Interview: NYS Music talks to The Other Brothers

The Other Brothers have been bringing a soulful twist to funk and R&B in the greater New York City area since 2012. They’ve  since appeared on stage with artists like Formula 5, Goose, Bushicks, with members of Kung Fu and Deep Banana Blackout and more.

This six piece includes Brandon Bera (drums), Chris Owens (vocals), Gabe Marquez (organ and keys), Jared Nelson (percussion), John Morrison (guitar) and Jordan Mendelson (bass), all of whom are SUNY New Paltz students, both current and graduated.

They took out some time this weekend to answer a few questions for NYS Music about their origin, creative process, and future aspirations.

Karina Verlan: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

The Other Brothers: We would say we’re neo-soul, but with some jam flavor. Our sound is derived from a handful of records that we’ve been in love with for the past few years, including Voodoo (D’Angelo), Channel Orange (Frank Ocean), and Off the Wall (Michael Jackson). We take a lot of cues from Phish, who we’ve collectively seen a million times. The Band is also a big influence on us, especially since we live in the Hudson Valley where they set up shop.

KV: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?

TOB: John & Chris met at a Phish show at Bethel Woods in 2011. Then John heard Chris jokingly sing Creed at a house party and was very impressed. In fall 2012 John met a then-freshman Brandon at a jam session at the then-house of Matt Richards (of Formula 5) where they had a memorable “Good Times Bad Times” jam. Brandon met Jordan through a mutual friend at the very start of college (2012) and they jammed together in the dorms as well as in jazz ensembles. Then in the past year we met Jared and Gabe through jam parties and mutual friends.

KV: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

TOB: Our goal has always been to write soulful tunes based in a real moment or feeling so that our audience can share that experience with us. Whether they are funky, slow and soulful, or dark, we try to keep the original emotion as raw as possible. We try to keep the tunes loose so that we can jam on them if the mood strikes at a particular show. The recent addition of Gabe (organ/keys) and Jared (percussion) has opened everything up. They’re both great musicians and they’re really elevating our sound.

KV: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?

TOB: We have a cozy rehearsal space at Castle Studios in New Paltz, where we practice usually 3 times per week depending on schedules. We keep it mostly productive, working on new material or polishing up old tunes. We also spend a lot of time kicking it and jamming on covers we’ll never play – just having fun. The other nights of the week we are usually out seeing music in New Paltz or shredding with our favorite vinyl at our house (Brandon, John, and Jordan live together).

KV: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

TOB: Play music with people you love to be around. We’re always joking around with each other and we care about each other. The stronger your friendship is, the stronger the musical relationship will be. Also, support your friends’ bands and local scene as much as you can.

KV: What was the most exciting gig that you have done in 2016 thus far?

TOB: Our gig at American Beauty in NYC in support of the B.R.Y.A.C. Funk All Stars (of Kung Fu and Deep Banana Blackout) was too much fun. We had an amazing audience of friends and new fans. It was also our first full show with Gabe on keys, and he just crushed it. Halloween weekend at Neptune’s in Lake George was insane – the crowd was killer and Formula 5’s Lord of the Rings improv set was simply incredible music.

KV: What is your dream gig, venue, and supporting artist?

TOB: Someday we’ll host our own festival in the beautiful Hudson Valley with Breakfast for the Boys, Formula 5, and Let’s Be Leonard. Be on the lookout… We’re also looking forward to our gig at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve 2023 with Anderson Paak opening.

KV: How can fans-to-be best gain access to your music?

TOB: If you sign up for our email list and we will send you a copy of our album which we’re recording in February at Art Farm studios in Accord. For now we have a few demos on our site. Also be on the lookout for our live release medium called Noach’s Roaches from chemist, brewer, and archivist Adam Noach.

KV: How do you feel about the influence of the internet on the music business?

TOB: It’s causing a shift in focus back to live performance because that’s where the money is now, which is fine by us because that’s where we thrive. We’re big Vulfpeck fans, and Jack Stratton is currently reinventing the game in terms of music marketing, which is cool to see.

KV: Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?

TOB: We don’t have a standard setlist and play mostly originals with some covers. We’ve played our song “Addicted to Weed” at pretty much every recent show because it’s such a fun groove. Also a big tune for us is called “In the City,” which is about all the social injustice our country is facing. We have a few covers that are in pretty heavy rotation including “Nothing from Nothing” (Billy Preston) and “Who Did That to You” (John Legend). We’ve covered a wide variety of artists from Eminem to Radiohead.

KV: Which gig are you most excited for before the end of the year?

TOB: We have three more shows this year. We’re playing Thanksgiving Eve at the Hollow in Albany with our good friends the Late Shift and Loveport. Then December 2nd we have a hometown banger scheduled at Snug Harbor in New Paltz with our best friends Formula 5.  December 3rd we hit Rockwood Music Hall in NYC where we always enjoy a nice crowd.