Though not yet a household name, The Lost Brothers could easily be classed as some of the best songwriters to ever come out of Ireland. We chat with them ahead of a Galway show, scheduled for September
Since 2008, The Lost Brothers have been showering their fans with some truly amazing tunes that sound almost as though the band have created a song-based novel. No song is alike, with each telling a new story. Despite both hailing from Ireland - Oisin Leech from Navan, and Mark McCausland from Omagh - their paths crossed in Liverpool, where they used to perform with their old bands The Basement and The 747s. Mark had been known for playing the lead guitar and Oisin, though also a guitar-player, was known for his singing.
The Lost Brothers were formed when the two realised that they naturally wrote songs together and swapped ideas. They felt an instant connection, which formed the foundation of The Lost Brothers. Upon forming their band, they left for London where they wrote a book of songs that led them to their debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’, released in 2008, and produced in Portland, Oregon, by Mike Coykendall. After the success of their first album, the duo toured the world and released five studio albums to great acclaim. With each album, the duet recruited producers and musicians from different cities that shared their views on music. Some of their most famous collaborations were with Brendan Benson of Raconteurs, Richard Hawley, Glen Hansard, Howe Gelb, and M Ward. The Lost Brothers’ albums received high praise from critics and other musicians alike, with Richard Hawley - an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer - commenting that “The Lost Brothers harmonies are to die for, as near as a duo have got to the mastery of The Everlys and The Louvin Brothers' tender close harmony singing that I've heard anywhere near these shores."
At the beginning of 2020, five albums and many more positive reviews later, the pair released 'After The Fire, After The Rain'. The Lost Brothers been working on their new album for a few years, trying out new sounds and testing them on audiences at their concerts. “We demoed the songs in Crumlin with a guy called Steve Shannon, and wrote them over about 24 months,” said Oisin, as he reflected on the process of creating their new album. This release reflects the performers’ lives - what they see and deal with every day. Oisin is a married man with two small kids living in a magical location where the River Boyne passes Slane and Navan. After being on the road for 12 years, the duo are slowing down a small bit, allowing them to appreciate the beauty of their surrounds, letting it inspire their music. “We’re starting to look at the magic that’s all around us, closer to home. We cherish it and appreciate it a bit more now.” While ‘After the Fire After the Rain’ is clearly based on the songwriters’ love for their homes, the central message is a sense of place and belonging, no matter where you are.
Oisin admits that the pair were inspired by Simon & Garfunkel albums, as well as the blended singing of Paul Brady and Andy Irvine. The two were overjoyed to have been able to record their new album in New York, where they could explore Greenwich Village and use it for further inspiration. The pair recorded the album within 5 days, live in one room of Strange Weather Recording Studio. “We had never done an album like that before. It was almost like catching a performance rather than building something part by part in a studio.” Each song was recorded three times with a producer named Daniel Schlett, who is very well known in The States.
When asked about the recording equipment they used, the pair answered with great enthusiasm. “We used a lot of old, beautiful microphones. The engineer was fantastic at where he would place the mic to get the best sound. I love how he captured the bass, and the harmonica. The mic he used for the harmonica was the mic used on The War on Drugs’ most recent album, ‘Deeper Understanding’.” The instruments and the set-up play a big role in how the music will sound to their audience and that’s why The Lost Brothers pay such close attention to these details, showing their determination to produce the highest quality they possibly can.
Many refer to The Lost Brothers music as Americana, which Oisin finds funny. “I don’t really see our music as Americana, I see it as just songs that we have written in Ireland.” The pair acknowledge how the mistake could have been made, since they recorded a lot of their songs in New York and use the double bass and steel guitar, which could give the Americana impression. However, Oisin claims that their songs like ‘Medicine Wine’ or ‘After The Fire’ are just songs and that “they’re not pigeon-holed with any particular label.”
In relation to writing their music, the pair admit that they do everything together and often collaborate in their efforts. “Sometimes Mark could arrive with a finished song and I might add a few lines, or I might come with half of a song and we’ll work on it. But the best songs are the ones that we wrote completely together.” The fact that they’re not just about one of their experiences, but a merging of their combined lives gives each song a unique sense of unity. This way, the band stays true to their brotherly name.
The Lost Brothers never assume that their next album will be a masterpiece, placing more importance on the meaning behind their songs. “For us, these songs mean a lot! So, we pick the songs that feel right to us, and come from somewhere deep and special. On this album, we focused songwriting more than any of the previous ones.” This gives the pair a more easy-going vibe without making their music all about ratings and hitting the charts. The Lost Brothers place importance on staying true to their music rather than becoming slaves to trends.
The Lost Brothers have accounts on most social media; their Twitter has almost 4,000 followers, Facebook: 8,000 likes, YouTube: with almost 400 subscribers, and Instagram with almost 3,000 followers. Oisin admits that it is easy to “get distracted by social media, reviews, how many clicks or likes you’ve got. Focus on music, focus on the gigs. That’s what matters.”
The day the band released their new album, ‘After the Fire After the Rain’, they were invited onto RTÉ's The Late Late Show, where they spoke briefly about their inspiration for the album and the work that was put in to it. "We loved it. They filmed it really beautifully. We were all celebrating all day, we had a ball".
The Lost Brothers were scheduled to perform in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre this month, but due to the pandemic, the date has been moved to September 5th, 2020. The band previously performed in Galway a few years ago, in Monroes for Galway International Arts Festival, and they are very much looking forward to their return, where they will be performing various songs from their new album as well as older, fan-favourites. "We can’t wait to just get singing again. We’re really excited to get singing the new songs in front of the crowds and see how they go down.
The message that The Lost Brothers are trying to deliver to their fans with ‘After the Fire After the Rain’ is that in order to create something great, “you’ve got to stay true to what feels right to you, never compromise. You’ll never be happy if you make it by compromise.”
If you wish to find out more information on tour dates and venues, visit their website.
There you can also buy tickets as well as order their signed CDs or limited edition vinyl. You can get a ticket for their Galway show HERE.
By Anastasiya Sytnyk
Interview conducted by Ado Lyons