Six Things You Need To Know About

The Lemon Twigs

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Dave Ling

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.

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