Posted April 17, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

He’s My Brother She’s My Sister: (Not quite) all in the family

He's My Brother, She's My Sister
He's My Brother, She's My Sister

In the appropriately named alt-country act He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, real-life brother and sister Robert and Rachel Kolar split vocals while Lauren Brown drums/tap-dances. A stand-up bass and lap slide guitar augments the music on their full-length debut, Nobody Dances in This Town. The group has toured with Neko Case, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Local Natives, Dawes and My Morning Jacket and we caught up with Rachel Kolar as she and the band had just piled into the van and were driving out of Los Angeles to start a show tour.

It sounds so natural when you’re singing with your brother. Have you two sung together ever since you were kids?
In one way or another. He’s been a musician singing and doing his band thing. I was always in choir and musical theater. We would sing together for dance competitions.

All five members are totally different. Some people are rock ’n’ roll. Some are totally hippie. Some are scientists. We like that. We like the diversity. Diversity thrives in nature and we want to be a representation of that within the human species.

How did the band come together?
It came together about five years ago. It was just the circumstances. We were invited to go to the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival. It was a rock ’n’ roll whiskey-drinking event. It was a really cool scene of music and it spoke to me at the time for whatever reason and we just started writing songs together. From there, Lauren, who is our tap dancing drummer, started tapping in the band. We were in theater at the time; it was natural to have my other creative partner play with us. Nothing was taken very seriously, which was the beauty of it. We started playing just to have fun. People are attracted to that energy and then we started playing legitimate shows. Oliver and Aaron joined the band and we’ve been touring non-stop. It’s pretty extreme. We’ve seen a growth in terms of people coming out to see us and the general excitement about the band. We’re a band that does not belong in any kind of category. All five members are totally different. Some people are rock ’n’ roll. Some are totally hippie. Some are scientists. We like that. We like the diversity. Diversity thrives in nature and we want to be a representation of that within the human species.

Your music sounds too twangy to have come out of L.A. Talk about your upbringing and how it shaped the music you play?
We were gypsy kids and grew up in small towns. Country music is definitely a southern thing, but it’s also a small town thing and I grew up listening to oldies like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. When I opened my mouth and sang, I wanted to sing in that style. That came from living in a small town. But we’ve lived all over the place . . . Europe, Hong Kong, the Philippines.

The song “I Can’t See the Stars” seems like a veiled critique of L.A. Is it?
It is to an extent. I moved out of town to Ojai. I was living in a canyon with hot springs all round. At night, I would just soak in the hot springs and have these far out, almost-psychedelic experiences; nothing that I could articulate. Everything falls into place when you’re out there. It’s incredible. The Milky Way looks like it’s a cloud that you could almost touch. It’s unbelievable. It brings such love and compassion into my heart.

What was the recording process like for Nobody Dances in this Town?
This is our first full-length and we had to do it fairly quickly. We were touring and touring and had no space. We were gifted a short block of time at the Henson Studios in Hollywood. We went in there and laid everything down. In the last six months, we went to our producer’s house and he had limited time to work on our album. Everyone in our band is very forthright and has a specific idea. We learned that you have to let go of certain ideas and collaborate. It was a very wonderful experience. I love the album. I’m just as excited to start the next one.

The music runs a wide gamut.
That’s what nice about the project. Three educated musicians and two feeder people. We had to add that to the unexpected. Lauren and I are doing what we feel is exciting at the moment. I don’t have the practice and experience to refine it and bring it together, but the band is the perfect environment for creativity. You need the yin and yang. Otherwise it can become too rigid or alternately too chaotic.

Talk a bit about your performance on Austin City Limits.
It was awesome. It was one of our biggest festivals. We were the first on on the first day. We were like, “What the fuck? Nobody is going to be there that early to see us.” But when we showed up, there were thousands of people waiting there to see us play. Everyone had heard of us. Everything with this band is totally do-it-yourself and family-style, but we work our asses off for every opportunity we get. No matter how shitty we feel, every time the show goes off. ACL was really great. It was like the fireworks went off for us.

What new stuff have you been working on?
We take the approach of whatever sticks to the wall, sticks to the wall. We send each other demos and collaborate on them and that’s awesome. We’re doing some shows abroad and touring and expanding the band to a more global level. It feels like international music at this point.

Upcoming 2013 Shows












Salt Lake City, UT @ State Room

Aspen, CO @ Belly Up

Omaha, NE @ Slowdown

Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews

Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

Iowa City, IA @ The Mill

Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hill

Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s

Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern

Montreal, QC @ Casa del Popolo


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].