Interview: This Frontier Needs Heroes

This Frontier Needs Heroes is a fantastic acoustic sibling-duo, who hail from Brooklyn, New York.

Their music touches on many subjects, ranging from the mysteries of space, to the rawest of personal emotions and stories. Folky in some senses, psychedelic at times, and completely stripped back and awashed with beauty in others.

We had the fortune of asking Brad and Jessica a few questions, about life in a ‘siblings-band’, their Kickstarter project, and of course their new album The Future, which is due for release in the UK this coming Monday!

First of all, where did the name ‘This Frontier Needs Heroes’ come from?

   J: It’s based on Woody Guthrie’s guitar from WWII that said, “This Machine Kills Fascists.”

B:We wanted something inspirational, and unforgettable. Something that people would feel like they were a part of. It’s supposed to be bigger than just the two of us. Like whoever wants to be in the group is in it.

   Your brand new album The Future is set for release here in the UK on October 3rd…but has been out in the States since May…are you pleased with the reactions to the record so far?

J: People often come up to us at shows and tell us how much our music has touched them. I mean, what greater compliment than to know that something I did had an effect on someone else’s life? It’s definitely one of the things that keeps me going.

   B: The reviews we got have been very good, and some even insightful, you can tell when people have actually listened to your music. Since we are DIY everyone who has written about us really does care so it means a lot to us.  Also it seems like everyone has a favorite song, and its never the same one, so maybe that means they are all good.

You relied partly on donations via Kickstarter to fund this second album…how did you go about making this project successful?

   J: We started by emailing every person we know and then friends helped us by spreading the word. Our friend Adam from Bear in Heaven tweeted our project and someone in Japan saw it, listened to our music and donated $250!  It seems so obvious, but it’s amazing how the internet can be so far reaching and impactful. Also, small donations really can add up to a substantial amount.

 B: We took the attitude like if this didn’t work there wouldn’t be another album, which is kind of true. I was dog sitting in Austin, Texas eating food out of my friends garden. Flat broke as they say. We reached our goal on the last day, right before SXSW and then partied pretty hard that week because their is so much free beer at that festival. When I had time to reflect I was really happy because I knew people wanted another album so we couldn’t disappoint them!

 How did moving out of the studio to an old school house in Wassaic have a deep impact on your music and recording?

J: It was just a really chill vibe where we didn’t have to worry about any external stress. It’s close enough to NYC where we had friends come up and hang out and play. Also, Bowie and Jeff who run the artist residency program there are really cool so it was just an awesome place to be and make music.

B: We wanted it to be an experiential album, it’s meant to be listened preferably on vinyl the whole way through.

We love the artwork decision, but what made you choose a 3D cover for the album?

J: Well at first my idea for the album cover was just photos of our faces – I wanted it to be as stripped down as the record and convey the idea that this band is really just the two of us with not much else. The 3D I thought was just a fun and creative way for the audience to participate. People love trying on the glasses and checking out. It looks especially awesome in Vinyl!

Currently you’re touring Europe and have just finished your UK section of the tour…did you enjoy your time here and how did you find the crowd’s reaction to your live set?

J: We started doing an acoustic version of “My Way or the Highway” on my ukulele because the pick up broke and I didn’t have time to buy a new one before I left Brooklyn. I think its cool to step away from the mic and into audience – it’s more intimate and friendly and people seem to really like it.  We love touring the UK and Europe. We have a lot of friends over here now and are making more everyday. Being on tour reminds you how big the world really is. There are so many places to bring our music beyond even the US and Europe.

 B:  People have been sharing the love with us, if they didn’t we couldn’t get through it because touring can be grueling. Music is a shared experience, their has to be an exchange of energy otherwise as an artist you would crash.

The album references all matter of subjects, from space, to dogs, to catfish! But the songs are also strung with deep emotions and personal experiences. What are the inspirations behind your music?

   B:  I would say at this point my friends are my inspiration. All the people who sacrifice something for what they love trying to save independent music for the future. We know so many amazing musicians all over the world now and i’m just so happy to be part of that family. That’s what keeps me going, trying harder, and the faith to never give up. The songs themselves are about my experiences being human, but also about making the world a better place.

Does being a ‘siblings band’ ever get tiresome? You must have a great relationship with each other, but how do you go about writing/seeing each other everyday, without arguments arising? (If that’s the case!)

   J:Yes everyday! Sometimes I’m so sick of being Brad’s little sister and singing together. And we definitely do fight because we both have very strong personalities. But ultimately when we fight we get over it instantly and can laugh about it. That’s the difference with family.

 B: Sometimes I get sick of being Jessica’s big brother! Many times people think I’m younger or that we are twins, or that we aren’t even related. At this point we are just friends, with much less drama. Family bands are good for society, I meet so many people who tell me they don’t get along with their family. If people can’t get along with their own family then how can we have peace on earth? I love my family even if I don’t agree with everything they do or say.

Finally, what’s next in the pipeline for This Frontier Needs Heroes?

J: I want to tour Hawaii and Indonesia. Yesterday we talked about doing a double solo album. Maybe we’ll start a rock’ n ‘roll band. Who knows what the future holds!

 B: We have to see what opportunities arise, we mostly just organize tours with friends we are pretty much DIY. We do what we want to do, and on the flip side, what people want us to do, because if no one wanted us we couldn’t tour! Also we have a really cool single we are going to drop when we get home for tour! Just keep making music.

The Future is released this coming Monday, on October 3rd,
via Heroic Endeavours
And look out for our review of the new record, next week!
Dom Kay


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