We conducted this short interview with O’BROTHER on December 24, 2011.
It’s a pleasure to have you guys. Please, introduce yourself and describe O’Brother’s history in maximum 5 sentences, for anyone that had never heard of you before.
My name is Johnny and I play guitar in O’brother. O’brother simply started off as a four-piece in 2006 when our old singer, Spencer, and I were inspired by 90’s indie bands, such as MINERAL and SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE, to name a few. Michael (drums), Anton (bass/brother) and myself had a great run as a four-piece with Spencer for a few years (releasing two EP’s, doing a handful of small tours and out of state shows), however we grew apart from him musically. The band was on hiatus for a little under a year and eventually found Aaron (guitar) and Tanner (singer/guitar), who we’ve met and grown close to from playing shows together. From that point on, the band amplified, taking a big turn in sound and have constantly been writing, touring, and evolving more than we ever thought we’d be doing in the best way possible.
You are hailing from Atlanta, GA. Could you tell us more about your local music scene? What genres are most popular there? What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of living there?
I love living in Atlanta. Atlanta is a very big city with a lot going on; art is everywhere, bands are emerging every day, and live music is very abundant. However, because of this, the local scene has become supersaturated in a way that seems as if more people are caring less about supporting the local music scene. Whenever I’m home and can make it out a show, I tend to see the same group of faces. It’s comforting that those same group of people will continue to support a band that they may have seen more than a hundred times. Bands and genres are being born everyday that it’s almost overwhelming to keep up with but it’s refreshing at the same time. Atlanta is home because it’s a good place for music (and food, of course).
You have been heavily touring over the past couple years. We think it definitely helped you find identity as a band. How important is touring for you? What venues do you like to play at?
There are so many different aspects to being in a band but touring, in my opinion, is by far the most difficult and most rewarding. You see different sides of your best friends, band mates and yourself that you never thought existed. You see blood, sweat, and tears everyday on the road. It’s like living in a dream that you can’t wake up from until you pull into your driveway you once remember pulling out of ten weeks ago but really felt like ten years ago. Then reality hits and you realize you’ve missed a whole season and the world has been spinning this entire time without skipping a beat. But during that season, you’ve met countless people, made lifelong friends you consider family, seen the entire country, and played every single night. We have found our identity through touring as a band of brothers, and I think that each of us have personally found our own identity from touring. Touring has made us hate being in a band, but also has reminded us of why we love what we do and why we do what we love.
How did you guys write this album? Could you describe the process?
Garden Window has been in the works ever since our first release, The Death of Day (May ’09). Most of the record was written two months before we went into the studio (Dec ’10). There were a few finished and unfinished songs off the record that we have been sitting or working on for over two years (Bear, Cleanse Me). There were a few songs that came about from jamming during sound check because that was the only time on the road we were able to jam together. Every song has had a different process of writing because we all contribute in different areas. Tanner is the main songwriter and usually comes up with chord progressions and vocal melodies before he writes and jots down the lyrics. Aaron has written complete songs and have demoed them out before presenting to the band. Anton usually comes up with riffs and helps a lot with song structures. Michael is the backbone, coming up with different rhythms and is critical of transitions within the song. I usually help with tempos and come up with guitar melodies and attempt to make the feel of the song either darker or more uplifting depending on the part. This record was a huge collaboration between the five of us and evolved into something different than we originally thought but that is the beauty of writing an album with a band.
What do you guys do in your private lives? Do you live off music?
Eat, work, play with dogs, listen to records, jam.
What are you most looking forward to in the future as a band?
Traveling the world, eating at new places, and making many new friends.
Feel free to tell people anything you want. Many thanks for your time.
It’s never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Thank you for being interested in what my best friends and I do. Thank you for reading.