Continuing Canada Week, today I’m rambling on with The Brothers Dube. Liam, Jan and Quinn are not only a tight and accomplished power trio, they are also committed to charity work — helping to improve impoverished conditions in Haiti and raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research at home. In the short time I’ve known of them, they have moved high on the list of today’s young performers who impress me because they’re doing more than just performing. We chatted via email about their recent musical releases and charity work.
ANTHONY: From looking at your videos, it looks like you all play multiple instruments. So what do you each play, and who plays the most different instruments?
LIAM: bass, guitar, drums, piano
JAN: banjo, bass, guitar
QUINN: piano, mandolin, ukelale, drums
ANTHONY: You write your own music, clearly. What’s the songwriting process like? Is it always a collaboration between the three of you? Do you ever collaborate with anyone else?
JAN: We collaborate with each other, we usually come up with some riff, chords… the music… then we come up with the lyrics and melody. We collaborate with others as well, we’ve written with Valdy, the Odds, Shaun Verreault (from Wide Mouth Mason), North Easton (My Favorite Tragedy)… Mike Goyette, and our producer Kaylen Prescott (oh and dad!).
ANTHONY: I feel like I can hear some country influences in some of your songs (like “One”) and then on others there’s a very RUSH sound. Who are your major musical influences?
JAN: The country influence comes from our liking of southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Big Sugar, Big Wreck… while the Rush stuff comes from our taste in prog rock like Floyd, Phish, Rush and Zappa…. But we also like straight up rock and roll like Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine.
LIAM: we hear from some people “in the music business” that “kids aren’t into rock anymore”… we think that’s not true. kids like whatever they like… if it sounds good to them, they like it… it’s not like music can be boxed anymore… so we think rock is as alive and well as any other kind of music…
ANTHONY: Let’s talk about my favorite song of yours, “One.” Tell us the story behind writing the song, and the message the song conveys.
JAN: The song was written with the goal of explaining how we believe that our Mom (Michèle) is still with us in a different form than physical “Cuz we are One” means you are still with us no matter what. It’s pretty deep, and we don’t often talk about it, but when we were young and she died… our dad told us something important. He asked us to think about a sugar cube, and all the ways we’d describe it… we thought of it being square, shiny, hard, white, rough… and then he asked us to imagine dropping it into a glass of water, and stirring it around, and then asked whether the same ways we described it before were any good… he helped us realize that even though the sugar cube as we KNEW it is gone, it’s still actually there, in a different way, and we can KNOW this, know that the sugar cube is ONE with the water, just like our mom is ONE with everything in the universe…. pretty deep maybe but that’s ONE for ya (just listen to the words)!
ANTHONY: You started performing to raise funds for cancer research, right? Which cancer charities do you support, and how can people help?
LIAM: Breast cancer… but then we saw orphans in Haiti and started helping them because they also lost a parent, and in some cases BOTH… we now raise funds for two causes Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage Gena Heraty Fund, and the KANPE Foundation… we are now focused on getting into schools and showing kids that you can change the world through art or anything you are passionate about. We call it the ART-IVISTS SHINE SHOW and we want to bring it to a school near YOU.
ANTHONY: Tell us about your recent trip to Haiti and what you did while you were there.
LIAM: We went to Haiti to see where and how our funds were invested… and film a documentary on where kids there were living, what their lives were like, what they were doing.
ANTHONY: Your videos include a lot of concert footage. Do you tour a lot, and if you do, how do you balance the touring and school?
JAN: We share school time with touring and with the studio… we stay on top of our school work and get it out of the way as soon as we can and make sure we’re in good standing at school so that they can continue to support us (Ecole Secondaire Catholique Garneau TOTALLY supports us, it’s awesome!)
ANTHONY: Your videos also include a lot of hockey-playing. What’s everyone’s favorite positions to play? And who is your favorite team?
LIAM: Defence, Buffalo Sabers
JAN: Goalie, Ottawa Senators
QUINN: Right Wing, Montreal Habs
ANTHONY: What other sports do you guys enjoy playing?
JAN: Megastar (it’s our own invented game) / leftovers batting (we bat leftovers at the cottage) / street hockey / frisbee / soccer / easter egg hunting
ANTHONY: I have no idea what Megastar involves, but I’ll admit “leftovers batting” sounds like a lot of fun. Your newest song is “I Kinda Like It,” and I admit, I more than kinda like it! How fun was the video shoot?
QUINN: Burning stuff is always fun when you’re a kid… so that was ALOT of fun… we have other ideas for videos too that we’re working on… that was a perfect day…. started snowing those BIG PUFFY snowflakes and we ran for the equipment, set up (thanks to our busking experience) and just started shooting right away.
ANTHONY: Quinn, burning stuff can be fun as an adult too. There’s a reason I love campfires, and it’s not just the songs and ‘smores! “I Kinda Like It” came out in March. Any other new music on the way?
JAN: LOTS. Got a full album under construction… we’re taking our time and want to make sure that we’re happy with absolutely everything.
ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: For each of you, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
LIAM: The Making of Pink Floyd The Wall – you find out about all the things that were happening behind the scenes.
JAN: Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – it will change your entire perspective of life.
QUINN: I can’t remember, it was a French book, and you should really read it if you need a book to read that is easy to summarize, for people that aren’t completely advanced like me.
ANTHONY: Thanks, boys! Looking forward to the new music!
Then of course there’s their Youtube channel, the most recent video posting being an acoustic version of “One” that I’m going to share right here: