It's easy to see the '60s as a golden age for pop culture: Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were still knocking about, festivals were often free and The Beatles were still a unit. If you're of that opinion, then The Lemon Twigs are definitely for you.
Purveyors of glam-baroque pop inspired by The Beach Boys and The Beatles, the New York band are brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario – who write and record all the songs – plus Danny Ayala (keyboard) and Megan Zeankowski (bass) – who join for live shows.
Signed to archetypal indie label 4AD, the Twigs wowed US viewers last week with an impressive TV debut on ‘The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon’. Their debut single ‘These Words’ – which they performed on the programme – is already making waves (180,000 YouTube views in a month) and with debut album ‘Go Hollywood’ out on October 14 it’s set to be a very big couple of months for the East Coast group.
We caught up with the D’Addario brothers ahead of their recent London show to talk fashion, wrestling and hanging out with Tobias Jesso Jr.
How did you get into music?
Brian D’Addario: “It was our parents really. Our dad’s a musician and there were always a lot of instruments in the house so we were always picking them up and having a go. We both played drums, then I started playing guitar when I was seven and gradually the other instruments followed. Michael didn’t start until he was older and got into Nirvana.”
You worked as actors from a young age too, didn’t you?
Brian: “Yeah, for about three years we did Broadway shows. I played the blue and yellow Flounder in The Little Mermaid. Michael did a couple of movies too, like “>Sinister.”
Michael D’Addario: “Yeah, I didn’t have a huge part in that, I played Ethan Hawke’s son. I must have been 12 or 13. It was cool, he was really nice.”
Brian: “We both knew it was always gonna be music in the long term though. We never thought about ourselves as destined to be actors.”
Brian: “Music was what we were obsessed with when we were really young. Even backstage at the shows I was still writing a lot of songs and watching videos of The Who, messing about in front of the mirror or with a guitar.”
You grew up in Long Island, New York. Is the city a big influence on your music?
Michael: “I just think it’s so pretty. Our Dad grew up there and he used to take us on walks in the city. To the music stores mostly. He’d get sad when they’d close down.”
What’s the songwriting/recording process like for you as brothers? Do you ever argue?
Michael: “We’re two equally important songwriters in the band. If one person writes all the music and all the lyrics but they get stuck, then of course they’d go to the other and we’d help each other out. But each song is our own.”
Brian: “We’re definitely not as precious about singing everything that we wrote ourselves now. If something’s getting out of hand one of us just leaves, which wasn’t always the case. We didn’t want there to be any bullshit on this record though because we only had 12 days [to record]. Rado being there helped a lot.”
Jonathan Rado (Foxygen) produced the album. What was it like working with him?
Brian: “It was fun. We get along really well with him and feel similarly about music. He always has such great ideas. Once we disagreed over this drum sound I didn’t like but he really wanted. It turned out great in the end, so I was actually quite wrong about that.”
You’re friends with Tobias Jesso Jr. too aren’t you?
Brian: “Yeah, we worked with him and we hung out with him a lot. He’s a good guy. We haven’t seen him in a while though.”
What did you do with him?
Brian: “We wrote and recorded some stuff, sort of like in a workshop, with him. I don’t know how much of it he’s going to use or whatnot. I’m really curious as to what’s gonna happen with it. I think he’s focusing on pop songwriting right now.”
Do you get any time to just relax away from music? I’ve read you’re into wrestling?
Michael: “[Laughs] It’s just a little online video we did with our friends about a year ago. We do wrestling characters with different gimmicks. It’s really fun, but very, very stupid.”
Brian: “Mine’s the bumblebee. Our friend is the sushi chef. The camerawork is so bad that it kinda puts you off. You almost certainly wouldn’t be able to sit through a whole thing of it.”
What are you looking to do next?
Michael: “We wanna do stuff together with the band for as long as it works out. We also want to make a movie or a musical too, and our next album’s going to be a concept record. We’ve already written a load of songs for it.”
Brian: “I just want to put out a lot of records; and each one be better than the last one. That’s my goal.”
The Lemon Twigs release debut album ‘Do Hollywood’ October 14 on 4AD.
They’ve also announced some new UK dates, which you can check out below:
London, Moth Club (28 November)
London, Moth Club (29 November)
Birmingham, Hare And Hounds (30 November)
Leeds, Brudenell (1 December)
Glasgow, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (4 December)
Manchester, Deaf Institute (5 December)