Speak, Brother

Updates and musings from the guys

Young & Brave: Song stories

We’ve been absolutely blown away from all your feedback from the Album.. It’s kind of a funny to feeling to be working on something for so long for it to be finally out there and finished. Of course, there’s barely time for a breather these days. We’re already making some exciting plans for the next 12 months and can’t wait to share them with you!

Some people say they love the stories that lie within our songs. We were asked to give a short commentry on each song by Cross Rythyms for an article on their site, but thought I’d publish here too.

#1 Magnificent

Remember the last time you held a new-born baby? It’s powerless, frail and vulnerable as it rests in your arms. It has no idea just how precious and beautiful it is. Isn’t it weird to think that we were once a baby, just like that? We all start from that place of Magnificence. I penned all the words to this song in bed one evening after watching the film ‘Fences’. Based in gritty 1950’s black America, it’s a tough story to watch. It takes you through a few generations of a family whose upbringing was dark, lonely and hard, but the last few scenes focus on this beautiful young daughter whose eyes were full of hope and purity. This song is an attempt to capture those emotions. In spite of the fears and pressures that come later in life, this is a song of joy and celebration of the beauty and incredible value each and every human that has ever walked this earth contains.

Lyrics  /  Listen

#2 When We Were Young

When we sat down to start writing the album, this is the first song that came out. Thematically, it actually carries the sentiments from the last track of our previous EP ‘Light Runs After Us’. In a way it also represents the main theme of the album and contains the lyrics of the album title. The song is a little bit of a nostalgic look back over my childhood. Where did my insecurities come from? When did I first begin to fear, or experience treachery? I remember as a kid at school I collected pogs. Remember those? I had quite a nice collection. I was having a game with a friend. It was my first game ‘for keeps’, and it was the day I first learned the concept of gambling. I lost the game and he started pulling all my pogs towards himself and I just burst into tears when others stopped me stopping him. It’s funny to think of my naivety, but that day I lost a little of my innocence as I felt bitter against my friend. As a kid I was unaware of anything. I just wanted to build Lego, explore woodland, discover caves, climb trees, but somewhere down the line I started to fear. Deep down, I still want to do all that stuff. I want to love fearlessly. I don’t want fear to get in the way of my creativity. My work. My relationships. This song is yearning to awaken that fearless inner child again.

Lyrics / Listen

#3 Pond Boy

“Pond Boy” is a song about learning to live life outside of our comfort zone – our “pond”. Our comfortable, familiar, safe little pond. Nothing changes here. Nothing new. Aspirations are managed and dreams are contained or let go completely and there is no vulnerability. I think this was where we were at before we decided to crowdfund for this album. It was always a risk. What if we don’t reach our target? What if we can’t find a producer? What if we can’t write good enough songs? What if we fail? We didn’t know what would happen. But adventure has to include risk. . . right?

Lyrics  /  Listen

#4 Magnesium Burn

This song is the summary of the build-up of frustration of being contained and restrained from the padded safe nature of the pond. It’s a desperate answer to the call of doing something different. Something with meaning. To put a foot out into the unknown. If Pond Boy was the call, then perhaps Magnesium Burn is the spark of a response.

I love what David Bowie said when asked about creativity:

“Always go a little further in the water than what you feel you’re capable of being in. . . When you feel like your feet aren’t quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” 

If we ever had a song suitable for running to, then this would be it. Just before recording the vocals, Matt and I decided to jump out of the studio and run down the street till we were gasping for breath (which didn’t take long for me). It was the quickest way to feel the body, and really helped to embody what we were singing about.

Lyrics / Listen / Watch Video

#5 & #6 Father

As babies and young kids we were so unaware of failure. So blissfully ignorant of racisim, sexism, or any cultural divides. This song is an attempt to look back through those wide fearless eyes again and maybe when we look out to other groups of people we can find a brother or sister and our own world becomes a much bigger place. Interestingly, ‘Father’ sums up quite well the core theme of the Young & Brave Album.

Again, this song looks back at the child we were, but looks up and around to see that we aren’t alone in this. That although we are all different and beautiful in our uniqueness, we are all the same. All brothers and sisters, sons and daughters and not on our own in our suffering.

