|Label:||Island Def Jam/Goodfellas Ent.|
|Next Project:||Self-Titled Debut (12/23)|
|Twitter:||Brutha on Twitter|
Growing up as one of 13 children isn’t an experience with which most of us are familiar; those of us who were brought up alongside just one or two siblings (or none) could be forgiven for assuming that such a living situation would be nothing but constant Cheaper by the Dozen-style bedlam without the heartwarming ending. Each of the five brothers that make up R&B group Brutha do know what it’s like to live as one of a baker’s dozen, and, against all odds, they’ve found a way to work together that’s positively harmonious.
Anthony, Jared, Jacob, Papa, and Grady Harrell, who recently rocked the Booth with their Fabolous-featuring lead single, “I Can’t Hear the Music,” are hoping that their self-titled debut (set to drop December 23rd) will move enough copies to buy them a dining room table that will seat every single member of their sizable family. In the meantime, fans can look forward to the November 13th premiere of the group’s BET reality series, Brothers to Brutha.
In an exclusive interview with our very own DJ “Z,” all five Bruthas squeeze into the DJ Booth to discuss what each of them bring to the musical table, the secret to keeping your cool when you “Can’t Hear the Music,” and what it is that separates them from the rest of the R&B groups currently on the scene.
Listen to the Interview
Brutha Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth are five talented young men who are gearing up to release their self-titled debut on Island Def Jam this December. Please welcome Anthony, Jared, Jacob, Papa, and Grady of Brutha – how you doin’, guys?
Brutha: [yelling, singing] What up, Z?
DJ Booth: Thank you guys so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth.
Brutha: Thanks for havin’ us!
DJ Booth: My pleasure; since I’ve already introduced myself and briefly introduced you, I would like each of you to have the same opportunity that I just gave you, so, one at a time, go ahead and introduce yourselves and explain what, musically, you bring to the table.
Grady: This is Grady, the oldest brother. I sing most of the top notes in the harmonies, I do a lot of falsetto. I bring a lot of flair, I’m a big jokester, a big clown, so I bring a lot of color to the group. I’m long and lean, and I’m a hella-fide dancer, or at least I try to dance. I’m basically just one big happy musical goofball.
Anthony: Moving on..I’m the second oldest, Anthony. A lot of people think I’m the youngest, so I guess I bring a young, fresh look to our group. That’s it.
DJ Booth: That’s enough, right there. Next up?
Jared: I’m the third oldest. My brothers hold down most of the leads, but they give me them real crazy harmony parts, so when y’all hear the harmony with the crazy ring, that’s me, Jared is there.
Papa: I’m pretty much the bass of the group. I have the heaviest, husky voice. If you hear some huskiness goin’ on in a song, that’s probably gonna be me.
Jacob: What’s up? I usually fluctuate throughout the harmonies; I can be in the middle or on the bottom. But usually I bring a nice, soft smokiness to the harmonies, and when I’m on stage I like to bring crazy explosiveness, like [scream] ahhh! That’s about it.
DJ Booth: When you put it all together, guys, I guess you get a star R&B group in the making, am I correct?
DJ Booth: I read a lot about the group, and the first thing I noticed is each one of you is one of 13 siblings in your family. So, how do your other three brothers and five sisters feel about this rise to stardom?
Anthony: They’re very happy for us. Our other brothers and sisters don’t really sing. We’re tryin’ to get our little brother, Curvy, we’re tryin’ to get him to be the Randy Jackson, coming up next. Right now they’re just sittin’ back watching, very proud, ‘cause this was years and years in the making for us. They just support us, you know?
DJ Booth: With all the work that you guys are putting in, is it hard to be together as a family like you used to be?
Grady: Us five, we’re always together, 24 hours a day. It is a little hard to spend quality time with other family members, ‘cause our schedule is so demanding with rehearsals and workouts, choregraphy and studio time and promotion. We’re livin’ our dream. It’s kinda hard for people to understand, but, as Anthony said, they support us with love, and we’re out livin’ our dream, and that’s what’s important.
Anthony: We do spend quality time, though. Like, last night, we were all watching the Lakers game at our mom’s house, and she cooked a big dinner for us. So, when we can, we do spend the quality time.
DJ Booth: That’s what’s most important. I am from a family of four, and we always ate Saturday morning breakfast together, maybe some pancakes and waffles. Do you guys have a table where all 13 of you can sit together?
Anthony: We don’t have that much money for that size of a table. [laughs] But, that’s our dream: to have a house big enough, a table big enough to sit our whole family [at], and we can all just be together; that’s our dream.
DJ Booth: Well, you’re not too far off from that. When you guys go about picking out the new table, let me know; I’ve got really good taste in furniture.
Brutha: [all laugh]
DJ Booth: You signed with Def Jam last year, within a month your debut album is going to be on store shelves, fellas. So, do you feel like time has flown by to get to this point, or has it dragged out considerably?
Jake: It feels like it blew by. It feels like yesterday we were just beggin’ our uncle to come mess with us and get us a deal. But it goes by so fast; all the work we put in, it feels like it’s just last week we were at Marvin’s, goin’ hard, and it’s really a blessing. We put a lot of work into it, and we’re glad it’s finally payin’ off.
