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Common Prayer - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 6 / 9 / 2010

Common Prayer - Interview


Brothers Justin and Jason Russo were members of both Hopewell and Mercury Rev. Anthony Strutt speaks to them both at a show in London about their current groups, Common Prayer and the Silent League

Justin and Jason Russo are two brothers from Hopewell in the state of New York. Both brothers were members of Mercury Rev and toured together on the tour for their 1998 album, ‘Deserter’s Songs’ They were also both in Jason’s band Hopewell, which released four albums of psychedelic rock, ‘The Curved Glass’ (2001), ‘Hopewell and Birds of Appetite’ (2005), ‘Beautiful Targets’ (2007) and ‘Good Good Desperation’ (2009). Justin now fronts the Silent League who have built further on Hopewell’s dark psychedelic sound and have released three albums, ‘The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused’ (2004), ‘Of Stars and Other Somebodies’ (2007) and this year’s ‘But You Have Always Been the Caretaker’. Since the break-up of Hopewell last year. Jason has fronted the upbeat-sounding Common Prayer, who are about to release on CD their debut album, ‘There is a Mountain’, which was recorded in Oxfordshire. Pennyblackmusic met Jason and Justin at a gig in London in which both Common Payer and the Silent League supported Neil Halstead and a few days before both bands played at the Truck Festival. PB: You were both brought up in Hopewell. Where is that? Jason: It is about an hour and a half north of New York City. It is in Hudson Valley and is near the Catskills and Woodstock. PB: What is the age difference between you? Jason : I am eighteen months younger. PB: Did you both discover music together? Jason. I didn't want to play music at all until I was 20. Justin: They tried to get him to play music in church, He picked up the guitar a few times, but I stole it and years later he turned up on my doorstep and he moved in and lived with us and we started a band which was Hopewell. That was about 1995. PB: The Silent League have been going since 2004 and have released three albums. Justin: Yes, there is a new one due soon as well. PB: Common Prayer are, however, yet to release anything, are they? Jason: We’re just about to release a digital download of our debut album, ‘There Is a Mountain’, and then the CD version will come out in October. PB: As you are both brothers and played together in both Hopewell and Mercury Rev, why are you now playing in two separate bands rather than continuing to play together? Jason: It's because it is too easy. PB: It's not because you fight as brothers in bands tend to do. Jason: No, we don't fight. We play on each other’s records. It is best we don't tour together though. Why sleep with the same family? PB: Are these your first shows here with Common Prayer, Jason? Jason.: Common Prayer played last night in Wales as well. We also played in Oxford. PB: Your debut album was recorded in a barn in Oxfordshire? Why did you record it in Britain rather than the States? Jason: It's a brother thing. There are two brothers with the name Bennett who are in a band called Goldrush. They are the founders of the Truck Festival. Hopewell and Goldrush toured for many months together. We played to many an empty room. We got very close. We were each other’s audience. They invited me over to record what was then going to be my solo album. PB: You have both played with Mercury Rev. Do you still play with them? Justin: No we have both left Mercury Rev, but we have have played with them since. PB: Did you play on ‘Deserter's Songs’? Jason: No, but we toured the album for many years. PB: Musically with Common Prayer and the Silent League you are both, however, very different. (To Jason) Your music reminds me of Hefner and Jonathan Richman. Jason. Thank you. Jason (To Justin). Yo have always liked the darker more serious stuff, haven’t you? We spent many years playing dirty psychedelic music, and Common Prayer is meant to leave all of that behind, but Justin wanted to develop that sound further. PB: How did this tour come about then? Jason: We both wanted to do it. We are both friends with the Truck Festival, so we both built a tour around it. We wanted to tell our mother we are playing in London. PB: Is there anything that else you would like to add? Jason: We are happy to be here. Thank you. PB: Thank you.

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Common Prayer - Interview

Common Prayer - Interview

Common Prayer - Interview

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