Coming of Age with Kids’ Instruments: Talking to the Stars of Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

09/12/2012 9:35 AM |

That sounds incredible.
MICHAEL: For a couple of years getting in the way of it, I was trying to rely on so many other people and it sort of clipped my wings a little bit. When I finally did this and with Ryan’s energy, it made me say, screw it. I’m gonna go do this.

In the film, Alex says that New York was the first place where he felt “the energy on the outside matched the energy on the inside.” But in the film, the characters basically flee New York, and the city is viewed as difficult and isolating. As New Yorkers, is that how you have come to view the city?
MICHAEL: I mean, Ryan is really an immigrant New Yorker; I was born and raised there. I taught Ryan a lot about New York. To me, the city has always been a testing ground. It has an energy of its own that sweeps you up, but it also can knock you on your ass. It doesn’t allow you to rest on your world.
RYAN: Yeah, if you want to do something, you’ve really got to want it and you really got to go after it because nothing is handed to you there. It’s a place where Alex kind of… he had to leave in a sense, but for me in particular, New York is where I’ve found who I was and what I wanted for the first time in my whole life—the energy of the city and the pulse of it.

MICHAEL: The people of that city are so eclectic, everyone else sort of arrives there with the same dreams and the same energy. If you do put yourself out there and you go for it, you find like-minded people. Alex and Jim find their crazy chemistry; my character sort of completes Alex. All of the shortcomings that I have, he helps me assimilate to real life, and I sort of drive his character forward. That energy—that lives in New York. Even as eccentric as Jim is, you can find that other energy in your life there, and it’s an amazing place to have that abundance of personality.
RYAN: I mean I wrote pretty much the entire script sitting at a little coffee shop at the corner of Houston and Allen called Sugar Café. I had this idea when I was making Alex and Jim that they were this yin and yang, the two pieces inside of myself and my friends who were artists. I went to acting school and I knew a lot of musicians there as well that were trying to do something. And you have these two sides of you: one that thinks you may have a certain amount of talent but also has open ears for the fucking naysayers whether it’s your family, or your friends who have normal jobs, they’re working their way up the ladder and making a lot of money and have nice places and you feel like a manchild trying to live in your childish dreams. And the other side of that is this kind of fierce side of you that runs blindly into the dark: “I’m going to do it, I don’t care.” But the two sides need each other. You have to have a certain amount of courage.

One of my favorite parts in the film is the Jimmy Johnson story; I really loved the line “even the craziest bastards need looking after.” Was that taken from a real life experience?
RYAN: I actually am a eunuch now because of a dog I had as a child named Jimmy Johnson. No, I don’t know where that came from. It’s just one of those things you come up with.
MICHAEL: You were sitting around with no penis just thinking, hmm…?

RYAN: But yeah, I love the idea of having something like beyond yourself, bigger than yourself. There’s a certain amount of selflessness that grounds you in a way. I guess I’ve always had people in my life where you don’t agree with everything they say or do, but you need each other in some way.

You’re releasing the music through Rhino Records, and the band is going to be a real life thing. What’s next for the Brooklyn Brothers in that respect?
MICHAEL: We go on tour, man.
RYAN: We start on Monday [the 10th]; it’s crazy.

MICHAEL: We’ve been roaming around Los Angeles right now looking for a melodica. All these electric guitar guys are like, what, dude? Nah man, we don’t have that shit here.
RYAN: Mike calls it a flugle horn, which is not actually what it’s called. So I have to be like, nah, it’s not actually a flugle horn.

MICHAEL: This padded-up dude… I was like, yeah, can I get a kazoo? And he just goes, yeah, they’re in that kids bucket. And I’m like, so, is there any way to amplify this? You know, strap a microphone on this thing for an audience?
RYAN: That guy was not having it.

MICHAEL: He’s like, nah, man, it’s $1.59 for the kazoo—just sign here and get the fuck out.
RYAN: What do you want to do with that kazoo?

MICHAEL: You don’t worry about that buddy.

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