It’s a song about inclusiveness, and I love that we managed to get loads of voices on it. It features the beautiful voice of Kirstie Smith (Dan’s wife) and a gospel choir at the end. I can’t tell you what the strange words at the end of the song mean. Gavin Monaghan, our producer, who convinced me the end needed something, told me to get into the vocal booth and “channel my inner goat herder” (whatever that means ha ha). So I just switched all the lights off and in the pitch black I sang what ever came out.

Following the grand calling of Pond Boy (Track #3) and the sprint-like energy of Magnesium Burn (Track #4), this song is separated by a super chilled instrumental track we called ‘The Wild’ (Track #5) – A brief hault before entering the wild unknown and uncertainty.

Lyrics  /  Listen

#7 Princess

I read a news article a few years ago about a young girl of 12 who was found in a park hanging from a tree. She had written on her arms words like:

“The voices told me to do this. They told me I have no purpose. So there’s no point of me being here.”

Naturally, I was heartbroken and angry. How could this happen? What led her to the point where she felt she wasn’t worth being alive?

The words she wrote on her arms really stuck with me. I’ve heard the same words from my own mouth. I’ve heard them from people I love dearly. It’s glaringly clear to me that the sense of having no purpose in this world is so harmful to our own well being. That purpose and identity are at the core of what it is to be human.

This song is like a love letter to that girl, and anyone who needs to hear that the world really needs them. The world needed that girl. And it needs you. You are not slaves of your own feelings and thoughts, but you are royalty. Beautiful, Magnificent.

A work in progress, yes. But a work in progress of discovering the beauty you are, rather than trying to be beautiful.

The words in the middle section are those of someone dear to me in the depths of depression. A kick back I guess. Such is the nature of depression. There’s no quick fix. It takes time, patience, love and then a little more time and patience.

Lyrics / Listen

#8 Lions Roar

Inspired by a moment I had with my nephew, Liam. He was very young and it was his first time at the seaside. His first time looking out at the endless horizon. I walked him to the waves, holding him steady. It was a chilly British seaside evening and the wind and waves were loud. Liam was a little scared and he was about to cry. It must have been very new, threatening and uncertain. But suddenly he let out his loudest roar. As if to silence the waves. Like a little fragile boy could stand up to the forces of nature? But as long as I held him there, and his mum wasn’t far off, he was as strong as a lion. It’s that strength from knowing who we are and that we’re not alone even in the midst of uncertainty, inspired this song.

Lyrics / Listen

#9 Man of Honour

Man of Honour is probably the darkest sounding song on the Album. Written by Dan, it was inspired by a friend of ours who was a police officer. He told us about an incident he was in where a man was in crisis and was at the end of his will to live. He was on his own with this man, trying to talk him round while at one point wrestling with him while he had a knife, trying to keep himself and the man from being harmed.

The self-sacrificial heart and willingness to go deep into a brother or sister’s mess when it’s so much easier to avoid it is poignant and beautiful.

Lyrics / Listen

#10 Two Bands of Gold

A song dear to me about my grandparents and their life together. I guess, in the midst of my own insecurities growing up, their dedication to each other right till the end demonstrated to me the power of real, vulnerable, self-sacrificial love and the purpose of marriage.

I wrote it at a time between my grandad passing just before my nan passed and got to play the song at my nans funeral a few months before my own wedding so there are many emotions mixed into one for me here. Hope you enjoy.

Lyrics / Listen

#11 Empire

A song dear to me about my grandparents and their life together. I guess, in the midst of my own insecurities growing up, their dedication to each other right till the end demonstrated to me the power of real, vulnerable, self-sacrificial love and the purpose of marriage.

I wrote it at a time between my grandad passing just before my nan passed and got to play the song at my nans funeral a few months before my own wedding so there are many emotions mixed into one for me here. Hope you enjoy.

Lyrics / Listen

The full Album Young & Brave is now available on CD, 12″ Vinyl and Stream and Download. Listen here

The Album – It’s really happening and it all starts next week!

We had to put it out early.. Before we could talk ourselves out of it. A quick, wild shout to the world before we got too realistic, too sensible or too ‘grown up’. Like the tail end of a game of ‘Bogies’ in the library.

Yep, we’re sticking to our sheepish announcement we made a couple months ago and so much has happened since! We’ve made some great headway in writing and we’ve also got on board an amazing producer, Ian Grimble who has worked with the likes of Rhodes, Matthew and the Atlas, Bears Den, Daughter and Seth Lakeman!

