French Horn Rebellion’s Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité

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Published November 5, 2010

 

FRENCH HORN REBELLION: DAVID (LEFT) AND ROBERT PERLICK-MOLINARI. PHOTOS BY AARON STERN

After spending the past two years taking their act—including French horn solos and crowd commands to “dance like your favorite animal”—on the road, French Horn Rebellion, the Milwaukee-born, Brooklyn-based brother duo of David and Robert Perlick-Molinari, have finally started to hit their stride. Their show at Santos Party House brought down the, well, house, with electro-pop, neo-disco, compulsively danceable beats; and their EP, This Moment, will be self-released on November 22nd.

Their first album, The Infinite Music of French Horn Rebellion, debuting in the UK on Once Upon A Time the same day, details the journey of a narrator, “likely a French horn player,” from Florida to Antarctica and eventually to outer space. Lest you think their music is merely a inspiration for grooving on the dance floor, take note of David’s pronunciation of French Horn Rebellion’s sound: “intensive, sensitive, and runs the gamut of the human condition.” Before they opened for Yelle at the Highline Ballroom last night, we spoke with the siblings about their album, their musical journey, and whether or not Robert has ever been in a marching band (“no way!”).

KATIE MENDELSON: Can you talk about the French horn?

DAVID PERLICK-MOLINARI: Our album is actually centered around the French horn. It has to do with the struggle to understand who you are. The reason why the whole band started was Robert felt like he wasn’t fitting in. In modern society, the horn player has very limited options.ROBERT PERLICK-MOLINARI: I went to Northwestern to study horn. I was practicing a lot—like six hours of rehearsal and two hours a day of practice. I spent a summer in New York City as a post-production engineer, with David doing assistant work.

DAVID: We were writing music that, in the old days, you’d hire in an ensemble or an orchestra to make. You’d get in people to play the music. What we’d do in our company was create everything ourselves—we’d use samples for all the horn parts, if we needed it. We’d play keyboards, drums, we’d do it all ourselves. It was one person who created the whole soundtrack. For Robert, that was really alien.

ROBERT: You spend so much time practicing every day for the lofty goal of making a living as a musician. Every day of what you do in the practice room is saying, I’m going to be able to feed myself.

MENDELSON: And the production work that you and David were doing was undermining that.

ROBERT: Completely undermining it. The French Horn Rebellion is trying to tell people, “Hey, French horn players, check out what’s happening around you.”

MENDELSON: Did you feel like the musicians you went to school with were really stuck in one genre or another?

ROBERT: The song “Broken Heart” is on our first EP, and I made it while I was still living in a dorm room, when I was still doing all this on my own. I brought a class of kids I went to school with in a room to hear it, and they all started laughing in my face. And those guys that were laughing at me, they were the ones who practiced the most and were really talented, and now, no one gives a shit.

DAVID: We’re still on this journey of figuring out what this is. We have no idea if Robert would be better off playing his horn in an orchestra and expressing himself that way. The idea behind the whole thing was trying to find a better way to express ourselves distinctively.

MENDELSON: How do you feel like you can distinguish yourselves from all the other electronic music coming out now?

ROBERT: Our album isn’t really electronic. It’s a super-eclectic mix of things. We started going down the electronic path because first of all, it’s really easy for us to tour as an electronic group. If we want to go on tour, how are we going to bring all these people, guitar player, drums, all this equipment? It’s easier for us to be purely electronic for a show. So that’s how we got a reputation as an electronic group, and then we released remixes that were electronic. We’re trying to figure out how we can do it to where we’re true to ourselves and what we want to do, but at the same time working in the confines of what’s feasible.

ROBERT: The kind of musicians that we are, it’s task-based. Like, what are we being asked to do? A live show. So what kind of live show do we want to make? Lately it’s been like, what kind of album do we want to make? The album is something that’s very eclectic.

DAVID: It’s a psychedelic opera. I don’t think the whole thing has to be listened to at once, though. Our latest single is “This Moment.” That’s at the point in the album that the narrator has been relishing in being able to live in the moment, and he’s really happy. That’s after Antarctica, when he realizes that’s as far as he can go, so he goes into outer space. It’s a longer story—maybe we’ll tell you later.

FRENCH HORN REBELLION’S EP, THIS MOMENT, WILL BE RELEASED NOVEMBER 22. THE BROTHERS WILL PLAY AT GLASSLANDS IN BROOKLYN TOMORROW EVENING AT 11 P.M.