I find the whole shitstorm Brother have kicked up in recent months really funny. In fact, in the two and a half years I’ve been working properly at NME, I really don’t think there’s been a new band who’ve split office opinion quite so dramatically. Yup – it’s pretty damn amusing watching so many people get so irate about an indie band who sing songs about girls’ birthday’s and wishing wells.
So when the opportunity arose earlier this month for me and NME snapper Vic Frankowski to tag along with the Slough fourpiece on their maiden voyage to New York… well, we just couldn’t resist, could we?!
You can read exactly what went down on the trip in this week’s On The Road feature in the mag (it’s out now), but basically, our five day jaunt involved: three sold out Brother shows, a fleet of blacked-out SUV’s, shitloads of US record company wonga, endless bar tabs, free clothes, a visit to a freemason’s building (to do a radio show), Ellie Goulding (pissed off her head), the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally, snow, nakedness, insanely good gig reviews, tortoises and a shedload of witty banter.
Speaking of which – some people have said Brother mainman Lee’s onstage chit-chat doesn’t cut the mustard. Maybe I got them on three good gigs, but I disagree. I found the guy’s performance persona to be very engaging.
He was funny, likable, totally self-assured, quick, intelligent and completely content with playing host to a few hundred gawping strangers. So surprised was I, in fact, at how random his chat was, that I decided to record a load of it on my Dictaphone (plus point: it also saved me from actually writing notes down).
Here’s a clip (I’ve edited all the talk into one continuous sound file) from the first show at Brooklyn’s Mercury Lounge – AKA the biggie of small venues in NYC – where Lee berates the industry-centric crowd for being lame (comparing those in attendance to a “BlackBerry convention”) before randomly inviting someone out to brunch, slagging off US drivers and then telling everyone about a transvestite the band met the previous night whose job it is to pull wine bottles out his arse. As you do. This, ladies and gents, is a band not playing it particularly safe onstage:
Here’s the second show, where Lee talks Britpop and girls’ tops. Specifically, the one his backing singer Grace is wearing:
Gig 3: I really like the audacity of a frontman who goes all the way to New Jersey to play a show and then spends a large chunk of it talking absolute bollocks about the Channel Islands. Literally no one else in the room apart from me, Vic and the band’s management had the faintest idea what he was going on about. He then got in a mini argument with his guitarist Sam, who he had pretty much knocked over during the previous song:
Anyway, Brother were staying at a friend of a friend’s apartment in the centre of town, which was the perfect place to carry on the party at after all the free bars had kicked us out. Here’s Sam really pissed:
And here’s what it’s like to get wrapped in a sofabed (again by Sam):
What else? Well, we couldn’t go all that way without getting the money shot of the band with NYC’s jaw-droppingly cool skyline in the background. Pretty heavy stuff. Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like to stand around in the freezing cold while a band try to look all cool in front of the Empire State Building:
Read the full write-up in this week’s issue of NME.