THE PIPE BROTHERS PROJECT
Family duo move from blues to prog with new venture.
“OUR DAD IS A HUGE PROG ROCK FAN AND WE RAIDED HIS RECORD COLLECTION.”
If, In many people’s minds, Yorkshire has never been at the very forefront of prog, it still has a mighty heritage. Keith Emerson was born there, Rolo Tomassi emerged out of Sheffield in the noughties, and that’s before you even mention Mostly Autumn, The Tangent and Guy Manning. With a mix of northern grit and prog virtuosity, Guisborough-based outfit The Pipe Brothers are joining those ranks.
When Prog catches up with younger brother and guitarist Andrew, what immediately becomes evident is how his youth – he’s a mere 22 – belies the depth of his prog knowledge. “It’s the usual story,” he says in a rich North Yorks brogue. “Our dad is a huge prog rock fan and we raided his record collection. Jamie and I have always been huge prog rock fans.”
The brothers initially formed a psych blues band, The Mentulls, in their teens, but with The Pipe Brothers they’re really unleashing the prog beast.
“We’ve always rated a lot of instrumental music,” Andrew explains, “and The Pipe Brothers happened because we wanted a project that’s solely instrumental, where we just prog out.”
So far the Project have released a number of singles, featuring Paul Burgess on drums and Steve Amadeo on bass. Andrew says of Burgess’ drumming: “It’s really inspiring, not least because I’m a big 10cc fan.”
After their first single reached the Top 10 Amazon bestsellers chart, and the latest, Sonic Journey, topped the new releases chart, the Pipes have worked on the follow-up, which is due to drop imminently.
Musically, The Pipe Brothers aim, as Andrew puts it, “to take inspiration from the prog of the 70s while bringing in the sophistication of Neal Morse and Toto”.
A key factor to the richness of their sound is Andrew’s exceptional guitar virtuosity. “My biggest inspiration,” Andrew says, “is Martin Barre. He inspired me to play the guitar.”
There’s a delight in his voice when he speaks of his respect for, and now friendship with, the legendary guitarist. “I met him at the side door of Tull gigs when I was a kid. I got his autograph,” he laughs.
The two met again at numerous gigs and, after seeing Andrew perform, Barre asked him to join him and his band onstage the next time they were in York. “He’s so full of energy. He’s like a new guy since he left Tull. He’s such a welcoming guy.”
At the gig, at the Town Hall in Ripley, Andrew played Locomotive Breath with his hero. With a touch of awe, he says, “The amount of time I played that song in my bedroom as a kid, and then you’re playing it onstage with the guy who wrote the riff.”
The Pipes plan to run both The Mentulls and the Project side by side, but it will be interesting to see where the momentum builds in the long run.
“When we’re writing music, we’re careful not to be too pigeonholed – prog is a mix of folk, classical and blues,” Andrew says. “What’s really important to us as writers is to keep taking that music we love into the present-day. You have to respect the past, but put it in a modern context.” RM
THE PIPE BROTHERS, L-R: ANDREW ANDJAMIE PIPE.