Interview: Among Brothers

Among Brothers are a Cardiff-based six-piece, often compared to the likes of Efterklang, Grammatics and Anathallo. Their debut EP, ‘Homes’, was released on their own label, Barely Regal Records. Among Brothers are playing at End Of The Road festival, alongside artists such as Laura Marling, Mogwai and Wild Beasts before starting a tour in the UK, which will arrive in London on Sept. 14th. Talking about influences, lyrics, narrative and Italy as well!

First of all: congratulations on your EP, ‘Homes’. You got pretty good feedback in the blogosphere. Could you tell us something more about it? 

Thank you very much! We’re still quite shocked when we get a positive review. When we recorded the songs for the EP, we were content with being happy with how they had turned out, and never even considered that people would be listening to them, let alone writing reviews about them. It’s really flattering to think that someone has taken the time to listen to our music and write some words about it.

In ‘Homes’  you’re using a wide range of instruments: glockenspiels, piano, violin and drums among others. How did you manage to blend pop, orchestral and electronic in your music? 

When we started writing together we knew that we wanted to create songs that took elements from classical and orchestral music and put them into the context of a pop song. The use of electronic elements started out as a way of recreating that ‘orchestral’ sound without the need for 30 other musicians, and has kind of evolved to become an instrument of its own. We’re always aware of trying to make our electronic elements sound as organic as possible, we sample a lot of real instruments and ‘found sounds’, and arrange them within the songs like any other instrument. We’re constantly trying to achieve a good balance between electronic and acoustic sounds.

Your sound has been compared to the one of Efterklang, Grammatics and Anathallo. Did you take any influence from them? If so, how?

Efterklang in particular was a big influence on us when we first started out, they came to Cardiff for the first time about 4 years ago and we were completely blown away by their performance. What attracted us to Efterklang and Anathallo was that they were able to write catchy and accessible songs without compromising on sound or sticking to a conventional structure, and that kind of served as a basis for when we started writing songs for Among Brothers a few years later.

 ‘Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf’ was part of the compilation Zero Years of Barely Regal. Comparing this version ( a bedroom recording) to the studio one that appears on the EP, how much did your sound change from it?

The only real difference between our bedroom demo and the version on the EP is that of sound quality really. We worked with a producer called Charlie Francis on the EP who did an excellent job on both the recording and the mixing of the record. We try to demo our songs as thoroughly as possible, so all the experimentation with different sounds happens in our bedrooms, that way, when we take our songs to the studio to be recorded we have clear idea of what we want them to sound like.

 Can you name some of the bands you grew up with? How much did they influence your music?

I think that in general during our teens, we all listened to a lot of punk music and to a certain extent this is what inspired us to start playing instruments. My parents used to listen to the Beach Boys when I was very young, and this is a band that we’ve revisited when writing songs for Among Brothers.

Listening to ‘Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf’, my attention was captured by the lyrics and a possible connection with the episode in the Bible. Am I right? More than once you said you rely on narrative while writing them, could you tell us some of the books/authors that influenced you most and why? 

The idea behind ‘Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf’ wasn’t taken directly from the Bible, however, when we were writing the lyrics we did want to give the narrative a biblical feel, because we felt that it fit in with the story. I personally grew up in Italy and religion plays a big part in Italian culture so I was always exposed to it, and I’m sure it has influenced the way I write lyrics by some capacity, even though none of us are particularly religious. In terms of literary influences, I’m sure everyone in the band has a different opinion as to what has influenced them most, although Philip Pullman is an author that springs to mind. ‘Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf’, for example, borrowed elements from a book by Reif Larsen called “The Selected Works Of T.S. Spivet”.

I read you’re playing at the End Of The Road festival, alongside Laura Marling, Wild Beasts, Mogwai and so on. What are you expecting from this experience? Are you looking forward to any of the other bands performing?

We’re really looking forward to playing End Of The Road, it’s one of those festivals that we’ve always admired and the line-up is always amazing. This is going to be our first time playing the festival so we’re not quite sure what to expect! We’re particularly looking forward to seeing: Twin Shadow, Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Austra and Zola Jesus (although we could add about 20 more to this list).

 You’re going to do a long UK tour next September; which aspect of a live performance do you enjoy the most?

As our songs are written mostly in our bedrooms, performing live is a completely different experience, because we are performing something that for all intents and purposes was never written with the live setting in mind. We really enjoy the challenge of setting our live show apart from our recorded material, so that our live shows aren’t a carbon copy of what we’ve recorded in the studio.

 How do you find the Welsh music scene? Any band or artist in particular to suggest to the readers?

The Welsh music scene is great because it’s a really united entity, it’s almost like a big family. Everyone knows each other and frequents each other’s gigs, promoters really do their best at supporting local bands as do the local radio stations. BBC Wales Introducing have helped us a lot in particular. Some of our favourite Welsh artists are: Hail! The Planes, Winter Villains, Love Parry III, Samoans, Kutosis, Truckers of Husk… we could go on!

 What does the future look like for Among Brothers?

In late September we are going to be releasing a brand new single called ‘Loved’, which is a continuation of the story from ‘Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf’. We have also started writing for our first full length album which we are aiming to release some time next year. But in the mean time we want to play as many shows as possible and keep on touring!

Thank you so much guys, wish you all the best with your tour and the promotion of ‘Homes’.


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