What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in music, and what was your journey to becoming a musician or band like?
I’ll first start by saying that we are in fact siblings, so we have played music together in some capacity (loosely speaking) for many years. We started playing along to our favourite CDs as kids and filmed our own versions of music videos to songs by other artists. Eventually we started jamming but we decided to make it more “official” once we were both living in the same place again and wanted to do something more creative together. I don’t know if I’d say that we’re pursuing a career in music at this point, but we have really enjoyed getting to know other musically inclined people in our community and seeing all the talented folks just bust their ass for something that they love.
Who are some of the musicians or musical acts that have had the most significant impact on your work and your sound?
Immediately, most people assume we have been influenced by Nirvana because of our guitar tones and reliance on power chords, and the White Stripes because we are a two-piece band with drums and guitar. I won’t deny either of those influences because they have certainly both been massive and we love them. More recently, we love the
music that Bully (Alicia Bognanno) has been making for the sound, melodies, and messages. I like that Alicia has said that she often writes songs with the distortion on because we will often do the same thing. Other song-crafting influences are Simone Schmidt and Daniel Romano, and definitely Tegan and Sara for song-craft and navigating the sibling dynamic of our band.
Can you describe the progression of your musical style and what sets it apart from others in the industry?
Our style is quite simplistic, so it is hard to break down the progression of it beyond
the fact that that is sometimes our guiding post. We can tell that a song isn’t quite working when we realize that we are trying to do too much with it. Our reaction is to try and simplify it. We sometimes get self-conscious about how simple some of the songs are, but then when we play those songs, nine times out of ten people tell us that those simple songs are their favourite. I think this also contributes to what gives us our tiny piece of “uniqueness.” We know that we are not shifting the foundations of music, but the fact that Kait had never played drums before this band and that I, despite playing in bands before, was never a songwriter, our musical ignorance (as we’ve been told) is what seems to make our sound something slightly different and hopefully enticing.
Could you elaborate on the backstory and significance of your artist or band name?
There isn’t a deeply engaging backstory besides the fact that our name is more matter of fact. We are the two older siblings of a family and we thought it captured the balance between humour and seriousness that we like to employ. We also wanted to bring our youngest sibling into the mix so it is an indirect reference to their significance in the band despite not playing in the band.
How do you typically approach the songwriting process, and what role does collaboration play in your work?
We have a couple ways of going about writing a song. I will often craft some kind of
guitar riff with a chorus potentially and then bring that to Kait where we’ll work out the drums and the rest of the song structure. Otherwise, we’ll be jamming randomly before a practice and if something cool comes of it, then I’ll try to finish the song structure and then bring it back to the duo dynamic for editing and final touches. In either case, Kait often takes the lead on lyric writing and will bring that in once the song is ready for vocals. I’ll add some lyrics in some cases we’ll brainstorm some lines in a pinch. We have our private writing moments, but for the most part, it is entirely collaborative, because it is easier to perform a song that we both feel a more meaningful connection to.
Can you share with us a particularly meaningful or personal song in your discography, and what inspired it?
We have a song on our first EP called “Room Temperature” which is a Black Sabbath-
sounding call for comfort without conformity. I think we may have had a sibling argument about what the literal temperature is when someone says “room temperature” but it became something more meaningful about sitting in discomfort and either facing that challenge or unlearning certain tendencies, but also not wanting to feel like you have to conform to societal standards in order to feel some sense of comfort. Many people like the chorus riff, which may draw them in, but when they hear the lyrics, they might recognize the sentiment and frustration with the control and parameters around who gets to be comfortable and when in our society.
Could you discuss the evolution of your live shows and performances, and what you aim to convey through them?
This is probably one of the biggest changes across the lifespan of our band. We started off quite timid and almost passive as a band. We are a duo, so there are already fewer sound waves coming from our performances, but we didn’t quite grasp the value of performance as well. Sometimes we are amazed that people booked us or asked us to play in our early days because our sound and strength as performers has improved quite a bit. But some of that early validation, despite our thin sound and presence in those days, has helped us
push to build a bigger sound and presence even though we are still only two people. I am sure that most people say they want to convey energy through performance in a genre like
grunge/garage rock and we feel the same, but hopefully (and this is why Bully is so awesome) with an ounce of thoughtfulness and reflection. Reflective energy perhaps if that means anything.
Can you recall any memorable or unique experiences you have had while touring or performing?
We are a bit older than most people who might decide to start a band, so we don’t have crazy tour or performance stories, but the most significant story is probably the fact that near the beginning of our second year as a band we played a couple of shows on the east coast while visiting friends and family. We played a show in Truro, Nova Scotia and a guy there offhandedly mentioned an octave pedal and, long story short, it has become the third and most valuable member of the band. Similarly, we played a house show in London and the sound tech, Tyler, who is also an excellent musician in a few bands, offhandedly suggested that we run the octave through a bass amp while running my guitar through the guitar amp to essentially mimic the sound of a three-piece band. Ultimately, these two coincidental experiences helped birth the second life of Older Siblings. That is why we love the community element of this entire experience.
What is your perspective on the current state of the music industry, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
We are not industry professionals by any means and we know that we are lucky to have other careers as well because it is a tough go for anyone trying to make a career as a musician first and foremost. What I’ll say is simply based on our brief existence and
experiences as a band. It is increasingly difficult to tour for smaller bands as in not the bands that play arena shows etc. We know that prices are going up for shows for big acts, which only makes the live music experience more exclusive. My hope then, is that as many of us are or get pushed out of the affordability range for the big name artists, people might rediscover their local artists and venues that are regularly putting on great shows. There are certainly many people that support these musicians and places already, but I encourage everyone to pop into your local venues and watch a couple of bands even if you have no idea who they are. That’s a more micro-scale answer perhaps, but I hope it addresses some part of the question!
Can you speak to the role that activism, social justice or charity play in your music and career?
We are always aiming to recognize and act in response to a responsibility that we feel to push against white supremacist, patriarchal, settler-colonial systems that structure every aspect of our lives, but we are also careful not to appropriate the voices of racialized, gendered, or classed people. We are not always an overtly political band in our lyrics, but then in other cases we know there are deeply political sentiments in those lyrics that are really important to us. In other words, social justice is always at the forefront of the choices that we make as a band, even if it is not always in the specific words that we are saying in the song. We work with diverse musicians, producers, sound engineers, and promotional groups because they are talented and amazing people.
How has your hometown or region shaped your musical identity, and what elements of it do you attempt to incorporate into your work?
We are originally from Winnipeg, MB and I feel like there’s a piece of that city that we are always carrying with us in our songs and performances. I’m not saying that we have some Propagandhi or Mobina Galore in us, but we have a battle mode that has allowed us to start a band in our 30s and not give it up just yet. We started the band in London, On, and I think what we incorporate into our work is the community that I discussed earlier. Quite literally in some cases, the ideas of the people we have worked with here have shaped the way we sound when we play live and on our recordings. It sounds obvious, but the people in the community have helped make us Older Siblings. There’s just something about cities built around the forks of rivers that works for us.
Could you share any exciting new projects or collaborations you have in the works?
Yes! We have new music coming later this year recorded with our good friends at powerboi studio here in London. We also spent a day at Eardrum Valley in Toronto and have a new single coming out of that session. We are excited because our new stuff has been fine tuned and we think it demonstrates the step we’ve taken musically as a band. Keep an eye on the socials and streaming services!