Brothers Gow returns to Flag
By Laura Thompson
The lights and sounds were alive in the performances of northern Arizona’s beloved bands — The Oak Creek Band and Brothers Gow — Nov. 3 at The Orpheum Theater.
The show opened with The Oak Creek Band, a group from Sedona whose singers are husband and wife. Their whimsical sound moved people out of their seats and onto the floor. The music has an old charm and a timeless allure. The Oak Creek Band writes beautiful songs with telling lyrics. Their music is a window into their lives and their beauty and love exudes from the stage. As the singers look into each other’s eyes, a spark of hope glows. Their soulful performance feels personal, as if they are singing for this specific audience, to each person there. The music’s bluesy sound with a touch of twang is the right mix for those who are not fond of country music, but love folksy tunes. When the band covered Led Zeppelin’s What is and What Should Never Be, the crowd went crazy. This song showed off the true vocal power of the lead singer, Jenna Watters. Hearing this song in the middle of their soft and flowing set was a blast to the face — in a good way. After more original songs with their signature sound, the band closed with “Oh Darling” by the Beatles. By then everyone was at the stage singing and dancing along as one. The Oak Creek Band’s soothing sounds complemented the music of Brothers Gow.
The lights went wild and the fans gathered at the front of the stage. The Brothers Gow were in their element and ready to rock Flagstaff with a new found confidence and cohesive sound. The Brothers Gow are originally from Flagstaff and have six members; Ethan Wade on rhythm guitar and vocals, Kyle Merrill on guitar and vocals, Alex Bastine plays keyboard and vocals, Carson Church on bass guitar and vocals, Nathan Walsh-Haines hits the drums and Matt Collier is the mastermind behind the lights and sound. Since moving to California for more opportunities, the band has found a comfortable spot from the East Bay to San Diego. The move to Sand Diego was an unprompted decision by the band brought on by a show they played in Ocean Beach. Following that show, they decided to move and never looked back. They also picked up a new drummer in the venture to San Diego. Nathan Walsh-Haines is the former drummer of fellow Flagstaff band, Low Cash. When Walsh-Haines decided to depart from Low Cash, the Brothers picked him up right away. The new drummer helps pull the sound and the band together.
After hearing from The Oak Creek Band, the audience was ready to hit it hard. The Brothers Gow greeted their fans with an old favorite, “Headlock.” The sound was familiar, yet seemed tighter and more fused. They are not touring on an album, just working on their sound, and have succeeded. They really have created a genre that is their own. Their dirty groove-rock is the keg party after the wine bar that is The Oak Creek Band. Brothers Gow sounds like a mix of rock with a little bit of blues and reggae. With their insane light show factored in, they sound like Pink Floyd meets Sublime meets Led Zeppelin; guaranteed entertainment for everyone. They always get the crowd dancing, and the Orpheum was alive with movement. One of the highlights of the show was a crowd favorite: a cover of “Regulators” by Warren G and Nate Dogg. It is probably one of the best rap-turned-rock covers you will hear. A Brothers Gow show is like being at a party with your best friends; no one cares how you dance, no judgment, just good times.
Lumberjack reporter, Laura Thompson, sat down with Brothers Gow at one of their old favorite Flagstaff spots, Mia’s Lounge. The Brothers spoke about the changes to their location, music and their new drummer. Brothers Gow is a band from Flagstaff who has relocated to San Diego. They are a six piece group made up of Kyle Merrill, Ethan Wade, Carson Church, Alex Bastine, Nathan Walsh-Haines and Matt Collier.
The Lumberjack: What made you decide to move from San Francisco to San Diego?
Alex Bastine, keyboards and vocals: We were in the East Bay and it was not cutting it at all. It was just too big.
Carson Church, bass and vocals: We booked show in Ocean Beach and we just thought on the drive in ‘Why don’t we move here?’ One month later, we moved.
Ethan Wade, rhythm guitar and vocals: The people were nice, the show went really well.
Kyle Merrill, guitar and vocals: It was really spontaneous the way it happened. Before we even played, we were driving in and we rolled down the windows and we just said ‘LETS MOVE HERE!’
LJ: What is your connection with The Oak Creek Band? Have you played with them before?
CC: We actually played with them at Mia’s Lounge in 2010.
EW: They’re a great band, and they’re really talented so I’m stoked to play with them.
Matt Collier, lights and sound: They have a good local draw . . . it’s a good mix because they bring a lot of people that may have never heard Brothers Gow before, and vice versa.
LJ: On your website, it says that you will continue to tour relentlessly to mold your sound and identity. Is this tour based on a new album that does so?
EW: It’s a new chapter for us. We’re striving for success harder now than we ever have . . . for the first time in five years this is 100 percent what we do and it’s a liberating feeling.
MC: You can practice a lot, but when you play live shows is when you excel the most you just have to go out there and put it all on the line.
AB: When we first moved out there we were all trying to get jobs and we didn’t have any luck and we always talked about trying to live off the band with touring.
KM: You know, to quote Jack Black, ‘We must pay the rent with our rock.’
LJ: Has your sound changed since your Flagstaff days?
EW: I think its matured definitely. We’ve all learned to play together a lot better. I think that now, more than ever, we’re able to go in any direction we want to without hesitation . . . we were kind of spanning ourselves across a lot of different genres and now that we have our unified sound, it sounds like us.
CC: Its becoming a lot more professional, we finally have a sound that’s our own unified genre.
MC: The lyrical content is a lot more mature, a lot more thoughtful, in-depth vocals.
AB: We’ve definitely cleaned up our older songs and made them flow better.
KM: But people will still hear all their favorites.
LJ: What are you looking forward to for your performance?
Nathan Walsh-Haines, drums: It’s hometown for all of us, it’s a liberating thing for all of us to come back here confidently and play for family, friends and fans all in a huge room. Also, we know the venue really well so that’s a comforting feeling.
CC: It’s also nice to play for Northern Arizona University (NAU.) We’ve been playing the bars up here which is awesome, but we’re not reaching the people in college who aren’t 21.
LJ: When will you be returning to Flag again?
CC: We are playing at the Green Room, it’s on Dec. 20 and it’s called End of the World Mayhem, unfortunately its a 21 and over show but it should be fun — if the world doesn’t end.
LJ: What are your plans for the future? Any new albums with this relentless touring?
KM: The new album should be out around early 2013.
EW: It’s one of those things we don’t want to rush. It’ll be our first full length album and especially with Nate on the drums — it’s something we all want to take really seriously.
AB: We don’t want to release anything unfinished. We want to be proud of what we put out.
LJ: Where will this touring take you? Will you venture away from the west coast?
CC: We have a possible east coast tour and we’re trying to connect with the right bands. We want to make it work and go big. There’s even rumors about a Europe tour — it’s more of a possibility than it ever has been.
LJ: What is the story with your new drummer?
NW: I had moved to San Diego with Low Cash and we just went our separate ways. I went to the Brothers Gow show in San Diego and at the set break Ethan said they were moving there and three weeks later I got a phone call.