Brother Brad Interview

Rebecca Varidel
28th Mar 2017

Brother Brad, and my invitation was to meet at their local, which happens to be the Gladstone Hotel at Dulwich Hill. So on the day of the release of their first video, after a weekend of recording new material and following the sell out launch of their first single Get Around at Oxford Art Factory last week, I caught up with brothers Shaun and Justin Bradley for a few beverages and this interview.

How did it feel to have a sellout so early?

Shaun: It was our single launch, our debut single. It felt great. It was very exciting to sell out.

Justin: Always whenever we've had a gig, I've always had to push people to say come to my gig.

This was the first gig that I felt like I didn't have to pester people to come to. Because people where coming on their own accord, people were bringing friends, people were hearing about it. That gave me the buzz. That gave me real excitement. Shit. This is actually want you want it to be like is people just coming to your gig.

Like randoms. I'm there and I'm sort of looking around and there's a whole lot of people that I don't know.

Shaun: A number of my friends and people that always come to our gigs, we said you can buy the pre-sale tickets but you can get them on the door, and then the morning of the gig, I get an email 'allocation exhausted'. And so bullshit half of my friends [Me: friends can't come] I told them they could just buy tickets on the door. We were hoping it would reach capacity, but I didn't expect it to sell out prior to the event. It was a bit of a stressful day, that day with people calling you saying...

Justin: can you just put us on the door?

Shaun: Oh bro can't you get us on? It was a good position to be in.

Was that your first time playing at Oxford Art Factory?

Shaun: Well no. The very first gig we did as a band was last year and it was in June. We'd been writing some music, we'd been jamming with these guys, with our mates, and a friend of mine rang up and said hey do you have a full set of originals because we've got a gig coming up and we need a support band. So, we hadn't even formed yet. We were preparing to do gigs later in the year, but this came up. The gig was in ten days. And so yeah OK let's do it. So we got together and had a few rehearsals and got our set ready to go and that was our first gig. It was kind of nice to tie it back in. That was our first gig in June last year and that our first single launch at the same place.

Me:It was full circle.

Justin: Very much full circle.

So we've heard the first gig, and the first single launch, both at Oxford Art Factory, so tell me a bit more about how you came together and about the sound.

Me: Well actually at Sydney Scoop we are very excited for the sound. Because it's very individual. And we are so excited that is coming out of Sydney.

Justin: I've grown up my whole life as a trumpet player, so that was my main instrument. I always used to sing on the side. I would never consider myself a singer. It wasn't until well after high school finished that was my thing in high school, the trumpet. I think it kind of dawned on me, if you are going to be in a band, you can't just be the trumpet player. You've got to do a bit more than that.

Me: Can I just say [to Justin] you seem like the eldest, but it's the reverse.

Justin: It's the facial hair.

Me: (Belly laughs.) It wasn't the look. It was the whole demeanour.

Justin: I get that a lot.

Shaun: He gets that. (Laughs)

(All: Laughs.)

What star sign are you?

Justin: I'm a cancer,

Me: Well OK. Well it's not event that, you're not an Aries.

Justin: [Quietly] Yeah I'm very mellow normally.

Shaun: In many regards I feel like I'm the leader, the director, but... I like Justin to take the star role.

Justin: I talk well.

Me: Going off on a tangent, and every time I've interviewed brothers, and I look at all the brother bands, and over the first drink before we started the interview [and we were now on our second] and we talked about Boy & Bear and Crowded House, and they've got brothers in them.

What happens in the interchange, in the music, with you being brothers?

Justin: A lot of the basis of the song is all Shaun. He just has a knack for chord progressions and beautiful 7s and 9s. I'm no good at that. He just has this ear for things.

Shaun: Before Brother Brad came about, we'd been together playing for a few years doing covers gigs. And so Justin is the vocalist, wherever he goes in terms of the structure of a song or the melody, I've always got his back. I know wherever he goes, I know what part of the song he's gone to.

We've always played together. Our whole lives. It's only been in these last few years that we played covers gigs and now we've started our own originals band. Musically we've always had an understanding. And I think that's obviously because we're brothers and we've grown up together and I sort of know where he goes. And I've always got his back.

So that was my real question. How does sibling rivalry work within the music?

Shaun: Yes. In terms of the interchange between us, sometimes because we've got such a close relationship, I think I know what he's trying to say or what he's trying to achieve and the same for me I would imagine.
Justin: There's a lof of eye rolling.
Shaun: [Smiling] Sometimes we can butt heads. Yes.


Me: Are you talking about during performances?

Shaun and Justin: No. No.

Justin: Rehearsing, writing, recording, editing.

Me: And then when you start touring.

Justin: We never get antsy when we are performing Brother Brad stuff. We used to get very antsy when we performed our covers stuff.

Shaun: On occasion.