DJ Booth: From here on out, would you guys like to see things speed up a little bit so you get to that point where you see the album out, and you see record sales coming in, or would you like more time to take it all in and take it one step at a time?
Papa: I can speak for all my brothers when I say, we’ve been broke long enough. [laughs] We’re soaking in everything as we go. We’re enjoying every moment that passes by, but we’re ready for super-stardom.
DJ Booth: I don’t blame you. Well, the first step to a hit album is a lead single. You have that, “I Can’t Hear the Music.” It finds you fellas locked in on a particular sweetheart, and while you’re lookin’ at her you’re oblivious to the music being played. Now, here’s the problem I have, though, and maybe it’s a white guy thing, you tell me in a second: If I stop listening to the music while I’m dancing, no woman would wanna stay around me very long.
Brutha: [all laugh]
DJ Booth: So, how do you guys go about looking cool and also still being attractive enough to this lady to get her?
Grady: That’s a good question, Z. The thing about being caught up in this woman so deeply is that even if you lose your hearing and you lose your sense of rhythm for a second, you’re so locked in with her and in tune with her that you’re kinda dancing to the beat of each other’s hearts, which keeps you on beat in your own little world. We get a lot of questions like, “If you can’t hear the music, how do you not dance off beat?” but if you’re dancing with a certain woman and she’s that woman, then you guys are dancin’ to the beat of each other’s drum.
Brutha: [all laugh]
DJ Booth: Would you suggest, though, that is someone was in the club, and your music comes on, it might behoove them to listen all the way through, and then once the next song drops take care of that, “I Can’t Hear the Music,” thing?
Anthony: No, absolutely not – we want ‘em to dance to our song, period. Normally when you’re in a club and your song comes on, you don’t really think about nothing – you just go to the dance floor and dance to it. So it guess that’s what we want people to do: just dance to our music. They can listen to it and break it down when they get to the crib!
DJ Booth: Once they’ve already purchased it, right?
Jake: Right. Ninety-nine cents on iTunes.
DJ Booth: There you go, get the plugs in. Other than Fabolous, who’s featured on “I Can’t Hear the Music,” I read that there will not be any additional guest features. So, was this a move made to prove that you all can stand on your own feet – or should I say ten feet?
Jared: Yeah, you pretty much [hit the nail on the head]. The only feature is Fabolous, and we pretty much hold down the rest of the album.
DJ Booth: In addition to the debut, guys, you’re very busy – you’re also gonna be featured on a new BET reality show, Brothers to Brutha, premiering on November 18th, so talk about it: what was it like being stalked by cameramen 24/7?
Anthony: It was crazy! It was something that we had to get used to. We were a little shy and hesitant at first, having cameras in our faces 12 hours a day. Our uncle, who’s our manager, and [the creator of the show] said to us, “You guys gotta give us the real. Don’t hold back; be yourselves.” After a couple days we got used to it, and just gave it to ‘em raw.
DJ Booth: Let’s expand upon that. The problem that I think a lot of people might have with reality television is, since the participants know they’re being filmed, they inadvertently act or react in ways that are not necessarily commonplace. So, guys, describe a moment, or a few, where you felt yourself saying or doing something that was completely out of character.
Anthony: The thing is, we have such a big family that it just got to the point where we were just ourselves. I don’t think anybody really acted out of character or did something that they normally wouldn’t do. I pretty much think we were ourselves.
DJ Booth: So anytime there’s a fight or an argument or a disagreement, that was 100% real, that was not at all, “The camera’s on me – I don’t want people to think that I really hate my brother?”
Grady: Absolutely raw.
Anthony: We probably held back a little. We couldn’t give it all or you’d think we were really crazy.
DJ Booth: What you should do then is, after you see what they edit and put on television, you should have them come up with a behind-the-scenes DVD, “What You Missed,” and sell it for $19.99, along with the CD.
Anthony: That’s not a half-bad idea.
DJ Booth: Here’s the thing, though: if you make the extra cheese, since it was my idea, I need at least 15%.
Anthony: Hey, we already came up with the idea – sorry!
Brutha: [all laugh]
DJ Booth: It’s all good, guys. Over the past year, R&B singing groups like Day26, One Chance, and I-15, have all joined me inside the Booth for an interview. To this point, only Day26 has dropped their album. So guys, for listeners or readers who are unfamiliar with Brutha and the sound of your particular group, what separates you from the pack?
Brutha: Unlike anything I have ever seen… [listen to audio to hear Brutha’s a cappella performance of “I Can’t Hear the Music.”]
DJ Booth: That’s what I’m talkin’ about! No lie, guys – the next thing I had written on this piece of paper was, “I read that you pride yourselves on your a cappella harmonies, so let’s hear some.” You read my mind!
Brutha: Thank you, man.
DJ Booth: I wish you guys nothing but the best of luck. You’re obviously on the rise, and it’ll be starting this December, when your album drops in stores. Would someone like to give a website or a MySpace page, so everyone in the world can find out more about Brutha?
Anthony: Yes, sir: our MySpace is myspace.com/thisisbrutha. Once you go to our page, it’ll direct you to anything else you want to find on us.
Grady: Album coming December 23rd! [screams]
DJ Booth: Guys, I wish you nothing but the best of luck, and again, thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth.
Brutha: We love you, Z! Thanks!