Brother O Brother: A Q&A with Chris Banta

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The muggy air was filled with the typical blaring of downtown Indianapolis. Greeted by a blast of cold air and smells of spice, sanitizer and the bustle of an after-lunch crowd of nursing students, the waitress, whipped by the lunch rush, continued her job sluggishly, serving drinks to the patrons.

After only five minutes, in walked Chris Banta..  He was an average-built man, a dark stubble forming from constant touring, curly hair sitting unkempt on his head.  He’s the lead singer of a rock band Brother O’ Brother, but seemed like any other guy you meet in your neighborhood.

He took a seat on the couch on the opposite side of the shop, and remained on his phone for a few minutes, taking a business call. He was working on another deal with his label, Romanus Records.  After the call, Chris got up, and made his way over to a table by the window to have a seat and share his story with The Campus Citizen.

Do you run your own record label?

I run a label called Romanus Records, and we make our own custom vinyl.  We even had a new EP come out with Nerds in the record. Also, we created the world’s first LED record, remote-controlled and plays like a normal record.


How did the band start up? Was it the band and the label at the same time, or just the band at first?

The band started four, five years ago. I had been writing for the band before that, but it wasn’t until I met the drummer, Warner, at Lowe’s after going to get some stretching rope. It wasn’t until our second album that we were able to put our music on wax through Fonoflo Records, though.  It was around that time that we also started experimenting with pressing our own records.


Where did the name come from?

We were just trying to come up with something related to brotherhood.  The band helped form strong friendships for us, and I kept thinking of all kinds of names.  We just didn’t want to be stuck with something stupid. It was the drummer, Warner, who mentioned the name “Brother O’ Brother.”

How would you describe the band’s music to someone who’s never heard it?

It’s like fuzzy garage rock, with blues roots.  We try to influence a lot of gospel, mostly through a preacher dynamic way of vocals.

What inspires the music?

A lot of it comes from bands like Black Keys, but also JEFF the Brotherhood, and Diary of Atlanta.  But a lot of them didn’t really have a show or “gimmick” to them, and I just wanted our show to reflect the music.  We don’t want to be a gimmick band, but there’s enough t-shirt-wearing bands out there. We both love professional wrestling, and that’s where we coined the idea of having our own thing.

What makes Brother O’ Brother?

We usually try to be the epitome of fashion on stage.  We even bought the biggest possible smoke machine we could.  And we’ve been doing this new thing for about a month or two where I come out in this silk entrance robe that’s thirty yards of fabric.  Usually I’ll come in and say “Brothers and sisters, welcome to the Church of Fuzz. Are there any members with us?” It helps get the room loose and hyped by the time it starts.  Like wrestling, it’s the entrance music that gets you hyped for the show.

Brother O’ Brother will be performing on September 10, at the White Rabbit Cabaret with Canadian rock duo The Pack AD at 8:30 pm.

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