INTERVIEW: BROTHER DEREK
Updated: Feb 8
Brother Derek blends classically presented pop with post-punk influences, sitting somewhere between a modern and midwest rock sound that will appeal to many. The Chicago based artist released their debut album 'Parade Rest' late last year, and we simply had to get to learn more about what drives this highly unconventional yet spellbinding brand of music here at FLEX. We sat down with him to learn more!
Hey Brother Derek, welcome to FLEX! How are you doing today? Great to be here! Feeling FLEXy today, hehe. How would you describe your music for our readers? Just so much toiling in the Beatles’ long shadow! Seriously though, I’ve lately been describing the music as genre-fluid pop rock with a touch of midwest twang. You’ll also hear a willingness to take some liberty with rhythm and structure, like an old-school progger discovering the joys of pop. I like to shift vibes with an earnestness you can feel in the early Eno albums (and of course the aforementioned Beatles), as opposed to coming across as relatively tongue-in-cheek with the genre-jumping a la Ween or even Zappa. I unfortunately can’t pull off R&B or hip-hop to save my life (yet, LOL). Snuff out my act, and you’d be left in the best hands with a nice Rundgren, REM, Wire, Cure, XTC, and Guided by Voices collection. Your new album ‘Parade Rest’ is out now! How do you feel about it? Am happy that folks seem to be enjoying it! I think it presents best as a full collection, so my challenge is to convince folks to experience it as such in an era of singles. That said, it’s interesting to observe how certain songs can bubble up as standouts vs. not. Short answer: Am very glad it’s out there! Who did you work with across this LP? About that twang. I traveled just far enough south for recording sessions (Indianapolis) to get just the right amount of it, thanks to the Postal Recordings production team of Alex Kercheval and Tyler Watkins who did a bang-up job bringing the best out of a fleet of local musicians, namely Braxton Bucy (trumpet), Johnny Concannon (drums), Lillian Marshall (backing vocals), Nick Vote (vocals and multiple instruments), Sarah Grain (backing vocals) and Wade Parish (drums). For Chicago shows (and some Parade Rest seshes), my old buddy (and guitarist/vocalist) Guy Corl has been my right hand man, and I consider him part of the act. We are excited to have a trusted drummer now (TBA) for Chicago shows, and enjoyed doing our Dec. 1 record release show with Wade Parish on drums (who we’ll likely speed-dial later for shows in Indy and maybe elsewhere). Your music very much resembles The National in your vocal tonality and presence, do they influence you at all? I can’t claim them as an influence as I am very late to the National party, having just recently started listening to them. But I am impressed so far! There’s a theatrical intensity to the band, and Matt Berninger presents his lyrically powerful songs with such resolve, I appreciate the compliment! Stand out track for you from the record right now? A number of folks seem to be gravitating to the title track lately. I’d say I’m currently with them on that. What is the scene like in Chicago at the moment? I’m a suburbanite now; outside looking in, it seems vast, with so many scenes and micro-scenes; and its burgeoning, sometimes star-making DIY scene comes across as increasingly obscure as I get older. In my own orbit, I’m happy to still find myself in a lively, supportive environment, as folks like myself “of a certain age” can still craft pop music of one kind or another and find an audience for it here. And I keep coming back to the twang: Country-tinged music has a surprising level of presence here, thankfully. Won’t be tossing my snap-button shirts anytime soon. And lastly, what’s the plans for 2023?
We’re looking forward to playing Chicago’s iteration of the International Pop Overthrow festival in April, and some additional local gigs to support the album. Perhaps a mini-tour also over the summer. I do hope to get back to the studio for more Brother Derek cuts too, not to mention kicking the tires on another project or two in the works.
Stream 'Parade Rest' in full here: