The Club Brothers – In Perfect Harmony

The Club Brothers – In Perfect Harmony

Written by Joff Alexander-Frye

Photography by Nick Hook

In the Oxford Dictionary, the word harmony is defined in three ways; ‘The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect’, ‘the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole’ and ‘the state of being in agreement or concord’. The Club Brothers, a newly formed three-piece band in Exeter, satisfy all three definitions.

The Club Brothers are Adam Moran (inimitably larger than life and also known as Adam in the Hat), Richard James and Leigh Coleman. They are an amalgamation of decades of song writing, instrument-playing, live-performance and studio recording experience and are also three of the nicest, most well-tempered and hilarious guys that I have had the pleasure of meeting in Exeter.

Each solo performers in their own right, they have done the creative hard-graft necessary to build an audience and make a living from their music. This is no mean feat bearing in mind the unfortunate musical wasteland which is scattered with the bones of artists/acts from years gone by. The promised land is still achievable in today’s music scene, but the path to get there is long and narrow, and few are successful in getting to their destination. With trademark infectious optimism, Adam mentioned during our interview, “Better to be happy, with a few less pennies in your pocket than miserable and rich”. I couldn’t agree more.


The Club Brothers Adam Moran


And so, when I recently met with Adam, Richard and Leigh at the Coffee Cellar, on Exeter’s Quay, I was immediately struck and impressed with their light-heartedness and their clear sense of family and shared purpose. So many musicians that I have known over the years have a perpetually growing sense of cynicism and malaise in life; typical frustrated creative types. Not so with The Club Brothers. There is a collective bounce in their step and a real sense of thankfulness and contentment that they share together. I don’t know where this comes from, but whatever it is, they need to hold on to it. In my opinion, looking back over our time together, it is one of their main points of difference and attraction.

Even their choice of band name gives a nod to this ‘joie de vivre’, with Richard explaining,

‘We all used to gig separately and the only live-music venue that was open late enough to socialise at after gigging hours was Mama Stones, where Leigh played in the House Band. We would all hang out and have ‘our weekend’ there in the early hours of the morning. We got so close that we felt like brothers and most of our time was spent socialising in a club; hence, The Club Brothers.”

In a moment reminiscent of the superbly funny music ‘mockumentary’ Spinal Tap, the three band members attempted to explain how close their brotherly-relationships were, whilst not actually being related by blood. Difficult to capture in writing but, nevertheless, wonderfully sweet, with a hint of trademark British awkwardness.


The Club Brothers


Their first musical venture together was in late 2016, when Richard was releasing a solo EP. He asked Adam and Leigh to sing backing vocals at the EP Launch event; transforming a stripped back acoustic set of songs into a richer, more textured live sound. The live reaction was noticeably positive and gave Richard the idea, a couple of months later, to ask Adam and Leigh if they wanted to “start jamming more regularly to see if being a band could ‘be a thing”. This was an immediate success, with all three of the band realising that they clicked, both personally and musically, so they decided on their band name, started a few social media accounts and went about doing all of the things that bands do in their early days; practicing hard and planning world domination.

Every creative, whatever art form they are creating, occasionally needs a lucky break. In fact, it is often one of the only things that separates those who ‘make it’ and those who don’t. For The Club Brothers, they were lucky to secure a slot supporting Wildwood Kin (an excellent and successful Exeter-based Indie/Americana trio) on their Turning Tides Tour. Adam described this as their “in at the deep end” moment as “they only had a couple of original songs at that stage and didn’t really feel ready to be out on tour”. Nevertheless, they gave it their best shot and used it as a learning experience, spurring them on to write more of their own material and hone their sound as a band.

In a rare moment of irritation, Adam continued,

“There is a real vibe nowadays, particularly in café bars, for people to talk during musical performances. Apart from being frustrating for the performer, it is also annoying for fans who have gone to see that performer play but are struggling to hear them. For example, I went to see the John Butler Trio earlier this week and there were people talking loudly throughout. One of the lovely things about the Wildwood Kin Tour though, was that people really respected the live performance dynamic and were clearly there to listen intently and take in the music. It made for such an amazing atmosphere and environment to perform in.”

