Heyo, we’re brass n beats party band Brow Horn Orchestra from Fremantle, Western Australia. We’re about to head over to Darwin for the big arts festival followed by a comedy music festival on Rottnest Island in Perth and Victoria’s Queenscliff Music Festival in November, which is all rather exciting. We’ve got a bunch more dates to announce soon and are currently in the process of getting our next record together.
There’s quite a long history behind The Brow Horn Orchestra. How did you first form, and then how did you eventually become the five-piece you are now?
Karri the trombone player and I started out in Fremantle as a busking duo and from there we evolved into a 4 piece and later down the track a 10 piece when it became a bit of a musical free for all. Our beginnings were really through entering different band comps and using any prize money we were lucky enough to score to help fund our first record / singles / buy gear to get going. A few years down the line and people filtered away for different commitments and we were left with the solid little unit of chaps we have today.
What’s the music scene like in Perth and how does it compare to the East Coast? Do East Coast crowds really dance less?
Haha as much as I want to say yes to be honest there are too cool for school crowds all over the country. However, we’ve had some incredible dance worthy crowds counter that over east playing shows in places like Byron, Peats Ridge, Bahas in Victoria, etc, etc. It’s all about the collective vibe that makes the night better. We figure though, if we jump around like a bunch of dorks, it sets the standard and allows everyone else to lower their inhibitions. As for our music scene, it’s killer! A lot of support and incredible bands! I’ve spent the last year preparing a production duo called Pumba with another guy Chris and we’ve been booked for great festival coming up without even getting a live show ready. So we’ve called on members from two other great WA bands The Arsonist and Rainy Day Women who are both doing big things. To be able to throw together a band like that last minute with the calibre of musicians we’ve scored, I think it’s fair to say we’re far too spoilt for choice in Perth!
Your sound incorporates so many different influences which makes it pretty difficult to label. How do you guys describe it yourselves?
The million-dollar question I suck at answering haha. I like to say it all falls under the banner of party music. When I DJ I’ll play a range of styles too but as long as it’s bringing the party, nothing else matters. We do transcend across a bunch of genres in Brow but it all gets tied together in some big bombastic hornology. Dubska Hip Hop Electro Funk Soul House music. Haha I don’t know. That’s for you guys to decide.
And where does The Brow get all its sonic inspiration from?
Many bands and many things really! Back when Karri and I first started busking just out of school, seeing Groove Armada perform superstyling live with extended trombone solos was a massive catalyst for inspiration. Same with acts like Ozomatli, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jackson Jackson / Cat Empire and lots of hip hop and soul artists.
Looking at your Facebook page, you’re definitely a politically switched on band. There’s often political undertones in your lyrics, too – is this kind of depth an important element to your music?
That means a lot that you’ve read our lyrics thank you!! I’ve often second-guessed myself about this because I find that sometimes there can be something confronting about having a political opinion shoved down your throat, so naturally you will get a few haters if you express an opinion. It’s the beauty of democracy! When we perform, lyrically a lot of serious issues and dark undertones are often presented juxtaposed against happy upbeat music. This is something I really dig conceptually so it has always been there for us from the get go, even before I got particularly passionate on our facebook page with much less subtly haha. I think reminding yourself how important these issues are and looking at historically why politics and music have a place together will bring you back to why it’s important to have a voice in music and not waste the lucky opportunity you’ve been given to have people listen to you. We usually try to keep things in a discussion format, I love it when people debate and passionately talk on our facebook page, as it’s good to keep encouraging the discussion of important things. On a side note from all this, it seems to have pricked up some ears. We are very excited to have a couple of us sitting down in a small group of twenty or so people with the WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam to have an intimate chat about a range of issues next week. Big honour for us, that’s for sure!
At the same time though, the music itself is so upbeat and fun on the ear. Is this paradox deliberate? And is it hard to balance these two opposites? Pays to read ahead haha, yes it’s entirely deliberate (as mentioned in the previous question ;-) )
So you’re playing at Darwin Festival on August 16th. Are you excited for that?
