Music truly runs through this duo’s blood, from a musical parent, grandfather, great grandfather and beyond, it didn’t come as a surprise that both Barbara and Ethan Gruska followed in the footsteps of their relatives and became musicians. The duo released their self-titled debut album in April of 2011, have been touring non-stop and will have a song featured on the first part of the last movie in the Twilight saga. Currently, the siblings are on tour and will be making a stop at NYC’s Mercury Lounge on Oct. 26, filling the late show spot. If you’re of age (21+), make sure you check out what this band is about.
So how did your song “I Didn’t Do It” make it on the Breaking Dawn Part 1 soundtrack?
Ethan Gruska: Well, we actually recorded that song when we recorded our record with the batch of songs. Our friend Annie is a friend of the people who do the music supervising for Twilight. She asked us if we had any songs, she asked for a particular song called “Fasten You To Me,” that’s on our record to try to use for Twilight. We wanted to use that song for our record, but we had this other song “I Didn’t Mean It” left over. So we gave it to her so luckily it made itself in there. We’re stoked.
Why do you think it fits so well with the saga?
EG: To be honest with you, I’m not that familiar with the Twilight saga, I’ve seen bits and pieces of it. I think it’s epic and awesome but we actually haven’t seen the footage to where the song is placed so I honestly don’t know how it’s going to fit. I hope it’s in some crazy battle scene, that’d be awesome.
Barbara Gruska: Or a sex scene!
EG: Or in just any hot scene, that’d be great.
You guys have been on tour for a while now, how has that been?
EG: It’s been great! We are actually on a seven-week tour right now and we’re in our second week. That’s actually a pretty long stint for us. For the last five to six months we’ve been out on the road, pretty much the whole way. We’ve had a couple weeks off here and there but it’s been great. It’s amazing but kind of weird to pass places on the I-80 coming from the West Coast, going to the Mid West and the East Coast and be able to recognize weird little truck stops and stuff and just to get to know the country a little bit better. To hang with Barb and the other guys in our band, who are like our best friends, is just great.
Where have your favorite stops been?
BG: I really love Minneapolis. We always start there and I really love going there. It’s always really fun.
EG: I love going to Austin! Austin is one of my favorite towns. We went to South By Southwest and ACL [Austin City Limits Music Festival] and we always have a really good time around there.
BG: I’m excited to go to New Orleans. We’re going there in a couple of days. I’m also excited to go to Atlanta tomorrow.
EG: We’re in Nashville right now and we’ve been here for a few days and that’s been great. We really like it here. I mean everywhere has its charm, which is the great thing about touring. The longer you get to stay in a place the more you get to see what’s really going on.
When you’re on tour, what do you miss the most?
BG: I miss waking up in the same place and walking around my neighborhood and stuff at home. But I pretty much love being on tour. It’s great. I miss my family for sure, but it’s great.
EG: I think I miss the same stuff as Barbara, I really miss our family and our little brother a lot. It’s just a funny thing what touring does to your home life because you’re never there. It kinda makes certain things stronger, like when you come back and it’s really great to see somebody like your friends. It kind of makes things tougher to feel like you’ve missed out on stuff. I think I miss my friends and seeing what’s going on in their lives, but at the same time I have some awesome friends and we totally get each other’s lifestyles.
Do you have any surprises for the shows you’re playing around Halloween?
EG: We had a brief conversation about definitely getting some costumes together. But we haven’t started our real master plan yet. I don’t think it’ll be anything too insane, but we like dressing up. So we’ll see what happens.
Where did you draw some of your influences while writing your self-titled album?
BG: While writing this album, Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac. But basically everybody we’ve listened to for our whole lives from The Beatles to Michael Jackson and Prince. We have tons of influences!
How are your set lists chosen, and what is your favorite song to perform?
EG: We switch stuff around sometimes but we like to play our most solid set almost every night. It’s not necessary about the order of the songs, we’re just trying to do some neat stuff in the actual musicianship. I think my favorite song to play—it always changes—I love playing “Where Not To Look For Freedom” live because Barb gets back on the drums and the crowd usually gets into that one pretty good because Barb is rocking out. And our drummer, who is playing drums when Barb isn’t, is playing tambourine and dances and goes pretty nuts and it’s awesome.
BG: I’ve been really liking playing “My Goodness” live lately. That’s the second song I play on drums and I just really like playing that one on drums. It’s really fun.
How else do you get the crowd pumped up during your set?
EG: Honestly, we just try to get as pumped up on our own as we can and just go as nuts as possible. We try to find the peak of our own personal energy. Usually people pick up on that and that gets them going. We don’t really have any pyrotechnics or anything like that… yet. But maybe one day.
What is the best part of sharing the stage and writing music with you sibling?
BG: Everything, seriously. I love every step of the process it’s just great you can’t be closer to someone other than your sibling and you can’t understand more about a person than your sibling. It’s this very special connection and we’re very lucky to have it.
EG: I agree, it’s the same stuff for me. We’re already as close as we can be just because of our family ties, our blood relation and that friendship that came before our partnership in music. At the same time, even band mates, that’s a very close bond to have. So to have the close bond that we already have and then to bond as songwriting and the band bond just to have built that, it kinda makes it doubly strong and doubly awesome.
Is there any rivalry or jealousy between the two of you?
BG: There’s a huge one, Ethan is a faster runner than I am and I just cannot get over that.
EG: She’s had a hard time getting over it but I’ve been slowing down a bit. There’s not rivalry because we both want each other to succeed and we want each other to be happy and free and rocking. Whatever there could possibly be, the base of it all is that we just want each other to fucking go for it and have a good time.
BG: But Ethan’s a faster runner.
EG: We’re working on this.
The Belle Brigade will perform at Mercury Lounge in NYC on Oct. 26 and at Theatre Of The Living Arts in Philly on Oct. 27. For more info, go to thebellebrigade.com.