He’s My Brother She’s My Sister: An “Unlikely balanced whole”

For the past two years and change He’s My Brother She’s My Sister have been boldly trekking back and forth across the US of A and beyond with a...

For the past two years and change He’s My Brother She’s My Sister have been boldly trekking back and forth across the US of A and beyond with a bold brand of rockabilly, glam, garage, and Americana-inspired southern rock, which, in a live setting tends to manifest itself in a joyously sleazy and raucous kind of cabaret… They’re really something that needs to be experienced to be understood… but once experienced, their aesthetic would seem impossible to not be enjoyed (both by the popular and critical).  The band have brought the sounds of their debut album, Nobody Dances in This Town, through these parts numerous times over the past several years, both before and since it was released around a year ago.  They’ve hit up joints like the North Star Bar, Johnny Brenda’s, and World Café Live, not to mention a performance at the Firefly Festival, which I told every participating band that I know was probably going to be the most pleasant surprise of the weekend.  Well, the LA-based group is about to take a break from life on the road to record their sophomore LP, but the third-to-last date of their current tour will have them returning to Johnny Brenda’s on November 14th.  Although Philthy Mag has chatted with real-life brother and sister Rob and Rachel Kolar, I recently got a chance to chat with lap slide player Ryan Richter about what have been the highlights of recent years on the road and what could possibly be expected of the album they’re about to dig into.

Izzy Cihak: Your debut LP, Nobody Dances in This Town, has been out for a while now. What have been the highlights of promoting it?

Ryan Richter: You know, that’s a pretty tough question, actually. All the shows we get to play, the opportunities we have to reconnect with fans, see familiar faces, all that stuff really counts. The relationships we’ve built with fans really keep us going and they’re what obscure the promotional aspect that underlies all the traveling we do.

IC: I’m curious if you’ve had any particular favorite touring partners? You’ve played with quite a few really cool bands. I’m a huge fan (and friend) of Beach Day.

RR: Beach Day! They rule! Jessica Hernandez, too! We love her. Earlier in the year we played a bunch of shows with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes, including an incredible show in London, so our time with them is something we recall warmly. Also, we’re currently touring with the Song Preservation Society, and they’re incredible. We’ve roped them into sing a bunch of songs with us every night, and it’s sounding great!

IC: I’m curious, since it has been a while since it came out, what is currently your favorite track from NDITT? I’m currently most partial to “The Same Old Ground.”

RR: Personally, I’ve become a huge fan of “Let It Live Free”. Crowds always eat it up.

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IC: You’ve played in Philadelphia a number of times now, so I have to ask what are your current thoughts on the city? The shows do seem to get progressively bigger, in terms of crowd size.

RR: We always have a blast in Philly. Crowds are great and… We do go out in search of cheesesteaks afterward, which, albeit cliché, is something we look forward to.

IC: What are your most significant plans for 2014? I understand that you have a new album in the works. What can be expected of upcoming sounds?

RR: Expectations are a slippery slope… Ha. Which is to say, we don’t really know the answer to that ourselves. We’ve spent the past few years really digging in to touring and playing live. Our recent album was very much a representation of that. Moving forward, we’re all excited to take some time to do some experimenting with sounds, grooves, instruments, etc. Also, possibly collaborating with some new people. We have plans for getting together and just trying some stuff out this winter. This album will likely be a bit more of a studio album, that’s about alas much as I can say. We’ll be as surprised as anyone else to see what we come up with!

IC: On that note, you’re going to be playing one of your last live shows for quite some time in Philadelphia on November 14th. What would you tell people who are yet to see you live, in order to get them to come out and see your very own Rock and Roll circus of sorts?

RR: Well, I hate to set up too much of an expectation… But I will say that, as a band, we’re all committed to really giving it on stage. We like to rock it hard, but also not take ourselves too seriously. Most people who come to shows get stoked on how many different personalities and styles are present onstage, but that it all comes together in some kind of unlikely balanced whole. Of course the room, the audience, whatever we had for dinner, and so many other things all come into play. Johnny Brenda’s is a beautiful room and Philly has been kind to us in the past, so I anticipate it’ll be a great night.

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.