Is Brother Twang Whistler's quintessential band? 

Possibly. Here's why.

click to enlarge arts_music1.jpg

Okay, okay, we know, we know.

We should have written this Brother Twang months and months ago. They released their second album This Thing of Ours in March 2011, so that would have been a good time to write it.

Or perhaps we should have written before, or right after, they opened for the Barenaked Ladies at Whistler Olympic Plaza last August, which was easily their biggest gig to date.

Or we could have written it three weeks ago to promote their weekly sets at Tapley's on Friday. This hasn't exactly been the best way to celebrate what is probably Whistler's quintessential rock band, we know, we know, but we're making amends now.

Everybody: meet Brother Twang. They have become, practically through default, Whistler's quintessential rock band. Yes, the Hairfarmers are more popular. Yes Chad Oliver can breed kittens with his singing voice alone. Animal Nation is rebranding West Coast hip hop in an interesting way but Brother Twang write (and perform) all their own songs. They have a fan base that's as transient as Whistler's citizens.

They make the sort of rustic folk rock that one would imagine the trees would play if they had arms and grew up listening to the Eagles.

Of course, they have no real ambition to be the quintessential Whistler band. They just want to, you know, play music and ensure that the next song they write is, you know, better than the last one.

"We want to create better CDs than we recorded, for ourselves," says vocalist/guitarist Jay Romany. "Ideally, I'd like for everyone across the world to hear Brother Twang but it's tough to do when you're by yourself."

The band — including Romany, guitarist George Skoupas, drummer Todd Vague and bassist Derek Stembridge — met while living in Whistler after every one of them had moved from the Greater Toronto Area in the early 2000s. Romany was invited by Stembridge to jam at an open mic night at the Longhorn Saloon, a night he frequented with Skoupas. Romany accepted but he wasn't encouraged by what he saw that night.

"It wasn't a good fit initially, if you ask me," he says. "They were metalheads, and besides grade 10 and 11 when I got my first electric guitar doing some Metallica and Megadeth I didn't really listen to a lot of that style of music."

It took no time at all for him to realize that Skoupas had chops well beyond heavy metal and both he and Stembridge were willing to try out other styles of music. By 2007, they were playing and writing new music together exclusively.

"I'd never played with musicians who were quite as musical or technical as George and Derek. They're accomplished musicians. In saying that, any of the accomplished musicians that I've ever met around here, I didn't get along with them well enough to make or play music with," Romany says.

"Musicians are a weird breed, you know? It's really hard to find a good musician that's a good guy that you can spend seven hours in a car with."

They played their first show on the Merlin's patio. The following night, they played their second show at the Pemberton Music Festival in the bar tent. They taped that set and Romany says they played well enough that they decided to carry on a band, but it's still "pretty painful" watching their second-ever performance.

"The songs were so new. They were worked out, it's not like we flubbed them but they were just so new that the tempos and all the dynamics of the song really hadn't come together yet, so us watching that is pretty painful," he says.

"But we knew exactly what we wanted by what we were writing. We knew how we wanted to bring it across in a live performance and it definitely wasn't demonstrated at the Pemberton Festival."

But they had their chance — and pulled it off by all accounts, including Romany's — when opening for the Barenaked Ladies last August.

"That was awesome. We got a lot of good feedback and it was obviously the biggest crowd that we'd played for," he says.

It was a coming out party of sorts for Brother Twang. They reached out to a large swath of Whistler locals who had never seen them play before.

It allowed them to show off a bit, to stand up in front of their home town and show everyone that, yes, they exist and they'll continue to do so even if people pay no attention.

"We'll just keeping doing it," he says. "George and I always talk about Brother Twang never going away, even if we don't really get anywhere. I think we're doing dynamite even though we're not on local radio."


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Latest in Music

More by Stephen Smysnuik

© 1994-2016 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation