One of the many Irish bands making their way to Stradbally for the Electric Picnic this weekend, The Lost Brothers have taken a long, strange journey to get there. The duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland(aka Bosh and Bark) have both got previous musical form, Leech with the indie band 747s and McCausland with Omagh American roots merchants The Basement. Both bands found themselves in the world of major labels and major media, but without major success. When the two groups dissolved, the pair found themselves of one mind and started life as the Lost Brothers – an organic, acoustic duo that bring in influences from all over the place.
With their Electric Picnic slot fast approaching, State spoke to Oisin about how all this came to pass.
It sounds like you two have very similar backgrounds, especially in terms of music in your upbringing. Have you found that you have had the same experiences?
In some ways yes we have but we have also had quite different upbringings. Mark grew up in Omagh in a travelling musical family band, The Moore Family, and did gigs with The Clancy Brothers and groups like that. I spent my youth helping at a bingo hall in Buncranna in the summers, playing in punk bands and playing football in Navan the rest of the time.
This didn’t put you off getting into bands yourselves? Were there no secret desires to run away and join a bank?
Not at all! Music was always encouraged in our family so we were lucky’¦but Christy Moore worked in a bank to get things rolling when he was a young man. It seemed to help him a lot’¦ I cleaned toilets in london for a year and moved furniture in California but just did music alone when I could afford to make a living from it. I never planned on doing music, it just seemed to be what I did without thinking or planning.
Was being signed to a record company all that you expected it to be?
Some labels are great if their heart is in the right place but when they start telling you what to wear and how to sound, it’s game over. The Lost Brothers turned down 2 or 3 labels and publishers to have our own label- Bird Dog Recordings. We got a great distributer and went from there. It’s much more rewarding creatively. Years ago I got a kick out of being in the Island Records building and seeing where Bob Marley climbed up a chimney to do his vocals for a recording, but that was then I suppose. This is now.
The Basement seemed to look to the States for inspiration while the 747s were more European in their outlook?
Well the 747s were from Germany, Italy, Ireland and England so we couldn’t help that. I suppose we liked pasta and Fellini films a lot! It all came out of the travelling gypsy band the Fluid Druids, 747s came from that. We lived in Sicily and Naples for 2 years, sang on the streets for our supper, bought local fish and cooked it each night.
You both must have had pretty good experiences?
Touring with the basement was always fun, they drank us under the table. Recording ‘Baby I’m Yours’ with the Arctic Monkeys for a b-side was a lot fun, they’re great fellas.
How did the 747s end?
We made one album and one day it was over. The healthy option was to do other things, all the others in the band seem happier which is cool.
How did you and Mark start working together? Was it musical love at first sight?
When our old bands came off tour we would jam together as the Russian Roullettes. We both had girlfriends from Liverpool and seemed to drown our sorrows in the same liquor haunts. A friendship was born, that’s 6 years ago now.
Lost Brothers – was that how if felt?
We always felt like a wierd pair. Shop keepers and taxi drivers always call us brothers and people always stopped us on the street and asked if we were lost. So the name just stuck. Actually, the Electric Picnic is where we first sang as the Lost Brothers 2 years ago, so we will be getting very merry to celebrate our birthday.
The Lost Brothers play the Cosby Stage on Saturday at 1pm.