Exposure: Brother Louis Collective
- Ryan Drever
- 14 August 2009
Brother Louis Collective - These Barren Years
Brother Louis Collective are an ensemble cast of Glasgow-based instrumentalists, centred around the musical endeavours of Louis Abbot. Harnessing the talents of friends and bandmates from his other band The Moth And The Mirror, Abbot's brooding, heartfelt folk leanings are bolstered by a soundtrack of colourful orchestration, including flute, strings and double bass - a rich concoction that has caught the attention of more than a few unsuspecting ears.
Already live regulars in a city almost overwhelmed with musical output, the band are currently in the process of recording their debut album, which is sure to make an indelible mark when it drops next year. Before then though, here's the brother himself, along with bassist Joe Rattray to help you play catch up.
So, what first inspired or motivated you to pick up an instrument?
Louis: Well, I first started learning the drums in high school but didn't really properly pick up a guitar until a number of years later. I mostly played covers but wrote some early songs of my own (mostly comedy-based love songs!). It was only really when I moved to Glasgow from the far east (Edinburgh) that I began to really get into writing with any sort of serious intent. I guess early influences include Mr. Boom who played at my fourth birthday in my back garden and let me run about with his instruments after. My first drum teacher also introduced me to a lot of my favourite early bands including The Divine Comedy and Jeff Buckley.
Were you involved in many bands or musical projects before this?
Louis: I played in a band with my mates in high school. Kind of a pop thing. Belle meets Paul Simon vibe. It was fun, sometimes I put on the old demos and cringe at my gash drumming. And although it was good to do the pub scene thing, I think I got more experience from playing at a bunch of acoustic nights after I moved through.
How did the band first come together? How did you all meet?
Louis: We all met in Glasgow in 2005. Myself, Phil and Sarah met at college, although I knew Joe from years before. We met in Dundee, where Joe grew up, and collaborated on a music project that lead to perhaps the worst funk song ever made. Me and Kevin, who plays clarinet, worked together in a bar in town and found we shared a mutual love for late night poker games and Bucky. Myself and Gordon also play with the Moth and the Mirror so it was a treat for us when he decided he'd like to get involved with us too.
What or who would you say particularly inspires you as a songwriter?
Louis: All of the songs are taken from real life events. There's no fiction. I'm not into making up stories or characters for the sake of trying to stir emotions. They are songs about friends and family as well as a fair bit of self-evaluation. We're currently recording our first album with Paul Savage. All of the songs document the first chapter of my life, be it memories from school or kicking a ball about with my childhood chums through to my relationships with my friends and loved ones. Just normal things that everyone does. But hopefully that means people can relate to them somehow.
What would you like people to take from a show?
Joe: Hopefully people will leave our gigs having understood what the songs are about and where we're coming from musically. If you've been to a show before, you would have probably noticed that we always enjoy playing and hope this feeling is shared by the audience too. So far, gigs have been our main output as a band, having only made a handful of recordings to date. We hope to continue playing gigs around Glasgow and further afield, having made trips to Edinburgh and Dundee a couple of times each.
Has there been a particular gig that has stood out for you so far - for better or worse?
Louis: I think the show we did when we opened for Twin Atlantic at King Tuts in September 2008 was the first time we became aware that people might quite like us. It wasn't our crowd by any means, mostly young emo types, but we start with a really quiet number and we managed to silence a pretty much capacity crowd who were there for the Atalntic anthems for sure. They seemed mad into it, which was a pretty big surprise to us, as we were very worried about going on. We were sure they'd hate it and boo us off! But yeah, Connect in 2008 and T in the Park this year were both a lot of fun. I personally prefer a nice room for a show, and big venues scare me.
Joe: We played a few shows at Oran Mor over the past year which were all a lot of fun, I especially enjoyed the single launch gig we did for the release of 'These Barren Years' on Jen Anderson's Euphonios label. We had a great line-up with local favourites Washington Irving and the French Wives both playing blinders.
Would you agree that there is particularly interesting and vibrant music scene or community in Glasgow?
Joe: There has seemingly always been a great scene in Glasgow, with lots of amazing bands passing through over the years. However, moving through from Dundee four years ago for my studies really opened my eyes to the breadth of music in Glasgow. With there being so many decent venues, there's always opportunities for young and upcoming bands to develop and grow into really great artists. We're lucky to have made friends with excellent local bands such as French Wives, Seventeenth Century and Paper Planes.
Is there any one musician or group that you would love to share a stage/record with?
Louis: Elbow. I love pretty much everything they've ever done. And Guy Garvey is the nicest man in rock. You can quote me on that if you want.
Joe: We all really love King Creosote and the Fence guys such as Pictish Trail and James Yorkston, it would be great to get the chance to play with them at some point. I'd love to play a gig with the Dirty Projectors, although it's purely selfish as I just want to see them again.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Joe: We're currently recording our debut album in Chem19 with Paul Savage, who is best known for his work with the Delgados, Mogwai, the Arab Strap guys and more recently, Franz Ferdinand, Camera Obscura, Twilight Sad and the Phantom Band. The plan is to make the best album we possibly can at this point in time. We're all really happy with the results so far so hopefully we'll be able to get that out early next year, if not by the end of 2009. There are plans in the pipeline to schedule a small tour towards the end of the year, but we will need to wait and see. Other than that, there are gigs planned up in Mull at the end of August and we have a show with the Seventeenth Century in the Twisted Wheel on September 14th.