Bask in This New Twin Shadow-Produced Track [Exclusive]
Gregory and Jeremy Pearson are bringing back the ‘80s. Maybe it’s the leather jackets, the wayfarers, or the synth in all the right places, but something about their project, THRILLERS, screams nostalgia. Don’t, however, call this duo a novelty act: the LA brothers (Jeremy is 24; Gregory is 27) aren’t overly sentimental, but still draw on ’80s influences to conjure grooves that are both uniquely referential and infectious on their own. THRILLERS’ 2015 EP Cotton Candy Kisses, for example, fuses sugary pop beats with glam, “Purple Rain” guitar riffs, and soulful lyricism with modern attitude.
Their most recent effort, “NMT,” keeps the vibe alive while also venturing into new territory with production from Twin Shadow. “NMT,” short for “Need Me Tonight,” the brothers explain, is all about summer flings and heartbreak. And being that it’s August, it feels like a pretty timely subject too. We’re premiering the single today, alongside Master & Dynamic, who is pressing it to vinyl for a limited edition run (and which they’re giving out to a couple lucky fans). Stream “NMT” below, and read on for our conversation with THRILLERS.
You guys are a “blood-brother duo.” Does that help the writing process, or does it maybe get in the way? Is there a sibling rivalry? How does it add to your dynamic?
Jeremy Pearson: It absolutely adds to the dynamic. There’s no real sibling rivalry, but it’s always like one trying to push the other one to the next level. It’s really dope because we can be honest and super blunt, and I know that it’s coming from a place of love, rather than anything else. It’s a real magical kind of relationship.
Gregory Pearson: Yeah, we don’t have to explain a lot: if we have an idea, he kind of understands exactly where I’m coming from, and finishes the idea or elaborates on something that I forgot.
JP: Mental Bluetooth.
Your music conjures the sound of the ‘80s and ‘90s. What is it about the sound of those two decades that you like so much?
GP: It comes from a natural place—our mother sung in a lot of soul bands and church bands. Growing up, we would go to her rehearsals. We would just be in there, playing around, messing around with the instruments, watching the band. And she always had vinyl around—Michael Jackson, Prince, the Police—and our father’s a music connoisseur as well so he had a lot of jazz, David Bowie. [There were] all kinds of influences coming into our psyches growing up. And of course hip-hop came into play as well: we always had that freedom in our household. I think that’s pretty much where it comes from—nostalgia.
You’ve been described as “funktronica.” Do you agree with that label? Can you describe your sound in your own words?
JP: I mean, it’s not that we don’t agree or disagree; we just don’t try to put labels [on it]. I know that sounds so cliché, but we really don’t: we just try to make whatever feels good. But if we had to describe our music…
JP: We love new wave, we love funk, we love R&B.
GP: Indie rock.
JP: We love old school, rebel country music, like Merle Haggard or something like that.
GP: As long as it’s good music. At the end of the day, we just want to be pioneers as well. All the great artists have paved the way for us, so it’s up to us to push boundaries with the genres, and not really get caught up with the labels.
“I think before you can grow, you have to know what happened in the past, and that’s kind of where we’re at as artists right now.”
A lot of people say “music is dead,” so when you talk about nostalgia, do you think it’s necessary to draw on older influences, or do you see THRILLERS as moving into a new, modern aesthetic?
GP: I’m actually in love with a lot of the modern music that’s out, but I think before you can grow, you have to know what happened in the past, and that’s kind of where we’re at as artists right now: just trying to push the envelope. But yeah, I love nostalgic music, but I also love the new artists making modern music, today. I think Lorde is a good example of that.
What about Lorde?
GP: That first single she came out with, “Royals,” I definitely liked that. It had a bit of a hip-hop beat to it. I liked the melody, but it still had a little bit of a vintage vibe too.
JP: That [song] she did with Disclosure, too, was pretty dope: “Magnets.”
Is this the first time your music’s been pressed to vinyl?
JP: Yeah. We’re super stoked about it.
GP: I can’t wait to get the copy in my hands. [Laughs] I feel like a lot of us grew up around vinyl, but I occasionally run across friends who have never heard music on vinyl. When you listen to the difference in the quality, like the crackle on it, opening the album artwork, ripping that plastic off, [it’s] just a whole other experience. It’s not like getting an MP3, or streaming online. I just think that vinyl is more of a sit-down piece, more of a collector’s experience to enjoy.
Fashion-wise, you both have a very unique aesthetic. Can you talk a little bit about that?
JP: We really love to mix high-end fashion with contemporary art—that whole vibe. I guess it just comes out of us naturally. We like rock and roll, leather—we just kind of wear the stuff we like. It’s not something that we purposefully try to put together, it’s kind of just who we are. We love fashion because it’s another way to express yourself, same with music.
GP: We have a huge love for fashion, and the fashion community: going to fashion week for the first time, sitting front row, and just looking at the models and how the clothes lay on the body—all of that inspires the music. I feel like fashion, music, and art are all connected, and you can’t have one without the other. When we write songs, we think about how we’re going to look in the music video, how we’re going to portray ourselves with the image, so we do give it some thought. On a daily basis we pretty much dress similarly to what you see in any of our press photos. We like to cut up our clothes, too—tailor them, make alterations.
How do you think your fashion sense influences your music, or vice versa?
GP: While [we] write songs, sometimes we put the leather coats on, just to feel the vibe. When we have rehearsals, we put the Dr. Martens boots on, we put the shades on: it turns you into that character.
JP: The thing about clothing is that it’s something that physically caresses your body. And music is a physical thing too. Both of those things touch you.
All photos by Pierre Pastel.
Stay tuned to Milk for more songs we’re psyched about.