Evan and Jaron Lowenstein are sitting in a restaurant talking about the boy-band thing – an image they say has been pinned on them by teen magazines and their promotional pairings with teen pop singers.
The good-looking, clean-cut twins – known simply as Evan and Jaron – say they don’t want that kind of attention.
Then two women come up to their table and interrupt to ask if they are the singing twin brothers – the ones who sing THAT song on the radio all the time.
“My daughter just loves you…. She’s 12,” says one woman.
Afterward, Jaron sighs.
“It’s strange. Three years ago, we played 21-and-over clubs. Maybe there would be a few kids at the shows. Now, we have all these people who are under 20,” he said. “I don’t know what it is with this boy band thing. People look at us now and go ‘I get it.’ Get what?”
At age 27, Evan and Jaron aren’t the stereotypical boy band. They have no synchronized dance steps. They write their own music, which has a folk-rock sound that hints at influences of Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
The brothers have had a taste of fame with “Crazy for This Girl,” a radio-friendly hit off their Columbia Records debut, “Evan and Jaron.” A recently released second single, “From My Head to My Heart,” is also gaining air play.
To keep the momentum going, they concluded a tour earlier this summer and have begun a heavy schedule of appearances.
Unusual for rock musicians, the Lowensteins are Orthodox Jews who keep a kosher diet even on tour and don’t perform on the Sabbath. They graduated from Yeshiva High School in their native Atlanta, where they also played for a short time on a semi-pro baseball team and flirted with the possibility of baseball careers.
But after hearing Elvis Costello’s “Allison,” Evan picked up a guitar and started writing music. His brother soon followed.
In 1994, Evan and Jaron launched A Major Label Records, an independent label, because radio station DJs kept telling them they wouldn’t play anything that wasn’t on “a major label.”
The duo eventually caught the ear of Jimmy Buffett, who brought them to the attention of Island Records. Two months after the release of “We’ve Never Heard of You Either,” the brothers were dropped from the label.
A year later, they were signed by Columbia.
Since the release of their latest album, the brothers have been the subjects of some media fascination – from their twin good looks to their religion.
“The reason the press has grabbed a hold of this religion thing is because rock ‘n’ roll and religion are probably the greatest juxtapositions of all time. One is clearly about chaos, the other is clearly about discipline,” Jaron said.
But the two say they won’t trade on their beliefs; instead, they focus the conversation on music.
They write independently of each other for sanity’s sake, they say.
Their success appears to hinge on their decidedly different personalities. Evan, who is married, is the animated one. Jaron, who is single, is the more direct one.
Part act, part real sibling rivalry, the brothers play off each other on stage and off. During this interview, Evan launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about today’s music that concludes, “I guess it’s an acquired taste like beer.”
Jaron leans closer to the tape recorder: “I don’t know what he’s talking about. The views expressed by Evan are not necessarily those of his brother.”
A few minutes later, Evan cuts Jaron off mid-sentence.
“You did it again. You go back and play this tape. Every time I start rolling on something you cut me off,” Jaron says.
Later, at a performance at the House of Blues, Evan and Jaron demonstrate that they’re not just aiming at teen listeners. They offer up a countrified version of a classic rock hit. “Go home and tell your parents you heard a country version of ‘Shook Me All Night Long,”‘ Jaron tells the audience.
The few adults in the audience roar their approval. The teen-agers look a bit confused.
“We find sometimes less people in the audience are understanding what we are talking about than they were five years ago. We’re 27-year-old guys talking about things relevant in our lives, and it’s definitely not relevant in a 15-year-old’s life,” Evan said. “We make jokes and there are a couple of adults in the back laughing. We call them the carpool drivers – the baby sitters.”
Jaron nods in agreement.
“If I had a dollar for every single production guy or sound guy or security guy at venues across the country we’ve played who said, ‘You know what, I didn’t know who you were. I thought you were some boy band. But you were really good,”‘ Jaron said. “If I had a dollar every time I heard that, we wouldn’t be sitting in this restaurant. I’d own this place.”