The rollout of the Lemon Twigs’ ambitious rock musical, “Go to School” (4AD), may not have gone exactly as planned, but it still led them to a creative happy place.
And now, as the band launches another global tour, including two nights in Brooklyn at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Hicksville brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, who split singing and musical duties, are eager to keep moving forward.
“We’ve already played a lot of shows on this tour,” says Brian, calling from Los Angeles, where he was vacationing with his girlfriend before the next leg of the tour begins. “We don’t really have to think about those songs anymore. So we’ve learned even more songs so we have even more songs to choose from.”
When the Lemon Twigs first envisioned “Go to School” — an ambitious rock musical about Shane, a chimpanzee that was raised as a human and struggles with fitting in at his high school — they thought about performing it in its entirety, with the help of an orchestra, for a few nights in New York, just to see how it turned out. After all, the D’Addarios, who despite their young ages -- Brian is 21, Michael is 20 -- are both Broadway veterans, want “Go to School” to become a full-fledged musical someday.
However, Brian says that won’t happen on this tour. “The show has gotten to a special place,” he says. “It’s a good, loud rock show, rather than a musical theater number. We have more of a driving arrangement for our five-piece group. We already cover all the melodic bases and don’t feel the need to do something else right now.”
D’Addario is looking forward to the tour even more, since he was sidelined a few months ago for health reasons.
“I had a blood thing — less platelets than I’m supposed to have,” he says, adding that he had to miss about half of the band’s tour as the opening act for Arctic Monkeys because he had to stay in one place to receive treatment. “It wasn’t painful, but I had to be monitored. And I was on steroids, which was stressing me out.”
His absence from the tour was even tougher because the Lemon Twigs had a rocky start to their opening duties. “Arctic Monkeys had seen us before, so we knew that they liked us,” D’Addario says. “We didn’t know if their fans would like us. And one night, someone threw a drink at us and hit our bass player towards the end of our set. We thought it would be funny if we just walked off the stage, but people said we got booed off the stage, which wasn’t the case.”
Those rumors changed the concertgoers’ expectations of the Lemon Twigs, Brian says. “People came in expecting us to be awful, so it was not always the most respectful crowd,” he says, laughing. “But it was fun. You just went onstage and wanted to perform your best for yourself. It was a fun place to be.”
When Brian returned to the band in October, he could feel how much things had changed. “I felt like the band was a lot stronger from playing those shows,” he says. “It was a really good experience.”
The Lemon Twigs plan to play the “Go to School” songs and new arrangements of some of the songs from the band’s debut, “Do Hollywood,” which drew praise from everyone from Elton John to The Roots’ Questlove. He says they will also likely unveil a new song, “I’d Better Leave Before I Lose My Charm,” though the band has been writing plenty of new material.
“We’re going to tour a little bit lighter than the last record,” says Brian, though the band did land a spot on the prestigious Bonnaroo Festival in June. “We decided we wanted to get these new songs all down and not wait another year. After March, we are not playing so much. We are going to record and be producing a few records for other people and maybe a record of our dad’s songs.”
The band plans to record two new albums, releasing one this year and one in 2020. “We are going to do both in Hicksville,” Brian says, “though maybe we’ll record strings somewhere else. … The last time we could only record two at a time because that’s how many people could fit in our basement.”
The D’Addarios were writing new material while they were working on “Go to School” and since its release. “It’s been extremely liberating to not write for that specific project,” Brian says. “In some of the songs, the situations we're writing about have sort of resolved or been seen through long ago. So we can change them in a way and make them more universal. It’s great to have enough distance to let them breathe and let them not feel so personal. By sitting on a song, you can give it a deeper meaning for everyone rather than just to you.”
WHO Lemon Twigs
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, and Saturday, Jan. 19, Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn
INFO $20; 888-929-7849, axs.com
Though the Lemon Twigs traveled the world promoting their “Go to School” album last year, when it came time to shoot their latest video, Brian and Michael D’Addario came home to Hicksville to do it.
“I wasn’t in it because I was sick,” Brian D’Addario says of the video for “Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart,” which was released in November. “It was Michael’s idea. He conceived of it and wrote it all on a notepad.”
The video was shot at the Charles Ave. Café in Hicksville as well as Dr. Frederick D. Kaplan’s office in Plainview. Michael D’Addario stars in the clip, which sets up the entire “Go to School” storyline, and he codirected it with Winston H. Case, who directed Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” clip.
It’s the bar where Bill and Carol meet and fall in love. After Carol has a miscarriage, the couple decides to adopt a chimpanzee Shane and raise him as a human, eventually sending him to school.
“The Charles Avenue Café is close to where we live and we used to play there when we were 11 or 12 years old,” Brian D’Addario says. “All the shots in the video are on Long Island, including our house in Hicksville.” — GLENN GAMBOA