Irish duo The Lost Brothers have found the time to make their darkest record yet, in between paying homage to Roy Orbison and getting on brilliantly with one another.
This is our darkest record so far, but I think it’s our most accomplished as well,” says Lost Brother Oisin Leech of the Irish duo’s latest offering, The Passing Of The Night. “We’ve been describing it as a ‘cosmic swamp’.”
Since forming in Liverpool in 2007, Leech and his musical sibling Mark McCausland have been writing and touring an impressive catalogue of well-crafted, melodic songs that hark back to a time when life was simpler. Influenced by the sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the travelling troubadours look the part: neither Lost Brother is ever seen out of a creased suit and a waistcoat.
The follow-up to last year’s sophomore release So Long John Fante, The Passing Of The Night was recorded late last year in Nashville. “We recorded it in this off the beaten track place called 1979 Studios,” explains Leech. “There’s a new kind of movement against the Nashville factory studio boulevard. There’s a young generation coming in where all genres of music are being made in the suburbs. We were lucky to get in on that.”
The album was produced by none other than Michigan musician Brendan Benson.
“Years ago I toured with him solo, and then with The Raconteurs. And that led to The Lost Brothers opening for him in Whelan’s. Brendan watched our show from the balcony and he loved it. He said to us, ‘If ever you’re passing through Nashville, give me a call’.
“Mark and I always wanted to work there. So when we were passing through Nashville we rang and asked Brendan to recommend a studio and he said, ‘1979 Studios’. We said, ‘Thanks a lot, maybe see you for a beer’. When we rang the studio, they actually suggested Brendan as an engineer. He said, ‘I’d love to engineer and I’ll produce’. So it was kind of chance and fortune.”
Although they had initially planned to record just one track, the songs flowed so well that they soon realised they had an album’s worth of material. “We’d been doing loads of writing so we presented him with about 20 songs and said, ‘Which one do you think?’” says McCausland. “And he said, ‘Let’s do them all!’ We only had five days so it was full steam ahead hard work.”
In amongst the pair’s trademark luckless, country-tinged songs of loss and regret, there’s a cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Hey Miss Fanny’. They had to seek permission to record it from the Orbison estate. “Not only did they give us permission to cover the song, they also gave us all of this swag,” laughs McCausland. “We came home with loads of Orbison presents – bags, DVDs, sunglasses, albums. To do a song by him was an amazing feeling.”
Having taken care of their own affairs for the first few years, the duo are now looked after by former Pogues manager Frank Murray. “Since Frank came on board everything has stepped up a gear – or nine!” Leech enthuses. “In terms of just being busy. Because Frank has 40 years’ experience, he’s seen a lot of music and has a lot of contacts. He has us working even harder now, which we love.”
While constantly touring, recording and living in each other’s pockets can put a strain on any relationship, the two claim to never have had a fight. “It kind of goes beyond friendship,” McCausland laughs. “We don’t really have arguments. It’s funny, but we’re never both in a bad mood at the same time. If one of us is down, the other is cheering him up. I think I’m the negative person and Oisin is really positive. So it balances out.”
The Passing of the Night is out now on Lojinx.
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