Other Brother Darryl are a Boston-based alt-country supergroup made up of singer-songwriters Dan Nicklin, Nate Leavitt, Dave Mirabella and Dan Cedarholm. First coming together over a love of big folk harmonies, the cosmic canyon rock sound of The Jayhawks and Wilco, and the television series Newhart, the seeds of Other Brother Darryl were first conceptualized back in 2012 at the defunct Somerville rock club Radio, where each member would perform frequently with their respective projects. An endless string of conversations, local Boston rock shows, and beers would line the next several years, and in 2019, Other Brother Darryl would make good on a promise to each other to bring their collective creative vision to life and write and record the album they were always meant to.
In November 2022, Other Brother Darryl released debut single, “Until I Do,” b/w “The Ballad of Joni & Graham,” the same night they would perform live at Underwater Sunshine Fest in New York City. A new single, “Drive,” arrives a year later, and debut record Roll Shine Roll, recorded at Nicklin’s Henley Row Studios, is set for 2024 release. It is dedicated to fallen bandmate and close friend Dave Mirabella, who passed away suddenly in April 2022.
Other Brother Darryl has a simple message for complex times: When you see your friends, tell them that you love them. Because we’ll never know when that last chance comes around.
It’s a sentiment the cosmic canyon rock group knows all too well, and one that swirls with impassioned honesty over its hypnotic new Americana single, “Drive,” set for release on Friday, November 10, with a music video to follow afterwards. It’s the second single from the ensemble band, led by Boston music scene veterans Dan Nicklin, Nate Leavitt, Dan Cedarholm, and one that continues to cherish and maintain the memory of their beloved friend and band member Dave Mirabella, who passed away unexpectedly in in the spring of last year.
“It has a lai- back feel, but still drives forward, which mirrors how the band works,” says Leavitt. “Move at your own pace but get there just the same. A motivational rhythm and tempo. Instrumentally, it covers a wide range of sounds that capture the cosmic canyon rock.”
Other Brother Darryl, its name taken from a Newhart reference, was first conceptualized a decade ago at long-lost Somerville venue Radio, with its members bonding over The Jayhawks, Wilco, and the various projects each had been a part of over the many years spent in the trenches of a local music scene. But time was on their side, and after loose exchanges of ideas it would be seven years before the group began writing music together, crafting the harmony-driven, Americana-leaning sound that their spectral surroundings and sharp songwriting acumen were destined to produce.
Then Covid hit, and the world stood still. And in April 2021, the band’s world collapsed: Mirabella died, leaving an empty space within Other Brother Darryl both as musicians and friends. Suddenly, time, once a casual asset, became anything but, and a common refrain of telling friends and family how much we care for them became an important one.
Late last year, on the verge of performing live at New York City’s Underwater Sunshine Festival, a longtime dream of Mirabella’s, the band released debut single “Until I Do,” a tender indie-folk ballad about a lost love or lost friendship. The song took on an enhanced feeling in the wake of Mirabella’s passing, and now so does “Drive,” a weathered road-trip earworm buoyed by Other Brother Darryl’s layered vocal harmonies, spacious alt-country storytelling, heartfelt chemistry amongst its collaborators, and dual acoustic guitars alongside a soaring B3 Organ. The chorus drives it all home: “Make sure you tell ‘em that you love them / In the morning and the night / Make sure you tell ‘em that you love them, oooh.”
“To me, the song says, ‘It’ll be okay. Keep driving, you’ll get there.’ My favorite line is, ‘If you found someone whose beats so you won’t die.’ It really spoke to me in that moment we were all together writing these songs,” admits Leavitt. “I realized we all have hearts that beat for each other. When you have people like that in your life, you tell them you love them. This song is a reminder of that sentiment. We made it part of our goodbyes to each other when Dave was with us and continue to do so today. We encourage you to tell someone before it’s too late. It’ll make you feel good.”
A draft of the song was first written back in early 2016, and it took another few years before Other Brother Darryl fleshed it out as a band. But much like “Until I Do,” the composition and its warm sentiments have taken on an enhanced aura that swirls around the song now that Mirabella is gone.
