The Wrong Brothers - Strange Machines, Art Rock & The Rise of Independent Music - Stereo Stickman

The Wrong Brothers Strange Machines, Art Rock & The Rise of Independent Music

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Following the release of their EP Strange Machines, we jumped at the chance to interview London, Ontario’s The Wrong Brothers. We talk music, creativity, developing your sound, live shows, dancing, weirdness, inspiration, disagreements, dreams – and much more. Here’s the conversation in full. 

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Hi guys – thanks for the interview, congrats on the EP! For those who don’t know, how would you describe your sound and your approach to making music?

Phil: Our sound is a sweet blend of soul and funk rock, with our own loud in your face twist. When we’re creating we try not to limit ourselves in any way, we just make music that we feel in those moments and try to get recordings that properly convey those feelings to listeners. We do our best to groove at all times, and commit fully to every noise we let loose on your ears.

What does the title Strange Machines mean to you?

Morgan: Dedicating so much time to this EP resulted in so many hours working with all kinds of strange machines and after enough time the technology feels like an extension of the art itself, the title represents the fact that the recording devices can capture what we create but it takes the original thoughts and impulses to gain that unique reaction from any machine.

Phil: We decided to title the record Strange Machines with thoughts of recording devices in mind. There are so many ways to bring music to life in the studio, and they all involve strange machines.

You seem to offer a heavy blend of soul and rock and roll, among other things, who or what would you say has inspired or influenced you the most over the years?

Phil: We both listen to a huge wide range of music, and I think the music we make is really reflective of what we’re digging up as we make it. During the creation of this record I was exploring more funk and groove heavy music, everything from Gladys Knight, to Parliament, to Hiatus Kaiyote…

Morgan: I think Phil and I share a love for constantly digging deeper for influences, both pushing each other to something that might fit somehow. We both come from classic rock’n’roll and funk influences but I know we both really admire early hip-hop, the psychedelic movement, soul and blues.

Phil: …and a lot of the time because we try to capture such flash in the pan moments in our recordings, things can come out wildly different depending on what we listened to while we had coffee that morning.

What’s the songwriting process like for you as a duo?

Morgan: Raw ideas, tossed around rapidly until something triggers a deeper train of thought. Chase this to a core vibe, the essence of the track. Usually melody on guitar and the inherent associated rhythm. This leads to the possibilities of adding more parts to contrast the original idea, subtracting to make way for the essence of the song, or expanding based on new ideas to more developed structures. We both obsess over lengths of parts, organizing and reworking song structures, and ultimately playing it live in front of a crowd to see how it feels and how people respond. The most important thing about our songwriting partnership is our ability to take criticism from each other and value those opinions enough to scrap concepts and start over, and continue until we are both completely satisfied with what we’ve created.

How did Teach me How to Dance come about?

Phil: Teach me How to Dance was written slowly over time, with us constantly writing and throwing away parts, until we realized the song was meant to be simple. sometimes taking a step back and looking at the vibe a song is creating by itself is easier than trying to force one onto it and I think that was huge on TMHTD. Once the music was written, the lyrics came naturally because it felt like we already knew what the song was supposed to be about.

Do you ever disagree creatively?

Phil: We do occasionally, but I’ve grown such an immense respect for Morgan’s ideas and criticisms of my ideas over time that I really try to put my ego aside and listen when he has something to say on a song. I think our music has taught us a lot about ourselves and each other, and we both agree that no idea is too weird for The Wrong Brothers, so we might as well try them all.

What’s Fresh Pocket all about?

Phil: Fresh Pocket was originally a jam on a classic 80’s song, dare I say which, that turned into what i would call 3 minutes of consecutive breakdowns and parts each intended to groove harder than the last. I just wanted to make a song that I felt like belonged in a Cadillac coupe DeVille, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.

Morgan: Fresh Pocket came into fruition from a few jam ideas that stuck, but the production for the track we knew was going to be so important. We wanted to bring the vibe of a Dr. Dre track with the live sounds of disco and r&b, it really benefited from everything like ad lib vocals, crazy pitched hi-hat delays, even gangsta whistle.. Fresh Pocket just screamed a groovy vibe we knew we had to capture just right.

How important is live music for you as a band, and what’s the music scene like across London, ON right now?

