VENICE — At a Greek dive on Washington Boulevard, Finian and Ciaran Makepeace along with Conor Gaffney, who together comprise one of Westside’s most popular folk bands, The Makepeace Brothers chatted about their roots, their new CD, “Live In San Diego,” and their dedication to political activism.
Finian (guitarist/singer) and Ciaran (drummer/singer) learned to play their instruments when their parents took them on a year-long trip across the country,
“That’s when we started teaching ourselves to play,” Finian Makepeace said.
The brothers never had formal lessons, playing strictly by “feel.” Although, to hear them live, you’d think they’d been professionally trained.
The band’s members hail from Ithaca, New York, and the brothers first met friend and bassist Gaffney during grade school.
In his 20s, Finian moved to San Francisco, met up with Gaffney, and they started playing gigs. Until then, he had been playing in bands with his older brothers, Aidan and Liam.
“A month after meeting up with Conor, I went to visit Ciaran. He was writing a lot of his own music and we really clicked in our collaboration. That summer we sat down with our older brothers and decided that the Makepeace Brothers (as currently assembled) would be the best outlet for our music,” Finian Makepeace said.
Aidan, the eldest Makepeace, continues to write about 20 percent of the music and tours with the group when they’re on the East Coast.
Like their namesake, their lyrics spread a message of making peace amongst the brethren of humanity and their works are often compared to Simon and Garfunkel, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. Typically Finian starts the creative process, coming up with a chord progression; a “feeling,” and it builds from there. But the whole is bigger than the sum of its pretty harmonies; there is depth to their lyrics.
“We try to get people thinking about things. Not an intense experience where we’re preaching to people, but rather as an avenue to empower people. A lot of people feel helpless and don’t see how much one person can effect a community,” Finian Makepeace said.
One campaign they’ve been working on is “Vote with Your Dollars” which focuses on utilizing purchasing power as a means to make a difference.
“It’s a concept which we’ve been promoting at our shows, to get people in their communities to recognize that the individual can be empowered, everyday,” Finian Makepeace said. “So when you do go to the grocery store or anyplace that you purchase goods, you’re aware that how you spend your money is actually a ‘vote’ and you get to have your say. So if you really want to heal the oceans maybe you’re not going to buy the cheap, toxic stuff,” Gaffney added.
It’s exciting that the band’s socially conscious commitment runs deeper than their need to make artful tunes. It’s really about trying to make the world a better place. And unlike other bands that may “talk the talk,” the Makepeace Brothers also “walk the walk.”
The song “Hero” was written for Aidan’s son during the Iraq War but also for Finian Makepeace, who was a key organizer for the anti-war organization “World Can’t Wait.”
“Fin really did give his life up for a cause. He was living in his van, and he’d come over and stay at my house and shower,” Gaffney.
Get a piece of The Makepeace Brothers tonight at the Stronghold on Abbot Kinney Boulevard along with Trevor Hall, Justin Kredible and Andrew Keegan. Check out www.myspace.com/makepeacebrothers for more information.