By Pierce Lydon
It’s the summer. You’re 19 years old and you’re at a youth conference in Indiana with your brother. They are having an open mic night and you think this would be a great time to show a few kids some of the stuff the two of you have been working on at home. Before you know it, there are over a hundred kids there and you haven’t even played a note. It’s okay though. You started. They like you.
Like Oasis, My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte and The Jonas Brothers, Anti-Social Lullabies (ASL) is a band of brothers. But ASL doesn’t sound anything like most of those bands. Instead, the twins’ sound ranges between cute, folky pop songs to harder drums and bass tracks that recall Death From Above 1979. You might be thinking that doesn’t sound right at all. Oh but trust me, it does.
Growing up in the Long Island hardcore scene, the Young brothers musical education began with much more classical training before they fell into rock n’ roll. Travis took up the cello and Jared played the flute but once they entered high school things started to change a little.
Travis’s cello eventually led him to pick up the bass guitar and Jared had a more dramatic transition from flute to drums. Naturally, the boys formed a band with some of their friends called The Claim. But something was missing.
“The other three people in the band just were not dedicated and didn’t have the same creative drive Jared and I share,” Travis said. “We started doing our own thing as a side project and then we said ‘This is it for us.’ ASL is who we are now.”
For Jared, college led to even more changes. He started getting heavily into the music of Bob Dylan and Donovan after seeing Jenny Lewis play at Irving Plaza in 2006. He bought himself a guitar and learned songs from tabs while also writing his own material.
“Seeing [Jenny Lewis] felt like I was looking at the past. She had a presence to her that kind of opened me up musically,” he said. “For a while I was writing, but not playing music. It was like being a painter with only a canvas; when I started playing music I found my brush.”
Travis found many of his influences in much heavier music like Death From Above 1979, Norma Jean and The Chariot, so the twins decided to incorporate it into their sound. Half of their debut album, “Sounds Like How You Feel,” is made up of heavily distorted drum and bass tracks that are an interesting contrast to their acoustic songs. The decision to include such diverse songs didn’t come without some trouble included.
“We just decided to embrace both sounds and make one band out of it. We hadn’t really seen anything done like that before. People tend to argue over what style of music is better, but to us music is music, if it makes you feel good who cares,” Jared said.
“It would be pretty cool to reach out to kids that only listen to certain genres and have them come to a show and stand next to other kids who only listen to the other genres and have them both enjoy the show together. Figuring out how to do that, without sounding like a train wreck, was the challenge. We struggled with that big time on the record.”
But Anti-Social Lullabies insist that they get along despite the history of many bands that include brothers as members (We’re looking at you Noel and Liam.) and that the EP they have planned for January 2009 will draw on many more of their own musical histories.
“When it comes to music and what we’re doing Jared and I don’t really disagree,” Travis said. “It will be pretty much totally different from ‘Sounds Like How You Feel.’ The bass and drum songs will have very different vibes. There will be a cello song, a couple of acoustic tracks and a full band song.”
“Sounds Like How You Feel” is a mild success garnering generally positive reviews. But, in their eyes, it is something that can always be improved. Fortunately, the evolution of Anti-Social Lullabies is something that the Young brothers will always take on together. Jared made it very clear that if Travis left “It would be over, neither of us can be replaced.”
So the constant struggle continues. The Youngs continue to nitpick over their sound and their lyrics and their recordings, but such is the practice of all artists. As J.D. Salinger once said, “The only bad thing about being an artist is being slightly unhappy constantly.”