'We Just Get Out Of Each Others' Faces': The Lemon Twigs On Being Brothers In A Band

Oct 28, 2017
Originally published on October 28, 2017 9:17 am

The music of The Lemon Twigs has a sound that channels decades long past.

Michael, 18, and Brian D'Addario, 20, the brothers who make up the band, have a look that matches: We're talking peak 1970s shag haircuts, oversized tinted aviator shades and high-waisted bell-bottom jeans.

Having grown up in a musical family, the D'Addario brothers have been making music since they were tiny — starting with home videos they posted on YouTube — and have always been obsessed with The Beatles. The D'Addarios have also been on stage since kindergarten and have performed on Broadway in Les Misérables and The Little Mermaid.

Now, as The Lemon Twigs, the brothers play all the instruments — guitar, piano, drums, bass and cello, to name a few — and split the work of songwriting, which, the brothers joke, could be a point of future contention:

Brian: Creatively, it's been pretty healthy since we've started enjoying each other's music --

Michael: We just get out of each other's faces.

Brian: But there's like a looming question of the fact that we split the duties and we fill up an album with half my songs and half of Michael's songs, basically.

Michael: What's the looming question? I'm still waiting on the looming question. Nothing's looming.

Brian: It's looming so much that I'll never get to it.

Hear their full interview with NPR's Melissa Block, in which they discuss their music influences and their vision for their future, at the radio link above.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY THAT?")

THE LEMON TWIGS: (Singing) I never thought she'd doubt me when I said I love her still.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Lemon Twigs came by our studios the other day, two brothers whose sound channels decades long past. And so does their look. We're talking peak 1970s - shag haircuts, oversized, tinted aviator shades, high-waisted bell-bottom jeans.

MICHAEL D'ADDARIO: Well, don't you think it just looks cooler?

BLOCK: It does.

M. D'ADDARIO: So then that's it.

BLOCK: That's Michael D'Addario, the younger brother. He's 18. And as we talked, it became clear he loves to needle his older brother, 20-year-old Brian. The D'Addarios have been making music since they were tiny - and always, always obsessed with the Beatles.

BRIAN D'ADDARIO: That was, like, our lives at a certain point. You know, we'd put on all the movies and all the documentaries and just pretend to be them.

BLOCK: Yeah. Who were you? Which Beatle?

B. D'ADDARIO: I would alternate, I think. But when we were talking to each other, I assigned myself Paul. And I assigned him Ringo.

M. D'ADDARIO: Yeah. It was funny. We used to have the, like, little replicas of the guitars, the Rickenbacker and the Hofner. And, like, they would be really, really tiny, but we would play them like they were actual guitars.

BLOCK: How old would you have been?

M. D'ADDARIO: Two or...

BLOCK: Whoa. Really?

M. D'ADDARIO: ...Three. Yeah, for me. I mean, he would have been, like, 5 or something.

BLOCK: Yeah.

M. D'ADDARIO: But that went on for years, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER")

THE LEMON TWIGS: (Singing) As long as we're together, I don't see what's wrong with that.

BLOCK: The D'Addario brothers still live with their parents in the Long Island home where they grew up. They even share a bedroom and have turned the basement into their recording studio. They first performed onstage when they were in kindergarten and second grade. And they've always been in a band together.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRIAN D'ADDARIO AND MICHAEL D'ADDARIO: (Singing) We're out playing music and acting our part. But we're not too high and mighty not to laugh about farts. We live large.

BLOCK: Now, as The Lemon Twigs, Michael and Brian split the songwriting. And they play everything - guitars, piano, drums, bass, cello. They come by it naturally. Their mom did musical theater. Dad is a longtime studio musician. So growing up, music was all around them.

B. D'ADDARIO: It was, you know, a lot of that classic rock stuff - Beatles, Beach Boys. There was a lot of British Invasion stuff in the beginning.

BLOCK: Michael?

M. D'ADDARIO: My dad loves McCartney. And, you know, McCartney's his favorite Beatle. And our mom loves, like, lyrics and stuff. Our mom loves, like, Tom Waits and...

B. D'ADDARIO: John Prine and...

M. D'ADDARIO: Yeah.

B. D'ADDARIO: ...Leonard Cohen. Then like Stephen Sondheim - like, "Les Mis."

BLOCK: You mentioned Broadway. You were both on Broadway, I think, in "Les Mis" and in "Little Mermaid" - also in TV and film. And there's one song in particular, the song "Beautiful," that I can hear as a song from a musical. Let's play a little bit of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEAUTIFUL")

B. D'ADDARIO: (Singing) He imagines his life in a stream. What he sees are minnows which flinch with each drop of the rain.

BLOCK: Brian, I think this is one of your songs, yeah?

B. D'ADDARIO: Yeah.

BLOCK: And I don't know. Am I wrong? I could totally hear this on a stage.

B. D'ADDARIO: Yeah. I think that the great songs of our time - a lot of them are from musicals. And I think that's a style that really transcends a lot of different decades.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BEAUTIFUL")

B. D'ADDARIO: (Singing) I can't do anything. I am nothing. Our lives are meaningless.

BLOCK: What is the dynamic for you two? I mean, to be working this closely as brothers, is there much friction? I mean, how do you collaborate so tightly?

B. D'ADDARIO: Creatively, it's been pretty healthy ever since we started enjoying each other's music, you know, openly.

M. D'ADDARIO: We just get out of each other's faces.

B. D'ADDARIO: Yeah. But there's, like, a looming question of, like, the fact that we split the duties, and we fill up an album with half my songs, half Michael's songs, basically.

M. D'ADDARIO: What's the looming question?

B. D'ADDARIO: The looming question is...

BLOCK: (Laughter).

M. D'ADDARIO: I'm still waiting on the - nothing's looming.

B. D'ADDARIO: It's looming so much that I'll never get to it.

BLOCK: Do you have a vision of yourselves maybe 10, 20 years from now? What does that look like? Michael?

M. D'ADDARIO: My dream is to just have a residency somewhere like Vegas or something. Wherever I live, I would really like to just play the same place every week.

BLOCK: Brian?

B. D'ADDARIO: I guess, like, you know, I'd like to write a musical. I'd like to...

M. D'ADDARIO: Not me, baby. Not me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THOSE DAYS IS COMIN' SOON")

THE LEMON TWIGS: (Singing) Put on your hat. Don't stay.

M. D'ADDARIO: Just give me a guitar, a drummer, bass player, couple of people in the audience. And I'm, like, right there.

BLOCK: And a brother, maybe.

M. D'ADDARIO: Maybe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THOSE DAYS IS COMIN' SOON")

THE LEMON TWIGS: (Singing) Spent all night in a chair. It was no use...

B. D'ADDARIO: I'll be in the audience. I'll be like, when's the reunion tour happening, Michael? I'm dying out here.

M. D'ADDARIO: (Laughter) I've been trying to write a musical for 35 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE LEMON TWIGS SONG, "THOSE DAYS IS COMIN' SOON")

BLOCK: Brian and Michael D'Addario - they are The Lemon Twigs. Their new EP is "Brothers Of Destruction." Thanks so much, guys.

B. D'ADDARIO: Thank you.

M. D'ADDARIO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.