Middle Brother: The Extended Interviews

Videos by American Songwriter

Middle Brother are a band of brothers comprised of Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, John McCauley of DeerTick, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spririt. We asked these three amigos about their favorite musicians, the songs that make them cry, and the first tune they ever wrote.

John McCauley

What artist made you want to be a musician?

My parents listened to a lot of music in the house, and I can remember hearing Roy Orbison, and the Beatles, particularly George Harrison. Los Lobos was actually one of my favorite bands when I was a kid. Then there was the California Raisins. Between them, that was the reason why I decided I wanted to be a musician. George is my favorite Beatle, although always kind of torn between George and John.

Did those early songs emulate any of those artists you mentioned?

I got a lot of song instruction from listening to the Beatles. All my early bands when I was a teeanger, even if it was a punk band or a metal band or whatever, I was always trying to write something catchier than some of the other obnoxious bands we were playing with at the time.

What drew you to Roy Orbison?

The voice is what really made me like him. The reason why George is my favorite Beatle is because I really love the Traveling Wilburys. We joked around, the original name for Middle Brother was the Traveling Bill Murrays. But we didn’t approach it like a super group. We approached it like we would our respective bands.

Deer Tick have been known to play Nirvana songs as Deervana – Was Nirvana revelatory music for you when you first heard it?

Oh yeah. I was sort of playing that kind of music when I was a teenager. My first Nirvana album was In Utero. My mom had the Unplugged in NY album. But In Utero‘s still my favorite.

Did you learn to play all those songs on guitar when they first came out?

When I first started playing guitar, yeah, that’s all I wanted to learn. Those power chords, and Kurt’s unusual chord changes.

What’s a song that makes you cry every time you hear it?

It usually happens once and never happens again. Bob Dylan’s “Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather.” It’s an epic, story telling song. Chris from Deer Tick has requested that we cover it, but do it as a duet. Maybe we’ll do it some day.

I heard it some time in high school. But I wasn’t really a big fan of Bob Dylan until I was 19 or 20. Bob Dylan was somebody that my parents listened to, and I had to discover him on my own.

Your mom was into Nirvana. Does she have eclectic tastes?

Yeah. My mom likes a lot of good music. Although she does like Nickelback, so I can’t trust everything my mom likes.

What was the irst song you ever wrote?

I wrote a song with my grandmother when I was like, three, called “You Can’t Eat Candy In The Morning.” It was like three verses, you can’t eat candy in the morning, and the next one was like, you can’t drink soda in the morning, and it just went on and on. I don’t think there was a hook or a chorus or anything. It was just, you can’t eat junk food in the morning, you have to have a good breakfast.

What’s the best part about being in Middle Brother?

Getting to work with two people that I consider high caliber songwriters. Some how, our egos don’t clash, and we don’t really get annoyed with each other. I don’t know why it worked out that way but it did.

Next Page: Matt Vasquez

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