Interview: O’Brother


O’Brother has never been an easy band to pin down. I’ll leave it to them, as they explain it best: they’re a “borderline metal band that’s heavily influenced by Radiohead and Sigur Ros”. Their debut album, 2011’s Garden Window embraced chaos and mystique, featured vocals from Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra) and introduced the band’s experimental nature. O’Brother quickly amassed a loyal following through clever, brilliant music and non-stop touring. Disillusion (2013), their sophomore effort, expanded on the post-metal influence the band only teased beforehand. In 2016, O’Brother released one of the best albums of the year in Endless Light.

Last week, O’Brother put up their new album, You and I on Bandcamp for a pay-what-you-want price. On April 7 2020, first single “Killing Spree” was unveiled to the world, following a few days of teasing online. Where Endless Light touched the surface of using space as an instrument, their fourth album, You and I revels in ambience. Guitarists Jordan McGhin and Johnny Dang go back and forth between classical guitars and staring at the computer. Anton Dang still plays the bass guitar, of course. Michael Martens hardly plays the drums. In the meantime, vocalist Tanner Merritt reaches for the piano. I caught up with O’Brother this week from their respective homes over a surprisingly non-lagging Zoom call. Martens chatted from his living room, McGhin from his bedroom, Anton Dang from his porch, and Johnny Dang and Merritt from their offices/home studios.

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Review: O’Brother – Garden Window

O'Brother - Garden Window

There’s a certain pocket of bands writing really good “rock” music these days. Maybe even “alternative” for the sake of genre-specific argument. For the sound I’m speaking of, I’ll define “rock” music as that of the genre most of us grew up with when the radio wasgood. Whether it was Nirvana, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, etc. – we knew there was beauty and thought between the layers. Every now and again a band will come along that will paralyze us with a sound built on grit, feedback and cryptic auras stacked like a triple pane glass wall thickly layered in percussion, deafening guitars and a guilt-ridden, beautifully sparked voice. All of these thoughts were running through my head the first time I heard O’Brother’s debut full-length, Garden Window, and they continue to do so.

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