The Lemon Twigs exist in many states at once. They appear achingly cool and hip, despite sporting leotards, mullets, and what looks like the old clothes your dad was meant to take to the Salvation Army years ago. Their music is fresh, new, and surprising – though its DNA is heavily steeped in influence and homage. This ever-shifting paradox upon which The Lemon Twigs sit is what keeps them constantly appealing and interesting.
In the wake of the release of their recent EP ‘Brothers of Destruction’, they stand with one foot in the past and one in the present… and with an eye on the future. The EP is, as co-singer and multi-instrumentalist Brian D’Addario puts it when Gigwise chatted to him recently, “a sign off from the Do Hollywood era”.
Do Hollywood, the band’s triumphant debut LP, was released in 2016 to much acclaim, and featured an eclectic mix of songs which owed a great deal to the acts of the 1960s and 1970s, but without ever quite stealing wholesale. In particular, the music of The Beatles and The Beach Boys is often brought up as clear influences in The Lemon Twigs’ sound.
“That would have to be thanks to my parents,” says D’Addario. “They really liked that kind of music, and played it so much when me and my brother [bandmate, co-vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Michael] were growing up. The Beach Boys at the time saw more success in the UK, and our dad was really onto that, he really knew about that back then”.
The influence of those iconic groups is present not just in the D’Addario brothers’ song writing, but also the sound the honed on their debut, and also on the recent ‘Brothers Of Destruction’ EP.
“The recording was done in LA with [producer] Jonathan Rado… we knew him a bit, but we were fans of his first. And he just got it, you know? As for the actual sound, we called it ‘mid-fi’ when we were working with it. All we had was this semi-professional equipment in Rado’s home studio, and we were trying to cram it all in on half inch tape and 16 tracks. When you’re using kit like that – and don’t really know how to use it properly… you get ‘mid fi’!”
When speaking with D’Addario, this humble approach doesn’t seem feigned; it’s honest. They know that a great record needs great ideas, song writing and performances. But they also know that lots of what leads to real magic on an album isn’t in the deliberate.
“A mistake at the time of recording becomes your favourite part later on,” he says. “We remember hearing those little things on the records we listened to growing up… you look forward to that wrong note or fuck up.”
Maybe that’s why the brothers play almost everything on the record themselves? From the drums and guitars to the violas, cellos and trumpets on Do Hollywood, it’s all Brian and Michael.
“That was the trickiest part actually,” he remembers, when thinking back to the recording of the horns and strings on the epic, shape-shifting ballad ‘Frank’ towards the end of the album. “That one took ages to finish”.
So with an acclaimed debut LP behind them, a 6-track EP out now, and anticipated live shows just around the corner, what lies ahead for The Lemon Twigs? For starters, a change in their song writing, it would seem. One listen of The Lemon Twigs’ music proves their knack for switching things up: key changes, time shifts – much of which is owed to their song writing process of separately writing ideas and bringing them together to create something whole and new.
One example, ‘These Words’, Brian notes, “was originally a straight-up ballad. Then I think we just jammed it out one day, and it became this funkier thing.”
But for the next record, says Brian, “I think we’re gonna try it a little differently, see what happens when we write together in the same room.”
It’s hardly surprising they’re already wanting to change the formula: try a different way – it’s The Lemon Twigs, after all.