Los Angeles musical powerhouse He’s My Brother She’s My Sister have a sound that is almost unclassifiable. Uniquely hip, sweetly southern, energetically poppy, and creatively folky is the best way to describe the optimistically catchy tunes of the talented quintet, who recently released its debut album Nobody Dances In This Town. HMBSMS- Rachel Kolar (vocals/percussion), Rob Kolar (vocals/guitar), Lauren Brown (tap dancing/drums), Oliver 'Oliwa' Newell (upright bass), and Aaron Robinson (slide guitar)- features dueling sibling vocalists, as well as a tap dancing drummer and will be performing in Denver on Friday, March 22nd at the Oriental Theater. I got the opportunity to ask Rachel a slew of questions and the gifted artist talked to me about the dynamic of the new record, being inspired by hot springs, and kicking it with Benjamin Franklin.
How do you like performing in Denver? Are the fans good to you?
Denver has always been good to us. The music scene there is super tight and we've made some great friends within it over the past couple years. It's extremely welcoming and communal. We're at The Oriental this time around. It's a wonderful venue with a lot of history.
Your debut album, Nobody Dances In This Town, is superb. What was your goal for the record?
We wanted to make sure it had a live element to it. We cut most of the tracks on the floor so when you're listening to them you can feel us all playing together in that moment. There is a rawness to our sound, a kind of punk quality, we like to maintain in our recordings.
Are there any songs on the record that you were initially weary of releasing?
When you listen back to your recordings they are never exactly what you had wanted them to be. That's the nature of creation and accepting that is very liberating. Rob and I had written a ton of new songs for the record but we decided to record the ones we had been performing for the last couple years because they had the most life to them from all the touring we had been doing. It made it much easier to record live because we had been playing them for so long at the shows. The more you play a song live the more it grows and all the players add nuances that can only be created live. They become exceedingly more dynamic.
My favorite song on the album is "Electric Love". What are the origins of the song? How has it changed over time?
Rob wrote that song for his other band Lemon Sun. Rob writes a lot of love songs and this one was especially upbeat and catchy. Lauren and I suggested we play in within the HMBSMS arrangement and now it's taken on a new life here.
What's the strangest thing to ever inspire a song?
I used to live in a backwoods cabin with hot springs on the property. There were no city lights so the starscape was phenomenal at night. I would soak in the springs and look up at the stars and these melodies and words would just pour out of my mouth. I felt like I was given insight into the nature of existence staring into the abyss. I wrote so many songs in that hot spring.
I see you guys are breezing through SXSW (one of my favorite events). Have you been before? What are the pros and cons of going as an artist as opposed to going as just a fan?
SXSW is nuts. Last year was my first year and to be honest I was pretty miserable. I don't drink so I tend to fall asleep standing up at a party if it gets too late. Rob was on crutches so it was additionally manic. I think I'm going to spend most of my time at SXSW swimming in a river and eating BBQ.
You're hailed for your energetic and unique live show. For those who haven't experienced it yet, how would you describe a HMBSMS live show in a few words?
We're definitely unique. Just having a tap dancing drummer sets us apart from the rest of them. We have a very theatrical element and party vibe. We're looking to have a quality good time. We want it to be radical, but effortlessly so.
What's the most challenging part about touring with siblings?
We've known each other our whole lives, but as humans grow older they ideally evolve and come into their own, and sometimes it's challenging being seen as your sixteen-year-old self a lot of the time. But if you take a challenge and use that space to transform yourself and move even deeper into a state of self-knowledge you become a much more relaxed and confident individual.
If you could have anyone in the world as the #1 fan of your band, who would it be and why?
Benjamin Franklin. He was the original American punk and I'd like to think we're among that lineage in one way or another.
HMBSMS will be performing at The Oriental Theater in Denver on March 22. In addition, Denver's own Americana superstars Paper Bird will be playing in celebration of their new album release. Doors open at 8:00 pm and the show starts at 9:00 pm. Tickets are just $15 and the show is for fans ages 16 and up.