Analogue Music | The Brother Brothers

The Brother Brothers

By Matt Conner

Adam and David Moss are closer to their vision than ever before.

Just because the Moss brothers are siblings doesn't mean the collaboration comes easy. It's taken years of experience and negotiation in order to establish healthy parameters within which true artistic collaboration could happen for The Brother Brothers—where criticism could be received and ideas shared.

Both Adam and David Moss agree that their newest album, The January Album, is the truest offering in their catalog, the closest to a set of songs from a shared identity rather than the compositions of two individuals trying to come together. These are songs that belong to both and neither, the stunning results of a collaborative imagination growing into something greater than the sum of its parts.

We recently sat down with the Brother Brothers to hear more about the lessons learned in a band together, their musical childhood, and the ways they've grown since the release of Calla Lily.

Analogue: You both had your own musical outlets before coming together here, but I want to start even farther back. Was your family encouraging in the arts from the beginning?

Both: Definitely!

David: We had a theater mom. She wasn’t pushy or anything, but she definitely encouraged us to sing and play music and be artful. I think we excelled at it at a young age, too, so it was easy to push us and get us to go in that direction because we wanted to anyway.

Analogue: Was it ever competitive or always collaborative?

Adam: I wouldn’t say it was ever competitive, but I wouldn’t say it was collaborative either. I think we were existing in our own ways. We sang together a lot as children, so that was collaborative.

David: We weren’t eight-years-old thinking, ‘This is a great career path.’ It was just fun and that’s how we spent our time playing and learning and that sort of thing.

Analogue: Did you both start to pursue music at the same time as a real enterprise or outlet or was one of you on the front end of that?

Adam: In the normal course of life, you’re in high school figuring out what you want to do and where you want to go. When you know, you go to college for that thing. At the end, we knew we wanted to study music in college, so the natural progression of that was to join an orchestra or start a band or whatever.

So as we started to think about that more, and as life was happening to us more, I feel like we both came to the conclusion that we would like to be musicians. Of course, we didn’t really know what that entailed. You have to live it to understand it. But that’s how it happened—very naturally and every choice led to more choices which led us here to today.

Analogue: When you look back, were you ever surprised that you didn’t start together sooner or was that very important to have individual paths to this?

Adam: It might have been nice to have started together sooner or at a younger age. It took a lot of personal development and personality development to be able to exist next to each other and to make the music that we wanted to make. So I think if we’d done this earlier in our lives, it would have crashed and burned very quickly or it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground in the first place. So I think the timing was right for us.

David: Yeah, it felt like we needed to grow as people so we could bring ourselves to a situation where people would identify us as twins, which happens a lot. People always want to talk about us and yet we’re very much individuals, you know?

"I also feel like we’ve stepped more into our identity of The Brother Brothers rather than David and Adam playing together." -Adam Moss

Analogue: Is that frustratingly so?

David: It depends on the questions that are asked. Sometimes when it’s low-hanging fruit... When it’s interesting or just naturally unfolds, it’s a lot more fun and interesting. But then again, everyone has something that people are always asking them questions about, so…

Analogue: If there’s a quick way to pitch you or a genre to throw you in, we have to do it. Who has attention for anything else these days?

Adam: Yeah we’ve been talking a lot about how subtlety is being lost in the entirety of our culture just because everyone wants a quick explanation. Our lives are being completely consumed by elevator pitches and the swipe of the thumb, you know?

Analogue: I love what you said about the need to grow before coming together, but it made me curious about what’s true about that for this album. How have you grown since putting out Calla Lily?

Adam: Great question. What’s cool about our progression on this album is that it was a joint effort more than any album has been before. The head—the conception of the songs and the songwriting—was a lot more evenly distributed and then a lot more of the songs were more collaboratively finished and arranged. That was a unique approach for us. Because of that, it’s led to the best music we’ve ever made. I also feel like we’ve stepped more into our identity of The Brother Brothers rather than David and Adam playing together.

David: Yeah, that’s well put. With this album, we became a unit where we were really able to help each other shine our brightest through song.

Analogue: The inference there is that you weren’t as much of a unit in the past. Would that have surprised you then that you’d view yourselves in that way now?

Adam: No, I think we were very identified with not being that and trying to become that, in being able to take the space and find the energy in ourselves to let that happen in a healthy way.

David: The thing is that there are so many stories about brother bands—notorious stories—or sibling bands just having the worst relationships or the most heinous fights. We walked into this knowing that and the last thing we wanted to do was mess up the relationship we have because we’re best friends. To end this with one of us throwing a drink in the other’s face and walking away would be a real tragedy, so we’ve been very careful not to let it get even close to that.

It’s a slow process, but we have our own individual voices. Bringing them together in a way that we both feel heard and seen is probably going to be a challenge for the rest of our lives but it’s something that I feel like we’re slowly getting better at.

Analogue: What guardrails do you put up for that?

David: Do we have guardrails? [Laughs] I think we just say, ‘Hold on!’

Adam: Yeah I think we’ve had a lot of difficult conversations, but I won’t let the press in on those. That’s for me to rant on TikTok. [Laughs] But I think honestly, a lot of it it just developing openness and the concept of openness is different. What David needs from an open me is different from what I need from an open David. So being able to navigate openness and receptiveness and the sharing of ideas in a constructive and inoffensive way are the hot button issues. It’s our creativity and our heart and our soul, so it’s all sensitive.

Analogue: You said this is the best music you’ve yet to record or release. What’s the best example of this on the new album in terms of stepping into that identity?

David: “Illinois River Song” is one.

Adam: That’s a good example of a collaborative because we wrote it together. I feel like it was the most 50-50 written song that we’ve ever made.

David: Another good example is “Brown Dog”. Adam had basically written most of it and I personally thought we needed to flesh it out. I said, ‘It’s not saying what you want it to say in the right way.’ It could have turned into something about not respecting his artistry, but we sat down and did some writing and did it really well in the studio and we were both incredibly happy with the lyrics that came out and other ways of arranging the song. I think that was a really good example of us working together. When we’d first gotten together, maybe it wouldn’t have been so successful.

Adam: I also want to add that our engineer [Phil Weinrobe] and producer [Bridget Kearney] were really good influences in cultivating input equally and giving us space. When they didn’t give us space, they gave us really amazing ideas to make the music. I don’t want to leave them out of the conversation because I give them a lot of credit for making this new album sound really good.

VISIT: The Brother Brothers

*Photo: Alex Farias