Andrew Oliver of the psychedelic folk-rock band Brother Oliver talks about the new album Well, Hell.
Formed by brothers Andrew and Stephen Oliver in their adopted town of Greenville, South Carolina, Brother Oliver released their debut album, Stubborn Fool, in 2013. They’ve since continued to win fans with their explorative approach to music and their high-energy live performances.
And now they’re out with Well, Hell, which attracted heavy attention even beyond the band’s fan base when Greenville mayor Knox White proclaimed the album’s August 30 release date “Brother Oliver Day.”
Recently, we caught up with eldest sibling Andrew to talk about the new record, songwriting, and South Carolina.
Cowboys & Indians: You’ve just released Well, Hell. What do you hope your fans will get out of it?
Andrew Oliver: We worked on this album for nearly two years and really wanted it to be something that summarized the Brother Oliver legacy as a whole. It won’t be our last album, but I wanted to produce it as if it could be. I think it tells the story of who we are. I hope our fans connect with it in that same way and find their own identity within it, and have it be an album they will look back on for many years.
C&I: How does this compilation of work compare with your other albums?
Oliver: On its face, it’s much longer. It’s 14 tracks and 1hr and 8min of playback. It was our desire to put out something robust, given that our last album was only 8 tracks, but also because we felt like the songs we were working with were worthy of being heard. We were open to dropping a few tracks off, but at the end of the day felt like they all held their own within the story of the album.
C&I: What’s your songwriting process?
Oliver: Our process isn’t all that stringent or formulaic. Typically I’ll write the main structure of a piece, and I write the lyrics to the songs. I’ll present it to the guys and let them do their own work on it. They write their parts and I enjoy hearing their interpretation of the song. We work together to form it fully from there.
C&I: Are there some fun stories about how songs on the album came together?
Oliver: The studio version of “Altars” was recorded almost in its entirety in about an hour’s time. It was one of those situations where we had just a little bit of time left to be in the studio and weren’t sure if we should even attempt to squeeze it in. We all crushed it out on the first or second takes and it ended up being one of our favorite performances on the album.
C&I: Is there a specific song that fans have really taken to?
Oliver: “Coffee and a Cigarette” seems to be the Brother Oliver anthem. It’s the only song on Well, Hell that’s been previously recorded as it was originally released on our album Stubborn Fool. We re-did the track just because of how much our fans have taken to it over the years, and it’s truly, and somewhat comically, become the battle cry of our band.
C&I: Are there any songs that didn’t make it on the album that we can expect to hear down the road?
Oliver: Our song “Cognitive Dissonance” didn’t make it on the album. It’s a song we play live quite a bit, so some might be disappointed to find it missing. But its time in the studio will come. For now, it will continue to live in stage-only legend.
C&I: You have supported artists like Father John Misty, King Tuff, and SUSTO. What has that been like?
Oliver: It’s an honor to perform with some of the legendary acts we’ve had the opportunity to share bills with. My favorite part of it is just the resilience and day-in-day-out mentality that they all exuberate. I love the no-nonsense vibe of a true professional. We also love to chop it up and act a fool with them too, of course.
C&I: You all are from South Carolina. What are some must-see places in the state?
Oliver: Go to Greenville. The city is on fire and it’s small enough to get around with ease. It’s also where we live and they’ve shown us mad love and support over the years. The Peace Center in Greenville is a world-class concert hall with world-class staff. The Radio Room is a must — their show schedule is always packed. Horizon Records is a killer record shop in town with great in-store performances. There’s a lot to do in Greenville these days.
C&I: What can we expect next from Brother Oliver?
Oliver: You can expect us to keep grinding. We’re going to take these songs as far as we can take them. Then we’re going to make some more — like we always do.
For more information on Brother Oliver, visit their website. Get the new record on Amazon.