Interview: James Lockhart and Matthew Heckmann of Brother Moses
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Interview: James Lockhart and Matthew Heckmann of Brother Moses

Last week I was introduced to a new band that got me excited straightaway. Their sounds were catchy and an interest to learn more about these guys grew. Brother Moses are fellows who do not disappoint in their style and musical appeal. Who are these brave souls you ask? Well, they are made up of musicians James Lockhart, Matthew Heckmann, Moses Gomez and John-Lewis Anderson. To get a better understanding of their musical endeavors, James and Matthew took some time to elaborate on their music career and their upcoming EP ‘Legends.’

To start I wanted to hear more about their latest project and how they keep it all going. James took a stab at it first. “We wanted to make something that was as fun and cathartic to listen to as it was for us to play on stage. We also were all kind of unsatisfied with the writing and recording process of our previous work, so this was a kind of our self-redemption project, I think.” Matthew went on to explain more, “once you get to the point where you’re willing to risk everything to chase a dream, the path ahead becomes a lot clearer. This EP is definitely a product of that.”

“The work we did together on ‘Legends’ is by far my favorite project I’ve ever been a part of. I think these songs capture a lot of the raw energy that exists between us, as artists and as people. I’ve never been a part of anything as exciting as this project,” shared James. Mr. Heckmann went on to talk about a specific piece of it. “There’s a song on the EP called Please Stop, and we basically re-wrote the whole thing the night before we left to record in LA. We threw out 90% of the song, and the whole process of rebuilding it from the ground up was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a writing situation. I think it turned out to be the strongest track on the record.” There seems to be a ton of heart and soul in this new EP and I for one am looking forward to it.

Brother Moses hopes to explore the venue scene with this new music and they laid out a few places in particular that would be best. “We’re all such big fans of the Tiny Desk series NPR Music does. That would be mind-bending to see that big bookcase in person. [We would also love to see] that starry background in the KEXP studio. Just being in those spaces playing music would be incredible since we’ve watched so many of our favorite artists do it from the comfort of our own laptops. The same could be said about pretty much any major festival. It’s just a generational thing I guess, having grown up with session videos and live streams the way some people in the past grew up with talk show performances or, you know, actually going to festivals. Growing up in Arkansas made that kind of impossible, though. Like, I remember watching the live stream of Arcade Fire closing out Coachella in junior high school and having an intense emotional experience. So, I think any of us would be awestruck at a big festival. Hopefully that’s something we get the opportunity to experience in our career.” Matthew had a more complex ambition. “For me, the ideal performance is one where I get completely lost in the moment. When you’re dancing, the crowd is dancing and it’s all just a hot sweaty mess, everything is right. The thing I love about the songs on ‘Legends’ is that they make those moments happen everywhere, at packed hometown shows as well as the sometimes-lonely shows on the road.”

It has not been all that easy for the musicians. Both of them shared a tale that would make any musical artist cringe, “The first time we ever went on tour, we had pretty much only played locally up until then, and we were always taking ourselves super seriously on stage for some reason. One of the first shows we played on that tour, we were in this basement outside Kansas City, and no one there cared about us at all, and we were really blowing it on stage. There were probably 50 people who came to this house for this show we were a part of, but during our set they pretty much all left, except for like three people getting stoned with their backs to us literally right in front of us while we played. It was such a painful half hour, and we were all so angry afterwards, but we realized that we had to adapt in those situations and have as much fun as possible. That experience forced us to push ourselves to go out of our way on stage to make things interesting… That show was a very formative moment for the band. After we were done being pissed off at each other, we kind of asked ourselves: ‘if we’re not having fun every time we make music on stage, what are we doing?’ That mindset is where a lot of the energy in our performances comes from.”

As far as the music world goes, James and Matthew had their different opinions. “The way people access and consume music now is so infinitely interesting to me. Lots of people will tell you that music fans don’t care about albums anymore, but look at all of the pandemonium surrounding Kanye’s new record. People couldn’t wait to get their hands on it (some are still waiting, I guess) and that thing has eighteen tracks. So yeah, I don’t necessarily think the Internet has shortened our attention spans, if anything it’s created insatiable appetites. I think, of course, it’s all a by-product of how we’re still definitely in the hip-hop age. It’s very exciting to be making music in 2016,” declared James. Matthew’s rebuttal fit in beautifully, “Albums are dead and Kanye is an android.” Duly noted.

Music is not the only thing that keeps these guys on the move. For James he is busy exploring other mediums. “… I love making films. I have a lot of interest in pursuing that someday. I’ve also been trying to get more into the comedy scene in Fayetteville. More pipe dreams to freak out my parents.” Matthew on the other hand is focused on a more important issue in the world. “I got a French press for Christmas, but haven’t figured out how to properly use it yet.” You will get there I have no doubt.

Musically, the musicians are never slowing down in regard to their work. “Personally, I wouldn’t want to dive back into these songs any more than we have, we worked on writing them for so long before making the record. We’re all hoping it hits with some people who feel moved to make remixes. That would be exciting. We’re always trying to innovate, always looking for new ways to express our ideas musically. If we ever stopped doing that, I think that’s when Brother Moses would stop existing. We’re continually pushing ourselves to create something better, something more than what we think we can.”

Influences for the band are many. “Recently, we’ve all been listening to this record ‘American Appetite’ by a band from LA called Harriet. That guy is cracking my brain open right now with the sounds and themes on that album. It’s making me really excited to make a record again. Honestly, … [the] Spotify Discover playlist [is great]. There’s a lot of tension surrounding streaming, especially amongst artists, but since I started streaming, I’ve listened to 100% more music than I used to. I’ve been exposed to so many more ideas, and found so many bands that I would probably never have gotten into otherwise. That excites me as someone who is creating music that is being streamed.”

To end, I was curious to know what the fellas had planned for the rest of the day. For James, “I’ve got a film class and then I have a lot of homework to do. I also need to officially drop a class later, school stuff. I’m hoping to be done soon, one way or another.” For Matthew it was more simple, “today I will drink too much coffee, skateboard home, and fall asleep watching YouTube.” I think I dig both plans actually.

If you are curious to explore more of Brother Moses, you are in luck. “We’re writing a full-length project right now from the ground up. We’re very, very excited about it. We’re gearing up to hit the road again in about a month. Super excited to play New York City again at Pianos on March 21st! New York City is our next big project. Really looking at overhauling the whole concept.” So, I highly recommend checking these talented musicians out next month. It will surely be a great time for all.

 

Jam On.

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Written by Myles Hunt

Music fan, simple and sweet.

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