Working with a sibling can be a recipe for success, or a recipe for disaster.
For Regis High School graduates Sam, 21, and Matthew, 18, Hellman, being in a band with each other is the easiest thing they’ve ever done.
“In practice we can skip the niceties and get right to the point,” Sam said. “If it didn’t work we can just say, ‘let’s just do it again.’”
Fortunately for the Hellmans, things seem to be working out more often than not. The two formed their brother-duo band The Over Unders in 2015 and began performing at open mics in the area. The name, which Matthew said started as a placeholder while they were doing shows, eventually stuck.
After releasing two EPs over the last two years, The Over Unders will release their first full-length album, “One Fine Day,” on Friday, July 20 (which is, coincidentally, Matthew’s birthday). The two will be hosting Stones Throw’s open mic Thursday, July 19, for a release show. CDs will be available there. The second single off the album, also titled “One Fine Day,” drops Friday.
Sam describes their style as a mix between alternative and classic rock ‘n’ roll, with influences from bands such as The Replacements and the Beatles.
Though Sam is the songwriter for the band, he said nothing gets written unless the two are on the same page.
“It’s definitely a process — he has to like the song before we ever have a chance to play it,” Sam said. “The single coming out, actually, started with I was sitting in my room about a year ago practicing, and he knocked on the door and said, ‘Hey, I like that, I think we’re going to play that one.’”
It didn’t come naturally, though. While Sam has been playing in a band in some form since he was in sixth grade, traveling to Black River Falls to play festivals through much of his high school career, Matthew didn’t have as much experience.
He played percussion in middle school band — mostly “hitting a triangle,” he said — and knows the keyboard, but it wasn’t until his freshman year of high school that his older brother, then a senior, told him to learn a drum set.
“He basically said either teach yourself or spend all summer learning from this video session,” Sam said. “So I sat down on the kit and taught myself. But I really like his music, and it worked out in the end.”
Sam had a similar sentiment toward his brother: “I was so impressed with how he picked it up.”
Now the two are ready to make a career out of their music, something Sam said has been an ultimate goal of his. “One Fine Day” is the first step in the right direction, and both brothers agreed they are proud of how the album turned out.
Matthew thinks that is in part because of the honesty that comes from being siblings — there is no false niceness.
“Me being his brother, it’s easy for me to tell him something I don’t like and I know there won’t be any hard feelings,” Matthew said. “Luckily, I haven’t told him I hate any of his stuff yet.”
With the album nearly out, the two are excited to begin promoting their music, something they admitted they didn’t do much of with the first two EPs.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to write songs regularly so we’ve got quite the inventory we’re working off,” Sam said. “The first two EPs we didn’t do much to promote them. This one we kind of went all out.”
This certainly won’t be the last you hear from them. The brothers already have plans in the works to get back into a recording studio “soon.”
Sam knows it will be difficult to make a name for themselves in a city that is as musically inclined as Eau Claire is, but he thinks that’s a perk in itself because it gives them ample opportunities to perform. He’s also hoping their musical style can help differentiate The Over Unders from other bands.
“In a town this size it’s nice we have this kind of music scene, which is a little unusual,” Sam said. “This back-to-basics style of rock ’n’ roll we thought maybe was a little unique to this town, and maybe we can be heard that way.”
The Over Unders can be heard on Spotify and iTunes. To stay up-to-date on the band, visit facebook.com/theoverunders.
Contact reporter: 715-833-9214, firstname.lastname@example.org, @KatherineMacek on Twitter