My Sister, My Brother — A Songwriting Supergroup — Breaks Down “Nothing Without You”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

After connecting at a songwriting retreat in Nashville last year, Sean McConnell, Garrison Starr, and Peter Groenwald knew that the magic they felt was something more than just a standard writing session. Together, they’ve joined to form My Sister, My Brother, recently hailed by Billboard as a “Songwriting Supergroup.” 

Set for release on March 6, the band’s self-titled EP is comprised of five dynamic tracks that explore life’s painful truths; often approaching these truths from a hopeful perspective, yet with tender honesty.

Sean — who has written for Christina Aguilera, Meat Loaf, Tim McGraw, among countless others — wanted to give the readers of American Songwriter a look behind the curtain at what went into the the track, “Nothing Without You.”

From Sean McConnell: 

To me, the song always leads the way and I go where the songs go. So when we all got together at a writing camp last year and wrote “Nothing Without You,” I really felt that it was something special. When songs like that are written, they deserve to be heard in the world. We wrote so many songs that I felt were important, sacred, and deserved to be heard—that’s why I decided to really focus on this side project and to keep writing with Peter [Groenwald] and Garrison [Starr] and to find a way for these songs to get to people’s ears. As well as the fact that we’ve all become really close friends and I love them dearly. It’s been so much fun from the get-go.

“Nothing Without You” is the first song we wrote. Like most of the songs we’ve written, it really speaks to the humanness within us; how we’re all looking to belong, how we’re all broken, how we’re all looking for a way to fix ourselves and to feel secure, loved, and accepted. I feel like it’s almost a prayer or a mantra. A common ground for all people. 

“Drive You Home” has a very similar emotion and meaning to me, in that it speaks to our frailness and feeling alone-ness, wanting someone to be on our side, to find us when we’re in the darkness and pull us into the light. 

The song “Honest” is a study on a character who knows their limitations, their flaws, their shortcomings, and is just being brutally honest about what to expect of them. There’s an underlying current of wishing you could be different, wishing you could change, and perhaps that in the past, you’ve tried so many times that you’ve given up on that.

“Don’t Know How To Love You” is one of my favorite songs on this collection. What I love about it is that it speaks to a relationship that you want to succeed and you want to rise above, but you don’t know how to connect with this person; whether it be a lover, a family member, or a friend. Somebody that you don’t feel a commonality with, but there’s still some string that’s attached between you and this person. You’re confused by the intense love and intense separation.

To sum it up—from the moment the three of us started writing, and especially the moment Garrison and I sang together, my soul said, “Pay attention to this…It’s special.” And so I did. We did. It’s always felt urgent and holy and like it was meant to be. Playing the songs live has only strengthened that sense and I’m so excited to be putting this out into the world. We’re having a blast.

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