitch and focus that can make for a unique work of art. In Brøthers, we don’t use any click tracks or synch anything together, so there’s room for those happy accidents and human moments to shine through.
Delving a little deeper into the structure of your songs, your lyrics are truly poetic and really connected with me as I used to be quite active on the poetry circuit until I realized lyricists were the modern era bards. Does anyone in your band have a poetry background?
None of us have any background in poetry but when I was in 5th grade I had a teacher who seemed to think that my nascent poems were pretty good. She pointed out I had an early understanding of alliteration, and at the time I’m pretty sure I had no idea what that meant. The one thing that’s always been important to me with the lyrics I write is that I keep in mind that what I’m saying is going to be heard by others, and that to me creates a responsibility: A responsibility to tell a story, share what’s on my mind, or explain a truth or belief that is valuable to me, and may be able to impact someone else in a unique way.
Are your lyrics a group writing effort or does one person take lead on a song?
Generally, the voice you hear during a particular point in a song belongs to the person who wrote those particular lyrics. For example, We Are Pushing On was a bit of a collaborative effort between both the voices in the song. Whereas, Is This The End was written by one voice, and the choir parts were written by the other, with a little help from our friends. Also, we are great editors of one another, and in the case of We Are Pushing On, we were able to hone the verses quite nicely as result.
Conceptually, your lyrics seem to be about breaking from people mired in their own fear and/or cajoling those around you to strive for a grander life. When I hear them I connect them to the undercurrent of emotional sluggishness most young people I know are in due to the economic stagnation that’s become to define their adult lives. Do you see your work influenced by the current American/global recession in any ways?
While our lyrics may seem to take on universal themes, they’re actually quite reflective of what’s happening (or has happened) to us in our personal lives. I recall a period in my life (circa 2007/2008) right when the recession was hitting everyone and seemingly in its prime, where it felt like everyone I encountered, particularly some I loved, were so quick to make or find excuses preventing them from accomplishing things that they really cared about or dreamed. That to me was incredibly disconcerting. It left me feeling pretty distraught and did have influence on me personally. As a result, we feel people become a product of what they’re swimming in, and what we write about is a place that we’re going to. A place for personal betterment and to move beyond the things that are holding us back, not a place that keeps us stagnant. We hope what we write will help others move past stagnation as well.
On your upcoming LP, what kind of themes can we expect Brøthers to explore?
It’s hard to say because we don’t want to premeditate our musical thought or allow it to be encapsulated into one theme. We think this goes back to the previous answer of writing about where we’re going to in our own lives, but also exploring that from a wider perspective, in hopes that it applies to the lives of others. We feel it’s important to lift the weight that your own life can produce from your shoulders. Through our music we’ve been able to shed light on the things that we’ve learned from our experiences that we’ve found valuable and inspiring.
What is your spirit animal (or animals)?
Øtter and Wølf.
If you could write yourself a letter today and have it delivered to yourselves one year ago, what would you write yourselves?
Find Kavit. Drink less. Start a band with that guy you met in that restaurant ASAP.
In all seriousness…I think about this a lot. I think a lot of us do. How many times have you caught yourself saying, man…I wish I could go back to High School knowing what I know now, I’d kick ass all over campus. However, in terms of the last year, I think I would write myself a letter about how I need to spend less time worrying. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I have to figure things out or make everything better, be it for myself, those I love, or from a general worldview. Yet, one can’t take on the weight of everything and everyone. As important as I believe it is to fend for others like we do ourselves, we also must remember that everyone is their own person and entity, creating their own boundaries and microcosm. We all make our own choices in the end. The best thing we can do is influence and lend a helping hand.
If time were not a factor, whom would you like to write a song with?
Currently, we would like to work with David Byrne and Brian Eno. Posthumously, Kurt Cobain and Ian Curtis. Also, late eighties Gibby Haynes.
Thanks for answering my questions! Is there a timeline your fans can expect an LP release on and of your three main points of contact (Soundcloud, your website and Facebook) are there any of those you’d your fans to pay the most attention to for up to date news?
We will be releasing an album in late summer or early fall. There will a huge ø in the sky.