• Shanna Kelly

Aloha My Broha to return to Icona Aug. 7

Shanna Kelly | Seven Mile Satellite


Originally published 6 August 2019

 

Aloha My Broha’s July 19 show at the Icona.

Video | Shanna Kelly

 

Like most kids with musical aspirations, twin brothers Tom and Paul Barker created a band when they were 10 years old. They called themselves Paul Barker and the Butterfields. The group started out practicing in their garage and used Herr’s Potato Chip barrels as a placeholder drum set. But as every song comes to an end, so did their band.


Years later, their kids were drawn to music in a different way: Guitar Hero. One day, Tom interrupted their strumming and asked why they were playing artificial instruments when they had a real drum set in the house. From that day on, the family musical spark was rekindled and the boys were signed up for lessons. They soon found they all had talent beyond mastery of the Guitar Hero whammy bar.


Then, in December 2018, the family joined forces to create Aloha My Broha. This new band includes Tom and Paul and their sons/nephews Colin, Justin, Jamie and Garrett Barker.


Tom, also known as “Toz,” plays drums. Justin plays bass and occasionally guitar, and Colin is the lead guitarist who also plays bass and drums. Garrett, or “Snag,” plays the keys, bass and guitar, and Jamie jumps in for some songs — some of which are his own. The band’s lead singer is Paul, or “Poz,” but unlike most bands, this lead singer also specializes in pretending to play the guitar — yes, you read that right.


“We have a fake guitar that he picks up sometimes, and I’ll turn my back and solo,” Colin said. “I’m like go out and stand on something and act cool, and I turn my back.”

Paul, or “Poz,” the band’s lead singer and fake guitarist. Photos | Shanna Kelly

The band describes their sound as “beachy, sexy, industrial rock ‘n’ roll” and plays covers of bands such as “The Beatles.”


According to Tom, the band has three qualities that set them apart from other bands: they’re blood related, they have “magnetic personalities” and they have “top technical musical skills,” — a characteristic that led to some joking laughter. 


“The emphasis is on making it a very entertaining show, opposed to the most technically proficient rendition of a piece of music,” Garrett said.


Their energy and humor can be contagious as they dance around on stage and make jokes between songs. For Paul, this positive environment allows him to become one with the crowd in what he calls an “out-of-band experience.” This “synergy” makes for what’s likely an inevitably captivating show.


“We do have it in the show where we float above the audience, but you don’t physically see it,” Paul joked. 

Colin and Justin also have their own band, The Barker Brothers, that typically goes on before Aloha My Broha. Based in the South Jersey area around Philadelphia, the two have been playing together for eight years and create original music with a “folk rock” sound. 


This dynamic duo may even be recognizable to Seven Mile islanders since they’ve played outside Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream numerous times. Eager customers waiting in line may have seen them sitting on cajons, or percussion boxes, while playing a myriad of other instruments. For Colin, this includes an organ pedal that plays bass, an electric guitar, harmonica and singing; and for Justin, this means acoustic guitar, tambourine and a pedal that hits the cajon. 


Justin writes the majority of their song lyrics for The Barker Brothers, which gives Colin a unique experience on stage.


“It’s like watching one of my favorite artists play live every time,” Colin said — a true brotherly tribute at that.


Their songs typically revolve around relationships and experiences. Some even have an outer space angle to them, like in the song “Road Trip to the Moon,” which is based off of when Justin saw a solar eclipse. Their album “Ground Me” can be found on Spotify and a new EP “Open” will be out this fall.

Between The Barker Brothers and Aloha My Broha, Colin and Justin, as well as the other musical family members spend a lot of time together. It’s been said that people shouldn’t work with family, but aside from getting a little riled up determining the set list, Colin says it’s enjoyable and fun.


Besides, if that old saying is true, they’d have already butted heads since they  all work together at Tom, Paul and their third brother Bill’s company, Visual Communications. 


“We spend way too much time together,” Garrett affirmed. 


Him and Justin even sit next to each other in the office.


“He’s closer at work than he is on stage,” Colin added. 


If being blood related hasn’t made them close by now, being coworkers and bandmates is sure to do the trick. They’ve come a long way since Paul Barker and the Butterfields. Next stop for Aloha My Broha and the Barker Brothers: a gig at the Icona this Wednesday. 


As a closing remark until then:


“We want to say we want to thank our millions of fans for sticking with us,” Tom joked.


Shanna Kelly is a writer and editor for the Seven Mile Satellite. Contact her at sevenmilesatellite@gmail.com.