Posted by: will | June 6, 2007

Band Interview – The Brother Kite…

The Brother Kite are an amazing pop/rock band from Providence, RI. Their 2006 release, Waiting For The Right Time (which I reviewed here), clocked in at #25 in my Best of 2006. Thanks to Patrick and Jon of The Brother Kite for taking the time out to answer some questions.

How would you describe The Brother Kite’s sound to someone yet to hear the band?

Jon: It’s difficult to describe music, isn’t it? We’re a loud, three guitar rock and roll band…and we do our best to create catchy pop music.

Obviously the band has been influenced by the shoegazing scene. But, I love the pop-factor on Waiting For The Time To Be Right. What are some of the band’s other influences that might not be so noticeable?

Patrick: In reference to the album, one thing that slips under the radar is the fact that a lot of songs are either borrowing from or blatantly ripping off The Who Sell Out. Some on purpose, some completely by accident. Another big influence was Danny Elfman’s score for the film Edward Scissorhands. I have been obsessed with it since I was ten years old, and there are common themes between our album and that film, so I wanted to incorporate that spooky boys choir stuff to try to give the same emotive quality to our music. But, generally speaking, everything is an influence to this band. And it isn’t specific to music, either. Movies, books, sounds in the street, anything at all can have some stock in whatever we do.

Jon: In addition to The Who, other 1960’s rock bands like The Zombies and The Beach Boys had a big influence on WFTTTBR. Strangely, I’ve never heard most of the bands people assume influence us (Ride, Slowdive, etc.).

Providence, RI is not necessarily known for its bands. What’s the music scene like up there? Any up and coming bands to watch out for?

Jon: The music scene here is nearly dead. There used to be an interesting underground rock scene in the abandoned mill buildings around the city, but they were all shutdown after The Station fire in 2003. Most of the proper venues have closed, as well. But it’s not a huge deal for us, we’ve never been a big local attraction. And Boston is close…its music scene is very strong.

Patrick: But there are a few noteworthy bands: Neo Nouveau, Rooftop Suicide Club, and Murkádee. Jon has been working on Neo Nouveau’s new album for a few months at our studio, and the results are great. We played our 2nd show ever with Rooftop Suicide Club. We were both young bands then, and we’ve become good friends since. Murkádee isn’t actually from RI; They are from New Hampshire, another part of the country where it is tough for bands. All three are excellent and deserve to be heard. Look them up on Myspace!!

How does the songwriting process go for the band? What factors influence the band’s songwriting?

Jon: It’s a lot less democratic for us than you might think. Usually, Patrick writes a song and makes a rough demo in GarageBand. He then passes it out to the band, we learn our parts (or compose our own parts if they don’t exist yet), and we play it until it seems to makes sense (and usually make modifications along the way). Sometimes a song makes the transition from “Patrick demo” to “full band rock tune” easily, and sometimes it’s a struggle. “I’m Not The Only One” felt right after the first run-through, while “The Finest Kind” took months to feel right in the live environment.

Patrick: I usually try to cover all the bases before anything gets to the band. I feel like that yields positive results faster. While it isn’t, as Jon said, the most democratic way to work, I feel like there has to be a decision maker in order to get anywhere.

How has the band evolved from its beginning phases?

Patrick: It is definitely more of a band than in the early days. The band evolved out of a bedroom project that included me and, eventually, Jon, and I entertained a Dinosaur Jr.-like fantasy where I’d do most of the recording and then we’d have a live band, but my feelings have changed since then. I’m very pleased to have a band to record with. It makes things so much easier in a studio environment, to be able to sit back and conduct parts.

Jon: And I think we’re a lot more careful with guitar arrangements than we used to be. We’ve realized that three electric guitars can be pretty dangerous…things can get pretty messy very quickly. So we put more time into composing complimentary parts, and tend to shy away from doubling and tripling like we used to.

What’s the band’s opinion on file-sharing?

Jon: Like most indie bands, we don’t make a lot of money from CD sales. So speaking selfishly, file sharing is wonderful…It’s just another way for people to learn about our band. But I suppose it is more complicated than that. Our label probably has a different opinion, because it does take money out of their pocket. And I can see how major label artists are more affected by it. But the market will figure it out eventually. I certainly don’t think digital music is the “end of the music business” like some people claim. It may be the “end of the music business as we know it.” Illegal file sharing is just an example of the public realizing the power of digital music on the internet before the industry does. They’re catching up now, though. Most people I know who used to participate in illegal file sharing would now rather log onto iTunes and purchase a song that they know is complete and well-compressed. What’s interesting is digital music will probably result in music shifting back into the “singles” format that used to be popular in the 1960s with 45s and what-not. It may change the way we write and record music.

What’s been playing on the band’s collective stereo lately?

Jon: Person Pitch by Panda Bear, anything by Tom Waits. Oh, and Frightened Rabbit.

Patrick: Collective stereo? That is nearly impossible to answer. Personally, I’ve been listening to Lily Allen, The Kid Stays In The Picture by Robert Evans and the new Dinosaur Jr. I’m also looking forward to the new Smashing Pumpkins record.

What’s on the horizon (releases, touring) for the band in the near future?

Jon: Clairecords is releasing Waiting For The Time To Be Right on 180-gram vinyl very soon. That’s exiting for us since we produced the record with the LP format in mind. We’re also are putting together a five song CD/EP called The Moonlit Race EP. It will contain a new tune, and a bunch of live songs from WFTTTBR. I’ll also be spending a bunch of time converting Season 10 of The Simpson’s from VHS to DVD so we have something to watch in the van when we tour the southeast in June.

Patrick: I’ll be isolating myself from the world soon to buckle down on writing new material. That and singing A LOT (I’ve fallen out of regular practice, I’m afraid).

Any last words?

Jon: Go sox.

Patrick: Look out for us on tour this June…and fuck the Sox.


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