COMPRISED OF TWO SETS OF ROCKER SIBLINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, THE BROTHERS UNION STRIP DOWN A HEARTFELT ACOUSTIC DETOUR ON THEIR LATEST EP ‘SILHOUETTES’
Back in 2001, building off the success of Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg exec produced a WWII miniseries for HBO called Band of Brothers. The term is usually a metaphor for common purpose and camaraderie, and since launching in the summer of 2016, Asbury Park, NJ alt rockers The Brothers Union has had plenty of that as they’ve grown a passionate fan base at local hangs like the Asbury Park Brewery, The Saint and Asbury Lanes and shows in Philly and NYC.
Yet in their groundbreaking case, the brother vibe is also literal, with a lineup featuring two sets of siblings – Mike (guitar/vocals) and Sean (bass/vocals) O’Reilly and Alec (drums) and Jon (guitar) Wagstaff – who have who have known each other and been friends on and off since grade school.
In 2018, The Brothers Union released their first two Eps Little Blue Room and Paper Hearts, which established their core vibe as soulful songwriters with powerful emotive vocals grounded in a dynamic infused with electric guitars.
Instead of taking the conventional route by building on that momentum with tracks in the same vein, the group takes a fascinating acoustic detour on their latest two song EP, Silhouettes. The EP is a preview of the band’s upcoming CD, scheduled for release in late summer.
“With its simple guitar line and Mike’s stunning raw lead vocal, “Bluebird” is a powerful expression of what he calls the “bare bones” of our songwriting process. “Quite honestly,” he says, “it’s a basic love song about my girlfriend, and she loves it. She has blue eyes and I often call her my bluebird. Now that we live together, we share easy, sunny Sunday mornings together, just relaxing and enjoying breakfast. The riff just came to me naturally one day and I went into the other room to finish it. I showed it to my brother Sean and he said he had an acoustic song as well. We thought it would be cool to show people we were not just an alternative band all the time.”
Sean’s song is a spirited vocal harmony driven tune that paints an abstract portrait of a man teetering on whether he can have faith in anything good when the worst in life is happening – but he ultimately declares that he can hold on “even when the sun comes falling down.” It was Mike’s idea to frame the two track EP with the romantic concept of Silhouettes, using a cherished silhouetted photo of his grandparents on the cover.
The Brother’s Union’s chemistry manifests in what Mike calls a “judgment free zone” when they get together to write, record and perform. Those bonds trace their roots to around age eight when Sean and Alec played on the same youth baseball and basketball teams. Mike met Jon hanging out on the sidelines, and the guys all hung out together at team parties. Jon, the last member to join the band and officially make The Brothers Union a team of two brothers, always had his guitar with him in those days.
“There is always a tough love dynamic present in each pair of siblings,” Mike says, “but if we were in a band with four random guys, as I have been in the past, there would be no way to get around the disagreements and hostility that is bound to arise. It’s easier when you’re dealing with your brother and lifelong friends. As we keep growing as songwriters and artists, you might hear more maturity in the lyrics and the mood of these next batch of songs. We’ve been through some tough times as individuals and really want to show the depth of where this band can go someday.”
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