By VANESSA SALVIA // "We want the blank canvases and to create songs that people can really relate to, from either the positive message or that it just got their toes tapping or made people feel something."
The name Erik, Scott and David Wurgler chose for their band came almost too easily. When the brothers got together to start a musical project, it wasn’t meant to be a serious thing. But when they started telling their friends to go to their first show their friends ran with it.
“Before our first show we were just telling our friends, ‘Hey, my brothers and I are going to play, you should come out,’” recalls Erik, the middle brother who plays bass and sings. “It’s funny because our friends showed up in t-shirts that said My Brothers And I. They took it literally.”
The name stuck because it does represent who they are. The brothers, Scott, 26, Eric, 23, and Dave, 19, also play with guitarist Jordan Roach, who they all grew up with and consider a brother. “Our long-time friend Johnny Iliyn who’s our keyboard player is also not far away from being a brother,” says Erik.
The Portland-based brothers play an amalgam of funk, soul, hip hop and pop, which makes sense considering they grew up in a musical household where they could freely explore their many interests.
“We grew up in a musical house,” says Erik. “We decided early on instead of everybody having a bedroom that one room would be just for music, so even when we were younger we would jam together.”
The two oldest brothers, Erik, and drummer Scott, played in musical projects before but once David got old enough to truly join in, about 2 1/2 years ago, My Brothers And I was born. “As Dave grew up we knew we wanted to do something musical with him,” says Erik.
Erik, Scott and Roach also played in a project called Find Your Smile. The brothers say that project went largely unnoticed, but it did provide an outlet for them to use every instrument they knew how to play and included many different styles of music. With eight years in between David and Scott, there’s a lot of musical territory to cover and they are all fans of many different styles of music, which all makes its way into the Northwest soul-style debut My Brothers And I album, Don't Dream Alone, which was released in September 2015 on Expunged Records.
“People say My Brothers And I are eclectic but to us it was reining in compared to what we used to do,” says Erik. “We’re skilled enough to do crazy things if we wanted to but I don’t know if that would connect with people. We want the blank canvases and to create songs that people can really relate to, from either the positive message or that it just got their toes tapping or made people feel something. That was more important to us than anything else on this album.”
Scott says their musical parents were always very supportive, so birthday and Christmas gifts always included some sort of musical instrument. “Erik’s played everything, from violin, viola and guitar to bass and piano,” he says. “Erik’s definitely the Swiss army knife of the band.”
“I like that!” Erik says with a laugh.
One interesting constant in their musical education has been that they all played in the same jazz group in high school. Even though they are four years apart, they played with the same director, though not at the same time. “That opened us up to a lot of opportunities,” Scott says. “We definitely learned a lot from those experiences and it’s one of the things that we all experienced at South Salem High School. Even Jordan went through the same group.”
Scott says the band is so new that audiences don’t have many expectations, but he enjoys watching the crowd slowly get into it when they start to play. “They don’t know who we are and they start clapping along,” he says. “David sits down to play guitar by himself and it totally hushes a room. People aren’t talking or anything, they’re just totally listening.”
Catch up with this band now before the rest of the country discovers them and their sound inevitably starts to evolve. The brothers are such good players that they all appreciate a challenge and don’t want their musical output to get stagnant. “We don’t like to play the same types of songs over and over,” says Scott. “We’re really happy with our first album but we’re also trying to move forward and find our next sound. It’s almost like a challenge and we’re going to be experimenting on our next album.”
The band is already pushing farther away from the Portland area. They will be embarking on a tour in March that will take them to Austin, Texas, and points farther East. “We’re just getting started touring and I feel like we’re making a little bit of noise here in the Northwest,” says Scott. “It’s really pushing forward.”