Brother O’ Brother – A 50Thirdand3rd Conversation With Chris and Warner

With a hefty collection of releases, hundreds of shows, and thousands of records sold, Brother O’ Brother could easily be called the hardest working band in show business. But even stripping away sales and ever-growing popularity, Brother O’ Brother are a fantastic band. Most of that could be attributed to the chemistry between Chris Banta and Warner Swopes. Despite being so busy in the music business, Banta and Swopes remain dedicated family men.

With that said, it was nothing short of a miracle the both of them found time to chat with me at 50thirdand3rd!

Right behind the release of their latest Monster Truck EP, we talk about how Brother O’ Brother came to be, what makes them tick, and most importantly, how do they find the time for life!?

Brother O’ Brother has pretty much conquered the indie scene, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever asked how you came about?

Chris Banta: That’s some crazy high praise. We aren’t sure if we have conquered the indie scene but we feel like we have developed a strong following of committed fans which we are extremely thankful for. Our bands love story is like so many, regret, apathy, struggle, & ultimately redemption. (giggles) Total luck that the band ever happened. I had started the project of what would become Brother O’ Brother, but I needed a drummer after the original drummers business had exploded.

I was getting stretching rope cut at Lowes. Warner is a manager there and happened to be cutting it. He looked familiar and I asked if he was in a band. We found out we had played some shows together previously in some previous projects. (Don’t go looking for them). Then the spot asked if he would wanna jam and try it out. That was it! Total luck. This band shouldn’t exist.

I hear garage rock, blues, noise, and even a little bit of soul in BOB music. Who are some of your biggest influences in terms of your sound?

Warner Swopes: I don’t play like him but Ricky Mazzotta from Mewithoutyou. I have always been inspired to try new and unusual rhythms and beats because of the way he plays. The faces he makes also have been an influence on me. I always try to over exaggerate the expressions that naturally happen with playing drums.

Chris: I’m a lover of all things fuzzy and garage. Jeff The Brotherhood, White Stripes, Hanni El Khatib, King Tuff, Ty Segall, and bands like Diarrhea Planet. The soul side is super Revered Gary Davis influenced.

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Do you guys write music together? What’s the process like?

Chris: Normally I’ll write a riff and then we get together and flesh it out into a song with Warner providing the drums. Nothing crazy about it but the process has seemed to work.

What is your favorite BOB song?

Chris: Ugh, whichever one people seem to enjoy the most at that time.
Warner: Loving Howlelujah a lot off of our new Monster Truck EP.

So let’s talk a little about the Monster Truck release. I had the honor to premiere the music video on another publication (BeardedGentlemenMusic.com) this summer. What’s the story behind that music video and how did it come together?

Chris: Man, I just really wanted to call an EP Monster Truck. I thought there were so many great themes that could come from it. I was driving home one night in my hometown and saw someone towing an actual monster truck down the road. I posted on Instagram and people alerted me that the guy actually lives in Franklin Indiana who runs a Monster Truck driving school. The dream then was to figure out how to get him to shoot a music video with us. He said yes, we got equipment donated from some local bands and just made it happen. We are all about making experiences that when our band is done we can say, “hey that happened” and no one can take those memories away. Being chased by a Monster Truck is for sure one of them.

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In the age of streaming and the lack of MTV, how important is the music videos to artists these days?

Chris: I think in the era of sharing we are in they are super important. Music that has visual representation is likely more popular than ever even if a tv network doesn’t really foster it. The internet put MTV out of the music biz!

Between touring, recording, running a label, and everything that goes with it that stuff, how do you guys find time to spend with your families?

Chris: You have to make time. It’s not always easy. Warner still holds a full-time job at Lowes and I run Romanus Records and sells cars. The label has taken a significant jump in the last 6 months and become more of a salary type job. I figure that’s the dream right?

In the same way, it’s a choice to do anything you have to choose to make time, even if that comes at a lack of sleep. See Warner on this especially. Our wives and kids are so great though that how could you not wanna make time?

Speaking of the label, I’ve covered plenty of Romanus Records releases over the past few years. Do you have any particular favorites?

Chris: One of the cool things is so many of these guys and gals are friends. That goes a long way. Musically I think we would both say Suck The Honey is a release that we deeply love. We just feel like its perfect. Working with The Pack AD, and Crushed Out was a pretty great moment for me. On a personal level as well as getting Turbo Fruits Self Titled album out. They helped me with that weird post-college 23 age. Warner loved putting out some Ghost Wolves releases. They are some of our absolute favorite people.

What are you currently listening to now?

Chris: Been listening to a lot of Death From Above 1979, Faces, and Bob Marley actually. Helps to keep me even keel.

Warner: Death From Above

If you had to explain to a stranger why they should check out BOB, what would you say to them?

Chris: We really pride ourselves on our live show. If you want to be entertained regardless of a genre we think we really provide that. If you want to see a rock show that actually has the show part we think we fit the mold.

What’s next for you guys?

Getting ready to do some dates with The Pack AD in September, our wrestling event in October, touring in November, & then we are going to take a 2-month writing break during December and January. We haven’t taken a break for longer than 2.5 weeks in 5 years. We haven’t even practiced more than probably twice in a month in 4 years. We basically only practice to write so we are excited to take a more concentrated look at our songwriting and work towards an album that sounds like a Brother O’ Brother full length but is new and different at the same time!

For more information on Brother O’ Brother and to purchase Romanus Records releases, visit BrotherOBrother.com

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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