Although Nine Pound Shadow
, the sibling duo made up of Breandain and Christopher Langlois, has been naturally making music for their entire lives, they've only just released their self-titled debut EP in January earlier this year. It sounds like a plethora of classic influences swirled together, like The Beatles, The Shins, and even Danger Mouse, who later on signed the band to his label, 30th Century Records. The band seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Of course, they're still brand new, but I was curious to learn about how it all started. And when spinning the record for the first time, I was immediately taken aback by how fresh and timeless it was, so I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to talk to one half of the duo all about their indie rock excellence.
KIRSTEN SPRUCH: So, you and Christopher [Langlois] are brothers. How and when did you guys decide to start making music together?
BREANDAIN LANGLOIS: It came about pretty naturally. Our father used to play acoustic guitar. He raised us listening to the classics like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Elvis Presley. You know, all these classic rock and roll/folk artists. And then, at some point probably when were 12 years old, he just started teaching us guitar. I don't think it was the conscious decision. Our parents always encouraged a lot of different types of creativity and music was one of them.
KS: And you guys are from Berkeley. Have you ever thought about moving to LA to be closer to the music scene? ...Do you get asked that all the time?
BL: [Laughs] We have pondered that and LA has really grown on us. We like LA and we have made a lot of friends there. We are definitely Northern California boys in our hearts, so if we can avoid it... we will. But if someone tells us we have
to go to LA then we'll do it. But so far we've been able to stay up here. You know, it's home.
KS: Yeah, I feel like there is a little war that goes on between the two halves of California?
BL: There is. Hopefully we can be the peacemakers between the two Californians. But LA itself is cool in its own way. It has this grimy beauty to it. It's kind of like the smog makes the sunset more golden... But to be clear, there are many nice people there and we have a lot of friends from LA.
KS: I can see the headlines now: Nine Pound Shadow Hates LA!
KS: So you guys recently dropped your debut EP, how does it feel?
BL: It feels exciting. It's the first time we've put something out. We've made little recordings before but we feel so excited about this one. It makes us really want to keep going and do more. We're just like, "let's put out more music," and we are doing that. That's where we're at. I've enjoyed just sitting down, listening to it, and taking it in, and then of course, I think as an artist there's always this impulse to keep creating, to keep challenging yourself, and to keep making art.
KS: How long did it take you to make this record? Can you take me through the process a little bit?
BL: Asa Taccone, a producer and also the frontman of Electric Guest, received our music three years ago. He heard some demos we had done. He said, "okay keep writing, keep sending me stuff." So over the course of a couple of years, we were just writing and writing and sending him anything we thought was worth a damn. He would give us feedback and would keep pushing us to write more and to go places that we may have not have gone naturally on our own musically. So we did that and from our big group of songs we distilled it down to the five songs that are on the EP.
KS: What would you say was the best moment of this entire artistic adventure?
BL: You know, it's all a dream. Honestly, you're either playing in some cafe where there are like five people and then half of them get up and leave or it's like when we just came back from touring and there were 500 to 600 people. It's all been great. I think playing live is always wonderful because there's this reciprocity of emotion that occurs between the artist and the audience. That's always wonderful, and then being able to create everyday, to write music is a gift. And then of course having the EP come out. When I put the vinyl on - honestly it's kind of embarrassing - but I just started crying because it was just the culmination of so much work. To hear it sound so beautiful was really moving. So it's all good.
KS: The EP has this classic kind of sound and you're actually signed to Danger Mouse's label, 30th Century, who has a similar sound as well. What kind of artists were you listening to during the making of this?
BL: Chris and I are a bit hermit-like when it comes to listening to music. Honestly, I've been in musical hibernation apart from our own project for a long time. There was a lot of referring to our upbringing of these classics. Not recently, but just having them floating around inside and having a certain sonic aesthetic. Of course the production is such a big part of it. With Asa Taccone, if you've listened to Electric Guest at all, you can feel some of his spirit in there too.
KS: And like I said, you're signed to Danger Mouse's label. How did that come about?
BL: Again, with Asa, Danger Mouse produced Electric Guest's first album called Mondo.
Asa and Brian [of Danger Mouse] have a very close working relationship and at a certain point Asa started sharing some of our tunes with Brian. He asked questions like, "what do you think about these guys?" So... I guess he liked it. He called and my brother and I were doing our day jobs. We sat tiles for years in the tender loins of San Francisco. We were on our hands and knees on bathrooms and kitchens. We were doing that when Brian called us and told us he was going to sign us. Not to give the impression that we sensitive weepy guys, but I guess we are 'cause were artists, but we just hung up the phone and held each other and cried and what not. My brother always jokes they weren't our normal tears of pain from setting tiles but they were tears of joy. That was a really special moment for us.
KS: Did you get to quit your day jobs right after that?
BL: You know what, we kept doing it for a while. But now we have. There was a little transition period. Now we're just doing music all the time, which feels so good.
KS: Earlier you mentioned you just got off tour with Electric Guest, what was it like going on tour with them and Asa since you guys are so collaborative?
BL: It was really great. I'm not going to lie, it was challenging to sit in a vehicle for a long time. We moved from Seattle to Denver, and because of the weather it took 27 hours to drive there. While there was a little craziness, being on tour with Electric Guest was so great. It was great to go out there every night. They have this wonderful fan base that are excited and enthusiastic for the music. Their fans were really loving and we made new fans and just connected with them. The best feeling is having people come up to you after a show and tell you how much they felt the music, how much it moved them, and how excited they are. It was a rewarding experience.
KS: We're based in Brooklyn, so I was going to go to your Music Hall of Williamsburg show but I missed it by a day...
BL: Not to make you feel bad but it was a really great show. We did our last show in Manhattan and the next night Asa and this other band, Chaos Chaos, played the Williamsburg show and I just saw Asa in top form. He's so pro, he killed it. It was a beautiful show.
KS: And what's coming up next for you guys?
BL: We're writing and recording right now. We're trying to put material together for a full length. I think that is the goal right now. We're just cranking out a bunch of songs and gathering enough material for a really excellent full-length album. That's going to happen!
KS: Good! I can't wait, it's going to be great.
BL: Yeah, thank you Kirsten! Is spring kicking it out in the east coast yet?
KS: No, we're actually in the middle of an enormous blizzard.
BL: Oh my god, well I hope you like the snow and hope spring comes soon.
KS: It was spring last week.
BL: You got a little touch?
KS: Yeah, it went away though.
BL: Spring will happen, just like it has for billions of years.