I asked how the band would deal with people talking during their shows and Leigh, by far the quietest of the three, piped up joking,

“I’d probably go all Incredible Hulk, turning green and ripping my shirt. Either that or sing a really high soul note, melting the culprit to the ground!”.

I replied, “It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it?”, to which Adam and Richard nodded with the sort of knowing look that suggested that they had experienced first-hand the fire and passion which lays underneath Leigh’s calm and serene exterior (and which others probably don’t get to see).


The Club Brothers


At several points in the interview, different band members openly and freely complimented each other. In an industry that sometimes makes its money off the back of ‘celebrity beef’ and inter-artist rivalry, it was refreshing to spend time with such uncompetitive musicians. Not trying to get one up on each other or attempting to jostle for position in an imaginary pecking order. Just simple, honest, friendly collaboration, where each person is celebrated for what they bring to the table and ‘the whole’ benefits as a result. No Gallagher brothers or Biggy and Tupac beef here.

And this sort of safe creative space is vital to the collaborative creative process. Feeling safe to ‘put yourself out there’ and make creative suggestions, come up with lyrics, suggest changes to arrangements or discuss possible directions for the band to go in are all things that any healthy collaboration relies on. After all, if you don’t have that, then is it even a collaboration at all? In fact, this is even demonstrated by the fact that the band doesn’t have a ‘lead singer’. As the primary songwriter, Richard actually writes songs with all three band members in mind and they share lead vocal responsibilities equally between the three of them.

Throughout our chat, I got the distinct impression that all three band members are growing as a result of this relatively new collaboration. Where one member is skilled, the others get to benefit, learning and gaining experience for themselves along the way. Again, people only tend to be willing to ‘dip their toes in the water’ and try new things if they feel safe to do so. For The Club Brothers, this means new instruments being learned, new technologies being toyed with and new creative muscles being worked.

With the upcoming launch of their inaugural five-track Drifting EP, I was lucky enough to get an exclusive preview to the tracks and, let me tell you, fans are in for an absolute musical feast. With a truly varied array of influences, including John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Pentatonix and Earth, Wind & Fire, it is a very long time indeed since I have heard such a varied and well-recorded group of songs from such a fledgling band. Their unique sound ranges from upbeat Electro-Pop all the way through to hauntingly poignant acoustic folk and, if this EP is anything to go on, they have plenty more weapons in their audio-arsenal to pull out in the future.


The Club Brothers


As our time together drew to a close, conversation turned to favourite bands, most recent gigs that we had attended and our ‘guilty pleasure’ artists or albums. I was heartened to hear that we shared many of the same favourite artists and bands and even more heartened that my ‘guilty pleasures’ were far less awkward than theirs! In a moment of serendipitous magic, we also realised that we actually know a bunch of the same creatives around the UK, having all collaborated with different musicians and songwriters over the years. It isn’t often that my role at Grow merges with some of the other things I get up to in life but it was a genuinely lovely moment to realise that we share common friends and collaborators.

Drifting EP launched on all digital music and streaming platforms on October 26th and the EP launch event is on November 15th at South Street Standard, with an exclusive first-come, first-served ticket sale on the door. If you want to hear good quality music, that will reach down into your soul and fundamentally move you and improve your mood, The Club Brothers are your guys.

Search ‘The Club Brothers’ on all social platforms to follow their progress and buy their Drifting EP.

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1 Comment

  1. Pauline E Currien

    I really enjoyed your performance at Sudeley Castle. You were amazing and when you are up to full strength I will certainly love you even more. I was in Got2sing. Hope you enjoyed that (photos on Facebook Pauline McG Currien) Hope you come to Glos again soon.

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