The Lemon Twigs
Brothers of Style
Oct 19, 2016
Photography by Autumn de Wilde Issue #58 - The Protest Issue
Brothers often fight and clash. But they can also be the biggest motivators for each other. Take for example 19-year-old Brian D'Addario and his 17-year-old brother Michael. They've used their differences and similarities to create the catchy pop-rock of their Long Island, New York, band The Lemon Twigs.
Brian says his style is more a "straight-forward kind of songwriting" that strives for concise lyrics. Meanwhile, he says Michael's songs "tend to go off in different directions and are more embellished and less structured than his."
"I think his stuff has more spontaneity than a lot of my stuff has," Brian says. "And mine has more of that dialed back structure that maybe his songs don't have. I think those things complement each other because what can't be found in my songs can be found in his songs and vice versa.... He makes me work a little harder and I make him work a little harder."
Another motivating factor in their progression as musicians was growing up in a musical minded family. Their father wrote songs in the '70s and '80s, and pursued music his whole life until he had kids. At that point, he introduced them to all the music he was a fan of. In addition, their mother did some acting when she was young and also was a singer. Later on she had them do community and professional theater.
"We've always had that built in since we were young," Brian says.
The brothers started writing and recording seriously when they were young teenagers. About two to three years ago they formed The Lemon Twigs. Both brothers are multi-instrumentalists and singers. The full lineup also includes keyboardist Danny Ayala and bassist Megan Zeankowski.
The brothers began writing songs over the course of 2014 when they weren't busy with school. When they had a healthy batch of songs, the band traveled to Los Angeles to record their 4AD debut The Lemon Twigs Do Hollywood with Foxygen's Jonathan Rado, who had expressed interest in the demos they were sending him online. They spent a few weeks at Rado's house recording the album.
Brian recalls Rado gave them some sage advice early on in the writing process that helped find the right songs.
"I remember saying, 'I don't really know what we want to make this record be.' And he said, 'Just make 10 really great pop songs,'" says Brian. "That was really important because then that became the goal. That informed a lot of the writing on the record for me."
Brian adds he was impressed by Rado's treatment of the drums and other instruments, as it "doesn't sound like many records to me." While many of the songs have a classic-yet-modern vibe similar to Foxygen's, Brian says he doesn't think it really sounds like the '60s or '70s because those artists would often use better equipment.
Michael says they decided on the album title as it was "the essential California-LA experience."
"It was just us coming from Long Island to record in California so we looked at it as we were doing Hollywood," he says. "So we picked it as the title, as an outsider's view of what that is."
"That was our first trip where we're like 'we're making a record,'" Brian adds. "That was a cool thing because it was real."
[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's August/September/October 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]
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