Phil: I might say live music is the most important thing to us as a band. It’s what originally connected us, and it’s what drives us to create more music in the studio so that we have infinite ways to switch up our live show. The community here is really close and supportive, and without some of the super tight venues in London like Rum Runners, EVAC, and Call the Office, we couldn’t have felt the feelings necessary to create Strange Machines.

What’s your favourite song to play live, and why?

Phil: For me it’s hands down Holy Demands, you?

Morgan: For the longest time it’s been Hit Hard/Fall Hard because we always toss in an extended bridge where we’ve been inviting everybody to form a conga line and dance around, which has just been hilarious and actually quite successful! But with the new record out I must say playing Teach Me How To Dance finally and feeling the crowd’s reaction has been absolutely great.

If you could share the stage with any artist or band, past or present, who would it be, and why?

Phil: This is on my mind far too often. Though my heart says The Clash, I think I’d have to go with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. They’re this dope Australian band out right now and I think our energy would go really well with theirs – together we could blast a concert hall to the ground.

Morgan: Totally agree with Phil on King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, I might add The Beatles, David Bowie, Kendrick Lamar?

What are your thoughts on the mainstream music world right now?

Morgan: My thoughts on mainstream music seem very confused and convoluted lately, with so much amazing music blowing up constantly all over the world it feels to me like the tight knit list of Spotify’s top 1% isn’t really cutting it for anyone anymore. I love how every stream of independent music is being explored but I wish more love was being shown to those who hustle and don’t get recognized.

Phil: I think the mainstream is more of a melting pot than it’s ever been right now and that’s really cool. It feels like artists in all genres can access a certain amount of mainstream appeal, and in the long run that’s just good for art in general.

What are some of your greatest aspirations as musicians?

Morgan: Expand constantly, and open up the genre pool, electronic production, jazz performance, classical orchestrations… the whole nine yards. Tour as much of the world as possible.

Phil: Other than one day selling out Madison Square Garden, maybe go full Buckethead and release over 300 albums? Can’t be that hard right? (laughs). We would also love to co-produce a bunch of records over the next few years, I think that would be really fulfilling.

What do you hope people get from your music?

Phil: I just hope it makes them want to move their hips. I learned to dance while writing music, and I think it’s one of the most therapeutic things you can do, so ideally we’re inspiring people to dance on all occasions, at all costs. Our music is meant to make you reflect on the best times of your life, and why they we’re so good. If we can do that for even one person listening, it’s a huge success in my book.

Morgan: I hope people get a huge boost of self confidence, loud aggressive “dancey” music always does that for me, makes me want to jump around and create things. If someone out there hears our music and it impacts their journey for the better, job well done!

What’s the best thing fans of your music can do to support you right now?

Phil: Two things that really help us get on are people showing our music to their friends, and coming to shows. If you enjoy what you hear why not give it a share? Buy our record for your loved ones who need a little groove, and if the music really speaks to you come watch us play and we’ll tell you all about it, and maybe even give you some free stuff. We’re on tour right now through Ontario, so if that’s where you’re located I’m sure we have a date near you. Most of all we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone that has supported us so far, and to those that will choose to in the future.

What’s something most people don’t know about The Wrong Brothers?

We put out 17 singles between September and April 2016, we’re not actually brothers, and the first day we met someone joked that we looked like a two piece band and we just ran with it.

What’s next for you – what can listeners look out for?

Phil: We have plans to release at least one more EP this year, and we’ll be deep into a full length by this time next year. We really like to keep our music production constant as we always have evolving ideas, so if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard so far then we’re only going to build on to it. Watch out for random singles here and there, for the records we’ll be producing for other bands over the coming months.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Morgan: Thank you so much to everyone that has listened to the new record and everyone who has supported us leading to this point, we’ve had such tremendous help from friends and family and want to celebrate with all of you, so come on out to one of the remaining dates on our Strange Machines Summer Tour!

Phil: I’d just like to throw it out there that anyone is welcome to contact us to chat about the music or chat about working on your music. We love to break down our thought process and explain our decisions, so talking to people that have enjoyed our stuff is really cool for us. Don’t forget to throw a like our way on all your socials, and if you come to our shows and reference this article, we’ll let you draw for free merch.

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A huge thank you to Phil & Morgan for their time & insight. Find & follow The Wrong Brothers on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Musician & writer with an MA in Songwriting.