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Brian D'Addario of LI's Lemon Twigs speaks about new album

The Long Island duo "The Lemon Twigs" D'Addario

The Long Island duo "The Lemon Twigs" D'Addario brothers (left to right) Brian and Michael. (2020).. Credit: Michael Hili

The Lemon Twigs are young yet they are already veterans. The D’Addario brothers, Brian, 23 and Michael, 21, grew up in Hicksville where their musical roots stemmed from performing in both the chorus and orchestra at Hicksville High School. At home, their father, professional musician Ronnie D’Addario, raised them on a steady diet of the Beach Boys, Dave Clark Five, Four Seasons and Herman’s Hermits.

The boys even gathered Broadway credits along the way as Brian played Flounder in Disney’s "The Little Mermaid" musical as well as portraying Gavroche in the 2006 revival of "Les Miserables." Meanwhile Michael took on the role of Bert in "All My Sons" on Broadway alongside Katie Holmes, Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow and Patrick Wilson plus he has appeared in films ("People Like Us," "Sinister") and on TV (HBO’s "John Adams," TBS’ "Are We There Yet?").

But in 2015 they combined their talents to form a band. The Lemon Twigs went on to release its debut, "Do Hollywood" in 2016 to positive critical acclaim. The follow up was 2018’s concept album, "Go to School" about a chimpanzee raised as a human boy.

Newsday’s David J. Criblez spoke with singer/guitarist Brian about the band’s new album, "Songs for the General Public" where the D’Addarios expand their musical palette by blending pop, rock and nostalgia in the age of COVID.

During this time in the world many artists have chosen to delay the release of their new albums. What made you move forward?

With a label you have to set the release date ahead of time and you never know what’s going to happen. But we made this plan and we are going to stick to it. We think the people that like our music will appreciate it at this time.

How did you craft the Lemon Twigs sound?

Michael and I grew up hearing the same kind of stuff. Our strengths are very different between the two of us but they occupy a similar sonic style, which has a rock backbone with some harmonic things you don’t hear all the time. Michael can write really fun energetic tunes which he comes up with spontaneously. I tend to write slow songs and then speed them up.

Very often there’s a lot of fighting when brothers are in a band together like with Oasis and the Black Crowes. Does that happen with you guys?

I never found much creativity in having tension with each other. I think tension stifles creativity. When we get along, we are more creative. Working so close together took time to get used to, but it ended up being the most convenient thing and we came to realize each other’s vision. Our personalities are different. Michael’s a bit manic and I’m more even-keeled. I think that comes out in the music.

What kind of impact did your father’s music have on yours?

We were always his audience. He’d write songs, play them for us and we loved them. Our dad got us hooked on interesting notes and chords. When we were really young, sometimes we’d play a few minutes during my dad’s set with his band.

Who in the music business has helped you along the way?

Jonathan Rado of Foxygen has been like a really cool older brother and had us play some shows. We had seen what Foxygen could do from learning how to bring an album to the public to playing live shows. We got a first hand account of seeing a band bring their inner vision to reality through every part of the process and taking it all very seriously. Everything was very specific and they had a hand in all of it. We took it to heart.

What did you learn from working on Broadway at such a young age?

It got me used to being in front of an audience. You learn a sense of professionalism, which comes in handy on tour.

What was your headspace like during the making of the new album?

It was sort of laid back and disorganized. But in the last three months, it got very focused and we started looking at songs through a magnifying glass. We’d take out every little piece we didn’t like and replace it. There was no settling for any imperfections that didn’t feel intentional and spirited. The last album was very vibey and we left the mistakes in. This time was more disciplined and we kept narrowing the focus.

Where do you see the Lemon Twigs fitting into the current music landscape?

We don’t have many casual fans. When they are in, they are all in. That’s the type of audience I like to have. We don’t feel the need to appeal to the overwhelming masses. I’m happy to exist in our own place.

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