The Brothers Gow are a jam band that stews together rock, funk, jazz and reggae and more.
It all fits because of the connection the band members have built up over the years, practicing relentlessly, touring regularly and keeping everything democratic.
"None of us are actually brothers, but we're just like brothers," says Kyle Merrill, who plays guitar, trumpet and sings.
Merrill and keyboardist Alex Gow Bastine met in first grade at Tucson's Canyon View Elementary and along with bassist Carson Church and guitarist Ethan Wade, formed the band in Flagstaff. Nathan Walsh-Haines, another Tucsonan who'd moved to Flagstaff, joined the Brothers Gow after the band had relocated to San Diego.
"It was all by coincidence why we all ended up in Flagstaff, but it worked out," Merrill says. "That's where we got our roots playing music together. We weren't taking it super seriously when we got started. It was something to do for fun, but we got more and more into it."
The sound of the band comes from their broad love of musical styles and genres.
"A lot of us like different types of music and come from different backgrounds of playing. As a band, we're super democratic with everything. Somebody writes some kind of song, nobody is going to turn you down. We try to cover all the tracks and play everything we like," Merrill says. "Why box yourself into one genre when you can really just play anything? We like to play high-energy stuff you can dance to, shake your booty, and also thought-provoking singer-songwriter music, really melodic music, just everything."
The band thrives on stage, with more than 500 shows under its belt in seven years, and more than 30 performances already this year, most under the Let It Snow Tour.
"We practice a lot and we play live a lot, so it's always evolving," Merrill says. "The whole knowing each other for so long thing and being such good friends, it creates this environment of trust and not being afraid to go for something live. If I hear Alex doing something, I know what he's going to do because we've been playing together for so long. We can all just get a feel for what's happening. We do a lot of improvisation live and it helps dial that in."
From the start, the band has worked to bring the type of professional light show typically employed in arena shows by much larger bands. So much so that lighting man Matt Collier is considered the band's sixth member.
"I don't think too many bands that are on the level we're at really bring a type of light show that we do. We've always taken pride in that," Merrill says. "Matt has been a friend of ours and going to our shows since the very first. He's been running the lights over six years and over time we've put a lot of money into them. The light show is a huge aspect. Matt knows our changes, knows our cues, he can feel where we're going ... It's a really good collective unit we have. The lights really bring out the dynamics and the changes in the music."
Returning home is always fun for the band—think home-cooked meals and a high-school reunion vibe—but for the Brothers Gow, 2015 will be all about touring.
"The plan is to get back on the road after a month and just continuously tour relentlessly. That's what you have to do in the music industry these days," Merrill says. "It's all about the live show and being consistent, getting out on the road as much as we can."