03.11.23 – By Jolie Morehouse Olson
Music is a language in and of itself; it connects and ties us to each other in a way no other art form can. One band in particular has embraced the power that music holds and uses it to spread messages of truth and hope. We Three is a band consisting of siblings Joshua Humlie (piano and drums), Bethany (Humlie) Blanchard (bass and vocals), and Manny Humlie (guitar and vocals). Fresh off of their tour of Australia and New Zealand, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with We Three before their show at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in Saint Paul on Saturday, March 11th.
Jolie: Will you share a little bit about your backstory? I know that you’re a sibling band and you were on America’s Got Talent, but will you share a little of your history?
Manny: Yeah! Like you said, we’re siblings, we grew up basically doing this. It was more for fun at the time – it was never like real… this was always a dream that we wanted, but it was never a reality or something that we thought would actually happen. They [Joshua and Bethany] actually started playing together first. I was too young; they thought I was not cool at the time.
Bethany: It’s funny ‘cause that’s so true. I remember being embarrassed, and then there was one time we were sitting there and we were like, “Ehhh you can join!”
M: I had to prove myself.
B: But that’s how young you were. I thought you were just my annoying little brother.
Joshua: He was!
M: I still am! So they started playing, and I ended up getting in the group and we did weddings. We live in wine country, so we’d play wineries. Then we started throwing in some of our original music here and there, which didn’t always go well – the dance floor would disappear as we played our own tunes. But slowly that started to shift, and then we started recording more and we got approached by America’s Got Talent, which we thought was a joke.
B: And it wasn’t.
M: And it wasn’t, and then it just slowly brought us here. We were just three siblings playing weddings for a very long time.
B: Yep. Weddings and Wineries.
Jolie: How do you think your history as a sibling band, and obviously being siblings in the first place, has shaped the way you make music or impacted the kind of music that you make?
J: I think I would say as you grow up together you learn and know a lot about each other. You know what buttons to push to kind of piss a person off and then what buttons not to, and so I think you have the potential of being able to work together well because you know each other so well. I think we kind of took that and we figured out where our strengths are as individuals, and really allowed each other to just kind of lean into those. We cross over every now and then for different things because music is just that way, and the business is just that way, but we know what we’re good at and what we’re bad at.
M: And I think there is – and it sounds like it wouldn’t be true, but I actually do believe it – when you’re in a group with people who aren’t blood related there’s egos; there’s competition. You don’t always want the other person to succeed. But it’s kind of in your DNA [as siblings] that even if you have beef with them, even if you hate them at times, you always want each other to succeed.
Jolie: I love that! You have a new song that came out yesterday. So exciting! I’ve been listening to it. Will you just talk a bit about “In Therapy” and how it came to be?
M: I’m personally on my 5th therapy session. It’s a new thing that I have been very, very scared of for a long time, but I started and I brought up these things. The song is basically just a celebration. It wasn’t even intended to be that, but it is just like a celebration of doing this and working through it. We went to a The 1975 concert and I loved it and I was there with my partner at the time. My brain almost couldn’t relax during the show because all that I could think about, for someone who has anxiety, you just think about, “Oh shit. What if they like them more? What if they don’t like me as much? What if they don’t think I’m cool anymore?” And that’s all you can think about. So then I went home and wrote a song about it. It’s basically just every reason I’m in therapy – all your insecurities, everything about it, but then also just celebrating the fact that you’re still there, doing it, working through it. It’s not a sad thing, it’s a happy thing.
B: Even with the music at the end of the song, again it wasn’t intended to go that way, but how he (Manny) wanted to end the track and just have this huge lift… It just kind of naturally evolved into a celebration and then we started talking about it that way once it was finished. Which is kind of wild.
J: It’s really carefree and really free at the end of the song. You’re letting loose and you’re dancing – I think that’s kind of the point of therapy to get into that level and space of freedom. To just be yourself.
Jolie: I know exactly what you mean.
M: But ironically, the day that the song dropped, I forgot my therapy session. It was not intentional, I promise.
Jolie: How has the reaction been to the song?
B: It’s always hard to tell through the screen, but we do take note of what people say each time a song drops. My opinion right now is like one of the most positive reactions that we’ve had. Which is kinda crazy. I mean a lot of streams, but then also what people are saying; that’s what means the most. Like, the paragraphs that they are writing to explain what the song means to them is like “Wow, okay, cool”.
Jolie: You talk a lot about mental health in your music, which is great and needed in the world – what do you hope your audience hears in those messages? In songs like Sara, Confident, Body Fat Percentage?
M: I don’t see them much different than a dance song about falling in love. It’s a feeling. It’s something that you’re going to feel no matter what. My hope is the same for those songs as the songs like Sara. You feel it and it’s a love song and you hear it and you’re like, “Yeah that’s amazing. I love this feeling, it’s so good” and then you hear Sara and you go, “Damn, I have felt that before” but all of a sudden you go, “There is someone else feeling it as well.” Just knowing that the crazy things that we think in our head that seems really, really crazy – I promise you the person sitting next to you on the plane, on the bus, or in the coffee shop is feeling the exact same thing. I promise you.
