Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Brothers in Arms

music_middlebroThere’s no sibling rivalry in indie folk-rock supergroup Middle Brother
Ego clashes and battles for control are inevitable in almost every band, but when you put three leaders of established acts together in one group, you’re just begging for trouble. Yet Middle Brother—the new band comprised of Matt Vasquez, Taylor Goldsmith and John J. McCauley III, frontmen for the indie folk-rock outfits Delta Spirit, Dawes and Deer Tick, respectively—seems to have avoided such pitfalls so far. According to Vasquez, the members of the group don’t mind taking turns hanging back, playing guitar and singing harmony.

“There’s zero ego when it comes to backing somebody up, because you believe in them, and you just want it to be as good as it can be,” the musician states. “We’re all fans of each other’s music so much. I love ‘Mom and Dad,’ I love ‘Daydreaming’ I love ‘Blood and Guts’—I begged Taylor to put ‘Blood and Guts’ on the record.”

Vasquez, a longtime friend of Goldsmith, joined Middle Brother after Deer Tick’s manager told him that said musician and McCauley had plans to make an album together. “Through just straight-up jealousy, I convinced them to let me get in on it,” he explains. The two musicians had been writing together for a couple of weeks when Vasquez flew to meet them. Having never met McCauley before, the vocalist/guitarist had no idea what to expect. “I kind of walked in here feeling like the middle brother,” he notes. “I’m actually the only real middle brother in the band, which is funny.”

Vasquez and company repaired to a backhouse studio where “the bar was always stocked.” The new bandmates cracked a few beers and recorded three songs that night. “That was pretty much the pace we worked at, and it just kept getting crazier and crazier,” Vasquez recalls. “We did four songs the night after that, and six the night after that. Next thing you know, the sun’s coming up, and we’re just wrapping up the session.” After a week, the group had 22 recorded tracks on its hands.

The atmosphere that permeated these sessions was very different than the one to which Vasquez was accustomed. “All of us have this kinetic feeling between our own respective bands, and when you step into a room with a bunch of different musicians, that kinetic feeling’s gone,” he says. “So you really have to use your ears and pay attention.” As an example, he cites the song “Million Dollar Bill,” whose vocals and guitars were recorded completely live. “We sat down without a click, and in 30 minutes, we learned the song. I had never heard that verse before—just sang it. We worked out those harmonies all live, just sitting in a room playing it.”

While working at such a fast clip can imbue one’s music with a pleasantly spontaneous quality, it can also leave some musicians wishing they could go back and redo certain passages. “My only standpoint on that is: Let sleeping dogs lie,” Vasquez offers. “The raw nature of it—it’s fun. When I listen to that record, I remember how much fun we had making it. And that’s the most important thing: When people listen to the record, they hear that the people doing it just did it for the pleasure of making the record.”

Vasquez is candid in comparing Middle Brother to its members’ various other projects. “Dawes on its own is better than Middle Brother, I think. And Deer Tick and Delta Spirit on its own—they’re all way better. But the songs are there, and it’s just fun. That’s what it is. Don’t expect anything other than a good time with people who respect and love each other’s music.”


Middle Brother plays at 8:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12. For more information, call  479-1854 or go to moesalley.com or folkyeah.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise