By Gareth Watkins
CALGARY — TAD come up, when they come up at all, as an anomaly among Seattle’s grunge bands, more inspired by ‘70s metal than punk. Among Sub Pop Records’ first signees, the band was extremely active. Between 1989 to 1995 they released six albums, but disbanded in 1999 following a string of bizarre events: getting sued by Pepsi for alleged copyright infringement, getting sued by a born again Christian for depicting them topless (with their consent), and getting dropped by a label following a poster depicting then-president Bill Clinton smoking a joint. The band’s frontman Tad Doyle formed another band, Hog Molly, releasing one record before breaking up.
After that, Doyle went on a 15-year hiatus, relocating from rainy Seattle to San Diego, marrying and putting music behind him.
“I was just relaxing and enjoying my life,” Doyle says. “I did a lot of soul searching and pretty much wrote off music. I was OK with never playing music again.”
The feeling changed.
“I heard ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath on the radio and it bought me to tears,” he explains. “I knew I had to start playing again and that’s what started Brothers.”
To be exact, he started Brothers Of the Sonic Cloth. It’s a name Doyle chose to reflect the closeness of the players involved and the spiritual, almost hymnal nature of the music they record: music that is crushingly heavy, dark, dissonant and complex.
The sound can in part be attributed to Doyle’s influences.
“I was listening to a lot of symphonic music: Edgar Varèse, Rimsky Korsakov. My wife (Peggy, also a member of Brothers) turned me on to YOB.”
Despite its heaviness, Doyle says the album’s lyrical themes are “being at peace with yourself; the fact that we have a limited time here on the planet and also the wind. I love the wind. There are lot of elemental themes in our music and we always try to envision the immense powers of nature.”
As you might expect of a self-described “order” of musicians there is a spiritual (but not religious) element to Brother’s work, something they have in common with YOB. Their outlook is distinctly buddhist with a lower-case b. Doyle says that real buddhists don’t call themselves buddhists. To point, Brothers song “Unnamed,” was written on this exact theme, exploring how labels are ultimately limiting.
The self-titled debut was released on February 17th on Neurot Recordings, home of avant-garde legends Neurosis and other like-minded artists. Pick it up before the show and familiarize yourself; the fuzzed out riffs and expansive soundscapes will satiate fans of stoner doom.
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth will play Calgary’s Palomino on March 28th.AB, Alberta, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Palomino, Tad Doyle