Six Things You Need To Know About
The Lemon Twigs
They prefer the Beach Boys to The Beatles; Elton John is a celebrity fan; their new album is a rock musical…
Brian and Michael D’Addario come from Hicksville, USA. Really – the place actually exists and is a suburb of Long Island. Aged 21 and 19 respectively, the siblings comprise The Lemon Twigs, a band whose sound adds a sublime power-pop twist to a kind of music from an era before they were born. With their mullets and colourful garb, the D’Addarios stand out from any crowd. It’s easy to see why ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy calls them “The Beatles meets Jellyfish meets Redd Kross meets Badfinger, coming straight out of a Wes Anderson film”.
The band is a product a product of the brothers’ personalities.
On stage, Brian on guitar fronts the first half of the show, giving off a warm, Partridge Family-style vibe, while Michael plays drums. Then the two swap instruments and the elder brother’s high kicks endanger everyone in the vicinity. The differences between the siblings couldn’t be more pronounced.
The songs on their debut album, Do Hollywood, were written separately by the pair, but now the brothers have begun collaborating.
“Am I the introverted one? In certain situations, I guess so,” Brian says, smiling. “I’m maybe a little more charismatic than Michael is.”
“I show off because I don’t have as much musical talent,” Michael responds gamely.
They prefer the Beach Boys to The Beatles. But only just.
“We like the Beach Boys more than anybody else,” Brian insists, with Michael adding: “I love their vocals. I don’t like how perfect The Beatles were, how they ended in cosy, picture-book fashion at the height of the powers. The story of the Beach Boys is much more interesting.”
Elton John is one of their many celebrity fans. Confusion gave way to disbelief when Sir Reg called the band out of the blue to register his support – and they thought it was someone calling for an interview they’d forgotten about.
“There was this English accent on the line,” Brian recalls, chuckling. “Then we realised what was happening. Elton told us that he was excited by our music, and that it had been important when he was young to hear from artists like George Harrison.”
Elsewhere, Boy George, Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker and the aforementioned Portnoy have all expressed approval. “Gary Brooker was a big one for me,” Michael says. “That was flattering.”
Their new, second, album, Go To School, is a rock musical.
Amazingly, it tells the tale of thwarted actors/ musicians Bill and Carol, who adopt a chimpanzee called Shane as their son and send him to school. It’s fictional, of course.
“It all happens after they have a miscarriage,” Brian explains. “Because Shane isn’t human, he’s not susceptible to cynicism. Full of hopeless optimism, there’s love in his heart and he wants to connect with others, but piece by piece he is corrupted.”
Is it okay to say that it’s utterly, utterly bonkers? “Sure,” Brian says casually. “Go right ahead.”
“We wanted to do something that was very strange but which would still allow us to use our pop sensibilities,” Michael explains.
On the album, Todd Rundgren voices the part of Shane’s father, Bill, while the D’Addarios’ mother Susan plays Carol.
Rundgren had previously joined The Lemon
Twigs on stage at the Coachella Festival in 2017 to perform his song Couldn’t I Just Tell You, which is where they asked him to be on their album.
Jody Stephens, former drummer with influential 70s band Big Star and another huge influence on the Twigs, is another of the album’s guests. “Both of those guys, Todd and Jody, came to our house to record their parts,” Brian reveals, sounding way more casual than he probably feels.
By the time you read this, The Lemon Twigs will be on an arena tour of Europe with, of all bands, the Arctic Monkeys.
On paper that really doesn’t seem like a very compatible combination.
“Both of our bands use electric guitars. We both have vocalists. Those are two similarities right there,” Brian offers, laughing.
“They have large crowds,” Michael adds.
“The law of averages suggests that some of their fans will like us.”
Go To School is out now via 4AD Records.