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Brother Oliver Releases Self-Titled Album: Interview

Brother Oliver started as a collaboration between two brothers, Andrew and Stephen Oliver from Greenville, Michigan. In 2011, Andrew Oliver moved to South Carolina for college, leaving his brother behind to finish high school and subsequently go to college. Over the course of the few years before Stephen decided to join Andrew in South Carolina, he traveled back and forth a number of times both to record and play shows around the Greenville, SC area. Their recordings and performances helped Brother Oliver to attract a decent amount of fans, and when Stephen moved to SC in 2016 they picked up Devin Taylor on drums and got to work on their self titled album that was released on August 25th.

This self titled album is the third to come from Brother Oliver, the first being Stubborn Fool, and then Kudzu not long after that. Andrew wasn’t exactly happy with the way Kudzu turned out because he felt that it was too much of a departure from their original folk sound, and with Brother Oliver, they get back to their folk roots but add a tinge of psychedelic rock. The result is an album that is significantly more upbeat than their previous releases, with some newfound and fully welcome gusto. The added element of rock ‘n’ roll makes Brother Oliver’s self-titled record a more fun listen than anything they’ve done in the past, and I think that sentiment will be felt across the board.

We linked up with Andrew Oliver and talked about Brother Oliver and the tour surrounding it, amongst other things. You can catch Brother Oliver live at The Royal American this Sunday, September 3rd with Grace Joyner, Contour, and Fortune Teller. I’ve got a stream of the new album below. Fire it up then scroll down to read the interview.

You just released your new self-titled album. How does it feel to have it out there?

We put a ton of time into this record, so it’s definitely a sigh of relief to finally have it out there and in people’s ears. Our sound progressed pretty far in a new direction for this album, so figuring out the best way to approach it in the studio took a bit of trial and error and experimentation. In the end we walked away with something transparent, something that feels authentic to us. It’s very satisfying.

The new album has much more of a rock n roll sound than your previous records. What inspired this evolution in sound?

This was one of those records that was born on the live stage first, and then found its way into the studio. Our live sound was getting edgier and edgier, more and more upbeat, and it felt like our audience was connecting with it. So we knew going into production that we had to bring that energy into the studio with us.

What was the thought process behind re-recording “What Will Be Will Be” from Stubborn Fool for the new record?

“What Will Be Will Be” is a track that has evolved itself over time. I actually went to a Primus concert a year or so back and it was the first time I had ever seen or listened to their music and I left really inspired by the almost tribal style of rhythmic bass lines they build their songs on. I ended up writing a new arrangement of “What Will Be Will Be” shortly thereafter with a guitar line that was rhythmically heavy on the low end strings and at a much faster tempo. People were really digging it when we played it out so it ended up sticking.

Our new self-titled record is also somewhat of a re-introduction to who we are, so re-making a few of the classics from our older record made sense to us.

I dig the choice to use Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” as the album cover. Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with that idea?

The painting is three-fold, chronological depiction of man’ creation, life on earth, and then demise. Aesthetically, it was a perfect fit for the sound of the new record. But on a deeper level it made sense too. The message of our music is largely about a search for righteousness and meaning, the vanity of life, and the battle against the flesh. All of those elements are at play in Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.

So you’re stopping through Charleston September 3rd to play at The Royal American. Is this your first time playing at Royal? Are you pumped?

This will be our first time! We are very stoked to make it out to Charleston with such a fine lineup. We’ve heard a lot of great things about the venue itself, and the city seems to have so much going on in the music scene. It will be a great final stop of this Southeast run.

In addition to the Charleston show, you’ve also got a show coming up in your hometown of Greenville with some Charleston homies by the name of SUSTO. How did y’all link up with SUSTO?

We’ve seen SUSTO here in Greenville a handful of times and really dig their tunes. The show is going to be on Sept 22 at The Radio Room, which is like a home venue for us—so I have a feeling it’s going to be a night to remember for everyone involved, including our friends the acid boys.

And now for the ‘burning’ question. What kind of cigarettes do you smoke? How has that changed over the years?

“Coffee and a Cigarette” has been our top streaming song for a good while, so I guess there’s no hiding these bad habits. I like to smoke clean tobacco, so I actually roll my own cigarettes by hand. I usually pick up pouches of Bugler tobacco. It’s cost-efficient and most people are taken back by the aesthetic of it, which I can’t deny that I enjoy taking people off-guard sometimes. I will say though, my La Croix addiction is far worse.