One band currently making major inroads into the national scene via this route is Ocean Beach-based indie rock quartet, Brothers Gow, who are in the midst of a West Coast tour. The current leg of this road trip wraps up May 5 in Mt. Shasta, before the band heads out yet again for another round of dates that includes an appearance at the three-day OC MusicFest taking place Memorial Day weekend in Silverado, Calif.
Featuring guitarist Kyle Merrill, bassist Ethan Wade, keyboardist Alex Mello and drummer Nathan Walsh-Haines, the band formed in 2007 during their college years in Flagstaff, Ariz.
“Some of the guys grew up together and jammed as kids too, so there’s a lot of history there,” Walsh-Haines said. As for their name? “It’s the middle name of our original keyboardist Alexander Gow Bastine. Legend has it that Kyle and Alex were going into a bar and Kyle wasn’t 21 so he needed someone else’s ID. So Alex offered his and said, “if they ask just tell them we’re Brothers Gow!”
Heading west, Walsh-Haines could’ve ended up in any part of San Diego. He is particularly happy with landing in OB. “It’s such a tight-knit community,” he said. “And OB is huge on supporting the local scene. Some of our first shows were at the Farmers Market in OB. We still do acoustic stuff during the holidays, and I live right down the street so I go there for produce and to hang with friends all the time.
“Meanwhile, Winston’s is our home base for sure. It always feels good to play a show there, we are comfortable, fearless and know that fans will bring that energy you want to have at every show. We want to play some Belly Up and Music Box shows here and there of course, but Winston’s is home,” he said. Brothers Gow next appear at Winston’s on May 24.
While Brothers Gow is loosely an indie rock band with jam band elements (their music is hard to pin down), with a kaleidoscope of influences. “We all love harmony, long improvisations, and building cool themes and moods throughout our live show,” Walsh-Haines remarked. “The music has really evolved over such a long period of time. “We all got started on lots of classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Beatles. As we got older we all discovered our own tastes and that ranges from literally everything like jazz to metal, pop to grunge, instrumentals to singer-songwriter.”
The band is currently working on their fifth album, with major road work planned for the next year. “Touring has been our number one priority for a few years now and we have been pretty much everywhere in the U.S. except the South,” Walsh-Haines said. “In 2017, we did our first nationwide tour to the East Coast where we played New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont. We also started playing the Midwest and love Chicago and Minneapolis. At this point, I believe we’ve played 29 states.”
Music is a tough business, but with more than a decade of Brothers Gow behind him, it’s clear Walsh-Haines is in it for the long haul. “In the beginning it’s so much about having fun, the newness of experience, travel and playing rock shows,” he said. “I think as we’ve gotten older those things are still important but we’ve evolved.
“We still want to rock hard but we want to write really compelling music. We also want to be our own bosses. You have to really go all in in this business,” he said. “The dream of the biggest stages, are still very much alive.”
Now in it’s 12th year, Walsh-Haines sees what’s ahead for Brothers Gow as hard work, but he considers the group to be stronger than ever. “I started playing drums when I was 13,” he recalled. “I dreamed of playing in a band with my best friends and now here we are. It has been the most challenging and rewarding thrill of my life and in a way it always feels like it’s just the beginning,” Walsh-Haines continued. “Brothers Gow has given me the platform to do so many profound things – push my musicianship, travel, open for bands I love, play with other great players, teach privately, and start a non-profit. I’m proud of what we’ve done and excited for the future.”