Country music’s newest band of brothers, The Brethren is set to release their debut EP Staring At Stars on Friday April 1st. The Brethren is a four-piece country-rock band made up of two sets of brothers hailing from Bend, Oregon who will enthrall listeners with their four-part harmonies and classic-country storytelling.
Four sons of preachers that are romantic storytellers and multi-faceted musicians that all have decorated careers of their own. Comprising of the Chaplin brothers; Lonnie (Grammy and Dove award-winning bassist and Gospel Music Hall Of Fame alum as a member of Petra, and later becoming a founding member of the Grammy-nominated band Tait with his brother) and Chad (Grammy-nominated drummer, Dove award winner, and twelve-time BMI Music award winner) along with the Parnell brothers; Corey (the groups lead vocalist and country songwriter who has shared stages with artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Trace Adkins, and Lindsay Ell) and Casey (who has recorded, written, and produced for Shannon Bex of MTV’s supergroup Danity Kane and Thunderstorm Artis of NBC’s The Voice) the quartet have now all found their way to Nashville to collaboratively embark on their country music adventure as The Brethren.
Their debut EP which we are huge fans of, is on the way this week and Jamie found something well and truly on brand when he hung out with Casey and Lonnie over Zoom to talk about beer along with learning more about the forthcoming release. We talked about the wonderful world of Jumanji that we have all been playing for the last two years, where that battle had personally been won amongst ourselves but actually played a part in the formation of this new project for the two pairs of brothers. “In a way for us, our story in this band kind of starts with the pandemic. We’ve all been in other bands, touring bands and different aspects of it but if it wasn’t for the pandemic making us go inside, we wouldn’t have gone to our garage band roots and just playing music for the love of music which is what we did in Nashville. The pandemic was hard obviously but we found a silver lining from it.” (C)
There is the Nashville connection through work and the fact that they are two sets of brothers that are from the same town but when and where, exactly did the whole project fall into place? “I actually moved to Nashville right before the pandemic to be a songwriter and to explore that space from Bend. Our hometown is this little hundred-thousand-person mountain town, but Chad and Lonnie had moved to Nashville a long time ago (about twenty-five years ago according to Lonnie) and had successful careers, then Lonnie moved back so we’re a kind of tale of two cities in a way. Chad our drummer lives there permanently, and I moved back to Oregon when the pandemic started but when I was in Nashville, that’s when Chad and I started having conversations about doing this two sets of brother’s band thing. I was like I have a brother who is an amazing frontman and musician, you guys as brothers are an incredible rhythm section and we are all just kindred hearts. We have chemistry, we have a blast together and we keep saying the tagline of it’s all in the family because when we are with each other we ALL feel like brothers. We literally got together in Diamond Sound Studios with just drums, bass and two guitars who had never played together as a four-piece and from note one, it was magic!” (C)
Instagram is a magical and wonderful thing. If you look at the band’s early posts, there is this whole mysterious and trendy vibe with black and white photos. More recently you appreciate why they are launching their debut EP with their own beer (more on that later) but it tells the story of their upcoming EP launch show being their first gig playing together, which can’t actually be true, right? “Well. A funny story here. We were all in Mexico for Casey’s birthday and we wanted to go and hear a live band play at a place called Cabo Wabo, which is Sammy Hagar from Van Halen’s place, so we go. A short story, boring but the band that was there heard that there was a Grammy Award winner and his band there, so they called us up on stage and the four of us played a song at Cabo Wabo. What we want to say and will say, is that our first “show” was at Cabo Wabo in Mexico but our first “show show” that we will play together will be on April 2nd for the album release party in central Oregon and the following week, we will be in Nashville for a couple of different shows for the release down there and it will be insane.” (L) You always ponder with guys that have been there, done that and worn the t-shirts, how strange or hard or fresh it feels to build from the ground up once more. “For me, it feels pretty surreal actually. Anytime that I get to start a new project, the entrepreneurial side of me gets excited about that.” (C) “It is a lot of work to have to do it again, it’s a crazy amount of work but I know for me. Chad and myself have done it at a certain level before and I know there is nothing that would bring me more happiness to see this go crazy for Corey and Casey because I have seen how hard they have worked since they were little boys. Chad and I worked our tails off on our craft as boys, playing bass and drums together then dreaming of being on a massive stage to a crazy amount of people and it happened for Chad and myself. I want that so bad for Corey and Casey because I know how hard they worked, how talented they are and there is nobody else on this planet more deserving of that than the Parnell brothers. That is what fuels me more than anything, other than playing with my brother Chad at this level which is the best thing that has ever happened to us, two brothers that really love each other and never really fought growing up but to have that happen for Corey and Casey, there could bring me no more joy than that so all the energy and work that has to go into it right now is going to pay off!” (L)
As a pure music fan, listening to their sound, I like it a lot. It has that rock influence but is neither heavily “southern” nor is it pop-centred and sounding commercial. Their musical background and upbringing is varied and from a different part of America to what we may be accustomed to when picturing “country”. “It’s cool you talked about almost reinventing yourself after all this time. I think creativity is an untapped resource that never stops being out there, so for us to have that and create together is really special. Maren Morris has a song on her new record called “Circles Around This Town” about searching for something meaningful to say and to me, we’re only tapping the surface of that and what we want to say. There’s a song that’s tucked away at the end of our project called “Rocket Ships” which is a song we wrote about our grandparents that have since passed away but it’s a sixty-year love story which is unique in this world today. It’s kind of one of those songs which is a coming-of-age song and to me the lyric is just meaningful, when we first showed it to Chad, he wept then we showed it to our manager who was crying in his car listening to it. We want to bring a show that is absolutely rock and roll making people feel alive and have a blast, then we’re going to have moments where we take them up and