By Lilledeshan Bose
April 1, 2016
For 'Endless Light,' the Georgia band brings on expansive layers of sound.
Epic. Atmospheric. Brooding. You wouldn’t think that O’Brother’s large-scale compositions were born in Atlanta, Georgia (home of trap music, yo!). But the five-piece—made up of Tanner Merritt (vocals, guitar), Michael Martens (drums), Anton Dang (bass), Johnny Dang (guitar) and Jordan McGhin (guitar)—have been creating lushly layered rock music since the mid-2000s. The band is now touring their newest LP, Endless Light, which came out on Triple Crown Records/Favorite Gentlemen. Recorded with Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra, The Dear Hunter), the album sets off a sweeping slow burn that sets fire to your ears from beginning to end.
Myspace talks politics, Atlanta music and more with drummer Michael Martens.
Hometown and homebase: Atlanta, GA
How did O’Brother come to be?
Anton, Johnny, and I met in 1997 when Anton and I had a class together in 7th grade. Our parents bought a bass, guitar and drum set and we started playing music together. After a few failed pop-punk band attempts, O’Brother was born with original singer Spencer Ussery in 2006. The current line up took shape over the next few years.
Why the name?
When we originally formed, it was just a name that our singer at the time had always liked.
How do you describe your music to someone who's never heard you before?
We try not to. Listen for yourself and come up with your own conclusions so we don’t say something silly and box ourselves into a certain category.
What was the inspiration for your latest set, Endless Light?
This record is about overcoming the crazy things that life throws at you. Literally denying the darkness that can cloud out the positive things happening around you. The record dabbles in everything from loved ones passing away or drifting off due to mental illness to the struggles of staying true to yourself in the face of uncertainty and doubt.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Across the band it ranges from Sigur Ros and Deftones to Clint Mansell, Miles Davis, and Portishead.
Does living in Atlanta influence your music at all?
Massively. You’re a product of your surroundings and that goes the same for a band. You can hear southern guitar influences in a good number of O’Brother riffs. We were also influenced by bands we spent time with coming up like Manchester Orchestra and Big Jesus.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Clint Mansell or Hans Zimmer.
As a musician you must have used Myspace a lot back in the day...
Honestly, we started touring and taking ourselves seriously right around the time MySpace started booming in the mid-2000s. A good bit of the relationships we cherish today were born out of direct messaging other bands for shows (i.e All Get Out and Dignan).
Drumpf or Trump? What are you feeling this election season?
Just be informed and make your own decision. Don’t stand for or against something/someone without knowing why or because it’s what the majority of your social media feed is doing and don’t complain about something unless you’re willing to work towards an actual solution to the problem in whatever capacity that may be.
If you were a hashtag, what would you be?