Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 1:17PM by Matthew Wilkening
We spoke with older brother David, from London, where the band is wrapping up a highly successful European tour before heading back stateside to perform at this year's SXSW Festival. "It's too bad (younger brother) Robert's not in on this. He always has great insight, and a lot of times the way we bounce ideas of each other in interviews really is better."
Describe your sound in your own words:
Oh, that's a tough one. It's like when you have to write your own bio, how do you write your own bio? How do you have the perspective? We're big fans of melodic music, and pop music of the sixties. I like to call it eclectic, because that's how I approach most things in life. We draw upon genre shifting, genre bending, to create all kind of elements that we haven't heard before.
How did your band form?
Well, we're brothers, Robert is four years younger than me, we grew up in Milwaukee, we've been playing music together since we were kids. I remember thinking, 'I am five years old, and I am starting to play instruments.' My mom bought us this music software called Notator Logic, you could do MIDI sequencing on it. That was a huge step for us, it opened our eyes to things like multi-tracking, that was the biggest tool that got us collaborating. This was first grade, second grade, somewhere in there. So, really, as soon as we each started playing music, we started playing together."
OK, then, when did you start performing under the name French Horn Rebellion, and where did you get that name?
Robert is a really good french horn player, he actually went to college to play, he got a scholarship at Northwestern. He found that it was kind of a limiting thing, and a frustrating thing, to be studying this instrument four to six hours a day. Meanwhile, I was in New York City, working at a post production house. I was making all this music for film, TV and commercials, and we'd never bring in any instrumentalists, everything was done in front of the computer. There was no need for, or money in, all that he was studying for. In this modern world, it's not really valued. So the idea was to rebel with other french horn players against the way that society had become. So now, it's really funny that most of our shows are so electronic, and have minimal instrumentalists.
But, a lot of people still love and value real instruments..
Don't get me wrong, people do care about music, but not symphonies and orchestras so much anymore. Anyway, Robert started doing a lot of music by himself. He started sending me stuff, I had a separate project of my own going called Space Shuttle Earth. The French Horn Rebellion stuff he was doing was very much akin to what I was doing. So I just decided I wanted to apply what I was doing to French Horn Rebellion. A lot of the stuff I was working on and he was working on got combined together, in a new way that's way better than if the two had existed separately. It's very satisfying.
What are your musical influences?
I'm always said the Beatles and Beach Boys are huge influences on me. Robert will probably say Miles Davis and Burt Bacharach. Those are the big ones. Right now, I'm listening to Cocteau Twins a lot, Robert's been listening to Donna Summer. Oh, and Whitney Houston's amazing. I'm also way into John Lennon, his post-Beatles stuff.
What's your biggest vice?
You'd have to ask Robert about that, he'd know what my bad habits are better than me. I know what his biggest bad habit is, it's being defensive, but I understand why he is that way. He's getting a lot better, it happened because he took the reigns in managing us early on. He'd take us on these tours, obviously I wanted to go, too, but the schedule would be really weird, driving all over, we'd hardly get any sleep. If I'd even mention a little sheepish complaint, he'd go off on me. It's a hard role, I know, I know.
Do you go to a lot of music festivals? What's In your festival survival kit?
I never went to a lot of festivals growing up, we had Summerfest, that was a lot of fun. I saw No Doubt and Weezer, that was the first show I saw ever. Weezer opened, they were so obnoxious, but I liked it. Bring friends, bring lots of friends, and depending on where it is, if it gets cold, if you're going to Monolith, for example, bring layers. Red Rocks is awesome!
Who was your first celebrity crush?
The first thing that comes to my mind is Alex Mack, from Nickelodeon. It probably goes further back, it's probably Julie Andrews from Mary Poppins, but let's stick with Alex Mack. Oh man, that's embarrassing.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
I don't think I have any guilty pleasures, because I like everything that I like and I don't feel bad about it. But I'd guess some people would think I should be embarrassed about liking Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and Brandy. Girl singers of the early nineties.. really something about it.
Beatles or Stones?
Oh definitely Beatles. Because of the songwriting, and the production, especially the later stuff. This kind of eclectic inclusion, they did a lot of that. They were getting inspired by so many different things. George Harrison with that sitar and stuff, going on spiritual journeys. We're trying to explore and go on journeys, and trying to make sense of it all. I know there's never any way we're going to be done, you have to keep exploring, and you just keep coming up with more questions. The human spirit can't be put under a box, broken down. The Beatles and people like that were trying to seek out things that were meaningful to them, and then derive some kind of greater experience from them.
What's the craziest thing you've seen on tour?
Well, we just played two sold-out shows in London, then we did a show in Paris, at Social Club, we were the live music accompaniment to a big fashion show. We played in the Louvre a couple of days ago, we DJ'd this after-party, and Christina Ricci and Lindsay Lohan and Spike Jonze, all these celebrities were there. Right now, it seems to be full steam ahead...
Matthew Wilkening is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.