Eldren’s original bassist, Steve Holloway, would have pretended to hate “Our Dear Brother,” the Denver psychedelic-rock outfit’s latest single, which pays tribute to his life.
“He probably would have had a jab at us for playing a kind of soft and sentimental song, especially one he wasn’t playing bass on,” says vocalist and guitar player Tyler Imbrogno.
“He probably would have liked it,” fellow guitarist and vocalist Nasir Malik chimes in.
“We think he would have liked it,” Imbrogno agrees. “We always joked about, you know, he’s got a great sense of humor. … He always gave us the cut signal on his throat, like ‘Cut it out.' In general, he was deeper and more sentimental than he let on.’”
Holloway died unexpectedly from health issues in August 2016, a few days short of his 26th birthday. But his impact on the band remains to this day. Members of Eldren still get together with Holloway’s family around this time of year to remember him and celebrate a life that was cut short.
“It’s a way to keep him in our memory and keep him relevant and celebrate not only him, but our relationship with him and our former selves and the changes we’ve made,” Imbrogno says.
The bandmates wrote the song at the request of a friend who was working on a TV pilot last year. “Our Dear Brother” was finished by winter.
“It’s kind of on hold at the moment,” Imbrogno says of the TV show. “But it dealt with a lot of themes about losing a friend. … He kind of just planted the seed of me thinking about it, and I felt compelled to write something.”
Malik was moved by the song when Imbrogno showed it to him, and contributed a few lyrics of his own. A few friends of the band came in to the studio and contributed backing vocals. The result is a somewhat low-key acoustic ballad that recalls Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” and a little bit of Elliott Smith and Sufjan Stevens for good measure. "Our Dear Brother" carries an ethereal, peaceful tone that is almost hypnotic. Listen enough, and tensions melt away.
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“Singing on it was tough,” Malik says. “It’s difficult to be this honest and forward with a song and to be this vulnerable. It’s a pretty honest song. The song speaks for itself.”
Imbrogno says that lyrically, “Our Dear Brother” is a lot more straightforward than many of Eldren’s songs. It possesses a degree of realism that is outside of the group's normal songwriting, which typically veers toward the psychedelic, fantastical or abstract.
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“This is a more realistic picture," he says. "Here is our friend, our brother. It just shows the scene of someone who is dying and clearly talking about the memory of it. That was the goal: to have a more objective look at reality.”
Malik and Imbrogno say Holloway pushed them to become better songwriters and instilled the importance of the rhythm section as more than just backup below the guitars and singing, an indispensable part of an ensemble. And Holloway was just a good friend. Four years later, he's still missed.
“He made a huge impact on our lives,” Malik says. “We spent six years driving around and playing music together. When you’re in a band with someone, they are pretty much family.”