There’s no one quite like The Lemon Twigs. Still an embellishment of sixties and seventies baroque fashion and sound, modernity rarely touches the devilishly creative brothers, Michael and Brian D’Addario.
Having to push the release of their third album back – not an unusual story at this point – with that came some new paths; they got to touch it up a bit, released a live album, and even began the next chapter all before ‘Songs For The General Public’ is, well, in the hands of the general public.
“I’m really happy that we had that opportunity,” Brian says. “Because now I couldn’t be happier with it. When the last release date was set, there were a few things that I wasn’t sure about, but I thought I was in this position of just being too close to it. Now I’ve realised that that’s a fallacy and you can actually get it exactly the way you want it.”
Exactly the way they want it is how The Lemon Twigs do things; they’re the sort of band who live by their own rules.
“When I hear [the album] it seems like every track is presenting a very forthright opinion or outlook,” Brian continues. “I feel that every song is very confident in its intent, and it’s very clear what the songs about.”
Chatting to the band (separately, they prefer it this way apparently) the two cogs make themselves known while working harmoniously in tandem. The growth the two brothers have gone through since boarding the hype train back in 2016 for their debut ‘Do Hollywood’, is from two plucky and determined creative minds into outliers of a pop scene that doesn’t quite know where it belongs.
For their third outing, they’ve delved into exploring and examining society, namely just telling stories, that could either be “from a personal point” or just “channelling what is natural,” Michael ponders.
“I’m just very human, and I’m like a humanist or something… I don’t discriminate against the characters in the songs. If they’re characters, or if they’re me, or if they’re an extension of me, it doesn’t matter; they can think or feel however they want to feel. I’m not really worried about how people perceive this person in the song because I think that all types of people exist, and it doesn’t matter if they are good or bad.”
“If it’s art, it doesn’t matter. If it’s real life, it matters, but it’s art. The people who are speaking are not necessarily good. Sometimes they’re not me or whatever it is, but you know that’s a kind of a conscious, natural thing.”
Brian nods to a similar idea: “It’s a lot about people’s internal and interpersonal struggles. You end up hearing a lot of things that you might hear in real life, but there’s a grandiosity to it, that isn’t very conversational, you know?”
Given the two have been touring for a fair whack during their career, and they seem like the kind of people determined in their drive to just enjoy the ride, are these things that they’ve heard on that long and winding road, particularly ‘Moon’, which celebrates doing what you wanna do?
“It comes from being on the road a little bit,” Michael muses. “Because you’re going to these towns, and you see the kids. It’s an interesting archetype. It’s one that I could relate to when I was younger, and then I see it happen, and I think that maybe they should have their little anthem. That’s kind of derogatory or something,” he chuckles. “But it’s okay because I was that, but I don’t know. I guess that you’re right in that sense.”
Attributing the rest of the songs to being based on “whoever I didn’t meet,” according to Michael, is in itself is a grand idea. Trying to convey outdated mindsets might be difficult to portray, but the brothers have never been ones to shy away from touching upon the grand and complex. To follow up their debut they created a conceptual album, ‘Go To School’, a self-professed “musical by The Lemon Twigs” based upon the story of a chimpanzee raised as a boy, which also left them with a lot of lessons learned.
“Our last album for me was essentially about innocence. It was about coming to a fork in the road with innocence,” Brian muses. “I guess this one is sort of like what happens after that. It’s more about looking at reality and taking it at face value.”
“With a concept, you’re attached to this thing you’ve got to stay true to the whole time. It’s really not my line of work,” Michael says. “Other people can commit to a story for a year, I chalked it up to ‘I tried that, and I don’t know how much I’ve personally enjoyed it’, and what’s the point if you’re not personally enjoying it after the fact?”
“It was pretty insane to do an experiment on the second record,” Michael adds, “but I mean, that’s what it was, and we were quite young and did not think of things on a very large scale. We thought of things, you know in our world, ‘We want to do this right now, we’re gonna do it right now’.”
The brothers are unafraid of biting off more they can chew on the quest for satiating their creative drive.
“We didn’t think you know, ‘Oh, this many people are gonna listen to it…’ We thought of that a little bit, but it didn’t play into what we were making, which is a good thing, but it was exhausting. I don’t ever really want to work that hard on something that takes that much attention span again. I want more immediate. I like immediacy.”
Immediacy is certainly the order of the day on ‘Songs…’. It’s filled with some of the duos most energetic and life-affirming tracks, channelling some real seventies, rocking and rolling, the night will never end vibes. But as with all great things, “it was very disorganised in the beginning,” Brian admits.
“I was working on a solo record, Michael was working on an almost-completed solo record, and we had an initial group of 10 or 12 songs that we thought the next Lemon Twigs record was going to be. But we just kept working sort of beyond that. Of those, probably three of them were ended up on the album.
“Working on these tracks we started to get an idea of what the identity the next record we wanted to put out was, and it was centrally just the most direct sort of the visceral song. Now looking at all of the unfinished songs we have, a lot of them are very delicate.”
It’s these delicate songs that will potentially make up the next Lemon Twigs outing, but ‘Songs…’ is an album that relishes in the upbeat and the driven. “When I look at this one, there’s only one or two that I would say fit into that category.”
Truthfully, no matter what brush you want to tar the D’Addario brothers with, they don’t care. They’re a force to be reckoned with, who will create what they want to create, and that might be making a musical based around a chimpanzee, or it might mean exploring society on a granular, warts ‘n’ all level.
“I’m not interested in making music for musicians or whatever,” Michael exclaims. “I mean, certain people have accused us of being you know musicians’ musicians or whatever, but these are really true pop songs.”
Taken from the September issue of Dork. The Lemon Twigs’ album ‘Songs For The General Public’ is out now.
Words: Steven Loftin