There’s some pretty amazing bands taking part – like Midnight Juggernauts and You Am I – are you going to try see any of the other acts?
Sadly I think we’ll miss some of the big name acts due to scheduling but we’ll certainly try to catch a lot of stuff during the day, particularly on the Saturday, which will be a little more free for us. A good friend of our band has been helping host the Gyoto Monks who have been west before coming to The Darwin Festival, so we’ll certainly love to catch them again as they will have a lot of daytime activities to help us achieve inner peace. It’s always nice to cleanse ones soul before another evening of ruckus.
How would you describe your live show to those who haven’t caught one before?
People often say we’re a lot more fun live than on record because we jump around a lot and play upbeat party tunes haha. For the Darwin shows we’re going to have a full visual show to accompany the music which I’m very excited about. Been putting a lot of effort into using visuals to help tell the songs stories even more. Often lyrics get overlooked in big loud instrumental hook driven bands like ours so I like the idea of bringing the lyrical themes back into the spotlight too. It’s definitely a lot of fun, so come along!!
What’s your earliest memory of performing and how was it?
Anything like that nightmare one of you had about a curtain falling on the band mid-performance? I have vague snippets of early primary school putting on plays for our parents with Karri and some of our other chums from back then. Also playing at my Mum’s backyard music concerts, she taught piano and\ guitar.
How was your national tour from earlier in the year? Any highlights?
Yeah it was great fun a lot of good gigs! Really enjoyed doing stuff in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane playing with Last Dinosaurs and Emma Louise. Plus we always have fun at Baha’s in Rye, Victoria. We still aren’t the most well known band in Brisbane so it was quite funny to kick off our show as the poor guys from Last Dinosaurs were packing up after their set before us, getting mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans much larger than our small little fanbase at the front. Thankfully, people’s ears pricked up and they all wandered round the front to see us play after their photo opportunities, so that was nice.
It’s always really rewarding to start with no one in an audience and end with a happy crowd. We’ve been quite fortunate on that front now for a few gigs we’ve played where we are the unknown quantity. It really makes you feel like your hard work on stage pays off. You’ve just got to play every show like it’s better than your last though. I hate bands that get self-righteous and act entitled when they don’t have the crowd they expect and put in a sloppy or half assed piss take of a performance.
We’ve opened the main stage at Future Music Festival and had the gates open 20 minutes late, so we kicked off when we were booked to play and gave those security guards, forklift drivers and bar staff the best darn show they’d ever seen. It also meant people waiting to get into the festival had some music to listen to and knew exactly where to head for the final 40 minutes of our set ;-)
Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with and why?
Huge fan of many Australian artists! I’ve loved Gotye as a beatmaker since his first LP Boardface so he’d be up there! We have a lot of love for the Bamboos too, Hermitude, Ta-Ku, Saskwatch, Tijuana Cartle to name but a few. I think these are a very brief list of acts bringing music to the table that we’re ridiculously excited about and that gets the inspiration flowing!
Besides playing Besides playing more shows, what have The Brow got planned for the next 12 months? No pressure – but can we expect a new EP or album in the future?
We’ve got a huge load of songs ready for our next record. Possibly an album but just want to focus on getting a few singles out first and see how it all goes. It’s been over a year now since our last release so it’s definitely time. We’re quite excited about our new material too, we all think it really wipes the floor with our older stuff! I feel we’re really developing as a band, maturing in our writing.
Where can we see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them?
Aug 16 Darwin Festival (The Lighthouse Big-Top) Darwin
Aug 17 Darwin Festival (The Lighthouse Big-Top) Darwin
Sep 07 Rottofest 2013 Perth, Australia
Nov 22 Queenscliff Music Festival
w/ The Living End, … Bellarine Vic, Australia
Listen to ‘Two Fires’