The Family Rain
If there is one unit that understands collaboration, then it is the family. Familiar with unfiltered opinion, no holding back rows and, hopefully more often, unconditional love and nourishing support, mothers, brothers, sisters and fathers are acutely attuned to the advantages of working together. And having been in a band together effectively since pre-teen musical instrument Christmas presents sealed their fate, the Walter brothers – AKA The Family Rain – understand far better than the average ‘2.4 children’ what collaboration can bring.
After their brotherly cooperation led to the formation of The Family Rain and 2014 debut album Under The Volcano, twins Will (bass/vocals) and Tim Walter (drums) and older brother Ollie (guitars) have always understood that thanks to their trust in each other abilities, when they come together in the studio or onstage something good will happen.
Following a little hiatus, as living life rather than the band took priority for a few years after 2016, the brothers’ innate appreciation of their collaborative strength inevitably drew the trio back together as they all sensed that good thing was happening again.
“The three of us went down to a friend’s studio in Bath to help him test it out for them, not really registering that it was the first time we're going to play together for the first time in so long,” recalls Will of the moment The Family Rain reignited a couple of years ago. “There was a just a moment, bang, where we all looked at each other and went ‘why aren’t we doing this?’”
Having staged sold out tours and released a series of blistering, rock-redefining singles – including 2021’s Death In Slow Motion and this year’s Gasoline – since their return, when it came to crafting their first, full extended body of since the EPs that had followed in the wake of their debut album, the trio realised there was one quality above all others that would make it fly, and that naturally was collaboration – both between themselves and others operating elsewhere in the wider musical universe.
“We were all thinking that with the next thing we’d do we would venture out a bit,” explains Will of the urge to build up on the band’s foundations as they sought to move forward. “So we’ve pushed ourselves to just go and explore because we know we are at our best when we are breaking new ground. The thing that keeps us working together, is that our shared attitude has always been seeking rather than repeating.”
However, this was no baby with the bath water moment, if anything The Family Rain have taken their musical offspring and given it an invigorating jacuzzi, as on their new EP the band’s signature blend of sweet melodies, muscular riffs and hard beats has been melded with electronic enhancements, expansive atmospheres and guest vocals, as they’ve added fresh flavours to their already potent cocktail.
As the title of the new five song release’s lead track implies, there are hints of the familiar yet the taste of something new, for this is the Machete Western EP.
Echoing with dessert-strung, Zeppelin-like vocals, sun-kissed beats, atmospheric electronics and horizon-filling guitars, the tone-setting title track Machete Western delivers on the band’s expanded ambition thanks to a collaboration with fellow Bath residents, dance collective/producers Bad Sounds, who worked on Machete Western and several more of the EP’s songs.
Not just knowing the group from another project Tim has drummed on, but also from a host of teenage Saturday jobs around their hometown, there was no trepidation about approaching musicians who worked outside The Family Rain’s usual genre. Instead, the trio were more surprised this collaboration hadn’t happened sooner.
“We’ve known them for ages, and we’ve had it in the back of our minds for forever that we should do some stuff with them because we love their sound,” explains Will. “We just thought we would see what happened and it soon developed into our tastiest stuff. I think what you can hear in the tracks is us communicating musically with other people outside the band. We’re not only creating something different but creating a new relationship – and you can really hear the new love is there.”
That love has grown quickly, as thanks to the sonic platform they created together, The Family Rain have found themselves making even more connections with the EP, including recruiting British rapper, instrumentalist and Danger Mouse collaborator Dylan Cartlidge for a guest spot on their song It’s Ain’t Easy Being Mean.
“Bad Sounds needed someone to drum on a session they were doing and so they asked me,” recalls Tim. “So I ended-up drumming on Dylan’s single Crazy World and he told me that he was a fan of our band. So when we were recording our song, and I felt it needed a rap on it, I wondered if Dylan might do it and he just agreed we had to do something together. So it was nice, it wasn’t sprung on us or anything, it was just a really organic connection.”
The free, open and mutually respectful nature of this collaboration infuses It’s Ain’t Easy Being Mean, as breezy guitars, carefree drums and golden harmonies combine before Cartlidge’s preacher-tinged raps propels the track out of a musical heat haze.
Complementing this bold step into a musical unknown, the EP also features two tracks created with acclaimed producer – and The Family Rain’s unofficial extra brother – Tom Dalgety. Known for his work with the likes of Pixies, Royal Blood and Rammstein, Dalgety has been a continual source of support, advice and musical firepower for the Walter brothers, though for this EP he delivers two fresh-sounding, forward-thinking rock blasts in the form of Loud & Clear and Karaoke. While their directness contrasts pleasingly with the languid atmosphere of the Bad Sounds tracks, both songs share the overriding intent to do different.
“A lot in rock has been done, so it is really important for us to be original,” says Will of the need to marry big riffs with big ideas. “We don’t want to do what has gone before. With these songs, we’re just trying to make it a little bit fresher and drag rock music forward.”
With the EP rounded out by final track named in honour of “absolute gangster” Eric Idle – although the lyrics are actually about the obsessional, possessive side of music creation that haunted the likes of Brian Wilson – this dark, sprawling hook-up with Bad Sounds channels The Family Rain’s inherent rock energy into a hypnotic, immersive sonic mood, demonstrating the coherent creative thinking that has given the trio the ability to dive so deeply into these collaborations without compromising their own artistic identity.
Reflecting this ambitious vision, a video for Machete Western has been directed by Tim, who has experimented with a visual AI-powered generator, to create an animated clip that offers glimpses of the unrestrained creative impulses behind the music.
“We certainly wouldn’t use AI for songwriting,” notes the drummer who is also responsible for all of The Family Rain’s visuals and artwork, “but we’re embracing it to see where it can take us creatively with the imagery.”
And it is this embrace of ideas, of collaborators, of seeking the new, that ensures this extended musical return from The Family Rain is no attempt to recapture past glories. Instead forges forward, capturing something that truly represents who Tim, Ollie and Will are now.
“These tracks really embody the feeling in our camp,” declares Tim. “They’re forward thinking. Even though a song like Loud & Clear might have a glam rock feel, if you listen really closely the beats are like this loop of angry gorillas – really big Dalgety-produced drums – that go underneath the track creating heaviness in a whole new way.”
It is a newness that stems from both ideas and actions, a marriage of The Family Rain’s unique band of brothers understanding and their courage to reach out and make connections with the likes of Bad Sounds, Tom Dalgety and Dylan Cartlidge. It is a daring outlook that ensures the songs of the Machete Western EP cut deep.
“I think before we took a break from The Family Rain we’d become so insular, that we got really into the idea of just doing everything ourselves,” suggests Will, aware that this collection of songs represents a moment of true evolution for his band. “What this EP is kind of about is letting people in, letting different influences in, working with other artists and it’s been the most fun. What’s come out is sounding super excited and has given us so many ideas for where we go next.”
Creatively – and sometimes physically – The Family Rain has just got a whole lot bigger.