The Vatcher Brothers
By Eriq Rivera
The Vatcher Brothers (Howard Vatcher, Don Vatcher and Ken Susan) is a twin brothers band from San Bruno, California. In this exclusive Q&A they speak about their influences as well as life a twin brothers in one band.
Q: How long have you guys been a band?
Howard Vatcher: The Vatcher Brothers started playing music together when we were in junior high school and performed for one of our mom’s gallery shows. Then we got booked for our 9th grade graduation dance, but nobody danced! Don and I have been rockin’ ever since. Originally it was all four brothers. Brother Michael is now a jazz drummer in Amsterdam.
Q: Did you guys always want to become musicians?
HV: When we were kids we both always thought we’d end up being scientists or doctors like our dad. Don wanted to be a zoologist. I got mom’s interest in art and for a while wanted to be a cartoonist.
Q: I’ve read your influences include ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin, can you guys talk more about that and how you guys incorporate that into your own music?
HV: Although we took music lessons as kids, it wasn’t until we heard mom’s Cream records that we knew we wanted to be rock stars. Then it was all about Led Zeppelin for awhile, and all the usual classic rock suspects. The Woodstock movie was a huge influence, all those awesome bands, all completely different.
Heavy blues guitar soaked into my bones at an early age and I don’t think I could get it out if I tried. The Beatles and the Monkees were big too, and I like to combine their sweet pop with the harder guitars in my songs.
Don and I both dig modern music these days. There’s a lot of cool stuff out now, and people who just listen to the music they grew up with are missing a lot.
Q: Can you guys talk about the writing process for your album “Big Mistake”?
The “Big Mistake” album was originally just going to be an acoustic demo to book some cafe gigs, but we had so much fun recording it that we ended up making a complete album. I liked the acoustic vibe though, so I used that as the musical theme to tie the songs together, using all acoustic rhythm guitars, even on the rockers.
I usually write the music for my songs first, relatively quickly, then take some time trying to translate the emotion into words. When I look back now it’s obvious the lyrics came from a pretty dark place: anger, longing, regret, depression, murder. I think I’ll try to write happier songs for the next album.
Q: How do you feel about your audiences reaction to your the songs?
HV: I’ve been really gratified by the positive response to the songs on this album. “I Woke Up” seems to be the most popular, a couple of friends have asked if they could cover it in their bands, but each of the tunes has been listed as a favorite by fans.
Q: What are some themes for your songs like “Big Mistake,” “Slo-Mo,” and “I Woke Up”?
The song “Big Mistake” is me berating myself for being a jackass. I tend to do that a lot. Musically, I was looking to combine some punky blues verses with a Beatles-type pop in the B section.
“Slo-Mo” is all about the draining effects of depression. I’m really proud of how this one turned out, especially the way the feedback guitars start out whistling in the dark and end up screaming in agony.
I had the idea for “I Woke Up” for a long time, about regretting missed opportunities, but it took me years fit it to music. I like the way it swings.
Q: I’ve read you have shared the stage with Bob Dylan and Jeff Beck, are there any others and how that experience meant to you?
HV: Opening for Jeff Beck at the Concord Pavilion was a dream come true for me. I consider his album “Truth” to be the blueprint for Led Zeppelin and all the heavy rock that followed. He actually signed my vinyl copy. It’s one of my most cherished possessions. I didn’t get to meet Bob Dylan when we played with him, but apparently his band didn’t get to meet him either! Beck was my favorite, but there are a lot of others on the list, including Peter Frampton, Huey Lewis, The Yardbirds, Creedence, Chicago, CSN and more. Playing a show with artists of that caliber gives you the feeling that you belong in that world. Q: As twin brothers band, are there any challenges you guys have from transitioning into performers/musicians?HV: As far as transition goes, it feels like we have been doing this all our lives so we pretty much consider ourselves as musicians before anything else. We think a lot alike so we don’t have many disagreements as far as musical direction and such. The downside is we don’t have someone to to fill the ability gaps the way you might with a group of dissimilar guys. Neither of us is all that good at the business side, networking, booking, promotion, so that’s a challenge. I’ve been having some fun lately with all the new social networking technologies that are available today: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reverbnation, BandCamp. They are a huge help.
Q: What do you see in the future for The Vatcher Brothers?
HV: We are excited about the possibilities that the internet provides to musicians. Our music is available throughout the world on our website, iTunes, Pandora, YouTube, Spotify and of course X-Static Radio! We are really getting into the idea of making our own videos for YouTube and even streaming live concerts. We’re listening to a lot of electronic music these days and we’re working on incorporating some of those new sounds into our tunes.
Q: What are some bands you would love tour with?
A Led Zeppelin reunion tour would be awesome! ZZ Top, the Stones, we’re not picky : )
We dig some newer bands like Metric, Band of Skulls, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys too. It might be a blast to share the bill with an electronic act like Deadmau5 or Skrillex but I doubt we’d go over with that audience.
Q: Any final comments?
We’d really like to thank you and X-Static Radio for playing our tunes. Your listeners can go to www.vatcherbrothers.com
to get a free download of our album “The Best of the Vatcher Brothers”. It’s got songs from each of our previous albums as well as some new stuff. They can find us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter too. All the band info, photos and music are on the website.