Wheeler Brothers Talk "Portraits"
Wed, 07 Mar 2012 09:23:25
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"I had to climb up this hill to get reception," declares Nolan Wheeler as he finally reaches a clear spot overlooking the Texas ranch where Wheeler Brothers are already working on their second album.
There might be some kind of magic in the Lone Star state's air because the group's debut, Portraits, is a pensive, powerful, and poetic indie rock opus. Incorporating flourishes of country and folk, Portraits is as boundless as it is brilliant. The Brothers tie everything together with a diverse songwriting style that's undeniably vibrant. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Portraits may be worth a million…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Nolan Wheeler talks Portraits and so much more.
What's your take on Portraits as a whole?
To be honest with you, we started off and we had about three or four songs. We saw where those were going. It was our first album and our first time in the studio as a group. We were just writing what was coming out of the pen. That's about it. It was so early in the game. We'd go into the studio, block out a week and a half, record six tracks, and come back a couple of weeks later and record a few more.
What's the story behind "Ghost in the Valley"?
Our guitar player Danny [Matthews] actually wrote that song. It was inspired by living in Texas and some of our border issues. He went up to his room night with a six pack. He came down and said, "Guys, I've got an idea for a song." We put glockenspiel on it, melodica, accordion, and it was a lot of fun. There's also cello and guitar. It's definitely one of our more instrumental tracks on the record. We wrote the instrumentation in the studio. For the rest of the album, I feel like we had the instrumentation for each song coming into the studio.
Where did "Long Hard Road" come from?
It's a fun song. It's about a guy who's given up on his religion or hope, and he's just living on the road.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
A lot of the first album is very character-oriented. That's how it came out. That was our writing pattern for the first record. I never really thought about it like that but most of the songs are narrative. There's a story and a character involved. I'm really stoked about the new album we're working on now We have a studio down here and there are no time constraints or anything. I'm trying to work a couple different albums and try a couple different things. An album needs a little more than a storyline for every song and character.
If Portraits were a movie or a combination of movies what would it be?
That's a good question! It would have to be something a little more raw like No Country for Old Men. There's not really a soundtrack in that movie, but hey we could use Portraits. That's the kind of vibe Portraits had. It had a little bit of rock but more folk notes, almost country aspect.
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