Talking Light – Matt Collier from Brothers Gow

Up and coming LD Matt Collier from Arizona-based jam band Brothers Gow is in the blog today, talking about light, inspiration, and rock and roll with our Customer Engagement and Education Manager, Jim Hutchison. Check it out!


Jim:  Tell me about Matt Collier the lighting designer.  How’d you get started with Brothers Gow, and how has the journey taken you?

Matt Collier:  Well, Brothers Gow was founded in 2007 in Flagstaff, AZ and I started out helping them on shows more for the free drink tab than anything else haha. But honestly, they started the band in September of that year right after the college school year started. In the beginning I just took pictures and helped load in and out. After we got to the point of having too many sound channels to run from stage, I learned the basics of sound, which spurred my interest in working in live music production.

Thats right about when I saw Phish live for the first time and Chris Kuroda’s show blew me away. I’ll never forget my first show at the Gorge in ’09, and after that I’ve been all about lighting. The feeling that I got when a deep blue would wash over me when they went into a slow section or the beautiful scenes he created that seemed to match the music and intensity of the show perfectly. Those feelings were really my inspiration to be a Lighting Designer. I wanted to be the one to bridge that gap between performer and audience member and put my artistic spin on how I hear music.

Lighting has become my life and I love it. Being able to run lights for my band Brothers Gow every show still is just as fun as it was in 2009. In addition to BG, I’ve also got to run lights for some of my favorite acts, like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Galactic, Particle, Greyboy All-Stars and Nahko and Medicine for the People. Lighting just suits me I think because I’m very much a hard working, logical based guy (which is good for troubleshooting and rigging/staging) but I also have a creative mind from my photography background. All in all, the journey has been great so far.

What has pushed you to develop new looks while lighting Brothers Gow?  Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

Being creative in this business is critical to push yourself to become a better LD. In my opinion, finding new looks is important especially when working a lot of shows like I do with Brothers Gow. Switching it up and keeping your design fresh also allows you to see your rig from a different perspective and discover cool new ideas. I watch a lot of lighting videos from many different artists and genre’s, but my influences are Chris Kuroda, Saxton Waller, Luke Stratton and Jefferson Waful. All of those guys run lights for bands that are similar to Brothers Gow so seeing how they interact with the changes in the music inspire some looks or chases I use. Lots of tempo changes, deep grooves and intense climactic moments so being quick on the music changes is crucial.

I like to pull design ideas from all over the place but mostly its cool architecture or art. Im very big on symmetry as are most designers but I just like how it looks when you have everything set perfectly and all the scenes move together fluidly. Its seems to be more organized than an asymmetrical look and I’m more of an organized person I guess. I’ve become a better designer trying to emulate the looks and programming that Phish and Umphrey’s [McGee] have for their live shows. Not trying to copy or steal what they do, but rather teach myself how to create looks like the professionals and run a show like a professional. They must be doing something right if they’re in that FOH position.

What control surface do you use?  When you started out with the band, what was your controller then?

I currently use the Martin M-PC for my controller. I love it and don’t plan on switching anytime soon. I’m pretty inexperienced in running anything other than M-PC so I can’t gauge how much I like other control platforms. Martin M-PC does everything I need as of right now and I’m planning on going up to LA on our time off this summer to take a course and further my programming knowledge. Originally, we started with 6 scanners and a Chauvet Obey-50 DMX512 controller so we have come a long way since then but I’ve stuck with our Chauvet roots cause they continue to evolve and push the limits, just like my lighting and the band.

Can you tell me a bit about how the energy of the crowd impacts your show, be it positively or negatively?  What’s the crowd vibe do for you as an LD?

Being the LD in a packed room is unlike anything I can describe, and definitely takes the show to another level.  The trick is still having that same energy when the show isnt very busy. Putting forth the effort to still run a good show is important even if there isnt a full house because the bands feeds off your energy and lighting and the people in the house still deserve the best show possible for coming out to see the show. If the show isnt too busy I like to try out new FX and color schemes too… but NOTHING compares to a hot sweaty packed house of dancing fools!!

What’s the next technological tool you want to incorporate into the Brothers Gow lighting rig?

Martin just recently release a touch console called the M-Touch that is very affordable at under $1000 dollars. Right now I run my show with a mouse and external monitor so it would be nice to upgrade to a small console but in all reality, Im sure I will be buying more Chauvet Rogue R1’s next. Just ran my first couple shows with them and am very, very stoked on how well they perform.

Check out this second set video from Brothers Gow’s set at the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff, AZ:

For more on Matt Collier and Brothers Gow, check out:

The Brothers Gow Facebook Page

The Brothers Gow Lighting page, Facebook

The Official Brothers Gow website