While I’m sure it’s not all shits and giggles – I can’t think of something that might be cooler than rocking out with your brothers. Recently we were sent a new video and single from Vancouver brothers Levi, Josh, and Gabe Penner who comprise Alt-Pop group, “Her Brothers”, and a premiere and interview felt necessary.
Initially taken back by the groovy, upbeat energy, clean production, and accessible lyrics, I found myself anticipating the single release and wondering what else they may have in store on their forthcoming album, “Tribe”, which is set to release October 15th. The new single, “Human”, has seen several revisions and updates since the hook was initially written over two years ago and its release has been a long time coming. The hook, initially written by Gabe, set the song up to be a more downtempo, anthemic tune – that is until the rest of the lyrics were written and Levi noted “If this is a song about love and being human, it’s got to be danceable.
About the track, Gabe says, “Human” wrestles with what it means to actually be human, especially when it comes to social media. Everyone is trying to create a perfect image of themselves—we do it as a band—and the pernicious nature of 1s and 0s has crept into how I think of humanity many times.” He continues, “The idea that opposites attract is a prominent one, but what I find interesting is within relationships we often have a hard time appreciating our counterpart for just that, forgetting to enjoy the ebb and flow of all that the relationship truly is.”
After testing the new tune at shows around Vancouver, it was easy for the group to see that the new arrangement and overall vibe connected with their fans. As a true DIY group, they came up with a video concept and the end product is a true collaboration between the band and filmmaker Tim Bryce. The video was shot by Tim and Levi, with Levi editing it and Gabe even took it upon himself to create most of the lighting effects seen. Sticking to their roots and showing their love for their hometown, the music video was shot at Crescent Beach with the band standing over the ocean as Gabe sings, “You were looking for a lighthouse/ I was looking for the ocean.”
“Human”, is a powerful, pumping and catchy first taste of their new project and is sure to help the trio reach a wide audience with its commercial, worldly sound. Their new album, “Tribe”, is the follow up to their self-produced, self-released debut album, “She”, in 2015, and Her Brothers feel it is without a doubt their best work to date.
I’ll let you come to your own conclusions, but this tune will be staying in my personal playlists for some time and I’m excited to get to share the videos official premiere with you. Keep scrolling to check out a quick interview and get to know the guys behind the music.
RDFO: How has the vibe in Vancouver helped to shape the groups sound musically?
HB: I would venture to say that the vibe in Vancouver has shaped our sound musically in that we are very DIY. We grew up just outside of Vancouver, past the outskirts, so we weren’t down the street from any studios or anything and because of that we kinda just figured out how to do stuff ourselves. We had to. Our dad was a producer for years so he certainly helped steer us in the right direction when it came to recording and writing and stuff.
RDFO: As ‘Her Brothers’ who is your sister and how has she inspired the group.
HB: We are brothers. Levi, Josh and Gabe, youngest to oldest. Our little sister, Tiana, is the youngest. Years ago I (Gabe) was on a trip to south-east Asia and experienced being offered a 15-year-old girl for sex. When I shared what happened with the group we were with they just shook their heads and said: “At least that doesn’t happen in America as much as it does here”. But the reality is that it does happen BIG TIME all across other countries and especially in the States and Canada. And I mean this isn’t about sex workers or anything this is about forced sex slavery. For all of us as a band having a sister is a big deal and a big responsibility especially surrounding the mindset of sex trafficking. Simply put, objectifying another human being (though it may not be as visible over here in North America) takes on a pernicious, subtle, candy-coated form in the misogynistic lyrical content of a lot of artists. I mean it’s all over. And it’s not about pointing out certain people because in reality it’s become such a cultural norm, a societal badge of honor. To be a man is to objectify women and defend it with pithy remarks such as, “well that’s just locker room talk”. But the reality is that it isn’t. Artists are now getting in trouble for having had sex with minors, for drugging fans and raping them, and I’ve been in studios and heard artists and producers not only condone this kind of bullshit but also encourage it. I’ve had people even disagree with me and say if you don’t objectify women or “take what’s yours” then you’re not a man. It’s just not true. It’s terribly brutal and degrading rhetoric and even worse advice. This is certainly something that we’ve talked about a lot at our shows and encourage others to talk about. The first album She focused on this very thing. So our sister has influenced us in the way we see the role of “big brother”; the awareness that the way that we treat women, talk about women and think about women is what will essentially be a big part of what shapes her ideas of normality. All of us collectively as a human race shape our societal and cultural norms.