Writing specifically for an album, rather than songs individually is a real journey for us. The themes that are forming at the moment are really close to our hearts. Stories that have moved us, and deserve to be retold and all along the way, we want you to be part of it.We need to raise a heap of money to afford it all and the target is outrageously large for a band our size. So scary! But, it’s time for us to go crazy and take a risk. I believe it’ll work, somehow, hopefully with your help.

So the fundraising will start next week and we want to get off to a great start! So, if you’re willing to invest in an album from us for yourself then get your fingers on the trigger! Recording is due to start in December so no time to waste!

Keep an eye for the crowdfunding link..


Into the wild..

May 18th – Launch night. The previous weeks had been a blur.. the most hectic since my wedding. Friends and family started pouring into the Merchant Inn, Rugby, as the legendary crew and I finished the setup. It all looked perfect.  But there was still much on my mind.

It wasn’t until after our first set, when the big screen came down and the Dry Bones video began playing in all it’s glory, where the weight of it all fell off . And like a father on the sidelines watching his son step out onto the football pitch for the first time, we watched.. proudly. Although not pride in our own ability, but more in the fact that so many people were involved. From our EP designs and Merch stands, to the audio & video production and photography.

We were able to share why we write and play music, and we hope to bring you along this journey of sharing songs and stories of hope and love to anyone who needs to hear it, or just likes our sound.




(Photo’s by Redwood Photography)

What’s happened since?

Monday, May 19th marked the launch of Dry Bones to the world and it has had some brilliant response. We’ve had various blogs and shares from abroad, featured on the Noise Trade website and sat in the top downloads for 4 days. It has also seen radio play from various local, national and some international radio stations and other 1700 plays on YouTube (What here).

What’s next?

Thank you so much for sharing the video and free download. Your sharing truly helps us get our music out there so do keep it up.

Next up,  we’re really excited to be releasing our EP in July followed by a brand new single and video later in the summer! And if that wasn’t enough, we have more writing and 19 shows (so far)  this summer to keep us busy.

With special thanks to..

Chris Porter and Mikey at LifeIsArtFilms for doing such an awesome job producing the Dry Bones video, Chris Bearne for having the perfect face for Dry Bones, acting, sailing and generally being the perfect sport acting for us through rain and shine. Martin Morris for driving us across the country with various boats and gear from dawn till way past dusk. Jeff Cotterill for being one of the most resourceful and generous men we know.

Adam Collins for providing the lighting and running the audio for the launch. Sean McCabe for being a legend and helping out off the cuff. Adam also filmed some of our shenanigans while recording the EP. Basically trys to make us look / sound good. Pete Dowsett for tracking producing our EP and Stuart Jones at the legendary Woodworm Studios.

Emilie Barbier for designing the EP & Ayse Herring for designing the merch stand.

Matt Jones at Lucious Fox Photography and Emilie Barbier for some live photos. Rob at Redwood Photography for live photo’s and launch night review which you can see here. Thanks to Stylusboy for supporting us on the launch night.

Thank you to all our friends and family for supporting us, and continuing to support us.

Speak soon,

James, Matt & Nath.


(Photo by Emilie Barbier)


Well.. it’s been a crazy few months for me. Eventful for many of us I imagine, with Christmas, New years, work.

On top of that, I’ve got a beautiful new wife, doubled my family, a house, with more bills to pay.. It’s certainly a season of new things.

But on top of THAT .. We (myself, Matt, Nath, and other good friends of the team) have been working hard to reveal some new things that have been bubbling up for months…….

This past year or so I’ve had many gigs.  Though there’re always ups and downs, I love them all. Playing my songs, sharing my stories and meeting you is quite a privilege indeed. Matt and Nath love it too. The idea of the three of use playing together was conceived over a year ago now after many gigs together it has grown into something rather special.

This year introduces Speak, Brother.

  • The same songs,
  • the same 3 faces,
  • the same antics,
  • … just a new outfit.

We thought long and hard about the name, we feel it sits deep within our ethos.. So I’m sure I’ll share bits about that in my blog as we go.

This year, expect:

Singles, music videos, new CDs, blogs and most important of all –  more shows near you.

Speak soon,

James Herring