Hailing from Asheville, Travers Brothership has a sound all their own that has been strengthened by spending almost half of their lives playing music together. The band has recently embarked on a lengthy tour sailing into new, uncharted territory, storming the east coast and deep south with their own brand of funky, soulful, psychedelic rock and roll. Known for their energetic live sets, they will be ringing in the New Year with a special show at The White Mule in Columbia. Eric Travers and Josh Clark, multi-talented members of the ‘Ship, took some time out of their busy holiday schedule to chat about influences, albums, and what keeps the Brothership afloat.
1. First off, thank you for your time. Growing up with a touring musician as a father, when did you two start playing music and how big of a role did your dad play early on?
– ET: Kyle and I have always been intrigued by our father, “Hurricane” Bob Travers’, performance on stage. Our mother brought us to all of his shows at an early age. And, he would sing to us in the crib. I was 6 when I got my first drum set. We didn’t have a choice. It’s been embedded in our souls. The passion that our dad has for music is why we are still doing it 20 years later.
2. How did growing up amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina shape your sound?
– JC: The mountain sound has influenced our musical endeavors for sure. We’ve always been drawn to music that features a lot of vocal prowess amongst multiple people, and the bluegrass/old timey traditional scene has no shortage of amazing groups of singers. North Carolina as a whole supports such a vast and variable scene that it’s crazy to think about the amount of modern music greats that have come out of NC (I.e. John Coltrane, Nina Simone, George Clinton, Doc Watson etc.). Our home has no shortage of local heroes too, namely Josh Blake, Jeff Knorr, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, The Fritz, and so many others. Getting to grow up as musicians around those people was a total inspirational blessing.
3. Travers Brothership came to fruition in 2012 and y’all have already played over 400 shows. What drives y’all to tour so hard so consistently?
– JC: I’ve always thought that it’s really just the shows that keep us going, that is the experience of performing and watching people go crazy in the audience or sing along. I mean if just one guy is bobbing his head at a completely dead show, that’s enough for me to give it my musical all for the night. We basically all just live inherently musical lives and we’ve really just built our music career around that ability. The traveling is definitely the hardest part, don’t get me wrong. No one likes the part where you’re trying to book it across Kansas but you know it’s gonna take 8 hours anyway so you just settle in to your normal “van zombie” persona and ride it out until the music starts. It’s always worth it for me as soon as I start playing music with my best friends.
4. What sets the latest album, “Let the World Decide”, apart from the rest of your catalog?
– JC: The most recent album is more or less an evolution of our first record. I’d say Let The World Decide is most different in that it’s production is definitely more carefully crafted. We worked really hard to make sure that it sounded like a continuation of our “story” that we have to tell, but in the form of a more rich yet still tasteful installment.
5. Who are two musicians, one past and one present, that you can say heavily influenced you as a musician?
– Past JC:
– For me personally, I’ve always felt that Donny Hathaway has had a real influence on my more recent music endeavors. His voice is so controlled and so yet so dense and warm sounding. My main method of learning how to sing has always been imitation, so once I found out about Donny a few years ago, I had to crack the secrets of his sounds. After driving for hours upon hours in the car back and forth from Black Mountain, NC to Boone, NC between Brothership gigs and school, I had his voice somewhat figured out. Once I get someone’s voice down, I’ll sprinkle little bits of their techniques or tricks into whatever is supposed to be “my sound.” The whole, “what is MY SOUND?” crisis has always plagued me, so in this way, I’ve found a way of cultivating my creative approach that suits me.
– Present JC:
– Contrary to popular belief, it’s a really good time for music right now. With so many amazing groups on the circuit right now, it’s hard to pick out one in particular that influences me, but if I had to pick, I’d have to personally go with a tie between Khruangbin and Vulfpeck. They’ve not only influenced parts of my writing and live tendencies, but also my musical decision making as well. I’ve always felt that these two bands sounded so right, and so perfect, and it hadn’t dawned on me honestly until recently that it sounds like that because of their ability to subtract from the songs they write. They’ll continually ask “how can we make this track more coherent?” or “What can I take away? I’m still working on my ability to pick out things that I could musically do without, be it notes or effects or levels of volume and what have you. It’s imperative to have influences drive you to create things in new and different ways.
6. Y’all are known for your live shows, what should we expect from a Travers Brothership NYE show when y’all roll into The White Mule in Columbia, SC?
– JC: Expect to dance. Expect to have a great time with friends old and new. Definitely expect a blazing Eric Travers/Ian McIsaac drum solo because that’s my favorite part of the show. Expect soul. Expect blues. Expect unique live experience that will most definitely satisfy your ear holes.
7. What can fans expect from Travers Brothership in the near future?
– JC: Fans can expect our next album, our debut LIVE album, very soon. We are currently in the process of recording material at shows in Asheville, NC, New York City, and coming up on February 14th and 15th at the Pour House Music Hall and Record Shop in Raleigh, NC. We will be recording our final material for the album. It’s due for release this summer.
Jacob Boland is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications. After graduation, Jacob and his girlfriend embarked on a cross country trip in their Toyota 4Runner and 13 foot Scamp camper. After 10,000 miles and 21 states they returned to South Carolina where Jacob worked for WCSC in Charleston. Jacob and his girlfriend recently relocated home to Newberry, South Carolina to begin their next big adventure, raising their baby boy Nathaniel Hawk Boland. Jacob works at Hy Hope Farms and enjoys hiking, camping, attending any and every concert he can, and watching his baby boy figure out this wide world we live in.