I recently came across Dad Brother and was blown away by the level of musicianship by the duo. And yes, while they may have similarities to The Black Keys, they certainly give them a run for their money with their energetic live performances and catchy lyrics. Their latest disc, Mavericks, proves to be one of the stronger releases that came out towards the end of 2012. Now they’re gearing up to tear down the Asbury Lanes on Feb. 9 as part of the Tiny Giant Winter Beach Ball. Dad Brother recently discussed their sound, Mavericks, and the Beach Ball with The Aquarian. The transcription is below:

As a two-piece, do you feel that your sound is limited?

Andrew Lange: I’ve never felt limited. On the recordings, we don’t confine ourselves to just drums and guitar. We layer it up with different instruments depending on what we think the song needs. When we play live, it’s a different animal with so much energy and volume that it’s hard to imagine any more sound.

Evan Luberger: Not really, I think we just adjust to what we have to work with and try to play our instruments a little differently than if there was a full band playing.

Mavericks is just one hit after another. Where did the inspiration for the lyrics come from?

AL: How kind of you! Usually a phrase will pop into my head. It might mean nothing, but it will become so infectious that it will inspire a theme, and I’ll build a whole song around it. A good example would be the first track on the album [“Scooter & Chippy”]. I have an old recording on my phone of me in the shower singing, “Take it from me, you’re the worst!” That ended up being the hook in the song. Ev is a bit more thoughtful and thematic with his writing. He wrote “Money & Time,” which is a bit more poetic than the others.

What are your favorite songs to perform live?

AL: From Mavericks, “Domino Gasoline” and “I Am The Trees” are two of my favorites.

EL: Probably “Green Grass” [Tom Waits cover].

Production wise, is there a particular song on Mavericks that you feel came out the best?

AL: I really like “Wet The Dry.” There are these weird false harmonics that happened with the layered vocal tracks that were unintentional but sound awesome. We recorded and mixed everything ourselves, and I’m honestly proud of how the whole thing sounds!

What do you think the strongest number on the disc is?

AL: I’d say “Domino Gasoline” or “Money & Time.” Oddly enough, those were written and recorded last.

EL: I’m pretty happy with “I Am The Trees” and “Tie It Right.”

Are you guys planning anything special for the Beach Ball?

AL: We are going to drop through the ceiling of Asbury Lanes in parachutes.

EL: Hopefully a new song or two.

What are you hoping to come out of the Beach Ball and who are you excited to see?

AL: I’m just excited to see such a great idea come into fruition, and I hope it inspires others to become more involved in their local music scene. It’s an opportunity to see a whole bunch of amazing bands play in some of NJ’s best venues. These are a lot of bands that we’ve seen and played with before, and it’s going to feel great to share this experience with all of them. I’m excited to attend as a fan, and honored to take the stage as a performer. Off the top of my head, The Everymen, Cinema Cinema, Meet Pause, Morning…, Pour The Pirate Sherry, and Reese Van Riper are some sets I’m excited to catch.

How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard of you?

AL: I never know. I just say we’re a rock band.

EL: Sophisticated smut.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a duo?

AL: If one of us messes up live, it’s very noticeable. It’s also hard to avoid comparisons to some more well-known two-pieces. No matter how much you distance yourself musically, the aesthetic is still a major part of any first impression, and because of that, a lot of two-pieces tend to get lumped together.

EL: Getting lonely, sounding too much like The Black Keys.

“Money & Time,” “Bob’s Locks” and “Wet The Dry” slow things down at various points on Mavericks. Is there any particular reason why they appear where they do?

AL: Just to aid the listening experience. We played around with some track listings, and this one just stuck.

EL: It just seemed logical to pace the album that way. We tried to vary the feel instead of having all fast songs followed by slow ones—that seems less cohesive to me.

What’s in store for Dad Brother in 2013?

AL: We are embarking on our first tour down the East Coast at the end of March, which I’m very excited about. Other than that, I’d love to put out another recording and keep playing live.

EL: Hopefully Andrew won’t be too mad about getting a cat and we will continue to sell out stadiums across the globe. Oh, we’re doing our first tour.

Any particular venues you like playing more than others?

AL: The Clash Bar in Clifton has been great to us. That place is one-of-a-kind and the owners are good people who are both highly supportive of live music in all forms. Sound-wise, I love playing The Stanhope House. That place is legendary and the sound is always top-notch.

EL: Clash Bar and Stanhope House have become great places for us to just have fun playing, which usually ends up being the best thing to do from our perspective and the audience’s.

Where did the name “Dad Brother” come from?

AL: It is a reflection of the duality of man and an embodiment of the struggle to mature whilst grasping onto our fleeting youth. Just kidding. We thought it was an interesting combination of words.

EL: I like how it looks on paper. Very official and family oriented.

How has the band grown since Microwaves… Have You Ever?

AL: That EP, or demo, or whatever you want to call it, was recorded more or less on a whim in a one-night recording session. We were barely a band back then. I’d say we work harder and take ourselves a bit more seriously now—just a bit.

EL: We make real album names now.

What direction do you see Dad Brother going in during the next few years?

AL: Who knows? When it all comes down to it, we’re just a couple of guys having fun playing music. That’s my long-term goal; keep having fun. People tend to feed off that. Our fans can see it, and it makes for a great show.

EL: Hopefully a good one. I’m interested in trying to be a bit stricter in terms of when we practice. We haven’t really set any goals but I’d like to.

What’s the songwriting process like for you guys?

AL: One of us will present an idea—usually a riff or a beat—and we’ll just mess around with it until it sounds like a song, then fine-tune it from there. Very few of our songs are premeditated. More often than not, we improvise a lot, and something will stick.

EL: It’s nice for us compared to how I’ve written with other bands. We aren’t too critical of each other and we just play until it works. Then we try new songs live and if we have fun doing it, then we keep playing them. If it’s a pain to play them, then we trash them and write something else.

 

See Dad Brother at the Asbury Lanes on Feb. 9 as part of the Tiny Giant Winter Beach Ball. Mavericks is available now. For more info, go to dadbrother.bandcamp.com.

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