Delivering pure, honest and authentic music, The Teskey Brothers are known for busting out old-school Motown sounds with a new age twist. Growing up together in Warrandyte, a small town in the outskirts of Melbourne, Josh Teskey, Sam Teskey, Brandon Love and Liam Gough have been playing music together for over 10 years.
Starting out playing local gigs for 20 people in local venues, the start of 2017 saw The Teskey Brothers flourish to become one of Australia's most intriguing musical acts after the release of their debut album "Half Mile Harvest'. Consisting of 8 smooth tracks, Half Mile Harvest is a storybook of heartbreak, trials and tribulations recorded in their own home studio. Using analogue recording equipment, you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to an old Otis Redding record rather than a group of twenty-somethings from Yarra Valley.
With every song leaving you feeling like you've just sipped the finest whiskey, it's no surprise the four-piece band has set the Australian music scene abuzz resulting in sold out shows across Australia including The Forum in Melbourne. The combination of raw vocals with beautiful instrumental layers holds an irresistible groove that will no doubt leave you infected with soul and blues.
Ahead of their performance for Brisbane Festival, we got the chance to speak to bassist Brendon Love about their smooth, sophisticated and (let's be honest) seductive sound.
Hey Brendon, how are you doing today?
Good thanks, how are you?
Yeah, not too bad. Have you been up to much today?
We are just down in the studio in Warrandyte working on some things for the next album. We’ve been for the past 3 weeks and probably will be here for the next… 2 months actually. We're hoping to have the new album out by March/April next year I think!
Can’t wait for that! So, it’s undeniably impressive that you’re just your average Aussie dudes playing such soulful music and doing it such justice. What is it that you hope people get out of your music?
Well, that’s a good question. This sounds like something I should have thought of before, but I haven’t. I know why I do it, but I’ve never thought about what I hope other people get out of it!
Image credit: Nick Mckk
Well, let's start with that then. Why is it that you love performing this kind of music?
That’s another good one. I just love playing in a band with my friends, I think that’s what it comes down to. It’s less about playing this style of music because it basically comes down to the idea that this style is what comes out when me, Josh, Liam and Sam sit in a room and play music together having grown up with the same kind of influences. We don’t necessarily try to play a certain style; this style is just what is within us all and what we have all bonded over. I just love playing in a band with my friends mostly.
You’ve all been playing with each for such a long time! Do you think that your history and friendship is reflected when your performing live?
Definitely. There’s a certain level of craft that we have honed over the last 12 years and we know there is something special there, but we haven’t necessarily been able to identify it or quantify exactly what it is. I’m sure it’s just an amalgamation of the time spent together, the bond between us and the songs we are writing.
Considering that all 4 of you are involved in the album, what was the creative process like?
We’ve basically been playing for such a long time and people were at every gig asking ‘do you have a CD, do you have a CD’ and we didn’t – so that step was a pragmatic decision saying ‘well, we probably should record something’. Once we started that process it kind of expanded from there. We went in with a very naïve vision and once we started getting creative, we realised that we’ve each got these songs that are really good. We spent nearly 2 years in total creating the first album and that was a mixture of just writing and working together. The way that we chose to record was a big part of our sound but not necessarily contusive to creating things quickly.
Image credit: Nick Mckk
Half Mile Harvest was only released at the beginning of last year and received such an incredible response. Has it been a whirlwind adventure since then?
It’s been crazy. We’ve sort of gone from playing little shows on the weekend to maybe 50 people to building up at every level. We went from 50 to then 200 then 250 then 400 and just kept building it up from there. We’ve been building up the scale of the tours to the point where I just can’t even fathom it. We sold The Forum out recently and that was just… wow. I remember going The Forum, many times, to see music and always looked up at the ceiling and wondered what it would be like to play there. Then we ended up doing it and I just can’t believe it to be honest.
It must just feel like you are living the dream.
It is literally living the dream. I am in a band with 4 of my best friends and our job is to play music and write music together. It literally doesn’t get much better than that.
The delivery of your music is so honest – is this an important factor for the band when both writing and singing lyrics?
Absolutely – you can’t really play music in an authentic way if it's not honest and you’re not really feeling it. I think that’s the thing too with this style of music, is its less about trying to accomplish a sound and more about what happens when we get in a room and play together.
Image credit: Chris Cohen Photography
Do you think that’s why soul music is so universal?
I think the feeling of soul music is universal. It doesn’t need to be defined by the genre, the feeling I’m describing because you can have that in blues, classical or anything. I think that soul is perhaps the most direct vessel to transport those emotions. At least for me, in my experience. You can just put on a tune like Sam Cooke “A Change is Gonna Come”, within the first 3 seconds you know what the song is about. You can hear the heartache. It is just an obvious raw and exposed way of expression. I think that’s the thing that appeals to us, that there is so much space and nowhere to hide. It kind of has to be your truth as I think that both musicians and audiences are very tuned in to when something is not authentic.
The band has been labelled as blues and soul, but there’s a couple of songs in the album like “Honeymoon” that also have a bit of a rock undertone while leading into a psychedelic feel towards the end. Is taking inspiration from other genres and incorporating it into your music something that you’ll continue to do with future albums?
I’m glad you said that actually, because a lot of people sometimes overlook that the album does have a diverse range of styles and genres. It’s precisely because there are 4 songwriters in the band that all have their own personal experiences and taste in music. That comes out in whoever is writing the song and is workshopping the idea to us. For example, Honeymoon is a written by Sam and he is much more influenced by Pink Floyd. We could try and take that and soul it up but that’s more mine and Josh’s aesthetics – more what we write. We just try and honour the sound that is in his head for that song or whoever is writing the song. We’re not afraid to go where our curiosities lead us. We’re not necessarily locked into any genre particularly because we are such fans of so many genres.
Is there a particular track that stands out as your favourite?
It changes all the time because I spent so much time working on it and you do get a love-hate relationship with a lot of things when you are looking at it so closely. I think Hard Feelings would be one of my favourites because it’s not an assuming song at all and it’s towards the end of the album. I think a lot of people probably brush past it. There’s a whole long story about why I like that song, but on the surface, it’s aurally pleasing as well.
Speaking on behalf of Brisbane, I can safely say we are all very excited for your show for Brisbane Festival! Can fans expect to hear any new stuff?
We are literally standing in the rehearsal room now and I’m looking at a big whiteboard with a list of about 30 songs on it. And I can tell you that there are about 4 or 5 songs that are ready to go, that we will put into the set. We’re definitely keen to start playing some new stuff and getting audiences to talk about it which is an important part of writing. It’s one thing to write it, but to play it to an audience and get their immediate response and gauge what the song is really important.