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Couple finds musical happiness within local band Matrimony 

When musician Jimmy Brown first proposed to his girlfriend and fellow musician, Ashlee Hardee, the couple knew it would be difficult to have any kind of relationship if the singer-songwriters were both trying to have successful tours. They'd never see each other — an idea they didn't like the thought of. So, it made sense for them to put any solo ideas aside and instead join hands in Matrimony — marriage, and the name of their band.

The couple, who has now been married for three months, is currently based in Charlotte. Earlier this year, they tried their hands at moving to London, but the expenses there were too much. After playing several festivals and getting their songs on radio, the duo decided to move back to the States, though they would still like to have a European presence as much as they can.

"We'll definitely be going back [to Europe] next summer to play festivals again," says Brown, who moved to the United States from Ireland five years ago. "We also have some labels interested, but I'd like to get the band up and running before we do any showcases for them."

Formed in December 2009, the band has one release — a six-song album entitled, The Eye & The Storm. Ashlee's brother, Jordan, used to play bass with Brown — that's how the two originally met. "The first time we met, we actually wrote a song together," Brown says.

"We had plenty of songs, so we wanted to give people more than just an EP so they could get an idea of what we were doing," Brown says of the debut disc. "Six of them came out really good. We're planning on doing another album in the summer, but we want to have everything performed live a lot so we're comfortable with them. We have about eight new songs that we're playing now." They hope to record a sophomore effort next year.

While each has an established music background — Brown with the band Airspace and Hardee Brown with Flagship — they knew they wanted to have a band. Brown says it makes it easier than having to teach people the songs every time they want to perform.

Rotating casts of musicians have been narrowed down, and while they've locked in a drummer and bassist to become part of the band, they're still in search of a multi-instrumentalist/singer to round things out.

"I think when we recorded — the way the songs were written were for piano and guitar," Brown says. "We didn't feel like the energy was there though, so we s tarted adding more instruments. We're at the stage where it's grown, and we like the energy when we have a band and it doesn't feel the same without them."

Brown and Hardee do their songwriting separately, before completing a song together — usually what they bring to the table is 75 to 90 percent finished. While their album could be considered a brand of folk, having the full band brings depth to the music and fills out the sound.

"I think we're trying to bring in more drum and bass grooves so it's not the same backbeat," Brown says. "Our main goal is just to be real. We're not trying to sound like anybody else. We just want to make really honest songs about things that we actually think about or care about. I think people try to make a Radiohead album or get attention of record labels, but we just want to do our thing.

"We'll make the music we want to make and hopefully people will like it."


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