© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Harmed Brothers Are Your Favorite Hometown Band From Far Away

Courtesy photo

The Harmed Brothers could be any city's hometown band for the amount of time the group spends on the road. Somehow, between those long stretches of tour, the outfit has found time to record a series of finely tuned albums that spotlight the songs of Ray Vietti and Alex Salcido. The latest such release is a collection of tunes captured lived at Morehouse Barbers in the St. John's neighborhood of Portland (titled, unsurprisingly, The Morehouse Barber Sessions).

Other key efforts include 2017's self-titled disc and, what is for many the record that introduced them to The Harmed Brothers, 2013's Better Days.

The group has encountered its share of tough times and lineup changes, but Vietti says that the present moment continues to be a positive one for him and his bandmates.

The Harmed Brothers perform at Lucky's Everyday Thursday, March 15, on a bill with Joey Henry's Dirty Sunshine Club and Jenny Wood.

Interview Highlights

There are creative partnerships which work very well, but you soon find that one person is very different from the other. It's not so much about whether they get along, but it comes down to being different people who just happen to have good chemistry.

Ray Vietti: Alex and I aren't polar opposites, but we operate on different wavelengths. We operate very well together. Writing, for the most part, over the years, has worked like this: We've written on our own and brought the material to each other. We've been very receptive on both ends of the editing process. I think that's a huge part of why we've been able to continue to do it.

That process is difficult because you're presenting something that, by the time you give it to each other, you're confident in. Then, to have it come back to you with a change in a line or a change in arrangement. What's that waiting process like?

Alex holds out a little bit longer with his stuff. I say, "What do you think about this?" He'll say, "Why don't you try this?" "This might work better here. This might be more interesting here." We're willing to give everything a shot. Maybe my idea sucked, but we tried it. Maybe it was good. Maybe his idea sucked or it was good. Maybe it was spot on. Either way. It's usually, "Now that works. It makes complete sense." We rarely get into an argument about how a song should move over a lyric. We tend to know when the other guy is married to something.

I first became aware of The Harmed Brothers with the album Better Days. What do you remember about that time? I seem to remember reading positive reviews of it online.

When that record came out it felt like we had taken a big step in the right direction. It seemed like everything was falling into place for us. In typical Harmed Brothers fashion, as things started to fall into place in that world, things started to fall apart in others.

If I remember correctly, there was some halt to how things were supposed to go.

What happened was that we were operating with an East Coast and a West Coast bass player. The East Coast bass player took us all the way to the West. When we got there, the West Coast guy, who'd been solid, been our guy, never had issues with him. He just didn't tell us that he wasn't going to go on the tour. East Coast guy had to go home. Now we don't have a bass player. We were in the middle of meeting with what would become our label.

What happened was we had seven bass players in the matter of a week-and-a-half. Just every city. We knew musicians in those towns. When Alex and I played with a duo, we'd have people sit in. Suddenly, we were asking people to step into a full band situation and play integral parts of songs along with a drummer who knows the part. It became very frustrating for our drummer at the time. In the end, there was just a lot of turmoil. I think we ended up canceling some shows or pulling a whole tour off the table at one point.

But, hey, we're back at it. We moved a lot of things around, changed ‘em. I'm sober now. It's easier to deal with the stresses of the road. I feel like we're on the up-and-up again.

I feel like, as an artist, once you decide, whether it's visual art or acting or writing, whatever it is, there's that period of time where you're getting your feet wet and you can still go back to the shore and go back to something else. Then there's that moment when you're all in, there's no going back. You gotta swim. When did that happen for you?

Immediately. As soon as we went on that first tour, I knew that I wasn't going to do anything else. This is where our hearts are at. If you only get one go at it, you have to give it your best.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.