After almost two decades, The Teskey Brothers are still surprising us

After almost two decades, The Teskey Brothers are still surprising us

Photo by Nick McKinlay
Words by Scott Hudson

Nearly 20 years together and The Teskey Brothers are still evolving and keeping it fresh.

Josh and Sam Teskey, Liam Gough and Brendon Love are The Teskey Brothers. The former pub band, now jetsetters, have made a name for themselves by playing blues and soul reminiscent of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Living on a non-stop tour since the release of their first album in 2018, The Teskey Brothers are making their next appearance at The Heart of St Kilda.

“It’s cool to be a part of this. Our music doesn’t necessarily have a political narrative, but as far as getting involved in good causes like this — being able to give back in ways — I think it’s pretty cool and pretty important as well,” says Love, the band’s bassist.

In the thralls of jetlag, after a month of touring the US, he talks about the process of creating a live performance.

“The more I tour, the more shows I play, the more I understand there’s just so many elements that go into a show and a performance — and it goes well beyond being able to perform the song. We’ve always been a live band, more than anything; I love getting in the studio but that’s almost completely different, as far as how we approach a live show,” Love explains.

“We’ve spent 15 years playing together, so I think the special thing about the stage is how we’re able to play live and represent these songs in a performance sense. We just finished a tour and after every show, we’re talking to each other: ‘How can we do this better?’ We’re constantly evolving stuff because some things don’t translate live, or some things don’t impact.”

In an industry dominated by popstars, rockstars and, more recently, hip hop artists, it’s uncommon to find artists flourishing in roots. But The Teskey Brothers have found their place on festival lineups “bookended between hip hop acts and more pop-orientated EDM music”, successfully carrying on traditional soul and blues.

“We never really set out to play a specific genre of music. A lot of people ask, ‘When did you start playing this kind of soul and blues?’. [The answer is] ‘From the moment we started playing together.’

“What brought us all together was… when you’re 13 years old and you go to school and everyone is into Green Day, Rage Against The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I was listening to also. There weren’t many people listening to Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix, so when we found each other, it was like, ‘Oh! cool, you like the same thing as me.’”

August saw the release of The Teskey Brothers’ second album, Run Home Slow. During the tour of Half Mile Harvest, their debut album, the band had compiled a horde of “35 to 40 songs”, with only 11 making it into Run Home Slow’s release.

“Everyone who listened to the songs — labels, friends, family and us, personally — kept coming back to the same 13 or 15 songs out of those 40. With an album, we’re trying to create a body of work that’s not just a selection of songs that sound good, it’s got to make sense as a concept as well,” Love says.

I’m sure a label would prefer an album full of hits, [but] as far as the longevity of it all, we are hoping to make an album that people come back to, time and time again.”

“We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and I’m very comfortable with it moving slowly. As long as the trajectory is going upwards, I don’t mind how steep it is.”

The Teskey Brothers continue their neverending tour at The Heart of St Kilda Concert, Wednesday October 23 at the Palais Theatre. Tickets via the venue website.