Around this time last year, Brother Oliver released a live session featuring a stripped-down version of their cover of “Mad World” by Tears For Fears. According to Brother Oliver’s Andrew Oliver, “Mad World” is a fan-favorite at their shows. This coming Friday, December 13th, Brother Oliver will officially release the studio version of their “Mad World” cover. We’ve got an early listen for y’all this morning.
“Stephen and I would play this song in our first band (Kindred Fellow) back in 2009. We’ve been playing this song nearly as long as we’ve been playing music,” says Andrew Oliver. “I can’t hardly remember why we chose to play it back then other than the fact that we just really liked the song.”
Like many others (myself included), Andrew says he first heard “Mad World” in the movie Donnie Darko, and he has always felt a personal connection to the song’s opening lyrics. The version included in the cult classic film is actually a cover of the original by Tears For Fears, composed by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews. Andrew remembers seeing Donnie Darko for the first time back in 2009 or so, when he was playing in Kindred Fellow, and he remembers being particularly moved by the ending montage.
“I’ve always had a slightly dark, yet still empathetic way of seeing the world and the ‘Mad World’ song seems to uniquely align with it,” Andrew explains.
“Mad World” is the first new release from Brother Oliver since their full-length album Well, Hell dropped back in August. Andrew says that the record has received a positive response thus far, and he feels a sense of peace having released it.
“Every time we’ve released an album in the past I’ve felt this nagging, burning kind of feeling to start another,” Andrew explains. “I don’t feel that anymore. But I still want to start on the next album (and we inevitably will soon), but it’s just like I don’t feel the pressure. It feels good.”
Well, Hell is the follow-up to their self-titled record from 2017. Brother Oliver itself was a departure from their formerly more subdued sound, and Well, Hell shows even more growth from the band. The growth on Well, Hell has to do with a more calculated sound, and making use of darker tones and themes.
“One influencing factor is how much we were touring and playing live. We were beating ourselves up pretty bad and not fully realizing it to be honest. So there was some frustration coming out I think,” Andrew explains. “We’ve always enjoyed this big, dark, mysterious, psychedelic aesthetic — with spiritual undertones — and so we’ve kind of morphed into that over the years.”
It’s true that Brother Oliver has been touring pretty much constantly over the past few years. Any touring musician knows that living on the road can take a toll on you, and finding a balance is one of the biggest challenges.
“It’s really tough to keep a balance to be honest. There’s times you think you’re gonna lose it. Then you have a really good show and you get a little more juice of morale to keep it going,” Andrew says. “Creatively it takes its toll for sure, just simply because you don’t have that down time to just relax and be creative. But on the other hand, when you get those rare moments it feels even more rich and all the more sweet. So it’s a give and a take.”
Brother Oliver has shows scheduled in the Southeast through the end of 2019. See full tour dates here. Going into 2020, Brother Oliver plans to continue making the content they enjoy. Andrew didn’t want to give too much away, but they plan to take their reality-style video series, BO TV, up a notch in the new year.
Listen to “Mad World” by Brother Oliver below, and catch it on all streaming platforms this coming Friday, December 13th.