Band of Brothers

Brother is an awesome independent rock band that uses bag pipes and didjeridus. They call themselves “Australian Mongrel Rock”. I call them genius. Anyhow, the following is an open letter from me to all Brother fans.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend developing in Brother’s internet fan base. Within and between several electronic communities, I have encountered rumors, well-developed cliques, and general bad blood between fellow Brother fans. While to a certain extent this is to be expected in any large, diverse group, the frequency has become such that I feel the need to speak up for myself and others that may felt caught in the middle.

The first point which I would like to address is the bitterness of certain parties caused by perceived favoritism toward the east and west coasts. As others have said before me, the band decided to concentrate on high-paying gigs while they are working on new material. Aside from monetary concerns, they do not have the time to mount a full-scale tour right now. I for one am impressed that they’re playing at all. A lot of bands go on hiatus while in the studio. We’re fortunate to be hearing new songs as they evolve. Furthermore, I feel that some fans (and this is not a problem unique to Brother) have unrealistic expectations for the band-fan relationship. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not owe us anything. We do not own them. We do not control them. We can hope that they continue to care about, listen to, and be grateful to their fans, but we have no right to expect it. Practical limitations aside, the band has no obligation to visit any particular geographic region.

Nor can we dictate the musical directions they take, as it seems some would like to. The members of Brother, or any band for that matter, are real people – individuals with their own hopes, desires, tastes, and aspirations. They have no obligations to maintain a certain sound. Even if they did, we wouldn’t want them to. At least we shouldn’t. Brother, like any good band, needs to grow to remain vital. They need to experiment. We cannot be like parents who force their children to follow a certain career path. They must be free to make mistakes. If they make a bad album, the real fans will stick by them, offer them constructive feedback, and patiently wait for them to pick themselves up and try again. If they don’t grow and change, they’ll get stale. We can’t freeze their progress without destroying that which we wished to preserve. If they stay where they are, they may never find their musical peak. If they hope to improve on the status quo, they have to expand their horizons are risk walking through the occasional creative valley.

Some fans are worried that Brother will sell out and get too big to be close to their fans. If we really care about Brother and want them to succeed, we need to accept growth. We might not have direct access to the fellas forever. This is a sad prospect, but what we would lose in intimacy, we would gain in Brotherhood. This band has a lot of talent and their unique sound stand head and shoulders above the pre-fab teeny-pop and regurgitated, derivative rock. It would be a disservice to music lovers and aspiring musicians to keep Brother to ourselves. We curse the darkness of Top 40 radio, but we try to hide the candle of Brother’s genius. What’s the sense in that?

I know it’s sad to contemplate sharing something wonderful with others. We may feel that by finding something special and unique, we too are special and unique. If Brother became commercially successful, there would almost certainly be legions of fair-weather fans hopping on the band wagon. We worry about being lost in the crowd. Then again, when they’re inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we can say, “I knew them when…” 😉

In conclusion, I want other fans to know that I am not devoid of opinions about Brothers’ future. I hope the rumors about dropping the pipes and didj aren’t true. I hope they avoid major labels as I see them as incompatible with free musical expression. I hope their “harder edge” doesn’t mean they feel the need to be crude or dirty. I hope they make it big. I hope they don’t sell out. More importantly, though, I’m waiting with baited breath for their next album and I’ll stick by them if it sucks.

Eric Williams
Fan since 1996