Jolie: How did you realize, as a band, that you wanted your collective voice to be this honest, real, vulnerable, open kind of message? Your lyrics are so raw and real – it feels different from other bands.
B: Something that has been really consistent with us is that we can be organized and structured in some ways, but when it comes to the music we release, the timing, the stuff that’s said, there’s just no structure. We’ve been like that since the beginning and we’ve kind of evolved into just loving that part of it.
M: It wasn’t planned.
B: If people are like “We need another song that says something like this”, we’re like “Okay, sure”, but it’s more so you’re just going to get what comes. Sometimes we’ll try, if necessary, but really it’s just what’s coming out is what you’re gonna get.
M: Honestly I think it’s that way because, at least for me, I wouldn’t like it if it wasn’t like that. I wouldn’t like our music – it wouldn’t hit as much… it doesn’t feel authentic to me. I wouldn’t be able to sing it on stage.
Jolie: I feel like that’s part of the reason why so many people are able to connect with you guys, because that’s just who you are – you’re not going to make something up or put something out that doesn’t feel honest and real to you. Do you have a favorite lyric?
B: I still like “Forget that you’ve seen me naked.” I don’t know why, but there’s something about it that is just so vulnerable.
M: I actually really like the line from In Therapy, “I look better when I sing on stage, for two plus hours my brain just behaves. I think that I’m cool and all I ever break is a leg.”
J: I think my favorite from one of my favorite songs that I keep going back to is Same Way Too. I just love the music video for that, just the vibe, everything just felt so good. I think it really captured this core theme that we’ve been talking about – you’re not alone. People feel the same way, they just don’t know how to communicate it. So I just love the line, “just know I feel the same way too.”
Jolie: You use humor as well in some of your songs… why do you use humor? Especially in songs where the overall message is deeper?
M: I think self-deprecation is very much so a part of my coping mechanism, just as a human, like so, so many people. But then I also think being able to laugh at yourself a little bit shows how ridiculous some of these thoughts are. I think that’s a really important thing in the push and pull of life. It’s just a part of it.
B: Sometimes we’ll go to self-deprecation, in particular cause that’s how you [Manny] process things. Something hard will happen and it won’t take long before you make a joke. And it’s not because you’re not processing it, that’s just how some people literally process things. It scientifically does release endorphins in your body and that does make you feel better.
M: Laughing is very important. If you don’t laugh at yourself…
J: We’re hilarious. Not us, I mean as humans… It’s insane. All the crazy things we do and say and the beautiful things we do and we say. It’s that spectrum. It’s just trying to embrace all of it.
Jolie: Speaking of human connections, how was Australia and New zealand?
B: Warm. A lot warmer than here.
M: It was incredible. It was amazing.
B: They showed up.
M: That was our first time there – not just to play, but ever. Every time you go to a new place you question whether they’re gonna show up, whether they are going to be as loving. But we have the best fans on the planet, like truly, they are incredible. Every venue we go to, everyone on the crew just comes up and goes, “Jesus Christ, your fans are lovely.” So you go to a new place and wonder if it’s going to be the same. And they were. Even to another level.
B: We had one of our best shows in Melbourne.
Fans did not disappoint in Saint Paul either, even with a winter storm watch in the forecast. Outside of the Amsterdam Bar & Hall there was a line full of concert goers snaking beyond the fifth floor of the adjacent parking garage, eager to be let in the venue.
As the crowds poured through the doors there was a hum of anticipation. Fans introducing themselves, chatting about their favorite songs and what We Three means to them. Everyone just seemed so genuinely happy to be there.
When the lights dimmed for opener Casey Baer’s set the audience erupted into cheers, ready for the music to start. Baer set the tone for the show with pop songs about heartbreak, growth, and the struggles of dating in the modern world. I could see new listeners searching her name on Spotify and Instagram, and old fans singing along to tracks like “R.I.P.” Baer even played a new song that she will be releasing in April.
After the break between sets, the energy in the room was palpable. Fans pulled their phones out, ready to record the entrance of their favorite band. As the lights changed and the crowd screamed, the three siblings ran on stage, fully capturing the attention of every single person in the room. During songs like “Body Fat Percentage” and “I Wanna Love Somebody” the room was filled with dancing and singing. During songs like “Sara” and “Heaven’s Not Too Far,” the audience calmed down and seemed to recognize their shared experiences, some people even crying and hugging each other. It was obvious how connected the audience felt; everyone was engrossed in the music, as if it was just them and the band.
Not only did a connection emerge between the audience and the band, but so did connections amongst the audience itself. Strangers gathered together to welcome We Three to the Twin Cities, singing along to their music, as well as singing happy birthday to three lucky fans in the crowd. The siblings played their newly released single, “In Therapy”, and as they mentioned in our interview before the show, it felt like a celebration of just being there. In truth, that’s what the whole show felt like: a celebration for being alive.