Mighty Brother’s “Naked Winter” is A Timely Release for Current Anxious Times

New Orleans band, Mighty Brother, recently released a music video for their single “Naked Winter” as a tease to their upcoming double album (The Rabbit. The Owl.), due in Summer 2020. “Naked Winter” immediately evokes a feeling of angst and foreboding, establishing the haunting, indie vibes that define the second side of their upcoming double album. The song is a slow-burner, but once the groove drops in, Mighty Brother takes us on a climatic journey, the apex of which features a wailing sax solo and the grittiest bass wah you’ve ever heard. “Naked Winter” captures familiar feelings of isolation, uncertainty about the future, and the feeling of being held hostage by uncontrollable forces such as the media (and, more relatively, the coronavirus), all while artfully exploring the band’s unique genre-bending style. We sat down with Mighty Brother to talk about their band’s humble beginnings, new music video, and what’s next for the dynamic group.

How did Mighty Brother get started as a band?

Mighty Brother began as a duo songwriting project of Nick Huster and Ari Carter in Bloomington, IN, and quickly grew into a five-piece indie rock outfit based out of New Orleans. 

We started making music together in 2015. Ari likes to point to a moment after we had first jammed and shared some of our songs that he woke up hiking in Denali National Park, Alaska with one of Nick’s songs stuck in his head as the “aha’ moment for starting the band. After he returned from that hiking trip, we got to work on our first album.  

Where does the name ‘Mighty Brother’ come from? What does it stand for?

The name came from “Dearly Beloved,” one of our early co-writes. “Mighty Brother” appears in the lyrics, and we felt it both a strong name and one that hinted at something greater than the sum of its parts.

“Naked Winter” is a release from your upcoming double album….. what made you decide to release a double album?

Short answer, we’re interested in music that creates an immersive listening experience.  But we could go on… As writers, we both like long-form stories and world-building (think LOTR, Dune, Game of Thrones, etc.), so when we set out to write an album, we hinge on a concept and let that inform what we create. In a listening culture dominated by singles, we just kind of wanted to push back on that. 

If you’d like the full story of this particular concept… The Rabbit and the Owl first appeared as characters on the cover of our debut album Jettison. Reprise. We saw them as unlikely friends, predator and prey, the king of the night and jester of the day, and decided to place them on a simple, equal plane. Folks would ask, “So, who is the Rabbit and who is the Owl, and what do they represent?” Over time, the personification of these two contrasting characters grew, as did their stories. Certain tunes became characteristically more “Owl”-esque, while others were clearly the playful and energetic “Rabbit” shining through. Naturally, we ran with it (or took it too far), until a double album became the only clear and viable solution. Thus our upcoming Double Album: The Rabbit. The Owl.

What’s your favorite lyrical line in “Naked Winter”?

“Yet tarried she along the yawning frozen fringes fair with Venus in her hair…”

That line calls back to the moment of the song’s conception, as the sun was setting over a frozen lake, and the light sort of just hung there. You could see Venus beaming through the naked branches of the trees along the icy fringes. There was a profound stillness that lives between the lines of that stanza.

What I love most about the lyrics and the song format, is how they allude a sense of motion without moving. There is action in the lyrics, the sun is setting, the world is getting colder and darker, but there’s something beautiful about that. The main action is observing this, and we get the sense that no direct action follows, concluding with the words “silence where it sings” where we just want to shout into the void! Musically, the song cycles back on itself and repeats this refrain over and over again, building each time, driving forward each time, but with no real release: motion without moving. 

How did the idea for the music video come about?

The music video, from concept to shooting, came together in the course of one whirlwind week last December. Ari and I had the idea of making a music video with an analog TV grid and digital mapping but had no idea where to start. When we contacted Bruno Doria and Worklight Pictures to chat about the concept, he revealed that they were, in fact, working on an analog TV installation already and that this would be the perfect push to pull it together. Following that chat, we crafted the video concept and narrative with our director Bruno Doria. 

We filmed the video about a week after first contact. Ari and I got together for a whole day and wrote out the narrative and scenes we wanted to capture. The driving themes we wanted to explore were isolation and media feedback cycles / fake news. We wanted to craft this sort of “blind leading the blind” metaphor and how that can escalate and fall apart. In this case it’s mute leading the blind leading the tortured and finally (after an epic sax solo) finding some sort of liberation. It’s tough times and we need to be really mindful of our bias and our voice and how we treat each other. That’s at least what this video means to me, and I’m really proud of how it came out. 

What do you hope the single conveys to fans?

That we’re back! It’s been a little over two years since we released new music, so we’re hoping this new single is a good reintroduction to the band. We’ve been playing a lot of shows and working really hard on the double album, and we are ready to bring it to life! We hope that this single gives fans a taste of what the second side of the double album, The Owl., is all about. We can’t wait to turn that on its head when we release a single from The Rabbit. side of the record! 

What can fans expect next?

We will be putting out a couple more singles before the album release this Summer. This is a very difficult time to be an artist, and we feel lucky to have new music to share while we’re all waiting to see what the next few months hold. We’ve had to alter our release schedule a lot with canceled shows and tours, but we plan to continue bringing our music to folks via live streams, and we are pushing to release more music sooner than later. 

How have you been affected by the global pandemic? Do you have a message for folks during the crisis?

We mostly miss performing, and we really feel for our fellow musicians, artists, and hospitality workers during this time. Many folks in New Orleans are without work entirely, and spring is usually the most productive time for us. ⁣

We’re hanging in there, fortunate to have music to share, and it’s heartening to see our community pulling together, streaming concerts from their bedrooms, sharing playlists of local music, building digital communities across the web… 

We’ve been encouraging folks who want to help to please stalk the artists you love, continually stream and share their music and videos, buy their merch. Buy paintings from visual artists you love, donate to organizations providing meals for artists and hospitality and gig economy workers. 

Almost anything you enjoy in your leisure, whether that’s going to a gallery, listening to music, going out to eat or drink — these industries are the most threatened. Buy locally, however you safely can, if you want those businesses to remain after everything shakes out.

And most of all be safe, stay inside for now as much as you can, stay healthy, and we hope to see y’all out there as soon as we can!

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