L.A.-based He’s My Brother She’s My Sister has been having a huge year. Multiple tours. Multiple festivals. High profile opening slots. The release of their Park The Van debut, Nobody Dances in This Town.
The band is brother and sister Rachel (vocals/percussion) and Rob (vocals/guitar) Kolar, Lauren Brown (tap dancing and drums), Oliver ‘Oliwa’ Newell (upright bass) and Aaron Robinson (slide guitar). The share a bill with Southern Culture on the Skids on Friday, Nov. 2 at Jack of Hearts Pub in Weaverville. (8 p.m.)
Robert Kolar talked to Xpress about the band’s touring highlights and their live show versus their recorded music.
Mountain Xpress: You’ve crossed the entire country a couple of times this year on tour. Have you discovered any really cool new places/sites/wonders (largest ball of string, perhaps?) on your travels?
Robert Kolar: Outside of Jacksonville, Fla. there is this great island for camping called Little Talbot Island. There are lots of alligators and other wildlife lurking in the marshes. There is one particular beach full of beached trees. They have been dried out by the sea water and make this amazing mass of skeletal remains. Stark white branches emerging from the blue waters. We included a photo so you can see:
Your album officially released about half-way through the tour, but you’ve already been playing these songs and there are videos on You Tube. Do you like or dislike the way the current music business set up allows for albums be be released sort of piecemeal?
The state of the music business is in an exciting place. Volatile, erratic and inventive. Anything is possible. There is even a label that only releases cassettes of bands. Crazy shit. The mix of media and outlets makes it fun and gives more than just one or two songs a chance to be noticed and remembered.
Are you finding that people are familiar with the new songs at your shows, or are you still introducing them?
A little bit of both. We were really impressed with the front row at our Chicago show. They seemed to know every lyric. Even the less popular tunes. We are eager to introduce some new tunes to the set, though. Probably next tour we will have a couple. I think the sound will continue to evolve and become more modern and identifiable.
Do you try to faithfully recreate your recorded songs in your live shows, or do you mix it up on stage?
The album was recorded in a method to embody our live energy. [Producer] Thom Monahan [Devendra Banhart, Fruit Bats, Chris Robinson Brotherhood] was both intuitive and meticulous about capturing a sound that did justice to our live show. Most of the songs and parts were recorded in three days. The parts were played live without a click track. Tempos move, chemistries are entwined and there is a rock ‘n’ roll looseness we could all embrace. It’s a little bit raw. A little bit ragged. It doesn’t sound like Mumford and Sons’ overproduced slickness. It leans more towards early ‘70s Stones but with a modern sensibility. The live show, though, reaches beyond as you can see the sweat, watch the dance moves and feel the pulse of the crowd and floor. The live shows are a li’l more dance evoking, I suppose.
Do you have a good story from your tour with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes earlier this year?
Their (ESAMZ) manager Brian Ling took us over to his family’s house on a lake in Wisconsin. We camped on their neighbor’s lawn (we only realized this the next day). Drank, barbecued and went tubing on the lake. It was a fantastic window into Wisconsin lake life. Accents and all. It was fun to see a frightful Jade bouncing around on the lake like a crazed muppet. She was a good sport. Brian’s family were amazing hosts and even though we well overstayed our welcome they treated us with all the charms of being part of their family.
How about a highlight from Austin City Limits Festival?
Rachel’s leopard onesie. Sloshing around in the mud for a wild dance party during Antibalas and laying under the stars and racing clouds during Neil Young. The food was pretty good, too, and I managed to sneak an extra meal on our day off. Shhh, don’t tell.
Image from the West Lake Picayune.
Which did you like better: South by Southwest this spring, or ACL this fall?
Very different. But ACL is was pretty amazing. Playing with all these classic artists and selling out our late show. It was all totally badass. Even got some free Raybans. But Rachel got the coolest pair. Grrrrr.
You’re opening for Southern Culture on the Skids, kind of an iconic North Carolina band and known for being theatrical. Are they an inspiration of any sort to what you do?
We definitely love and respect what Southern Culture has brought to the table. They have a wild abandon of standard aesthetics that we totally embrace. It’s a great combo. I feel like we fall right in line with the lineage of the Mamas and Papas, B52s and Southern Culture. They are sort of like our musical god parents in a sense.