(All: Laughs)

Shaun: We don't perform with a tension between us.

Me: Tension can be good in music though.

Shaun: Hmmm hmmm hmmm. It's early days.

Me: Just remember this interview when you're famous.

So when you moved from covers to original sound, how did that work? How did that come about?

Shaun: Well Dan the keyboard player in the band, I met him at work a few years ago, we sort of had a trio, we started playing covers together. And then when. You know Jus and I started writing some songs, and kind of the band evolved around the people we had contact with, and the people who were in our community. Greeny. Adam Green is the bass player and he plays trombone. He's one of our mates. I don't even know how we know him. We met him at parties, at school, those things, sports.

Justin: We've known him ten years or something.

Me: So he used to bring his trombone when you played covers.

Shaun: Sometimes when we were playing covers gigs he would just get up and jam with us. And so you know now that we're going into this new area, let's grab Greeny. Dan's always played with us. The keyboard player. And so when we had ten days to form a band and get our set right for the Oxford Art Factory gig, our Uncle Boof (I wouldn't say he is a drummer he is actually a singer) well Boof came along and said well I'll play drums. You get the guitar. I play piano and guitar but we sort of made that transition more towards guitar because Dan's playing keys, so it just came together where Jus and I had written some songs and we put them together, and it's evolved from there.

How do you describe the music?

Justin: Throughout the nine or ten songs that we've written it's like an adventure through many different genres. It's soulful pop rock. I would almost say. But then there's very reggae based songs as well.

Me: Who likes boxes and squares. There is an Aussie twang that comes through in the vocals though.

[Shaun and Justin: Laughs]

Me: No. No. It's beautiful. And when I heard that I went WOW. I've listened to it many many times on Spotify.

Justin: Have you seen the film clip?

Me: No, I haven't. Is it out?

Shaun: Apparently it's dropping today.

Me: It's very exciting.
Shaun: It is. It is. An exciting time.

[Phones out we found it on YouTube.]

Justin: I reckon when you look at it you feel like you're in Australia too. And not because of the landscape or anything. Purely because of I don't know, the Aussie twang your hear and the Newtownie vibes that we shot with it. Very summery as well.

There was certainly a connection with our new favourite brothers. There were knowing nods with Gladstone regulars. The lads have both worked there. During the interview their Mum Kathy walked past the pub and ended up joining us, and we kicked on.

And on a last note...

Me: I have a brass instrument question to ask. I've been to Selmer right.

Justin: Yeah he we go.

So are they Japanese. What's the mix? Who's got what?

Justin: Brass? My horn Ive had it for a bit over ten years now.

Me: So what year's it from?

Justin: It's from 2006. Made in America by Bach. Vincent Bach's the company. Greeny, he's on a Yamaha. Shaun your tenor sax...

Shaun: I don't really play the sax live. We're looking at incorporating that into our live set. But on the record.

Justin: It's tenor sax

Shaun: Yeah I'm playing tenor sax. In the horn line. And I play a Selmer Mark VI.

Me: I know what that is [excited]

Shaun: A beaaautiful instrument.

Me: I know that sound, and it's round man.

Shaun: And it's quite rare. My Dad had it, and I think he might have bought it in the seventies. So it's actually my Dad's sax and he played it all through their musical careers.

Me: We want to hear this live. Because you actually. Yeah you know. Like older brass, like wood gets a patina, older brass gets a beautiful tone to it. Yeaahhh. Exactly.

Shaun: It's got a beautiful tone and character to it. So I haven't really played it much since school but when we're in the studio I know I've got it there. I've had a few jams on it recently and I think, I'd love to put that onto the record.

Me: More more more.

Kathy: I want to hear it. Yeah. And I want to see you play it too.

Shaun: So we're already mixing and matching instruments.

Justin: We want people to know that the music is imminent. The music is on its way. If they like this Get Around track then.

Shaun: There's more coming.

Me: Everybody loves it man.

Justin: We're so conscious of it in ourselves to say we need to get another track out. And then get that out. We're working hard. We had a big long weekend of recording.

Shaun: We spent the whole weekend. Two ten hour days in the studio.

Justin: We're pushing it. We love our song so much. And we want people to hear them.

Me: This is like awesome.

Shaun: It's a celebration.

Who's writing the music?

Shaun: Me. Well me mainly. Ah. It depends. Some songs are collaborative. Me and Justin. Some songs have been from more from my own personal things that have occurred in my life, some relationships, some good things some bad things which have occurred. Musically I always like to bounce things of Jus, but because I've played the... I give the songs the harmonic structure, whether it's on the keyboard or the guitar, so the foundations of the songs are coming from me, a lot of the lyrics are coming from me, a lot of the melodies are coming from Jus. So it's a nice way for us to work together. The songs come together.

Me: Are you proud of them [to Kathy]?

Kathy: I am actually.

Justin: Number one fan.