RDFO: How long have you all been musicians?
HB: We’ve been playing music (individually and together) now for about 13 years. We grew up together so we’ve always played together.
RDFO: What has been the most exciting bit of support you have gotten so far as Her Brothers?
HB: Our parents haha. But aside from that probably some of the biggest support has been from a guy named Jimmy Crescenzo here in Vancouver. Actually, both he and Tanya Zambrano have been huge supports. Jimmy is the one who connected us with Keith Scott of Bryan Adams – Keith even played guitar on one of the new tracks, “Swim Across the Ocean” which is on the new album to be released later this year. Not only is Keith an incredible guitar player he’s just an all around great guy, really fun.
RDFO: Behind the scenes are there any brotherly rivalries that help to bring a bit of energy to the group?
HB: Haha brotherly rivalries… we don’t ever fight. Which is funny because we do but for some reason, a lot of people think we don’t. I don’t know if we’d say there are any rivalries, but we definitely have disagreements over things that can get very heated and intense. It’s so easy being brothers to really lose it and say just downright horrid things with the assumption that, “We’ll be fine tomorrow.” But there’s certainly been disagreements and hurt feelings that have lasted and built up over the years. We’re pretty tight not just as brothers but as a family so we always try and work things out. Essentially we all want the same thing in the end, to write great songs and have a good time with each other creating an experience for our fans.
RDFO: I could be wrong, but as three musician brothers – are your parents musicians?
HB: YES YES YES! Both of them are, we even have a picture of them with those 80’s biker jackets back to back in a band photo shoot they did when they got married. Years ago when we played our first show at this open mic thing at some church in Vancouver our dad pointed out that it was the same place he and our mom had played their first shows years prior. Our parents actually even met in a recording studio so you could say the music runs deep!
RDFO: What inspired the new tune and what are you hoping to relay to listeners through the lyrics?
HB: These questions are always a bit hard to answer cause sometimes just leaving the song to be what it is for everyone is the best. I’ve had people tell me about how certain lyrics touched them and what it said to them and I’ve thought, “that’s so left field it’s not even the same game.” But it touched them – it connected us – and essentially that’s the end goal. Levi and I tend to mostly write a lot of the material, Levi a lot of the musical/production side of things and me, Gabe, the lyrics. Levi kept voicing that this song had to be danceable and have an upbeat groove if it was going to be about love (actually what’s really funny is it was the last song we recorded and put on the record last minute. Levi went around to everyone separately campaigning to get the song on the record haha). I had written the chorus line about two years prior but had no verses. When it came down to it I guess for me the fascinating thing about love is the tension between opposites attracting and many times lovers wanting their counterpart to be more like them, rather than their opposite. Opposites attract, but the real excitement I’ve found lies in freeing one’s counterpart to be themselves fully. And believe me, I’m so terrible at that in my own relationships… I like to sing about things I can’t figure out. When the world doesn’t make sense music is where I’ve turned.
RDFO: Who is the funniest of the brothers? Who is the most serious? Who is the best musician?
HB: Gabe is pretty funny but Josh’s laugh can have everyone else laughing even if whatever the subject is isn’t that funny. He has a pretty intense pensive side too. A really good listener too. Levi is probably the best musician, he plays everything but is mostly just so much fun to work with. After answering this question we’ll now have some “brotherly rivalries” to talk about for next time haha!
RDFO: What is up next for you guys?
HB: We’ve got a few more singles releasing before the full album which we’re super excited about. This is definitely our best work yet that we’re most proud of and we’ve had so many incredible people help us along the way and continue to support and help us. We truly couldn’t do it without our amazing team. We’re also putting together a tour so fingers crossed that we make it down to your neck of the woods sooner than later.
RDFO: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
HB: Yeah, that we deeply love our fans. They are some of the most incredible people in the world who are figuring out what it means to be human right along with us and it’s an incredible journey to be on together. With our shows, Gabe has always talked about melding the camp-fire and arena experience into one where we collectively come together in a shared experience but with the intimacy of a campfire where there’s no band and then the audience but instead a feeling of what Émile Durkheim called “collective effervescence”.