Having previously been a part of major label rock acts The 747s and The Basement respectively, Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland, better known to music fans as The Lost Brothers, have to date enjoyed a decade long, successful career that has seen them be praised by the likes of Richard Hawley and song-write with Glen Hansard. As the duo prepare to release their new album Halfway Towards A Healing next month, and while currently on a tour that runs through to the Spring, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Oisin to chat social media, advice for upcoming artists and to find out where he’d like to see the band several years down the line.
TITL: You’ve been around for a little over a decade now, having released your first album in 2008. What do you think it is about The Lost Brothers as a duo that’s allowed you to stay a solid part of the industry when so many of your counterparts have fallen into obscurity?
Oisin Leech: I’ve no idea – I think we are still pretty obscure – but thank you! I remember reading an interview with Randy Newman once in Portland, Oregon. He said that it’s “all about stamina.” You’ve got to keep on going. Even when all the bullshit surrounding music pops its head up out of the snake charmer’s basket. Don’t let it bite! Writing new songs is our fuel and it keeps us going. Bringing new songs to our audience for the first time is still as exciting as it was when we started out.
TITL: What would you say each of you bring to The Lost Brothers? Why, in your opinions, do you believe you work so well?
OL: I grew up listening to punk bands like Alternative TV and Stiff Little Fingers. Mark was a grunger. So it’s a combination really. A weird soup.
TITL: How do you think, if at all, your sound and style has changed over the years?
OL: Ten years on the road has turned us into studio ninjas. We work fast. We have honed and crafted a sound. When we gig now, we can read each other’s minds. It’s a deep case of “Telepathy Blues.”
TITL: Your new album Halfway Towards A Healing is released on January 26th. Without giving too much away, what can fans both old and new expect from it?
OL: The forthcoming album is both sides of the moon – it’s our darkest and yet our most hopeful album to date. I think the lyrics and songs are our best so far. It’s my favourite of all our records. The sound is more focused. The guys we worked with in Tucson did a beautiful job capturing the sound. We just sat there strumming a few chords.
TITL: Could you pick your favourite track(s) from the album and if so which are they and why?
OL: I’ve come to love “Summer Rain” and “Songs Of Fire.” They just have a feeling we captured that stays with me.
TITL: How did you come to co-write with Glen Hansard and what did he bring to the creative process?
OL: Glen is a dear pal – “The Lost Father.” We found ourselves strumming songs at 4am off in Dublin one night and Glen started singing new melodies and words to songs we had half written. It all just happened by accident really. There were noodles involved and a lot of tea. Then Guinness.
TITL: Who or what most influences and inspires your song-writing? Is creating a song something you find fairly easy or can it depend on your mood or the subject matter you want to focus on for instance?
OL: It’s the old cliché – song-writing is like fishing. Every so often you might get lucky. But you have to go and sit by the river and wait! It’s a vocation. Like being married to a mystery. Everything and anything can inspire a song from the spilt coffee under your mug in the smallest village in Scotland to the busiest avenue in New York. Life that passes you by like a film and sometimes a scene jumps at you and you capture it in words and melody. If you’re lucky the song will survive. The best songs come fast. Musically I love Van Morrison and Bob Dylan- the two greats in my humble opinion. Both inspirational. But what do I know?
TITL: You’ve announced a tour in support of the new album that’s kicked off and runs through to March. Is there any particular venue or location you’re most excited to play?
OL: I can’t wait to play these shows! There’s no knowing how these new songs will work and where they will take us.
TITL: If you could perform at any venue in the world, with four bands or artists who can be living or dead, where would you play and who would join you on that stage?
OL: Wow. I’d love to be roadie for Planxty, The Band, Bob Dylan and Van the Man all on one night …next week in Vicar St. Dublin! I’ll play harmonica on the encore.
TITL: How do you feel about social media and the boom in the impact it can have – and has had – on individuals and businesses such as the music industry?
OL: The music world is changing so fast I can’t keep up. I try though. At the end of the though its music that matters- it’s all only “songs and sound”. These new social media platforms are just roads to lead the song down to as many listeners as possible.
TITL: You’ve been praised by the likes of Richard Hawley but of all the support and acclaim you’ve received over the years, is there one particular moment/comment that stands out for you?
OL: Richard said some kind words which meant a lot because I’m a huge fan. Andy Irvine once came to see us and enjoyed it. He is a hero.
TITL: What advice would you give to bands and artists just starting out who are struggling to make a name for themselves? Is there any advice you’ve been given over the years that you tend to reflect on and holds particular resonance?
OL: I’d say “keep on going”… no matter how massive or tiny your audience is. What matters is the music you make. Nothing else. Trust yourself first and foremost. And don’t let the clamour of social media deafen out your songs and the making of music. You might think you’re struggling but that’s part of the journey. In 5 or 10 years you might look back and realise you were right on it. And…never listen to anyone outside your band. Including me!
TITL: Finally then, were would you like to see The Lost Brothers five, even ten years from now? Having already achieved so much, what other dreams and ambitions do you want to fulfil?
OL: I want the albums to keep getting better. The live show to evolve. To get better at entertaining the poor suckers to have to sit through our songs! To bring a communion in the room and connect with people. To tour Mexico with Beck and Bob Dylan simultaneously in ten golden tour buses. The end.
The Lost Brothers’ new album Halfway Towards A Healing is available for pre-order now. Tickets and further information on their tour can be found by visiting their website. Header photo credit: Gabriel Sullivan.