10 for 2013: #1 – Brother and Bones

By on Friday, 14th December 2012 at 11:00 am

In the last couple weeks, we asked you to vote for the top 10 artists you thought would be big in 2013. We can now reveal the winning band, whose humble gig at the Great Escape in 2011 we humbly reported on. Without further adieu…congrats to Brother and Bones for taking the top honours in our poll this year. John discusses further on why Brother and Bones aren’t folking around…

Pioneering and genre-bending music really is the new black, with Radio1, A&R representatives globally and every music publication jumping onto the cutting edge of what’s innovative music. There’s a now never ending stream of surf pop indie with a hint of Morrissey’s sombre lyrics.

While it may be the new black, but there’s a feeling that with this torrent of innovative sound that’s being fired at our ears, people want something a little more genuine. A little older fashioned and well, a little bit special. Something that brings you back to earth, amidst the wave of synth driven filth that is polluting the airwaves.

Enter Brother and Bones – a band described as a mix between the folky rhythms of Mumford and Sons and the bluesy rock and roll of Jack White’s The Dead Weather. Brother and Bones as a concept has been a long time coming, but for Richard Thomas, the band’s frontman and pint-sized driving force, it began with everything falling into place, quite nicely. In that way nothing normally seems to: “It was probably just over 2 years ago that the band really started. It all arose from the fact that I had an idea of what I wanted to do musically at last.

“I’d done some stuff with a string quartet and other bands and I’d just come back from travelling and it really just started from there with the boys. I got together with Rob, who I’d known for ages. We’d always played music together back in Cornwall, but in the beginning it really was just a case of getting together and jamming with people I felt musically comfortable with.

“I knew James Willard, our guitarist, from other bands I’d been with; I was sort of racking my brains for people I knew. I wanted a good guitarist who I knew would play hard and was into the same stuff as me, with a real blues background and he was the person who really stood out for me.”

Musical chemistry is an underrated concept in this era of genre-smashing artists, but with James and Richard both shredding their guitars to pieces, you can tell that there’s science happening behind the scenes. These guys rock too hard for it to just be a coincidence, right?

“I got introduced to Si through a friend of ours who toured together and he’s always telling me all these funny tour stories of when they went to places like China. I won’t get into them, not really to PG, a little more R rated. But Si and I kind of just ended jamming through some tunes I knew were going to form part of the Brother and Bones set, and well, it just worked.”

From word one with Richard and the boys in the band though, it’s obvious that music was the priority. The visceral nature of their writing shines through in every song, from the ballads, to the balls out, heart-on-your-sleeve belters. Take the lead track from their EP ‘I See Red’ (video below). Richard let TGTF in on what exactly he was feeling when he put pen to paper: “It was written as a blues just out of frustration. I couldn’t sleep and it was a 2 AM song. When you feel like telling people to fuck off that aren’t necessarily the people you can say that to, the easiest thing to do is write a song about it.


“You know sometimes you feel like it would all be a lot easier to cut your losses, cut your ties and just worry about yourself for a bit. There was a number of people and incidents that it was about, although there was a straw that broke the camel’s back! I suppose that state of mind makes you start to question things and people you shouldn’t, hence the closing statement ‘it’s all in my head, you give me roses and I see red’”.

With the pure visceral emotion of the blues, combined with the old fashioned rhythms the band seem to thrive on, the music this band creates in the live arena is something to be reckoned with. I first got a glance of the south coast rockers at quintessentially southern festival, The Great Escape in Brighton, where bands from all over the UK and even some from farther afield converge.

The atmosphere was that classic mix of A&R pretentiousness mixed with just a hint of nervousness from the Brother and Bones themselves. As the Fenders started to roar, the spectacle began. A sweaty mass of stomping, bass thuds and rock and roll filled the small underground venue and had the audience hypnotised by the pure primal energy the five-piece displayed. The band may be tight on record, but if they were items in a supermarket they’d be slapped with a sticker saying ‘best experienced live’. The band’s high energy performances have seen what was a cult following only a year ago thrive and blossom into the mass of fans who until just recently would have never frequented the band’s Web site and Facebook page.

“Yannis is a half Greek, half Scottish chef, for example. We all bring something completely different to the mix when we jam and live it all just seems to click. We’re pretty fortunate that we get on away from just playing our music as well as being friends in the band and that’s really why it works.

“I think though 2 years down the line; everything has really moved on and changed. I mean, [I feel that way] every time we go into the studio. I think though that in the live arena, that’s where we are really finding our feet at the moment, I mean the recognition we got from the Live Nation Awards, for example, is just awesome and to see some of the names we are beside is just awesome.”

So here’s some advice: you can trawl SoundCloud, MySpace and all the blogs you want. If you want something genuine, primeval and just a little bit mental, check out Brother and Bones live for some absolutely folking great riffs, some folking brutal passion and a folking good time.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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