hopefully make them cry happy tears.” (C) “If we can make someone feel something in the music that we write and, in our shows, when they come and see us then we’ve done our job. You have to feel something, feel that excitement about life again and the hope of possibly seeing a loved one once again after they have passed away. That’s what we all believe and our faith, our love for each other and our love for people is one of those things that makes this group feel so great. To answer your other question, we are from the northwest, we are from the birthplace of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and all those guys that made the nineties and changed the course of rock and roll so I don’t think you can take that out of a northwest based band in the same way that you can’t take the country dude out of someone from Texas. Our roots though are in gospel and in country music from Garth Brooks to Elvis, but I think that northwest, grunge is still in us because that is where we were born, and I think you’ll feel a little bit of that which is unique in the country writing of what we do.” (L)
Looking specifically at the impending debut release, which is coming this week, I asked about when and how the process actually started along with when they knew it was really showing potential. “We started in March 2020, the world was starting to fall apart and the other bands that we were playing in at the time had lost about seventy shows for that year. The story of two sets of brothers from a small town in Oregon was intriguing to people as we started talking about it, so it was we just had to head to Nashville. We started writing as The Brethren in those two days of hanging out and drinking whiskey where we got five bangers off the top, then a couple of months later we went to do it again. We flew back to Nashville and went back to that same studio and wrote another six bangers! That was when we knew that we were really onto something special, then after that we started going in to record and track those eleven songs which we did and started shopping it. It went a hundred miles an hour, people started knocking down the door because one the story was so intriguing, then the photos we started taking with the videos we started creating and of course the music was selling it where the whole package was a win-win.” (L) “With the writing process, being in Nashville and being in co-writes at BMI or wherever you write in Nashville, sometimes you get with strangers and sit around, staring at them, you know with what do you want to write about today? There is something to say about chemistry and camaraderie, there is just an ease, like spraying WD-40 on the door where there is an ease to the mechanism which was what we all felt. It made us feel alive, when you are doing what you feel like you are born to do and it’s going well, it just makes you feel that spark inside again!” (C)
Lonnie and his brother Chad have had hugely successful careers outside of the stereotypical Nashville spectrum, so you naturally delve into the area of what was the appeal to moving towards creating a “country record” for the first time with this new project. “It created itself! The rad thing about the four of us getting together was that we had no idea what it would sound like. We just loved the story and loved each other so when we got in the studio for the first time, from the first note it just kind of came out that way. We didn’t set out to be a country band or a grunge rock band, we just wanted to play and play for what was in our heart, our spirit together and not just as individuals. As individuals, I think it would have come out completely different if there was just one guy just pointing the way if you will. It was the four of us and the dominos just fell a certain way and what you hear wasn’t us forcing anything, it was just us playing for the love of music and the fact that the four of us together got to play with each other, we were so happy about that! We didn’t know what was going to come out and this was what organically fell out of us as artists and as a group, it was beautiful.” (L) The EP is about to drop this week, which really is something that people will gravitate towards. The sound and vibe just works, so we are really glad to be on board from the get-go because this is a project that is so enticing which is destined for so much. Whilst the radio element is not quite the same over here, for the main introduction back across the pond, we talked about where things would be driven to really look to get the project going as the radio single. “Staring at Stars is the one being the single and what we’re pushing to radio, it was a co-with Brian White who has had a lot of success in Nashville with people like Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and people like that. That song is cool, I think it says a lot about us, we have a dream of someday having a beach property in Mexico with a studio and multiple cabanas, which you’re invited to come and hang with us when that happens, but that song is the picture of when you are on a beach somewhere with your girl, away from where you are from. It’s the night you worked for, your whole life with someone that you love. You work hard, you get to drink some beer on the beach with someone and hold her tight as you stare at the skyline. It’s just a picturesque night and that is what that song describes as a pretty simple love song.” (C)
The last thing we addressed was how, whenever people launch a project or an EP or whatever it maybe, there is normally some sort of commemorative merch BUT these guys really hit a home run and found something to share that really spoke to me. Their EP launch in Bend, Oregon is happening on Saturday night (April 2nd) at Silver Moon Brewing where they will not only be sharing the record for the first time but have the perfect tipple to accompany it as they have worked with the brewery to create their own beer! “What was awesome was being able to create with their head brewers who are just geniuses and they came to us about this idea, of course we are all big beer fans, we love whiskey and all that kind of stuff too. We were also looking at their menu too at Silver Moon Brewing and one thing that they didn’t have, which we all love is like a little bit darker Mexican style lager, if you will. The beer that we are creating right now is more like that and a lot more hoppy on top of it, so if you still want to throw a lime in it through the summer and is super easy to drink but has the hops and the notes being very woodsy and caramelly flavours on top of that to balance it out into a really unique, darker brew called The Brethren.” (L) “We need to send you guys some because it’s gonna be good! Where we live in the Pacific northwest is a BEER MECCA, you can’t do a bad job in terms of craft, microbrew or IPA’s. Some of the biggest brands in the world are up here, so it’s awesome. (C)
STARING AT STARS Track Listing:
I Ain’t Got You
Loving In The Moment
Staring At Stars
The debut EP Staring At Stars from The Brethren will be released on Friday April 1st and is available for pre-save HERE. You can find more information about this exciting new quartet on their WEBSITE and follow them socially on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks