A CONVERSATION WITH THE CASH BROTHERS
Puremusic: As a guy who played with his brother most of his life, it's interesting to me that a unique facet of your musical partnership is how recently it occurred. Although it's a matter of record, would you tell our readers in your own words about the music you were each into before the Cash Brothers became an act?
Peter Cash: We have two older brothers, Rick and Martin, that turned us on to a lot of music that influenced our writing as we got older. Neil Young, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and you can certainly hear traces of their kind of music in our tunes today.
Andrew Cash: But you're really asking what our previous bands were like, right?
PM: Actually yes, the bands that you both had previously that led up to your current act together.
AC: As Peter was saying, we come from a similar listening background. The 70s West Coast country rock stuff that our brothers were into, and the British music that was influenced by that.
PM: That's interesting, the British music that was influenced by that
AC: Well, sure. Early Rod Stewart, early Elton John. The Rolling Stones were heavily influenced by Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Even The Beatles, you can hear strands of it in their songs. But then as teenagers we each got into our own thing. My early stuff was more of a post punk/roots kind of thing. The last record I did was more like jangly, guitar based rock.
PM: And one of your records was a Don Dixon production, right?
AC: Yeah, that was a rock/pop record that Don produced down in Charlotte. Rootsy, too, though with some country elements. A lot of what they're calling alt-country now has been around for years, and Peter's band The Skydiggers was very much in that vein.
PC: Right, The Skydiggers sounded more like we do today as The Cash Brothers than Andrew's solo stuff did. The Skydiggers started out acoustic, with emphasis on vocal harmony, which carried on into the act we're now doing.
PM: Though now you've got the DNA factor on your side. A lot of vocal bands would kill for that formula.
AC: Right. Even though harmony was very important in all our earlier records, there is something biological that happens with siblings.
PM: I like The Cash Brothers harmonies very much, there's a lot of savvy to the arranging. It's more Everly-esque, the way the harmony voice is generally below the lead.
AC: It's interesting that you notice that, because that's a defining characteristic of how we do our thing.
PM: It darkens and deepens the melody, instead of sweetening it.
AC: Since it's not the approach that comes to you first, you have to be decided on that angle.
PM: I've noticed on radio and in the press, that when people are talking to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, they're talking about the harmonies, and their unusual and tense arrangement of them, it's a new camp topic. David was saying how being a duo allowed him the freedom to sing the third or the fifth, whichever had the best color for the line. And with you guys, although you do tend to sing the harmony below the lead, it doesn't sound overly Everly.
AC: I like that. And, you know, although people invariably bring up the Everly Brothers for obvious reasons, we never really spent much time listening to them. We probably will now, but didn't back then. I heard "Cathy's Clown" recently, and it really blew me away.
PM: That's a spooky cut. And there's some great acoustic rhythm playing on their records. Adult investigation of those songs, rather than a nostalgic memory of them, it's educational.
AC: It's true. When we were driving in from Atlanta today, the radio was playing a bunch of old Steely Dan songs. I wasn't interested in them in my youth, but I certainly hear how great it is now.
PM: So, Peter's group The Skydiggers did four records, and Andrew did three solo discs and one with Ursula, right?
AC: Yeah, and I had another group, L' Etranger, that put out a few EPs as well. That was my first band.
PM: So, for our readers that either know you already, or that dig the clips on our Listen page, which previous record would each of you recommend most highly?
AC: For me, it would be a '93 record called Hi.
PC: Mine would be a record called Restless. continue