Not unlike many of the 60's rock bands they are often compare to, Brian and Michael D'Addario of The Lemon Twigs sing a lot about love. Their fans, as expected, adore them and their music. So much so that one nice couple standing next to me took the show in Houston as an opportunity to get engaged on stage (congratulations!).
Their most recent single "I Wanna Prove To You" is the best example of their ability to craft a pop song. They are often compared to The Beatles and The Beach Boys, which makes complete sense when you hear them. There are many points on this record that derive their sound from The White Album through Abby Road era Beatles. But I think thats perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with being influenced by some of the greatest songwriters in music history, especially if you can still sound like yourselves in doing it.
It stands out that one of the things they do well, especially on a first album, is write songs that stay within the traditional three to four minute pop song length, and can swing between keys, time signatures, and tempos. "To us it's no different than writing a regular pop song, except you don't go back and edit it too much. It's like you're working from your subconscious." Brian said. "When I started writing songs I wrote them very traditional; verse, chorus, verse, chorus. But I've always listened to The Beatles and they didn't do that toward the end. And albums like [Paul McCartney's] Ram. I started writing like that, but now I've started pulling in the reigns a little because it's easier in a way to not edit."
Given the influence of The Beatles, the question arises as to what the recording process is like for The Twigs. The Beatles wouldn't have been who they were without the production of George Martin. Obviously all of their music was recorded using analog tape systems. Do The Lemon Twigs follow the school of thought that analog is the way to go in their recording? "I don't think I have any favorite rock records that I know of that were recorded on a computer." Brian said. "There are some records, like the Flaming Lips records, but I don't really consider those rock records. They were done on a computer and sound great. But if I'm going to keep making rock records, I'm going to keep making records this way [analog]." Michael does some other projects on the side that are more electronic based. "If I'm recording that type of music, I use a lot of MIDI, and I use computers. It really depends on what you're going for."
"If it's one of my heros recording a record, then I trust them to decide what is the best way to record it. If David Bowie wanted to record BlackStar on a computer, then that's the way it was meant to be recorded." Michael added.
Though there is a generational difference between me and the D’Addario brothers, the way in which we consume music is very much the same. Many of the artists I talk to of a younger generation often speak to the unlimited access they've always had to whatever music they want. This is different than it was for me at their age. During my musical awakening, I had to consume music one CD at a time and would often dedicate months to a single album. Partly due to access, partly due to cost. Not to say one is better than the other, but Michael and Brian seem to walk the line between both. "With so many options, I find the stuff I listen to is the stuff that I really love." Brian said, and Michael agrees. "You find something that you really like and you listen to it until you really love it. Then you listen to it until it's dead. But those albums will come back in conversations years later and it brings you back to them."
One luxury of technology is that you no longer have to suffer through buyers remorse for an album you thought would be great, but wasn't. "Now, if you start listening to something, and you're like, this isn't great, you just feel like it's a waste of time. Because there is so much music." said Brian. The only time the guys are willing to give mediocre music a chance, is when it's from someone they love. "When you get obsessed with an artists, then you're like, well I want to hear this person's shit, too." Michael jokes.
Given the amount of music available to people and the innumerable new bands releasing music every year, it can be incredibly difficult for new artists to make a name for themselves. Especially on their first record. So what was different about The Twigs? A big part of it was their connection to Foxygen through Jonathan Lado, who produced the album. "This is what I would do before I was really making music." Brian said. "You find the bands you love, and then you figure out who they are associate with, and who else they worked with. Then you go listen to them. So it's not surprising to me that a lot of Foxygen fans found us."
What does surprise them is the wide range of people who have paid them compliments. People like Elton John and Questlove from The Roots are two legendary musicians who have made a point to praise the band. They've also had the early opportunity to perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and just days after I met with them, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
With that kind of acclaim for their debut, how do they plan to progress without having expectations restrict their growth? "This album was recorded over two years ago. We already have almost a full records worth of music already written." Michael states. "If you look back to the early days, there were a lot of bands that were compared to the mid-Beatles stuff. ELO and Bad Finger come to mind, but after a few albums they'd established their own sound. I think we will do the same thing. It's pretty evident we sound like The Beatles or The Beach Boys, but we don't sound like ONLY them." Brian added.
Check out our playlist of tunes hand picked by The Lemon Twigs themselves!