Hunters, Collector, Brother

Great article-interview with Jack Howard about the Long Lost Brothers.

Author:  Michael Dwyer, TIM (Taste in Music).

Date: 26 June 2014.

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Article Text

From a ‘Hunna’ to a Brother. Jack Howard tells Michael Dwyer about his new musical road.

From left: Jack Howard, Mark Ferrie, Ed Bates, Nick Del Rey and Cal McAlpine.

Every itinerant soul needs a long-lost brother. Since he joined up with Hunters and Collectors 30-odd years ago, Jack Howard has travelled so many roads that a whole gang of them feels in order.

The Long Lost Brothers is “a handy band name”, says the only trumpet player in the ARIA Hall of Fame, not least because he’s been discovering them in various permutations for more than 10 years.

“The one player who has done everything with me is [guitarist] Nick Del Rey. He and I go back to the first time I got the nerve to try a few recordings of my own in the ’90s, when Hunters were still going,” Howard says.

Pedal steel legend Ed Bates (the Sports) arrived towards the end of the Brothers’ first, “fantastic three-year residency every Friday night at the Elwood RSL in 2001 to 2003.”

Rhythm section Cal McAlpine and Mark Ferrie are “the new guys”, though the appellation is clearly ironic, given decades of experience going back to the Chosen Few and the Models.

Together they nailed a dozen songs for Day of the Dog in a single day at Hothouse Audio in St Kilda last August. A lucky 13th, Shut It Down, was cooked up from scratch after dinner.

“The beauty of a lot of these songs is that we had a couple of residencies,” says Howard, “so week in, week out, I’ve always felt the need to throw new stuff into the set spontaneously and see what happens.”

From a handful of chords and a lyric from the frontman’s notebooks, the results can spring as simply as the Stonesy country-blues of Let’s Fall In Love, or as harmonically rich as The Lark Ascends (watch the video here).

The whole bears no overt connection to Howard’s recent exploits, whether it be the Hunnas’ reunion run from Springsteen’s arenas to acres of wineries, or his membership of surf-space-rock supergroup the Break.

If anything, it’s the sophistication of his Burt Bacharach tribute shows that tends to linger in the Long Lost Brothers’ melodies and brass lines, bolstered by a young horn section wryly christened the Token Youths.

Speaking of which, time has mellowed the famously feisty internal dynamic of H&C, Howard is happy to report. And he jokes that he’s played so many Exile On Main Street tribute shows that he can play in both bands when they support the Rolling Stones in Auckland come November.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing like brothers to keep a man grounded.

“With these guys, it feels like we’ve all had our moments in the sun and we’re out the other side of it without any huge thought to conquering the world,” Howard says. “We’re just out there playing music because we want to and I think that shows.”

The Long Lost Brothers launch Day of the Dog on Friday June 27 at Caravan Music Club. Tickets and details here.