Exclusive Interview: Tom McKee of Brothers Past
Brothers Past made the floor burn on Saturday, March 24 at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia. The new venue was given life as the band hit the stage, and boy did they hit it with fervor. The first set was firing on all cylinders. Big Blue Apples started it off and had everyone bumping. The whole set had a wonderful flow, and you could tell the band members were having fun in their hometown. One Rabbit Race closed the first set and left the crowd anxious for more.
The second set brought the oomph right back to the place. Great song selection all night and I was glad to hear them raging Squeeze to end the set. The encore, Simple Gift Of Man, brought the intensity an encore deserves. In the end, I was very pleased with Brothers Past’s performance. I believe this is a band to keep an eye on. Their popularity grows as they continue to prove to crowds all over that they can bring the heat. I would definitely say that we can expect big things from Brothers Past in the future, considering the effort they are putting out. I was able to get an interview with their keyboardist/vocalist Tom McKee.
Encore: Simple Gift Of Man
1Formerly Staring At The Sun debut 12/31/200??
TOM MCKEE INTERVIEW
How did it feel playing for the hometown Philly crowd?
Philly is our hometown and it’s where we have traditionally drawn our biggest crowds when we perform. The Union Transfer show was no different. We had almost 700 people in the room, and the energy was contagious right from the get-go. There’s just something about looking out in the audience and seeing a crowd of your people smiling and having the time of their lives. It makes you want to blow the roof off of the joint.
Do you guys plan on playing the Union Transfer on a more regular basis?
We will likely play there again at some point. There are lots of great rooms in Philly and many variables that factor into which ones we play. We try to match them up with the kind of show we’re playing. Union Transfer felt like the right room for the CD Release so we played there this time around. I think we all want to play there again and I’m sure it will happen again.
What are the plans for the future in terms of touring and festivals?
We will be at more festivals this summer than we have been in recent years. The big ones we are doing are Electric Forest and Camp Bisco, but we have always done smaller regional festivals too and that will continue to be the case. We are doing Mantrabash in NC, Camp Barefoot in West Virginia and Nomadic Roots in Virginia. There are some other irons in the fire too but nothing that could be considered locked in so I can’t really talk about those. We will be playing a good chunk of shows between now and the end of the year. Probably 10-15 more than we played last year.
Has it been tough being the music director at the School of Rock and playing shows at the same time?
No. It requires a lot of time management on my part but I am a fairly organized person by musician standards and fortunately School of Rock is proud of the fact that I am a touring musician. So I can kind of wear both hats. Occasionally there are conflicts and I have to choose between one thing or the other and that can be a drag but both situations dovetail perfectly for me. For the first time in my life I am doing nothing but music: teaching, performing, writing, managing the business side of things for both situations. It feels good to be able to say that.
What was your highlight of the show? Whether it is a song you were really grooving on, a backstage anecdote, or perhaps a crowd reaction.
I think for me it wasn’t the show so much but the feedback I am getting from our fans on the record. We obviously put a lot of time and energy into it, but it’s been seven years since our last release (This Feeling’s Called Goodbye) and a lot of things have changed since then. The scene has changed. The band has changed. We had a lot of old friends and fans in the house, especially at the Philly show, and these are people who would have no problem telling us they didn’t dig the record but so far it’s been nothing but positive feedback. One person in particular told me that he thought the record would raise the bar for bands in the scene in 2012 the same way This Feeling’s Called Goodbye did in 2005. That felt good.
What is your instrument set-up?
I use a Roland VSynth, a Korg triton, a Novation Ultranova and a USB keyboard that I run with Mainstage off my laptop. Basically I can make any sound in the world!
What other pianists influence you?
Richard Wright, Bill Evans, Keith Jarret, Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks, Billy Joel, Elton John, the list goes on and on and on. For something more contemporary, I think Marco Benevento is brilliant.
What is your favorite facet of live performance?
The bottle of Makers in the green room at every show.