Edmonton has always been a strange microcosm of artistic ideals and ventures. It’s a place where you invite your friends to a weird improv culinary burlesque show, a place where you start a zine about the values of puppetry and motorcars, a place where you drink to forget and drink to remember. It’s the only kind of place where a band like Brother Octopus could exist.
For the past nine years, Brother Octopus—starting off as a cephalopod-fronted two-piece and then morphing into a five-piece—has performed in some of Edmonton’s oldest and most short-lived venues, and each performance has been distinct. The group’s repertoire consists of indie rock, dance synth, sad folk—just about any kind of sound possible with a traditional band setup.
The March 6 show will signify the end of Brother Octopus as it’s time for the walking sunken Animorph to slink back into the ocean.
To capitalize on the conclusion, Brother Octopus has released its final batch of songs. Simply named The Band EP, this is the first time every member’s sounds and personalities will be featured on recordings.
“Usually it was just me playing the music and recording and the band performing with me live, but this time it’s all of us,” Brother Octopus says.
The band’s lore also sounds like something out of a Curious George book, due to the fact that Brother Octopus is fronted by a man who used to take the form of—well, an octopus.
“So I lived in the Pacific Ocean and eventually a guitar dropped down—and I didn’t know what this thing was at the time—and I started messing around with it and trying to understand it, and once I did I was like ‘I gotta bring this thing to land,’” Brother Octopus says in a somewhat cloaked voice over the phone.
He arrived on land in 2011 and heard the sound of a tambourine and slithered his way to the sound’s origin. It was coming from a woman named Lady Friend who was locked in a prison.
“She was trapped because she had stolen a chocolate bar and I was like ‘I’m gonna break you out of here and we’re gonna make music together.’”
The two went on to record a few albums and singles until Lady Friend was caught by the police and Brother Octopus had to start from scratch.
“I got some musical friends from the sea. So there is Little Guppy, Golden Boy—who we found on a ferry on his way to B.C.—and eventually Dogfish, and New Guy who is always a new guy to the band and the drummer. We had Sea Bass and the Explorer for a bit too,” he says.
The band released a few more albums—Sea of Champions, Connected Through Corals, and Serenaded Through Seaweed—each with its own individual theme and concept.
“So the last two albums Connected Through Corals and Serenaded Through Seaweed, they all have different featured vocalists from local artists. Sea of Champions was a way to record every song in a different studio in Edmonton,” Brother Octopus says.
Both albums are also a nice little timeline on Edmonton’s growing music scene. The albums feature local artists like the pop duo Jenesia (then known as Soap Box Duo), the chiptune maestros, Boosh, punk boys, A Gentleman’s Pact, and indie superstars White Lightning, to name a few.
While Brother Octopus knows his bandmates will go on to form other bands and projects he is content with hanging up his guitar for a while.
“Mother Octopus and Father Octopus, they’re getting older and I miss my friends back in the sea and I feel that my time on land has come to an end,” Brother Octopus says. “I don’t want to say this is the end forever because you never know, but for now this is the end.”
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