[Q&A] Indie Rock Heads in the Right Direction with Brother Moses’ ‘Desperation Pop’

Photo Credit: Lowndes Commander (@lowndescommander)

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // March 6, 2020

From playing random house parties to touring the country, Brother Moses is one of those indie rock bands you just can’t say no to. After relocating from Arkansas to New York, the talented quartet had been hard at work on their incredible new album, Desperation Pop. With infectious hooks and otherworldly guitars, Desperation Pop is an impeccable representation of what we’d like to see the indie rock scene grow into. 

On Desperation Pop, Brother Moses shared,

“[Desperation Pop is] a living, breathing document, a collage of everything that’s permeated our collective consciousness over the past year.”

To celebrate the release of their otherworldly new album, we recently chatted with Brother Moses about house parties, New York City, and of course, Desperation Pop.

HH: It’s been quite some time since Brother Moses has played house parties… How does it feel to finally tour across the country as a band?

BM: It’s pretty wild playing our own headline shows in places like Bryan, TX or Richmond, VA and seeing people show up wearing Brother Moses T-shirts and singing the words to your song that you wrote in your bedroom. I think we got so used to trying to fight for people’s attention in dive bars and at house parties that it’s honestly a little challenging learning to play for people that paid money solely to see you. But we’re so excited about it!

HH: Although Arkansas will always have a special place in your hearts, why did Brother Moses relocate to New York City? What was that transition like? 

BM: I remember having a conversation with the rest of the band after our first tour that went through New York in 2015 where we talked about how we’d never felt energy like the kind we’d felt in that city before. We just wanted to be a part of it so badly. Making the transition was tricky at first; it’s kind of hard to adjust to not being able to drive to each other’s houses and practice in garages anymore, but we’ve all settled in and it feels like home now.

HH: How did you guys agree upon the name Desperation Pop?

BM: About halfway through recording the album, I pitched the name Desperation Pop as a sort of mission statement for what we were trying to do, which was to take the urgency and loudness of the music we’ve always made and try to make it into something more accessible and immediately rewarding. Eventually, I think it just kind of became an album title. There were other options for sure, but it felt right to keep the name that had been inspiring us during recording and writing.

HH: You guys have always been catching people’s attention, and now you’ve gone ahead and included snippets of dialogue throughout the new album. Why did you guys decide to incorporate this unconventional element?

BM: Well, a couple of the tracks, or at least portions of them, are directly inspired by TV and film. John-Lewis is always sampling random bits of this and that and trying to insert them into songs. We don’t typically end up keeping them; we mainly use them for direction–a bit of dialogue can push the feeling of a song in a certain direction–but this time around we just left nearly all of them in the tracks. We like how it makes the whole thing feel more alive and lets us tie direct lines between the lyrics and the pieces of art that inspired them–like the Cheers dialogue in “Sam and Diane” or the Groundhog Day samples in “Someone Make It Stop!”

HH: What are some indie rock records that influenced Desperation Pop’s infectious sound?

BM: Death Cab For Cutie’s Narrow Stairs and Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City were two big ones. Those are two indie rock records that just sound dense and punchy and airy all at the same time.

HH: What was it like working with Calvin Lauber (The Band CAMINO, Julien Baker) on the record?

BM: He’s going to be a household name someday. So many incredibly talented people have come through Calvin’s studio and he’s only like 24, 25. People trust him with their work because he’s constantly just listening–to the sounds in the room, to the conversations you’re having, to literally everything happening around him. He knows way more than any of us about recording music but he’d let us follow our own dumb ideas down a rabbit hole until he could see exactly what it was we were aiming for and only then would he step in and redirect us. He’s got such a bright future in music. He also wrote most of the vocal harmonies on the album!

HH: What were you most excited about for Brother Moses Plays Shows in the Month of February Tour

BM: Texas just hits differently. We’re so lucky to have fans there. 

HH: What are your three hidden hits?

BM: Brewster – “Kiss Me While I’m Down.” ManDancing – “Joe.” Rock Eupora – “It’s Gonna Get Better.”

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