Brothers Gow is a band that knocked our socks off the first time we had seen them, so we were ecstatic to get the chance to see them again so recently. The Ocean Beach, San Diego based jam band is filled with pure energy, and it reflects in their showmanship. After one of the busiest years in Brothers Gow history, two of the original members of the band split which left them in an interesting position. Shortly thereafter, keyboardist Alex Mello joined the band and now we’re experiencing them hitting a whole new peak in their career. We got a chance to catch up with Alex after they opened for Fruition at The Music Box in San Diego last night to talk about his experience playing with Brothers Gow, how his sound is blending with the band, and the roles each member is shifting into.
Sound-Fix: I’m sitting with Alex [Mello] backstage at the Music Box, and we were just talking about how my first time seeing Brothers Gow was just this past February at Winston’s in Ocean Beach. I actually didn’t know that was your first show playing with Brothers Gow too. It really seemed like you guys had been playing together for years, which is why I was so blown away to find out that the band had done some reconstruction and brought you aboard. How did you guys get in touch and make it all happen?
Alex Mello: Well I had a mutual friend, he turned me onto Brothers Gow. I had known about Brothers Gow for a little bit just through the jam scene and social media and I always thought “oh wow this band looks cool – they got the lights, they got the jams” and I watched a couple videos. Then that same friend who turned me onto Brothers Gow just in passing conversation mentioned that two of their members left, a bassist and a keyboard player, and they were still going to try to go on a tour as a three-piece. I was looking for work and looking for a new band to play that kind of music with and all the planets kind of aligned. I actually cold-called direct messaged on Instagram and just told them who I was and a little bit of what I’m about and sent some links of me playing. Later that day they got back to me, and by the next day we were on the phone for 3-hours kind of doing a phone interview. We agreed to meet up at the NAMM Convention, it’s a big convention for all the music gear and instruments. We met up there in Anaheim, California and I met them for the first time, and from there they gave me the green light and were like “Ok, 3-and-a-half weeks until Winston’s, try to learn as many songs as you can.” So I just went back home, set up all my stuff in the room and just started doing my homework. I learned about 23-24-25 different songs, and brought it all together.
SF: So you really hadn’t even played with the band by the time you were inducted?
AM: No, they took a big risk bringing me on and I made sure that I proved myself. I tried to be as professional as possible, and I really took those 3-and-a-half weeks and went hard learning songs and just honing my craft. Actually, I drove down for our first rehearsal and by our first rehearsal we were ready to play through ten to a dozen songs without much stopping and they were like “woah, this guy did his homework this is going to work.” I could see the light in their eyes that the band was going to go on. So we had about 2 more practices, there was only 3 practices before that Winston’s show. We went up there with 2 sets and 15 different songs, and did the best we could.
SF: It was an awesome show. You guys brought a lot of energy and killed it, as you did tonight.
AM: Yeah, it felt really good. We listened back and we were really happy with what we heard. We listen back to a lot of our shows kind of like sports teams watch their games, you know? So a week later we left for tour, we played about 15 shows straight, and by the end of it we were just so locked in. It was like I’d been in the band for 10 years even though I’ve only been in it for 2 months now. And now we’re ready to go back out and do it again.
SF: Like I said, it feels like you’ve been doing it for a while now and that’s why I was so blown away the first time I saw Brothers Gow. So I know that you obviously weren’t there before, but can you tell me how the reshaping has changed the dynamic of the band?
AM: So before they were a five-piece with two guitars, keyboards, bass, and drums. Ethan [Wade], who is our bass player now, he used to play rhythm guitar. So it’s changed in the way that a lot of these songs that we’re playing have had to be rearranged for four people. There was a lot of guitar harmonies and double guitar stuff going on that now I have to make up for it with my keys. It’s a little bit harder because there’s one less instrument, and Ethan [Wade] has really been adjusting becoming a bass player now. He’s really had to switch his brain completely off of guitar and onto the bass and he’s doing great. I’m trying to make up for the keys and the second guitar, being a good rhythm player, taking solos, trading off lines with Kyle [Merrill], playing back and forth and having that relationship and so I think the band has just grown to a new sound that’s a little more mature, a little riskier, a little more surprising. A lot more surprises for sure.
SF: I’ve seen a couple clips from before the reconstruction, and I think that you as an addition bring a certain sound that was missing prior. Can you explain what it is that you use to achieve that sound?
AM: Yeah, a lot of my keyboards are vintage. I have a Fender Rhodes electric piano that’s from 1977 and nothing sounds like it. The only thing that’s going to make that sound is that. On top of that I have a Moog synthesizer that’s also from the 1970’s, so there’s this really vintage sound I bring to the table. I also use a Hammond organ which is very popular is rock and gospel. The way I use those vintage instruments makes it a little more soulful than the old Gow. So it brings this 70’s vintage kind of feel to my keyboard playing that meshes well with what the other guys are doing. That’s how I describe my sound, it’s a very old school sound.
SF: Cool, I like that. With Brothers Gow moving forward, should we expect to see you guys in the area more? Do you have a new album coming out or maybe some new music?
AM: We had such a good first leg of tour, we’re going to leave for 3 more weeks next week, and we’re recording almost every night of tour. There could be a compilation like “Best of Summer Tour” live album coming out. We definitely want to get some of the live recordings out. There’s also talks now that I’m new, let’s write some new music. We already have 3 or 4 new songs since the other members left so there could be in our down time maybe trying to get into a studio and doing some studio stuff. I know that we’re planning for another San Diego show at some time in the middle of summer so not too long. Rumor is that a new venue is opening up in the Ocean Beach area that we might play at, I don’t want to give too much away but keep your ears and eyes open for that. San Diego is awesome, coming from LA I love being down here and I see why they live here – the live music fans are great.
SF: Thank you Alex, I appreciate your time. Looking forward to the next Gow show.
If Brothers Gow is coming to a theatre near you, we recommend you get out the house and head down to the show. It’s really exciting to the see progress Brothers Gow is making, and we expect to have more exciting news from these guys soon enough. Stay tuned, as Gow is constantly releasing new tours and show dates. To hear more news, and shop for merchandise from Brothers Gow, visit their website by clicking here or you can find them on Facebook by clicking here. Additionally, a good place to listen to their live music is on their YouTube channel which you can find by clicking here. Included below are a couple videos featuring the current Brothers Gow lineup.
Brothers Gow – “1781” Live @ Bridge Family Studios
Brothers Gow – “Close to Me” – Arcata, CA – Humbrews – 3/10/18
Brothers Gow – “2001 Shakedown St” – Arcata, CA – Humbrews 3/10/18