How do three brothers who worked on a farm with no internet get this ridiculously talented team to work with them–on a debut, no less? Lead singer Patrick Reeves says, "The short answer is luck and a lot of persistence."
Amongst the treacherous and over-populated landscape of today's music, Council's music emerges as the soundtrack that reminds you of U2, with the melodies and modern day sing-along-able chants of One Republic or 30 Seconds to Mars. They embody the tunes that truly do get trapped in your head, and without the gimmicks of vocoders, distracting auto-tuned featured artists, or a melody played by an instrument rather than sung by a vocalist.
Council's debut EP, Rust to Gold, shows that rock can still exist in pure form. Moreover, perhaps the more interesting factoid is who this relatively unknown band worked on the album with: Grammy-nominated producer Justin Gray (Mariah Carey, John Legend), ten-time Grammy-nominated mixer Mark Needham (Imagine Dragons, The Killers), and mastering legend, Howie Weinberg (U2, Nirvana).
The three brothers who make up Council –twins Pat and Doug, plus brother Andy– won over their champions the old fashioned way: by sending demos and emails. Describing themselves as "U2 meets Imagine Dragons and on some nights they invite Coldplay over for a threesome," the band's EP undoubtedly exudes a polished sound comparable to that of a rock veteran's second or third studio release.
In the day and age of "buying" success, Council shows us that focused talent plus persistent hard work will always pay off. Read more in our Q&A below.
You guys are brothers–were you in other bands before you started working together?
Pat: We all have been with this band since its inception. We each threaten to leave and go to other bands but frankly, there's nothing like working with your brothers.
Why are you called Council?
Pat: We really spent quite an amount of time trying to figure out something that wasn't outrageous, had meaning, and looked good in print. We were being evicted from our apartment, and I was arguing some reason why we thought we were in the right and the manager said she would bring it to her "counsel." I remember looking at Doug and Andy and saying, "that could be our name." I wasn't particularly focused on the eviction part, but more excited we had just crossed off our first band task. We changed the spelling because it better reflected our band's decision-making process.
Who are some of your influences?
Doug: U2 would be at the top of the list for so many reasons including longevity, amazing songs, and a tremendous live show. I'd also say Oasis. We caught the end of their peak, but nonetheless can't help being inspired by the brothers Gallagher. The Who, Foo Fighters, Queen, and the lyrical genius of Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam.
How on earth did you go from working on a farm to working with all the Grammy winners/nominees that helped produce this EP?
Pat: When we were on the farm, we had no internet so we’d take lunch breaks and odd times at night to go to the library and send out our demos to industry people. We were fortunate to have legendary mixer, Brian Malouf (Michael Jackson, Queen), open the email and like what we were doing. The first co-writing session was with writer/producer Justin Gray (John Legend, Dirty Heads). We were amazed at how quickly and proficiently he worked. We learned so much and had an immediate connection with him.
Fast forward a couple years later: we were still sending out demos to industry people but had some big names believing in us. People like Grammy winners David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes), Richard Rainey (U2 producer/mixer), Terry Lawless (U2 keyboardist/programmer), and attorney George Stein (Jeff Buckley). We decided we had to finally record something professionally.
We immediately thought of Justin as the guy to fulfill our vision. By the next phone call, he had a rough sketch of what the EP should sound like and also had brought Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons) to mix. So with everything in place, we got to work on our debut Rust To Gold.
On the EP, is there a thread that ties the songs together?
Pat: I think all the songs are a reflection of hope; a kind of a dark optimism. And truthfully we've lived the songs lyrics, so I think the listener will pick up on the fact that as a band, we are forward-looking. No matter the darkness that preceded us, there's always light and that's what we want to translate through our songs.
As brothers, how does the songwriting process work?
Doug: After years of trying to figure the process out, I'm grateful I can actually answer this question. Usually, I'll hear some new song or a beat and bring it to Pat's attention. He's my twin, so I know his tastes pretty good by now. Pat will then usually put a chord progression, a lead piano line and some kind of working title. Then it's played to Andy, and if he seems interested then Andy proceeds to kick Pat off the song (or at least leading the charge in writing) for fear he'll ruin it. Then Andy starts developing song structure, lyrical ideas, and from there it becomes a three-man effort to etch out an idea that has passed all of our approvals. We try not to waste time if we all aren't excited about the song.
What movie trailer would "Rise Above It All" fit best on?
Doug: I'd say definitely a biographical movie. They seem to really capture the spirit of never giving up. Maybe "Cinderella Man?" An amazing story of perseverance through some extraordinary odds.
What bands/music are you listening to right now?
Andy: The Strumbellas, Kings of Leon, Metallica's new album. We really love every genre so whatever is being played is usually okay with us.
Of the shows you've played so far, what has been your favorite place and why?
Pat: I'd say playing at Pipeline Café in Hawaii and opening for the All American Rejects because it was the culmination of a lot of work we had put in–playing in front of 2,500 people was really something I enjoyed.
Andy: Mine was playing at Citi Field (Mets Stadium). The Mets happen to be our favorite team and playing on the field was amazing. This was when Jose Reyes was about to win the batting title, so the fans were electric.
Doug: I'd say opening for The Toadies. Not only are they amazing live, but it was surreal to be playing Guitar Hero to their song the summer before and then be on the same stage as them six months later.
Most embarrassing thing that's happened to you while performing?
Andy: One time I forgot to hit my tuning pedal when I was supposed to start the song–nothing came out of the amp and I screwed up the timing so bad we had to restart the song. I also had my guitar strap come undone mid-song and my guitar dropped to the stage.
Doug: I've dropped sticks and missed notes, but I think coming in the song on the wrong count off is my biggest mistake. We play to a click and backing tracks and when that happens, I literally screw the whole song up. And get the death stare from my two brothers.
Pat: For me, probably stepping on the cord and having the microphone come unplugged or forgetting lyrics. I'm always surprised how I can forget something we wrote.
If you could open for any established band on a big tour, who would you pick?
Doug: U2. They are an older band by our generation’s standard, but they really have been a huge influence on us and in music in general. The fact that they can still put on the biggest tour in the world and continually push the envelope live is a testament to their influence and evolution in maintaining relevance. They certainly didn't invent the stadium sound, but they have perfected it. To be able to open for them would not only be a career high point, but a challenge that I know we'd love to take head on.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Pat: I think we have our sights on a record and publishing deal this year. We'd really love to add to our team and have a label and publisher to help take the band to the next level. In a year, I'd imagine we'd be touring. Hopefully, the tour will encompass more dates and states than we've done before and also be able to add some international stops.
When can we expect to hear a full album from you? What's next for you?
Pat: Hopefully late fall 2017. If things fall into place, we'd love to be recording the LP with our producer, Justin Gray, and have it ready for fall release.
Next, we will be releasing another EP in February sometime.We will be hitting dates in the northeast early this year and continue to expand tour dates and states. Keep an out for what we're up to, it's going to be a very interesting year.