“It was the second tune we wrote together as we were getting going,” says Nicklin. “For me it made sense to release this one now because of what Nate said – I told Dave I loved him every time we spoke and when he was gone – I was grateful for that. I find it interesting as most of the songs have a similar theme, which is about life and loss and love and moving forward in music and life as a middle aged rocker.”
“Drive” is truly a team effort. It was written by the core Other Brother Darryl team of Mirabella (guitar, count-in), Leavitt (guitars and vocals), Nicklin (vocals), and Cederholm (drums); produced by the band at Henley Row; and recorded and mixed by Nicklin at his aforementioned studio in Stoneham, with mastering by Brian Charles. It expands the Other Brother Darryl collective outward, featuring Jim Collins on bass and vocals; Dave Lieb on acoustic piano; Matt Odabashian on B3 organ; Paul Gallo on conga and percussion; and Jason Meeker on bongo and percussion.
“The dual acoustics and organ were always the goal,” says Nicklin. “That love of the Jayhawks really pops out on this one for me. And Danny’s drums are just so good. It has a bounce and groove to it that really works”.
Shortly after the release of “Drive,” its music video will be released, showing the band moving fast around a workshop while the lyrics flash across one television screen and Mirabella posthumously plays guitar on another. “The way the video is presented, played back at high speed throughout and slowed down for specific phrases, is symbolic of how fast we move in life,” Leavitt reveals. “We have to remember to slow our lives down sometimes and take a breath.”
While Other Brother Darryl captured Mirabella’s guitar parts for “Drive,” he was never able to provide vocals for the track. An important and disappointing turn of event for a band that leans into vocal harmonies so heavily. But remarkably, the band discovered that during one guitar recording session, Mirabella actually counted himself in, whispering “Six… seven… Dave.” That part was added to the very start of “Drive,” giving their late friend a voice that introduces and welcomes the listener.
“Since we don’t have as much of Dave recorded on the songs as we wanted we try to include everything we can,” admits Leavitt. “Sometimes we forget we even had things like this. They’re like little gifts from him. It’s also a great reminder of how hilarious he could be.”
Adds Nicklin: “The count-in was actually cut off while we were working the tune. After Dave’s passing we were going back through everything so we could understand what was there. So when we were looking to see if we had multiple takes of Dave’s guitar part and looking at the wav form I realized we had something muted. When we unmuted it – well it was laughter and tears – it’s so very Dave. Sitting alone with the headphones off counting himself in, in the third person. A little Dave pep talk for Dave.”
From here, more new music from Other Brother Darryl is soon on the way, including a cover song around the holidays, and a few additional singles before the debut full-length album – titled Roll Shine Roll, echoing a playful phrase that’s become the band’s official motto – arrives sometime in 2024. Though it was a year between “Until I Do” and “Drive,” and nearly a decade between the band’s formation and first unveiling of new music, Other Brother Darryl says now is the time to bring these compositions to light.
“We probably weren’t ready to release the first single last year. It was too soon. Too much still to process,” Nicklin admits. “But we were playing Underwater Sunshine fest and felt we needed to have something – there are also a lot of friends of Dave in that circle so it made sense to do it for us and them and that helped us get it done. However the break has allowed us to get excited about the tunes and to get to a place where we can remember our friend and celebrate him and still be excited about the songs. So the record is really coming together and we are ready to start really pushing the music.”
And it starts anew again here with “Drive.” Leavitt says Mirabella, a Boston Music Award-nominated songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist who was known for his work around Boston fronting scene stalwarts The Rationales, as well as a Covid-era practice of performing a new cover each day for nearly a year, loved taking long drives and walks. The single artwork for “Drive” even depicts a photo taken by Mirabella during one of his travels, and Leavitt praised his “eye for photography” as well as his friendly demeanor and songwriting brilliance.
“Like us, he just wanted to keep himself moving,” Leavitt concludes. “We want to continue honoring him. So this song, all the songs, are for him.”
SOURCE: Official Bio
Featured image by Chris Valle.