The Lemon Twigs’ new album ‘Go To School’ – the band’s track by track guide

If there were any musicians bizarre enough to create an entire concept album about a chimpanzee (Shane) who was raised as a human boy, it would be The Lemon Twigs, aka brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, whose ‘Go To School’ does just that.

“We had written a lot about school because [Michael] was going to school during day and night before we started touring to finish the school year early, so it was very present in his mind,” Brian told NME. “He was using that as a sort of setting for a lot of songs. So we were putting our ideas together, and spent the whole year touring discussing it on a musical level and a conceptual level.”

And now the entire concept has been transformed into a 16-song album. Recruiting rocker Todd Rundgren and their Mum Susan Hall to play Shane’s parents, as well as Jody Stephens (Big Star) and their father Ronnie D’Addario for guest vocals, they’ve created an immersive, if totally bonkers, musical.

We sat down with the band to run through the entire album track-by-track:

‘Never In My Arms, Always In My Heart’

Michael: “I saw a lady on a plane, she was having a conversation and I was eavesdropping a little bit, and she was talking about a miscarriage, and a tattoo reading: “Never In My Arms, Always In My Heart”. It was a simple thing, but it’s something really sweet too, because it was personal and really heart-wrenching.”

‘The Student Becomes The Teacher’

Michael: “This is when the kid/the ape wants to go to school, because he sees what’s on TV and it sort of moves the story along.”

‘Rock Dreams’

Michael: “This is a song my mother sings, and it’s from the perspective of the Mom in the story. She’s a failed rock musician, and my mother took a crack at being an entertainer. The song is very bitter, and she’s amazing on it.”

‘The Lesson’

Brian: “This one is influenced by Broadway. It’s the first look at Shane, the main character, and describes his perspective on life. In the chorus it says, “In the coming years / We will all disappear into the clouds / That the rain falls from / And if you make believe / Our bodies create the seas / We’ll feel less worrisome.” That’s sort of a way to look at life in a more abstract way and in a way that’s beautiful.”

‘Small Victories’

Brian: “That’s Shane, and his classmate clashing. Shane sees all the bullying and hatred going on at the school and he asks how much of this will be allowed to go on? And the chorus is sort of his positive outlook once again in the face of all this negativity surrounding him. Musically it started out as a Gilbert O’ Sullivan type of thing with fast words and stuff like that, I then got really into Serge Gainsbourg after that, and then I sprinkled this arpeggiated guitar and funky stuff under it: a very square thing meeting a cool thing. I like how it turned out!”

‘Wonderin’ Ways’

Brian: “I think it was originally written about a crush that I had, and then it was very applicable to the story relating to Shane and Daisy. Daisy is the most popular girl in the school and is it’s never going to happen; but just because it’s never going to happen doesn’t mean he’s going to stop thinking about it. That’s the crux of that song.”

‘The Bully’

Brian: “This is a real sort of bossanova song – it’s kind of happy sounding, but one of the more sinister lyrics on the record. It’s the story of Robert Jr, the bully, who takes his anger from being bullied by his father Robert Sr out on Shane.”

‘Lonely’

Michael: “This song I wrote when I was 15. It’s a personal, raw song about being lonely at school. It was written from that perspective of a teenager or a kid, so I thought that even though we were re-doing it, it’d be cool because it was so genuine.”

‘Queen of My School’

Michael: “It’s a rock and roller and some of you might be able to hear the Big Star influence on it. It’s like the romance in the story.”

‘Never Know’

Brian: “This is a Todd Rundgren feature on the record, and one of the coolest experiences of my life was recording with him. He played the role of Shane s father Bill very effectively, and this is the part of the story when the parents see that his experiences at school are having a negative impact on him. They think if they tell him he’s an ape the it’ll bring some clarity into his mindset; but it has the opposite effect on him – it makes him feel more isolated. This is the story where he’s told of his origin.”

‘Born Wrong/Heart Song’

Brian: “It’s a full-on song thats in the broadway style, fully orchestrated. It was a big challenge getting the orchestration together, and  it was really special to me because it’s the first song I’ve written and Michael sung.”

‘The Fire’

Michael: “The Fire, The Fire, The Fire. It’s about the fire that happens in the school, which is sort of like an attack; I don’t think that the kid knows that it’s going to kill as many people, he wants to make a statement, and he then it like happens in the story. It’s like one of the emotional turning points in the story, so this is what happens after he turn, what he decided to do.”

‘Home Of A Heart (The Woods)’

Michael: “I was writing a lot of songs about feeling isolated and wanting to connect with other people. On this one, Shane’s in exile in the woods after the fire.”

‘This Is My Tree’

Michael: “It’s supposed to be early rock and roll; with the slapback and the saxophone.”

‘If You Give Enough’

Brian: “This is sort of the moral of the record. Shane, the main character, gets into this mess because he feels like he has a certain amount of love that’s inside of him and he wants to see it returned to him so he looks for it in other people. I feel like maybe other people are a vehicle to help you realise the love that’s within you, and when he tries to relate to other people they kind of shut him down and make him feel like maybe he doesn’t have that love inside of him. But this is the song that sort of says that it doesn’t matter what you receive back from people, it’s what you’re giving them and giving the world or whatever.”

‘Go To School’

Michael: “Title track, bonus track. It’s got themes from other parts of the record, all layered vocals that are all just on other parts of the record. I did it two days before we were supposed to master, it was a really quick thing, and my Dad sings the low vocal. It’s cool!”