The Brothers Steve – Dose (Q&A)

Shh-boom, shh-bang, new york jimmy-willy, Do bop ba lamma, chapeau banana, and the pure joy of singing together.

DOSE, The Brothers Steve’s second record, will be released on October 15 by Big Stir Records.

Jeff Whalen and Os Tyler talked about that Covid thing, natural progression, telling Beth you just can’t find the sound and the beauty of harmony vocals.

The album has a different ‘vibe’ compared to the debut. It looks like the band dynamics changed a bit. Major shift or natural progression?   

Jeff Whalen:  Yeah, I dunno!  For our first record, #1, we had learned all the songs in a room all together with the idea of playing them live.  When it came time to record the album, we tried to track it as live and as quickly as possible to try to get that vibe of how we sound as a band.  

This time, for Dose, they had that Covid thing going around, so we had to record in a socially distanced manner instead of the emotionally distanced approach we take to most things.  We couldn’t develop the songs live, and we really couldn’t even rehearse in a normal way.  We had to learn our parts and record in shifts, with at most a couple of us there at one time.    

But more than all that, the way we recorded this album left Os and me alone in the studio for a lot of it, and when that happens, things get really overdubby really quick.  

Os Tyler: I like to think of Dose as a natural progression for us. Everything is constantly evolving; everything is always changing, which has to be reflected in any creative process, and Dose is just the sum of everything we put into it. Everything going on in the world and in our lives shaped it. There was no conscious effort to make a major shift. Just letting things evolve naturally! 

The harmony vocals make all the difference. BEAUTIFUL. I like to think you recorded them all in one room, but that probably is not true?   

JW:  Thank you so much!  Doing harmonies is really one of the funnest things about being in this band. Unless someone stops us, Os and I will keep adding vocal parts and harmonies well past the point of it being a good idea.  Then we have to go back and take out just hours of “Shh-boom” s and “shh-bang” s and “new york jimmy-willy” s and all manner of similar whatnots.  

OT: Yeah, super appreciate your appreciation of the harmonies we’re putting out there. Harmonies are magically uplifting. Even if we end up taking them out later, I think the song can still be informed by the “Do bop ba lamma, chapeau banana” that was in there for a little while and then went away. There’s a ghost of a reminiscence driving the song from the back of the theater. 

JW: And yes, but no, we recorded them all in the same room, but they weren’t done all at once.  There was a brief period in the spring/early summer in which Os, Dylan, and I all sang together in the vocal room a few times, but then it went back to masks-back-on, one-at-a-time in the vocal booth. 

OT: Dylan and Jeff, and I have spent a lot of time blending our voices together. It’s like diving into a velvet cotton candy cloud, and that’s true whether we’re singing live or together-but-separate in the vocal booth. 

How did the record come about?   

JW:  It had to be done!  There was no escaping it.  We had a grip of tunes and an overarching concept. Once you have those things, as a band, it’s hard to not record.  From there, it’s just a matter of getting coffee and cookies and pizza and candy and telling Beth that you hear her calling, but you can’t come home right now, cuz you and the boys are playing, and you just can’t find the sound.    

OT: It was a snowball that started as a tiny vibration. Every one of us in the band has a firm conviction that fundamentally, there’s only one thing people are here to do. Make art, make music, create a magic vehicle for love. It’s not easy to do with everything else going on in the world. So when you have a chance, when you sense that tiny vibration, you gotta roll up that snowball and push it along until it’s big enough to ride down the hill. 

Do you still dream about playing those songs for a HUGE audience?   

JW:  Yes.  

There is a Dutch family that lives in a small house in the center of beautiful Utrecht. Yesterday, while cleaning up after dinner, music by The Brothers Steve and Tsar was played in that house, and then the whole family sang or danced to the music. I just want you to know. 

OT: Such a beautiful scene; that’s exactly the dream, joyful hearts hearing and moving to this music is why it exists. 

JW:  That is the greatest thing I’ve heard today.  Thank you for that, Patrick!  

Songs by Jeff Whalen and Os Tyler
Recorded by Os Tyler and Jeff Whalen

The Brother Steve are:
OS: Singing, guitar
Jeff: Singing, guitar
Dylan: Singing, guitar
Jeff: Bass
Coulter: Drums

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