10 Quick Questions with Robert and David Perlick-Molinari of French Horn Rebellion

by Dakin Hardwick on May 18, 2011

French Horn Rebellion are an electronic music duo from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They consist of brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, and, yes, they do actually incorporate the french horn into their mix of disco, pop, and a whole slew of other sounds. This Thursday, May 19th, we’ve got two opportunities to enjoy these guys live. They are opening for Yelle at The Regency Ballroom at 8 PM, and then running over to Rickshaw Stop for a Popscene DJ set right afterwards. Spinning Platters had a chance to talk to the brothers about the creative process, the french horn, and so on.

How do you treat the french horn on your records? The instrument is there, but rarely sounds like a french horn…

R. It’s true, there is a lot of French horn in there! It’s used in a lot of different ways, sometimes like a synth (Geomancer’s Compass) sometimes like a guitar (Running Through the Wild), other times just as a brass choir (This Moment).  The short answer is that I play the French horn, so I often think of lines where I could use one, and how that would get the sound that I want the easiest.  I’m a horn player first, piano player second, and probably a vocalist about 6th or 7th, and probably a producer about 10th.  So sometimes, it’s easier for me just to play an idea on horn before trying to make a synth sound.

D:  That is one of the fun things about this project . . . exploring interesting ways to incorporate our own personal strengths into the productions.  The horn is such a great instrument to work in because of it’s highly expressive nature.  I found it’s more fun to start with something awesome and make it awesom-er than starting with something mediocre and then working hard to bring it to life.

How do audiences react to such an unusual instrument for electronic music?

When we do our live show, we use it as more of a jazz-funk-fusion electro solo instrument.  You know that part in the Mighty Boosh (The Legend of Old Gregg Episode) where Vince says:

“Howard was on fire he was improvising like a mother-bitch.”
Howard interjects, “Crowd was going wild,”
“At one point I got out a bassoon, I’ve never even played one before,”

later in the episode, he says, “I was on fire, Vince, that’s all you need to know,”
“You were leaping around with a bassoon taped to your head,”
“That’s the way I move, I don’t know what I was doing but it felt good.”

That in a nutshell is our show.  The only difference is that people seem to like it a lot more than the crowd in the Mighty Boosh did!

How did you end up hooking up with Yelle for this tour? How do the crowds seem to be reacting to you?

Well, we are on tour with Yelle because of our good friend, Kap10Kurt.  He is an amazing guy, a friend from NYC that I have known for a long time.  He did a remix for our track, “This Moment,” he has also done a lot of his own tracks (that have amazing videos as well).  Anyways, he is good friends with Tepr, who plays with Yelle and has worked with her on some of her recordings.  He also plays with her for their live show.  Anyways, he asked Kap10Kurt for opening band suggestions, and Kurt recommended us!  So, we did a show together last November in NYC, and then are doing this tour together!

What are you listening to these days? What other bands/projects get you excited?

R:We’ve been on the road since the last week of February, so I haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities to check out new music like I usually do.  However, Toto Y Moi’s new album is currently on my iPod, as well as Baby Shambles, and Violens.  I love each of those groups for different reasons.

However, a big part of our music is the influences from a lot of older groups.  For example, I absolutely LOVE Burt Bacharach and Irving Berlin.  I love a well-written torch song.

D:  Obviously we’re excited about our friend’s projects — Savoir Adore, Deidre, Violens . . . making new things and being apart of great new projects is what keeps us going. . .  The excitement of doing new things and continuing to push ourselves creatively is really fun.

How is the scene in Milwaukee? Were people open to you during your gestation period?

We actually haven’t been back to Milwaukee in a long time!  David and I started touring with the band right after I finished college, so it was a bit confusing to say where we were from.  I went to school in Chicago, David was working NYC.  So, since we’re brothers, and lived our entire childhood, up to 18 years old, in Milwaukee, we say we are from there.  From what I understand from the times I have been home recently (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.) the scene is a bit splintered at the moment.  About 4-5 years ago, there was a nice core of musicians, Juiceboxxx, The Glamour, Codebreaker, Fable and the World Flat, Atl Atl, Elusive Parallelograms, etc.  that used to do some shows together.  Now they have all split and made their own sub-scenes that are pretty small.  I don’t know if Milwaukee is the best place for new music right this moment, unfortunately.  It’s a great town, though, and I love it dearly!

What can we expect from your live show?

R:Our live show is a little different than our album.  The live show incorporates a lot of the work we have done for remixes.  For example, we have done remixes for Two Door Cinema Club, Sleigh Bells, The Jacksons, and many more.  Some people know us more for those tracks than our original tracks.  We like to incorporate that part of our musical life into the show as well.  It turns it into a big dance party!

D:  it’s been interesting — through doing tons of shows we’ve kind of figured out what we want out of a live show — often it’s very different than what we like in albums.

What kind of meal is most appropriate for consuming before seeing French Horn Rebellion?

Something light, because we are going to get you to move!  Whatever you would eat before an aerobics class.  If you come to see us, you will HAVE to stick around for Yelle, because she gets everybody into an even bigger frenzy!

Where do you see this project in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?

2 years, I would like to make an album that really connects with people.  So far our songs have been successful, but I want to make something like what “Kind of Blue,” by Miles Davis was for me.  A really great album, and something that defined a part of my life. In 5 years, I would love to start working in art spaces, not just involved with music.  For example, we’ve always wanted to score music for a physical place, or progressive public spaces.  In 10 years, I would love to be a conductor of an orchestra, and even compose music for contemporary music ensembles.  It would be a lot of fun to have a French horn rebellion concert with a contemporary wind ensemble!

How do you pass time on the road?

R:  I’m usually doing one of three things, driving, sleeping, or playing Sim City 4.  Sometimes I get on my phone and send messages to friends. Other times, I’ll play music in the car that my brother and tour manager don’t like! ha!

How do you prepare a Creme` Brulee`?

Hm… very good question.  Our mom always made it from eggs, but it never really tasted like the real thing… Maybe we should try to get the recipe from Yelle before this tour is over!

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French Horn Rebellion’s release The Infinite Music Of French Horn Rebellion will be released in all the usual outlets on May 24th. (Once Upon A Time Records)

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