On The Verge: The Mallett Brothers Band

Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta on April 21, 2018

Birds of a Feather

Luke Mallett is in the middle of a snowstorm. “They said 12 inches, so we’ll see,” he says peeking out the window of his home outside of Portland. “My wife runs a horse farm, so I live here and help her,” he adds. “We’ve got our little piece of country.” Luke and his brother Will founded The Mallett Brothers Band in 2009, and even their backstory sounds like a country song. They were raised in the same farmhouse that their father grew up in, and despite being born 18 months apart—and sharing a bedroom for 18 years—they didn’t play a lick of music together until they were in their twenties. Will was crashing on Luke’s couch after graduating from college when they finally managed to string some notes together. “We started writing songs in the living room, and we just never stopped,” Luke recalls. Over five independently released LPs—the sixth, Vive l’Acadie! is due June 15—the Malletts refined their sound, bringing in fiddle, dobro, mandolin, lots of Telecasters and a little bit of twang to capture the “frontier mentality” that not only runs through Maine but all of America’s wide-open spaces. And with the addition of temporary touring member Jon Fishman, the spotlight on The Mallett Brothers Band has never been brighter. Their relationship with the Phish drummer began with a chance meeting that turned into a two-song sit-in at a 2016 Bernie Sanders event in Maine. A year later, Fishman’s wife caught a Mallett Brothers set at a Baker’s Dozen pre-party and gave the band a set of Phish tickets that they “never would have been able to afford.” Later, the Malletts welcomed Fishman for another sit-in at a local fair, and then they performed at the opening of the drummer’s The Pine Tree State general store. “And from there, it turned into the tour,” Luke says. “Which is amazing because he doesn’t have to do this; he’s doing it for fun. He told us he loved the songs, and he thought it would be a good challenge for him stylistically.” The Mallett Brothers Band and Jon Fishman will hit the road together this spring and, as the Phish drummer remarks enthusiastically, it’s all about the joy of being onstage: “I’m thrilled to be playing with these guys again. It’s always a good time!”