“The good thing about a string band is that things tend to culminate with dancing rather than elbows flying in a mosh-pit,” says Gio Benedetti of The Brothers Comatose. The original members of the quintet with brothers Alex and Ben Morrison, bonded at the Morrison family acoustic music parties before taking a youthful foray into punk and rock bands and ultimately circling back to the music they learned in that living room. They credit both beginnings for the attitude of their current music, and as a testament to their skillful energy – they have already played the major festivals including the esteemed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, The Strawberry Festival and High Sierra. On the new album, Respect The Van out May 22, their music is not a wavering melange of assorted styles, but decided and strong bluegrass-influenced folk rock.
With the addition of members Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) the band aims “to offer a damn good time, with a no-bullshit style that we found in those original living room parties and our live shows,” says Ben. “We tracked everything for the albumlive in one big room – treating the studio like a stage,” he explains.
As for the name, only a brother could pick it out by observing his sibling. Guitarist and vocalist Ben said when brother Alex Morrison (banjo and vocals) goes into a trance-like state while playing his banjo, “his eyes roll back in his head like he’s in a coma.” It’s certainly not indicative of their music, which doesn’t have any of the indulgent noodling breaks characterized by other string based bands; though the musicianship is solidly there, it’s given with a communal and inclusive spirit to sing and dance along to. Now, at live shows the San Francisco band is known for handing out chopsticks to the audience for participatory percussion on whatever surface is closest. Despite their name, the band is anything but Comatose. “It's just one, big, extended Morrison music party,” they say.